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Hannah Krumheuer, capital strategy and planning coordinator with the Sno-Isle Libraries, talks about the plan to remodel the Arlington Library during an open house on Sept. 1.

 

Sno-Isle Libraries officials are planning to remodel the Arlington Library and have begun the process to seek community input.

A community open house was held on Sept. 1 as the first step toward learning what the community wants.

“We have been developing a long-term strategic plan to see how our libraries are serving our communities,” said Hannah Krumheuer, capital strategy and planning coordinator with the Sno-Isle Libraries.

“The comprehensive remodel for Arlington is one of our first projects under that new plan,” she said.

The current building was constructed in 1981.

“I really love this building, but it’s ready for something new,” said Lois Langer Thompson, executive director of Sno-Isle Libraries. “There’s a lot to love about it and a lot to hope for."

The library district does not expect to need to get a bond approved for the remodel.

“A community member passed away a couple of years ago and she left a large portion of her estate to Sno-Isle Libraries Arlington, and that is the reason we are able to do an even larger project that we had originally intended,” said Thompson.

They are still exploring other funding sources such as grants to help with the new facility.

Both the interior and exterior spaces may change with the remodel work.

“I would encourage everyone to think big. We want to know exactly what is needed. While we may not be able to do everything, we can usually do a lot more than you would think,” said Krumheuer.

MSR Design, an architectural firm that specializes in designing libraries and has worked across the U.S., has been hired to lead the design.

Byoungjin Lee, an architect with MSR Design, said  they are here to fulfill the community’s vision.

“Every library is different as every community is different,” he said. “It could be closer to a 21st century library or closer to a traditional library. Your library is up to you.”

He encouraged residents to think about the needs of the next generation as well.

“This library was designed 1981 and has lasted for forty years, so you’re going to be designing it for the next 40 years,” said Lee.

The new library could have opportunities for more natural light, more gathering spaces and/or more outdoor spaces.

Lee said the remodeled facility should also be made with adaptability in mind.

“In a small library like this, flexibility and adaptability is a key feature for library design,” he said. “We can’t provide a space for each program, so the space has to accommodate multiple programs to be efficient.”

Bjorn Olson, with MSR Design, also added that libraries have usually been a place to make an equitable community.

“Library has always served as a way to equalize, to help people and provide support. And now there are new ways to do that,” he said. “This is an opportunity to provide a diversity of spaces to meet everyone’s needs.”

Community members gathered for the open house and to advocate for a variety of improvements for the library.

“This is long overdue,” said Michele Heiderer, a local resident who attended the open house.

A number of concerns and ideas were brought up during the meeting. 

“Several of us have families that have various handicaps and this library is very difficult to get into and out of with a wheelchair,” said Heiderer.

The need for air conditioning in the building was discussed, as well as spaces for students and kids.

In a smaller library it is difficult to find quiet spaces when a large activity is going on in the other side of the building, said community members.

Transportation access to the library was also requested, especially as Arlington continues to expand.

Other potential ideas include an outside space to have activities, and that it could also be used as a cold weather shelter during the winter.

Sno-Isle Libraries officials plan to continue gathering input for the Arlington Library remodel.

“We’ll be continuing to reach out to the community over the next three to fourth months,” said Krumheuer.

Those opportunities could include surveys or other chances to engage. Individuals can also leave comments online at sno-isle.org or they can talk with Arlington Library staff.

“We’re always here for your input, feedback and suggestions, so please come talk to us anytime,” said Monica Jackson, library manager for the Arlington Library.

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