Library excels in volumes

  • Jenny Lynn Zappala<br>Enterprise writer
  • Monday, March 3, 2008 11:32am

With the Lynnwood Library, there is just more of everything.

The library’s collection contains 208,003 items — that’s 22 percent larger than the next largest collection in the Sno-Isle Library District, the Marysville Library.

To put it another way, one out of every seven items in the Sno-Isle Library District is assigned to the Lynnwood Library.

The large collection, in turn, attracts a large crowd. About half a million people entered the Lynnwood Library last year — about 1,400 people a day. About 60 percent of those visitors live outside of Lynnwood.

The library also sends items requested by patrons to neighboring libraries, like Mountlake Terrace and Brier. Altogether, patrons checked out 846,475 items from the Lynnwood Library last year.

That’s a lot of material.

“We are sort of used to it,” said managing librarian Michael Delury. “Lynnwood has a reputation of being a hustling, bustling place.”

That demand is also steadily increasing. From January to March of this year, patrons checked out 222,619 items — almost 9 percent more than last year during the same three-month period. The number of people who visited the library during that time period has increased by almost 3 percent compared to last year.

How will the library serve the demand, especially if it keeps growing? Sno-Isle Libraries is asking everyone — not just patrons — to think about what they like or don’t like about their local libraries in an outreach effort this spring. The key question is what do people want to see at their local libraries in the next five, 10 or 20 years?

Sno-Isle Libraries board of trustees are gathering the comments and will draft a 20-year plan for Sno-Isle Libraries later this year. A meeting about the Lynnwood Library will start at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 31, at the library.

Delury said he wants to know: “How do they envision their library evolving?”

The Lynnwood Library, which can trace its roots back to the 1940s, has already grown considerably.

The library opened at its current location in 1971. The brand new building was about 8,000 square feet, which is one third of the size of the Mountlake Terrace Library today.

Since then, the Lynnwood Library has been renovated three times. The latest renovation — which expanded the building to 25,920 square feet in 1999 — is supposed to last about 10 years, Delury said.

One of the library’s more popular features is the community room, which is used for library programs, public programs or meetings, Delury said. The room can hold about 60 people seated or about 120 people standing. Library programs for larger groups of people — which does happen — meet at local school gymnasiums.

“We try to have a hub here, a place for the community to gather,” he said. “This is something we would like to offer more of.”

As a regional library, it offers a sizable number of reference books and databases in all subjects. In addition, Lynnwood specializes in reference materials about business, economics, local government, personal finance and law.

In addition, patrons can find books, audiobooks and other items in eight languages: Chinese, English, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese. There are also a number of materials for English Language Learners to learn or practice English, Delury said.

A quiet place to think

Despite the sizable collection and access to other Sno-Isle Libraries, the librarians receive requests for books, magazines, CDs or other items not in the collection. The librarians consider the request and in most cases buy or borrow the item for the patron in a few weeks.

“The Internet has expanded people’s universe that way,” Delury said. “They find the item on the Internet and they turn to the library to provide it. For that reason, I don’t think the Internet is going to replace the library.”

The current facility also offers one group study room, one quiet study room for up to five people and 45 computers with Internet access. All of which are used frequently and often reach capacity, he said.

In particular, Delury said he sees a growing need for more public computers. For many patrons, the library computers are their only access to computers or the Internet, he explained.

Popularity can bring its own challenges. One of the most obvious is noise. The 25,920-square-foot building is, for the most part one, one large room and sound travels easily.

“I know we have a reputation for being a noisy library,” Delury said. “I would love to see that addressed. There are some days when it is really, really busy and it cannot be helped.”

Delury said he wishes he had more room to offer more quiet study areas, community rooms, group study rooms and public computers as well as maintain a larger collection. The library is a rare public place for individuals and groups to gather or to be alone, he said.

“There are very few quiet places any more — especially in a suburban or urban environment. A place to read, a place to think,” he said. “We want to be in a better position provide that for people.”

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