By Jonalyn Woolf-Ivory
A bond measure to build a new Lake Stevens Library is on the Feb. 13 ballot.
If voters have a sense of deja vu, it’s understandable; the Lake Stevens community has been asking for and working toward a new, larger library for decades.
A 1997 study by the City of Lake Stevens said the present library was too small. The study called for a Library Capital Facility Area to fund a new building.
In 2005, a study by Sno-Isle Libraries showed 68 percent of survey respondents thought the library was too small and 75 percent thought a new building was a good idea. What happened? The worst economic crash in almost 80 years.
By 2010, the community was ready to try again. However, the previously identified location was no longer environmentally viable. Work began anew.
In 2016, the library district published a 10-year capital facilities plan. Front and center in the plan is a new Lake Stevens Library. A new location — one without wetlands — was found and purchased in the fall of 2016.
In 2017, 20 years after it was first recommended, voters had a chance to create a Library Capital Facility Area and fund a new library. The capital facility area passed with a 69 percent “yes” vote. The funding measure did nearly as well with 66 percent approval, but the required voter turnout came up short.
Which brings us to 2018.
The library hasn’t changed size for more than 30 years. Meanwhile, the Lake Stevens city population has grown from under 2,000 residents to more than 31,000.
Lake Stevens residents have valued their library since Mrs. Sophia Gibbs opened the book corner of her living room in 1945. Usage grew and in 1949, community members moved the library to the former Post Office. By 1954, the number of books checked out had grown by more than 7,000 percent. Thirty years later, the library moved to its current location.
If the Feb. 13 bond measure fails, a new and larger library would not be built. The community, if it chooses to, would begin the quest again.
If voters approve, they are keeping their money at home. It would stay right in the Lake Stevens community, building a library for now and the future.
Jonalyn Woolf-Ivory is the executive director of Sno-Isle Libraries. For more information go to www.sno-isle.org/lake-stevens.