Magazine article American Libraries

It Came from the Sea: The Chronicle of a Library Move

Magazine article American Libraries

It Came from the Sea: The Chronicle of a Library Move

Article excerpt

REPLACING THE LIBRARY GIVES A WASHINGTON COMMUNITY AN OPPORTUNITY TO RECYCLE A BUILDING IN A MOST UNUSUAL WAY.

"We'll take the old Belfair library. Just put it on a barge and float it to Hoodsport." That was the running joke Hoodsport Library Supervisor Nancy Triplett kept alive for over a year. She was more surprised than anyone when it really happened.

Triplett had been at the tiny Hoodsport library for a couple of years and was very vocal in her advocacy for a new facility. There had been close calls in the past. At one time, a site had been selected and an offer made for the property. The appraisal for the site came in $40,000 less than the asking price, however, and the deal was off.

Meanwhile, the district had begun making plans to replace a 3,600-square-foot library it owned in Belfair, a community at the other end of Hood Canal in Washington's Puget Sound. Plans for the new library called for the demolition of the old one. It was from those plans that Triplett got her running joke.

With the community behind us

The library district's budget for 1996 did include a commitment to purchase property in the Hoodsport area for a future library site. Although our search for property thus far had been unsuccessful, we knew that we would find one sooner or later. As it turned out, it was to be much sooner.

"Jim, check into it." These four words to me from Lewis County Trustee Bill Lawrence set the project in motion.

A meeting of the Timberland Regional Library (TRL) board of trustees is usually a small affair attended by seven or eight staff members and a handful of local library supporters. The March 1996 meeting in Hoodsport was quite a different story.

Close to 100 area library users turned out to let the board know how important their library was to them. After they warmed us up with a wonderful potluck dinner and good company, they let us have it with both barrels. We heard loud and clear how small and crowded their library was. We also got the message that they expected more than just lip service about their situation.

After a lengthy discussion about the shortcomings of their library, Kitty Schiltz, TRL manager over the Hoodsport library, decided to start taking seriously the standing joke about floating the library down Hood Canal.

Bill Lawrence fastened on the idea and instructed me to find out if it was possible. Since the district didn't yet have a place to put the building, we also formed a committee to evaluate possible library sites. The avalanche that followed began with one snowball of a comment, and within seven months the library was moved to its new home.

A site for more ayes

"This is where the library is going to go," was the unison response from the site selection committee as we got out of our cars at the final site on the list.

On a typical Pacific Northwest April day, our group had endured a steady rain as we went from site to site. At each location we put our imaginations to work as we discussed how to overcome its limitations. After several stops, we felt that we could probably choose an adequate site from the ones we had seen. But community representative George Bowen had saved the best for last.

The library site we unanimously chose is located in the middle of town on 1.7 acres of flat, clear land. That would have been good enough, but as an added bonus we got a panoramic view of Hood Canal, which is part of Puget Sound. The site also has an appropriate link to the past, as it had once been the home of the Hoodsport schoolhouse.

The price of the property was considerably more than what was budgeted, but we were hopeful that we might be able to get it for less. An appraisal supported the $199,000 asking price, so we knew that, even though it was a lot of money, it was fair. Nevertheless, we decided to offer quite a bit less and see if the owner would bite. Surprise: He accepted our offer of $170,000 with no negotiation and we closed the deal soon after. …

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