Effort to build new library will require planning, support, enthusiasm

A library has the opportunity to be the heart of a community.

Around the state, there are examples of how true this is — one of them being right here is Camas where the city’s library has become an active and vital place for people of all ages.

Libraries are places to become educated, broaden horizons, have fun, participate in enjoyable events, meet new friends and become exposed to people, places and ideas that might otherwise go unexplored.

For many years, the Washougal Community Library has sat tucked away in the downtown civic center complex. It’s a lovely place with an involved and enthusiastic librarian and staff, but it has the potential to be so much more. Many of the limitations have had to do with its size and location. The 2,400 square foot, one-level facility opened in 1981.

For good reason, the library was identified in a 2013 Fort Vancouver Regional Library facilities study as a high priority for replacement or enlargement. And the non-profit group Friends of the Washougal Community Library jumped on board as an active participant, cheerleader and work horse in the process.

As evidenced by the strong turnout at the most recent planning meeting, this effort has slowly built a solid foundation of supporters.

Cost estimates have ranged from $2.2 million for a renovation to upwards of $5 million for a brand new facility. Some funding would be provided by the FVRL, while the bulk would come from fundraising efforts and possibly a voter-approved bond.

While many of the details have yet to be worked out, this effort is off to a very strong start. With the right amount of planning, public support and enthusiasm, this project has the potential to become the heart of the Washougal community, and provide something wonderful for its citizens for years to come.

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