Langley library to get $2 million facelift

— Created November 23, 2022 by Kathy Reed

By Kathy Reed

Sno-Isle Libraries is getting closer to giving the Langley library a facelift.

The organization has procured a $700,000 Washington State library capital improvement grant to provide updates to the library’s infrastructure and accessibility. Sno-Isle Libraries must provide matching funds and the overall cost of the project is expected to be approximately $2 million.

“We’re really excited to be doing this project and working with the City of Langley to move forward on this,” said David Durante, Sno-Isle Libraries deputy director. “We’re working through putting together a bit of an update to the building and a lot of infrastructure and accessibility updates as some of the big changes and we’re also looking at expanding the building into some space currently being used as storage areas for the city. It will provide more space and allows the creation of more different areas for different uses in the library, so it’s a really exciting project.”

Durante outlined some of the infrastructure changes during an online interview with Whidbey Weekly last week. He said they are looking at bringing the wheelchair ramp in front of the building up to code, as well as the restrooms. Additional work will include shoring up the building and improving its eco-friendliness as well as adding a breakroom for employees. Other changes include making shelving more accessible for those in wheelchairs and people of different heights. One of the biggest changes will be adding a meeting room.

“In every community that has one, it’s one of our most popular items,” Durante said of the meeting space. “Currently Langley’s library doesn’t have a meeting room, so we’ll be able to add that for folks. The architects have worked really hard to give us a lot of flexibility, which is really important in a smaller building like that. We’re really excited, it’s just really cool.”

Another big change to the facility will be using the lower level of the building. Durante said they will be adding a lift to make it more accessible, but said he is most excited about how they will be able to use the added space.

“It’s going to provide more space for books, it’s going to provide more seating for quiet reading, there’ll be some Zoom rooms down there so there will be opportunities for people who need to take an interview with the newspaper, for example, to come in and sit and have a private space to do their Zoom meeting,” he said.

“It’s going to be really neat because by creating some of these spaces for people to work, we’ll be able to provide different areas for different types of learners,” Durante continued. “Some people learn kinesthetically, some people are auditory learners, some people learn by reading. We’ll be able to provide all those spaces for everybody. We’ve had a lot of community engagement around it so that kind of excitement makes a project like this all the more enjoyable.”

The Langley library, which is the oldest library on Whidbey Island, gets about 50,000 visits a year. It is a well-used, well-loved library that continues to prove how vital public libraries are when it comes to providing information.

“Especially in a day and age when there’s just so much information, it’s important to be able to access it in a free and unfettered way,” Durante said. “And of course, the community role the library has taken on recent years, we’re starting to think of ourselves more as a community platform, a place for people to come and discuss ideas, have a free flow of information and thought and discussion. It’s just such a cool role for us as a civic forum for people to be able to come and talk and learn, not to mention all of the early learning work that we do both in the library and out in the community. Storytimes have been proven time and time again to provide such a good foundation for learning and going forward in school.”

A start date for the project has not been set; Sno-Isle Libraries has until June 2023 to begin the work. Durante said a timetable for how long the project might take has yet to be determined.

“We are so happy to be working with Langley,” he said. “We treasure the relationship we have with the community and that starts with our local staff and people who are working every day in that community. So, a shout-out to the staff and a shout-out to the community for the great relationship they have built together over the years.”

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