Larger space will let Camano library grow

CAMANO ISLAND The high-ceilinged, sprawling space inside the former restaurant, lit by sunlight streaming through a stained glass window, is expected to be a big change for the Camano Island Library.

The library’s temporary home in a different building at Terry’s Corner on Sunrise Boulevard is about 1,800 square feet. The children’s area is defined by a single polka-dot rug and the bookshelves are on wheels so they can be rolled out of the way for events.

Sno-Isle Libraries has been leasing the space for a Camano Island pilot project since 2007. The library hopes within a year to be in a larger, long-term home at the former restaurant.

On April 22, Camano Island voters approved a $2.3 million bond to establish a permanent library location.

The bond failed to pass by about 75 votes out of 5,800 cast in the August 2013 election, Sno-Isle Communications Director Ken Harvey said. As a tax measure, it needed at least 60 percent of the vote to pass.

The April 22 ballot measure garnered 62 percent.

The 10-year bond adds 9 cents per $1,000 assessed property value to taxes for Camano Island property owners. That amounts to $22.50 a year on a $250,000 home.

The bond dollars are meant to remodel the former Islander Espresso &Cafe, located a couple doors down from where the library is now. It’s 4,900 square feet, nearly triple the current space.

“It’s been a bit of a pinch,” Sno-Isle Deputy Director Kendra Trachta said. “The new facility will allow us to do a lot more that the community deserves.”

The current library has one full-time manager and four part-time employees. Sno-Isle plans to add staff and hours, though a specific schedule and staffing levels have not been finalized.

More space and hours means more programming for children, teens and adults, Trachta said.

A building committee of Sno-Isle staff, architects and community representatives meets monthly to look at options for the new library’s design.

An open house is scheduled from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the current library for people to review ideas for the new library’s layout and features. A second open house is planned for later this summer, though a date has not been set, Harvey said.

Sno-Isle hopes to bid the project this fall, with construction kicking off around Jan. 1, 2015, he said. The goal is to fit construction into a six-month window, which would place the tentative opening date somewhere in June 2015.

Though operational expenses are likely to increase at the Camano Island Library with more staff and hours, the Sno-Isle budget will adjust, Trachta said. People on Camano Island are not expected to pay any new library taxes beyond the bond measure.

“Because of the way we’re funded by tax dollars, we certainly want to provide library services for everyone in Snohomish and Island counties,” Trachta said. “But we couldn’t make a library building appear out of thin air.”

Sno-Isle Libraries purchased the former Islanders building for $625,000. More than $1.5 million of the bond money is for the purchase and renovations, according to a Sno-Isle project budget. Nearly $700,000 has been set aside for new furniture and supplies, including $450,000 for books, CDs, DVDs and other materials that will be available for checkout. The library’s collection is expected to increase from about 5,000 items to 15,000.

Sno-Isle reports that there are 10,612 library card holders on Camano Island. Library staff counted nearly 69,000 people at the library in 2013, checking out a total of 149,000 items and participating in 122 Camano Island Library programs.

“For the size of the building and the size of the community we’re in, we’ve seen good usage,” Trachta said.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com.

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