Residents Air Concerns Over Library's Plans For White Center & Boulevard Park Branches
Although Puget Sound Park no longer is under consideration as a potential site for a new King County library, White Center and Boulevard Park residents remain concerned about the future of their community libraries.
And little was said to ease their fears when the Planning Committee of the King County Library System (KCLS), chaired by library trustee Lucy Krakowiak, who is also a Burien City Councilwoman, met at the Burien Library on Thursday, Jan. 14.
Library system Director Bill Ptacek did tell those in attendance from the Highline area â€œthe park is no longer an issue.â€ In November, the library system considered buying Puget Sound Park as the site for a new facility to consolidate White Center and Boulevard Park libraries.
But the planning committee also got their first look at a list of goals and metrics for a Library System Area Analysis that, Ptacek said, would help determine â€œthe equitable distribution of library resourcesâ€ throughout the library district.
This process will guide the trustees in identifying what is needed to provide good library service, rather than just responding to â€œwho talks the loudest,â€ he added.
Board of trustees president Robert Spitzer later observed that if their goal system wide is to be â€œoriented toward consolidation,â€ then the most equitable approach would be to â€œbuild a 200,000 square foot library in the center of our service area.”
â€œThere is a balance to be reached between efficiencies and meeting community needs,â€ Spitzer continued. That includes â€œconsidering the level of community involvement and access.â€
Rachel Levine, a member of the White Center Library Guild, said the â€œmetrics donâ€™t mean anything if they donâ€™t meet the needsâ€ of these under-served communities.
Noting that the 2004 library bond issue, passed by voters throughout the library district, included funds for new or expanded library buildings in White Center and Boulevard Park, Levine asked, â€œWhy should we wait for that new library with the money there?â€
Ptacek said the metrics would be only the first step in a process for siting any new library. â€œThe nature of the library business is changing, with outreach and technology,â€ he noted. â€œThere is more to it than just four walls â€¦ it is old fashioned to look at a library building only.â€
But, responded Levine, â€œLibrary buildings are important because thatâ€™s where it happens â€¦ we have a very proud history [at the White Center Library] and we intend to keep it.â€
Highline residents will have an opportunity to address the library trustees during public comment at board meetings on Jan. 26 and Feb. 23. Both meetings begin at 5 p.m. at the library administrationâ€™s administrative offices at 960 Newport Way NW in Issaquah.
The February meeting includes the boardâ€™s quarterly public forum at which those speaking can take longer to make their points than the usual three minutes.
North Highlineâ€™s community libraries became an issue in November when word got out that former King County Executive Kurt Triplett had entered into an agreement that would sell Puget Sound Park at 1st Ave. S. and SW 126th St. to the library system.
The library system planned to use the park as the site for a new facility, where the White Center and Boulevard Park libraries then would be consolidated.
However, Burien objected to the sale of the park, which is in southern North Highline that will be annexed by the city on April 1. Two weeks ago, new King County Executive Dow Constantine announced that the county will cede the park to Burien as part of annexation.
The future of the two libraries, which is a library system and not a city issue, remains unresolved.
Before the Planning Committee meeting started, some in attendance criticized Ptacek and Krakowiak for sitting with their backs to the audience and indicating they would not introduce themselves. Introductions by the trustees and staff subsequently were made.
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