A charitable group that has survived one whole century in Langley will be celebrating that fact this weekend.
In 1916, a group of South Whidbey women founded the Ladies’ Civic Improvement Club, which had the goal of building a library in Langley. The group became officially incorporated in 1921 and would later be known as the Friends of the Langley Library.
Langley’s first female mayor, Helen Coe, was passionate about getting a library built and even quit her job as mayor to be its first librarian. Jacob Anthes, who led the city’s early development, deeded a plot of land to her for the public library to be constructed on, which was before Second Street even existed. Coe donated $500 towards construction costs.
“Five hundred dollars was a lot of money in those days, and it may have been the majority of the cost to build that building,” said Bob Waterman, a local historian with the South Whidbey Historical Society.
The original 1,185-square-foot structure also doubled as a community center and, sometimes, an Episcopal Church.
“Even though it’s small, it was a real community center as well as a library for a long time,” Waterman said.
Additions to the building were made in 1980 and 1993. The Langley Library became part of Sno-Isle Libraries in 1962.
Over the years, the Friends of the Langley Library have been instrumental in raising funds for the library. The organization will be holding a centennial celebration 1-4 p.m. this Saturday, Sept. 18.
Kathleen Petrich, the co-chairperson for the Friends of the Langley Library, said this Saturday’s festivities will include a book sale, live music, activities for kids, historical tours, individual cupcakes, raffle prizes and important speakers.
Langley Mayor Scott Chaplin, Langley Library Manager Vicky Welfare, Friends of the Langley Library President Jill Edwards and Sno-Isle Libraries Executive Director Lois Langer Thompson will all be speaking at the event.
Waterman will lead brief walking tours near the library. Petrich said there will be a ceremonial cake-cutting, but individuals will be able to take home their own boxed cupcakes.
Raffle prizes will be available, such as gift baskets from Langley businesses, wine glasses and a rug.
The Langley Library was finished and dedicated in 1923. According to Welfare, efforts are ongoing now to bring updates to the library that will improve access for people with disabilities.
The state Legislature has approved a matching grant from the Washington Department of Commerce. Sno-Isle Libraries and the Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation are committed to raising the rest of the funds.
Construction on the project could happen as soon as 2022. By the time the library turns 100 in 2023, Welfare is hopeful the renovations will be complete.