Washougal Library supporters consider move to a new location

Mayor Sean Guard hopes Fort Vancouver Regional Library District assists with the process

File photo The Washougal Community Library, currently located at 1661 “C” St., offers a variety of popular activities for people of all ages. Several members of the Friends of the Washougal Library organization have said they would like to see the facility move to a new, larger location.

The Fort Vancouver Regional Library District currently pays the city of Washougal $1 per year, for the use of the library building at 1661 “C” St., in the City Hall complex.

That type of financial arrangement is not likely to occur again if the library relocates.

More than 35 people attended a Friends of the Washougal Library meeting March 13. In addition to longtime and brand new Friends members and Washougal Community Librarian Christine Hughey, the meeting was attended by Washougal Mayor Sean Guard and Lone Wolf Development Representative Adam Taylor. The Community Libraries Director for FVRL Jill Rourke and FVRL Foundation Director Rick Smithrud were also there.

The library is currently 2,400 square feet, with 1,800 square feet of that dedicated to public use. The remaining area is for staff and storage.

“We would love to quadruple that,” Hughey said. “At 6,000 to 8,000 square feet, we’d be in heaven. At 4,000 square feet, we’d be close to heaven.

“We are splitting at the seams,” she added.

Friends member Bernice Pluchos would like to see separate meeting rooms for research, as well as a children’s area “where they can talk” in a larger library. Suggestions by others included more computers, reading areas, comfortable chairs, room for a book sale, staff offices, an early learning center and space for a gallery.

Hughey announced the library has received a $200 donation from an individual to use in a children’s room.

“The seed money is for Washougal, to stay in Washougal,” she said.

Rourke said the process of considering a relocation of the library will take time, and she encouraged Friends members to develop a community survey to gauge the interest of Washougal residents on that topic.

“Where are [library] users going if they don’t feel they are being served?” she asked.

“I need assurances it’s something the community really wants,” Rourke added.

“It’s something the community really wants,” Guard replied.

During the Washougal City Council meeting last night, he emphasized that the library needs a larger space and said he was disappointed with the meeting with the FVRL representatives.

He plans to send a letter to the FVRL board today.

“We hope we can get an assist from Fort Vancouver Regional Library, or we could try to move forward on our own,” Guard said.

Meanwhile, Taylor said Lone Wolf Development — owner of Washougal Town Square — does not have a space identified for the library.

“All the decision makers involved in this said it’s too early in the process to make any offers,” he said Monday, by phone. “They need to vet the community’s interest in taking on a new library campaign.

“It would be really easy if the city said ‘we’ve got the money’ and/or FVRL said ‘we’ve got the money,’” Taylor added. “Where do we want to put them, and when do they want to open? We’re nowhere near taking an offer on the space.”

Library officials have offered to quantify what their space needs are and give Taylor a sense of what it would take — in rough numbers — to operate a new space and what funds are available for that.

“We can help identify potential locations and provide numbers on what it would take to build a library of that size and what it would take to lease a library of that size,” Taylor said.

“This could be a couple year process with a significant fundraising component,” he added. “We’re willing to talk about what this would take. We’re excited for the opportunity to collaborate, but it takes creativity, time and effort.”

Taylor has previously said a successful ‘deal’ would require financial input from the citizens of Washougal — probably in the form of a bond — as well as the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District and the city.

Additional discussions by Friends of the Washougal Library are expected to take place at the next meeting Tuesday, March 27, at 7 p.m., in the Washougal Community Center, 1681 “C” St. The meeting is open to the public. Friends’ memberships are $5 per person.

For more information about the Friends, contact the organization’s president Sallie Tucker Jones at 837-3826.

Washougal Library will be temporarily closed

The library will be closed for a few days, while new carpeting is installed.

The installation will occur Friday through Wednesday, March 28. The library will remain closed for a staff training day Thursday, March 29. That will involve employees from all of the FVRL branches.

The library will reopen Friday, March 30, at 10 a.m. For more information, call the branch at 835-5393 or visit www.fvrl.org.

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