A throng of eager bibliophiles — over 200 book lovers of all ages — and local dignitaries were on hand as the city of Kenmore opened the doors to its new library at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday.
The 10,000-square-foot facility, located at 6531 NE 181st Street across from Kenmore Village, is more than four times larger than the previous library which was housed in a triple-wide trailer about a half mile down the block.
Construction of the new $8.4 million edifice designed by Weinstein A/U and built by Sierra Construction began in June of 2010 and is part of the $172 million capital bond approved by county voters in 2004 to fund major upkeep and expansion of King County Library System libraries.
KCLS Director Bill Ptacek welcomed the crowd and served as master of ceremonies before turning the microphone over to KCLS Board President Judge Richard Eadie, King County Councilmember Bob Ferguson and Kenmore City Councilmember Glenn Rogers, among others.
Eadie called the project a testimonial to a community working together, Ferguson quoted Thomas Jefferson ("I cannot live without books") and Rogers summed up the happy addition to Kenmore’s ambitious downtown revitalization plan: "Once you have a new fire department, a new city hall, a new post office and a new library you really are a city."
The comment was met with rousing applause before Ptacek, with help from members of Cub Scout Pack 622 and Girl Scout Troops 2176 and 42355, cut the ribbon and the front doors were opened to the public for the first time.
The project architects designed the building around the concept of transparency. To encourage community gathering, an open reading room comprises the central interior space.
The library interior features a children’s area, teen area, meeting room and open space.
Many sustainable features are included in the design: the orientation of the building and skylights maximizes natural lighting throughout the building; a raised roof with under-floor air distribution efficiently heats, cools and ventilates the interior; carpet and paint contain low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and a rain garden helps reduce pollution and flooding while providing habitat for wildlife outside the library.
The site design includes a public plaza to the north of the building, connecting the library to the downtown core.
Parking is located below the building in addition to surface parking.
Kenmore Councilmember Laurie Sperry, also a member of the Kenmore Library Advisory Board, did not speak publicly but her ear-to-ear smile spoke volumes.
"This really is an historic day that was a long time coming," she said. "An incredible amount of community work went into the bond passage, advocating for the new library and the city worked hand in hand with our elected officials and the library system to relocate the post office right across the street so we could build this at this location. We’ve got a huge supportive library community and it’s a huge day and a beautiful building.
"It symbolizes the completion of our main street and we’re getting that walkable community that we’re striving for."
The new library, with banks of available computers and 15 laptops that can be checked out within the building, has expanded hours: Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday closed.