SOUNDOFF: What a new library will offer

You might be wondering what a new library would bring to the community of North Whidbey Island. The answer is simple: plenty!

Due to dedicated staff and support from Sno-Isle Libraries, the library we currently have does a good job of providing services. But the library has been forced to make do since before they even opened their doors, agreeing to a loss of 9,000 square due to a lack of funds. This translates into a loss of on-site materials and room for curling up with a good book. North Whidbey Islanders have another opportunity to build a new library. If our community votes with the vision I know we possess, we will build a beautiful library that will stand the test of time.

A meeting room will seat up to 150 people and will be available for community use. Currently, the library makes use of a meeting room shared with Skagit Valley College. Scheduling library events can be difficult and capacity is limited to 78 people.

Two study/conference rooms will allow for quiet study areas and meeting areas for small groups. The library currently has shared access to the Skagit Valley College library’s reading room. Conference rooms are not available.

The children’s storytelling room will improve the library’s ability to provide Storytime regularly. The room will be inviting and geared toward children. The library currently presents Storytime in the shared meeting room and must compete with the college’s use of the room. With the storytelling room, Storytime will have a permanent home.

North Whidbey teens will find an inviting, friendly area designed just for them. They’ll be able to kick back with the latest graphic novel, study with friends, or just hang out.

Are you ever in a hurry? With express checkout you will be able to check out your own materials with your library card. There will be no need to wait for an available staff person; you’ll be out the door in no time!

The new library will contain seating for 200 at tables and lounge chairs. Finally, we will be able to curl up with a good book or magazine!

The computer lab will contain 30 workstations for public and teaching purposes. Additionally, 20 public computers will be placed throughout the rest of the library. Some of these will be placed in the teen and children’s areas. All this means that waiting for a computer station will be a less common occurrence. The community will be enabled to keep up with the technology for which our state is so well-known via free classes teaching the basics of Internet surfing and other computer skills.

The new library will have support for wireless computer connections. Wireless laptops could be used anywhere in the library.

A community information display and distribution area will be an information forum for North Whidbey Islanders. Information usually scattered on bulletin boards all over will be found in one location – your public library!

A Friends of the Library bookstore will sell used books. As always, proceeds from book sales will go right back into our library, funding exciting programs and performances, equipment to enhance library services, and working to increase literacy in our community.

One of the major difficulties currently experienced at our library is that of parking. At times it can be nearly impossible to find an empty space. This is a major problem, particularly for the disabled or families with children. Our new library will have 122 parking spaces just for library-goers.

All of these features are wonderful in and of themselves. However, we must remember that investing in a new library will be an investment in our future. This translates into so much more than adequate parking or more videos to choose from. Our library will be an exciting destination where we can expand our every horizon. As Dr, Seuss would say, “Oh, the thinks you can think!”

Marie Byars is a library staff member as well as a member of the Yes! Yes! For the Oak Harbor Regional Library Committee.

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