Staff from the North Olympic Library System (NOLS) join project partners at the groundbreaking of the Sequim Library expansion on Wednesday. Pictured, from left, are Kyle and Carrie Priest, owners of Hoch Construction; NOLS board members Jennifer Pelikan; Cyndi Ross and chair Mark Urnes; NOLS collection services manager Erin Shield, facilities manager Brian Phillips, executive director Noah Glaude and Sequim Library manager Emily Sly; Marlo Dowell of Acila Consulting; and Pia Westen and Adam Hutschreider of SHKS Architects. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Staff from the North Olympic Library System (NOLS) join project partners at the groundbreaking of the Sequim Library expansion on Wednesday. Pictured, from left, are Kyle and Carrie Priest, owners of Hoch Construction; NOLS board members Jennifer Pelikan; Cyndi Ross and chair Mark Urnes; NOLS collection services manager Erin Shield, facilities manager Brian Phillips, executive director Noah Glaude and Sequim Library manager Emily Sly; Marlo Dowell of Acila Consulting; and Pia Westen and Adam Hutschreider of SHKS Architects. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Sequim library breaks ground

3,800-square-foot expansion expected to be complete by spring 2025

SEQUIM — More than four decades after Gertrude Nelson helped break ground for a facility, Sequim Library advocates celebrated the start of a new chapter in its history.

Staff, supporters and partners of the North Olympic Library System planted their shovels into a mound of earth in front of the to-be-renovated library at 630 N. Sequim Ave. on Wednesday, marking the start of a project that will add about 3,800 square feet and myriad amenities to the well-used structure.

“I think people of Sequim will be excited about what they see,” library trustee Bert Caldwell said.

Tons of library materials and resources were moved from the North Sequim Avenue building to its temporary location in the former Brian’s Sporting Goods, 609 W. Washington St., Suite 21, which opened April 1. Library patrons will use that location until the renovations are completed in spring 2025.

With about 50 people in attendance, library leaders praised the efforts of key donors as well as staff for making the transition and renovation possible.

“We spent no small time figuring out how to make this day a reality,” library trustee Mark Urnes said.

In a short ceremony inside the hollowed-out library structure, NOLS executive director Noah Glaude gave a thumbnail sketch of the Sequim Library’s growing pains over the past 20-plus years — the 2001 feasibility study, the renovation in 2009 provided by Friends of Sequim Library, a second feasibility study in 2014, the November 2018 bond vote that garnered the approval of most area voters (more than 58 percent, but short of the 60 percent supermajority required to pass), the $2 million state Department of Commerce grant awarded in 2020, and the fundraising in between that has the library system on its way toward an almost-new facility.

“Though it was heartbreaking, we learned a lot through that process,” Glaude said.

“We haven’t had the money to do this project for years,” he said, and funds are still need to cover the overall costs.

Library staff estimated construction at about $6.2 million and about $3.120 million in soft costs, for about $9.32 million total.

“We’re still getting donations without having to twist arms,” he said.

Clallam County commissioner Mike French was on hand to add to the chorus of thanks and praise for project partnerships. He said the library is an example of the value of having a place in the community that offers culture and art in a clean, safe, welcoming and inclusive atmosphere where people don’t have to spend money.

Also among those in attendance was Amy Fortier, who moved to the area in 2012 from Olympia and immediately became a card-carrying library user.

“I’m a big supporter of libraries; always have been,” she said.

Fortier is involved with a number of NOLS activities, from in-person and online book clubs to outdoor activities, Humanities Washington events and more. She joined Friends of Sequim Library efforts and was part of the new building campaign in 2017.

“The library has offered so many activities of all the ages,” she said.

“We’re thrilled [about the expansion],” she said. “A physical presence of a library is so important.”

In addition to adding more than 50 percent of space to the existing 6,255-square-foot library, the renovation will include ADA-accessible bathrooms, a fire-sprinkler system, increased space for collections, improved community access to broadband and computers, new study and conference rooms, adequate staff space, and more room for educational, cultural and civic

“Critical infrastructure upgrades will not only provide a modern, attractive and flexible building, the Library will become significantly more sustainable and better able to act as a community hub and build resiliency during extreme weather events and natural disasters,” NOLS representatives noted on their website.

Urnes said NOLS has tried to balance the desires of library users for printed materials with the growing use of computers and advanced technology.

“With this groundbreaking today, we are realizing that balancing,” he said.

Fortier, in considering the Sequim Library expansion, said, “This is more than for the next generation; it’s for the next generations.

“Hopefully the Sequim community [also] feels that way.”

________

Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Sequim Gazette of the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which also is composed of other newspapers Peninsula News and Forks Forum. Reach him at editor@sequimgazette.com.

Donors join staff from the North Olympic Library System and construction partners at the groundbreaking of the Sequim Library expansion project on Wednesday. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Donors join staff from the North Olympic Library System and construction partners at the groundbreaking of the Sequim Library expansion project on Wednesday. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

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