Happy Birthday Woodinville Library! ‘Heart of the community’ celebrates 20 years

  • Written by Deborah Stone
Photo by Marcia Seip, president of Friends of the Woodinville Library Featured is the special installation of lanterns by local fiber artist Suzanne Tidwell.
On February 1, 1993, Woodinville Library opened its doors to the community.

People poured into the 15,000-square-foot building in Cottage Lake and brought it to life.

Librarian Pam Hunter remembers the day well. “It was wild!” she says. “The lines to check out materials were backed up all the way around the place and people were so excited that we were finally open.”

She adds, “It was so clear that the community had this hunger, this built-up need for a library.”

That first day, library staff issued 250 library cards to new patrons who promptly proceeded to make a large dent in the library’s well-stocked shelves. It took seven years of tireless effort, which began on a grassroots level, to make the library a reality. Construction costs totaled $3.8 million, with funds that came from King County Library District’s 1988 bond issue.

Community input influenced the project from siting to design, and over 100 volunteers, most who were members of the Friends of the Woodinville Library, helped with move-in activities.

Over the years, the library has expanded its services and programs.

“We moved into the digital age,” comments Laura Boyes, library cluster manager (Woodinville, Duvall and Carnation), “and we evolved with the changing times. We now have computers and Internet access, wireless, electronic books, an automated materials handling system, self check-in and out services, and much more.”

As for services and programs, the library offers story times for toddlers, preschoolers and families, Talk Time for ESL learners, computer classes, a men’s book club, topical programs for adults, Study Zone, a variety of special arts/cultural activities and programs for youth and Book a Librarian, among others.

For 2012, the library held 382 programs with an average monthly attendance of 930.

Total number of people who came through the doors for the year was 232,055.

The library is also involved in community outreach. Boyes says, “Our Library 2 Go van heads out to daycare and community centers in the Woodinville, Duvall and Carnation areas, and soon we’re going to have a mobile learning lab equipped with computers. It will be more of a tech center and we will be offering classes in science, math, citizenship and other subjects for students and adults. We also offer career and employment classes for adults at WorkSource in Redmond.”

She adds, “We strive to meet the needs of the community and expand our reach to those who can’t get to the library or who are unaware of our services.”

Use of the library’s study rooms and recently expanded meeting room has been on the rise, as such areas are becoming popular places for clubs and organizations to hold their meetings.

The meeting room, in particular, with its added windows and opening into the library, is proving to be an ideal spot to hold special programs. Hunter notes that the library is truly “the heart of the community” – the theme for the library’s 20th anniversary celebration.

“We are a valuable community resource,” she comments. “And despite the fact that we live in a digital world now where information is so readily available, people still come here for the human or social interaction.”

Marcia Seip, president of the Woodinville Friends of the Library, wholeheartedly agrees with Hunter. She feels the library is the core of the community and the place that new residents often head to first to gain information about their surroundings and the services in the area.

“It’s a way to get your bearings,” she explains. “And then people just keep coming back because they find it welcoming and they are able to connect with others.”

Seip, who has been with the Friends for nearly eight years, remarks on the organization’s role, noting that it supports the services and programs of the library.

“We are all advocates of the library,” she adds, “and we help to raise money for a variety of adult, teen and children’s programs.”

The Friends’ primary fundraising vehicle is sales from used books that have been donated from the community.

Members of the group sort and stock the bookshelves in the library’s lobby, as well as set aside items for the large annual book sale event.

Monthly proceeds from the sale of used books typically nets about $700. Last year, the Friends gave over $8,000 to the library in program support.

“Without the Friends, we wouldn’t be able to provide so many quality programs for our patrons,” remarks Boyes. “The group is invaluable to the library, and its members are hardworking volunteers who truly make a difference.”

To celebrate the library’s 20th anniversary, Friends of the Library is sponsoring an open house for the public with a host of fun activities, giveaways, door-prizes, birthday cake and refreshments.

Kids can get their pictures taken with Llama Llama and watch Roberto the Magnificent’s interactive comedy, amazing stunts and juggling show, while teens and adults can learn how to use old books and magazines for fun home décor and gifts.

And for those interested in sharing their stories and reminiscing about the library’s early years and beyond, there will be a special session, “20 Years of Memories,” to enjoy.

To promote the event ahead of time, an exhibit on the history of the library is on view in the entrance area display case. Outside, a colorful installation by local fiber artist Suzanne Tidwell greets patrons, creating a festive mood for the upcoming celebration.

Sponsored by the Friends of the Woodinville Library, the piece is comprised of eight bold-hued lanterns that hang in the building’s portico.

“The colors match those we chose for the theme of the celebration,” comments Seip, “and we thought they would bring color on gray winter days.”

As for the library’s next 20 years, Boyes views enormous changes ahead. She muses that it will be very interesting to see how we access materials.

“It will be easier,” she says, “but filtering the content will be an issue. The library will take a role in helping others with this process. I also think that the manner in which we reach out to people may change, with more opportunities becoming available in this area.”

She adds, “As new technologies come through, libraries must embrace those that have to do with reading, literacy and information. We must continue to evolve to meet the needs of the community.”

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