The Friends of the Point Roberts Library (FOPRL) and guests from the community got a chance to fly through preliminary designs for a new library proposed for the old Julius fire station.
At FORPL’s April 25 annual general meeting architect David King presented a computer simulation of what the new library would look like. “Hopefully people will walk into it with a sense of wonder,” he said.
King said he was planning to preserve the north side of the building, including the old siren on the roof, replacing the garage doors with banks of windows to fill the space with indirect natural light. Workstations and seating areas adjacent to the windows will provide a gathering place as well as a place for people to access the many library services now available online. “The modern library is more a community meeting place,” King said, “We don’t get shushed in a library the way we used to.”
An extension added to the west would provide a separate room that could be used for meetings, as a teen space or for FOPRL book storage. “Flexibility would be one of the things we strive for,” King said.
While the design provides for ample shelving in the center of the building, Kyle Teeter with the Whatcom County Library System (WCLS) said they were still working out the collection that would move into the new space. Librarian Kris Lomedico said the new library might not have more books, but it would have more room to enjoy them.
“It might be fewer books with more display or more books with less display,” she said.
The children’s area at the south side of the building might honor the building’s history with a fire station theme, King suggested. Plans also include a fenced outdoor area.
Reporting for the fundraising committee, Judy Ross said the committee had raised $440,000 so far, mostly from community donations, and if a request for $130,000 in state funding comes through the project will be almost fully capitalized. “If the state doesn’t come through the parks board would likely ask the voters to support a levy,” she said. “It’s a small enough amount that we can do it if we all get behind it.” Ross said she anticipated a one-year levy would cost the median homeowner $27.
Speaking for the parks board, Mark Robbins said the board had approved an agreement committing them to bridge the funding gap. “The district’s interest is to convert Julius Fire Hall from an eyesore to a beautiful building that will serve our community,” he said.
A FOPRL subcommittee has been working with King and WCLS to get community input about the library design. “Our mandate was to discuss what the exterior of the building would look like,” said Peter Laird. “We also had productive discussions about the feeling of the inside.” The layout of the interior will fall to WCLS to make the best use of the space. “They have guided us in best practices for the 21st century library,” Laird said.
“It’s my job to bring the best value to all these resources,” King said.
Barbara Wayland, chair of the FOPRL support committee, said ongoing book sales helped keep current programs going and added a little extra, like additional magazines, to WCLS programming. “There’s a lot of interest in periodicals in Point Roberts,” she said. Wayland explained that any extra funds raised through book sales goes to the capital fund. Another fundraiser for the new library is underway, she said, adding FOPRL is raffling off an antique crazy quilt and tickets are available at the library.