San Juan Island Library Board plans on building a new library

San Juan Island Library Board has decided to build a new library building at a still-to-be-determined location. The feasibility study by SHKS Architects  can be viewed here.

At open houses held in the spring, community members were invited to indicate their preferred alternative between expansion of the present building, construction of a new building, and keeping the Library as is.

Library Director Laurie Orton said, “It was pretty clear from the data collected that community members were most supportive of the option to build a new library.”

Of the 134 people who indicated their preferences at the open houses and in subsequent surveys, 75% chose a new building, versus 23% who chose expansion of the current structure.

“Taking into account the challenges posed by the current structure and that the cost for expanding and retrofitting an older building costs nearly as much as creating a new, carefully planned library from the ground up, it’s not surprising that people chose the new building option,” observed Orton.

The top three problems community members identified with the current building included inadequate and difficult parking, growth restrictions on the library’s various materials collections, and the need for larger meeting and program spaces for events, as attendance has outstripped capacity over the years. Additional high priorities included a more energy efficient, cost-saving building infrastructure, improved areas for teens and children, and more quiet reading spaces and computers.

We are excited about the possibilities of a new, modern library,” said Orton, “but we still have a long way to go on this project.” Still remaining are site selection and acquisition, funding, design, and construction.

The Library has issued a Request for Qualifications for Owner Representation Services

The San Juan Island Library is requesting Statements of Qualifications from interested owner representation firms to represent the Library in the development of a new library building and other improvements to real property at a site to be determined. It is our desire that the firm see this project through the entire process from site selection, planning, funding and design, through construction and occupancy. The complete RFQ can be obtained at under “About Us/Library Building Project. Submittal due date is Friday, November 9, 2018 at 6:00pm. For questions, please contact Laurie Orton, San Juan Island Library Director at No phone calls please.

1 comment

  • Brian Endres Sunday, 14 October 2018 07:25 Comment Link

    The time will come when all libraries will become virtual. Brick-and-mortar buildings will become a thing of the past and content will be accessed digitally - to the benefit of everyone including those who have mobility challenges. Is it a prudent financial strategy to double-down on a physical venue which will soon become obsolete?

    Please don't misinterpret my thoughts though, I believe in the world which opens up to us with the world that authors create for us. But out society is in the process of setting aside our VHS tapes and DVDs in exchange for digital content. Printing photographs is becoming rare (look what happened to Kodak), and snapshots are now retained on smart phones and Facebook.

    This is the time for real leadership to show foresight and create a virtual library for all of the islanders.

    But I will miss the smell of a book and the feel of turning a page!


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