With approval secured from the city’s Design Review Committee last month, design renderings for the remodel of the Langley Library will be presented at the Feb. 6 City Council meeting.
Washington State awarded a $700,000 grant to improve accessibility and energy efficiency of the hundred-year-old building, which is owned by the City of Langley. Its interior is managed by Sno-Isle Libraries. Plans for the building’s remodel must be secured by June 30, under the state grant requirements. At this point, the design/review/remodel process is less than halfway through its journey from concept to grand opening.
The total project cost is anticipated to be $2.6 million, of which more than $1 million will go toward repairs and updates to the building infrastructure, notes Katie Leone, Marketing and Communications Manager for Sno-Isle Libraries. The funding sources are:
- $700,000 Washington Library Capital Improvement Grant
- Sno-Isle Libraries investment of matching funds for the Washington Library Capital Improvement Grant, as well as additional contributions to meet the budget.
- $30,000 from Langley Friends of the Library
- Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation
According to the library’s project overview web page: “The project will be completed in 2023 and will include interior and exterior upgrades to improve accessibility and energy efficiency while preserving the historic nature of the building. The design concepts are a direct reflection of our community voices. They also draw upon the library’s rich history as a convening space for everyone. The surrounding natural landscape is incorporated throughout the designs, with color and textures inspired by Saratoga Passage and greater Puget Sound. The library building will be enhanced to become even more of a jewel in historic downtown Langley, and an inclusive, inspiring space for all.”
There’s been a slight kerfuffle blowing about in the community the past months surrounding the design as we see it now. Rumors spread that the remodel plans were too urban, too cold, and did not embrace the welcome and heart feeling we love about the existing library.
To help bring clarity about the new design, which will primarily impact the library’s interior space, Lois Langer Thompson, Sno-Isle Library’s executive director, visited the library the morning of Feb. 3. Ms. Langer Thompson expressed appreciation to the community for its passion around wanting to preserve the library’s welcoming community atmosphere and its historic appeal.
“It is about being a community Library and about Langley,” said Ms. Langer Thompson. “We love how passionate everyone is about their library.”
Lois Langer Thompson excelled in project management and grant securing in her previous role as director at Hennepin County Library, which serves Minneapolis and the surrounding county. She was appointed as Sno-Isle Libraries executive director in 2018 following a nationwide search.
“I am a huge believer in libraries that reflect the community,” Ms. Langer Thompson said. “In the case of Langley, we have done a lot of community engagement, whether in person or through surveys.”
Having talked with Langley staff and upper management, the word is the new library interior, once completed, is designed to embrace the community, provide a meeting room and expand the library to a what is currently a downstairs storage site beneath the building. Provisions will be made for people with disabilities to have better access. The new building will have two public restrooms instead of one and a staff break area downstairs.
To the eye unfamiliar with such renderings, the color scheme, furnishings and landscape of the rendering are concepts, and not the final outcome, Ms. Langer Thompson said. Langley staff, if you ask them, will also explain that the renderings we see today are preliminary models of how the interior will be arranged, not its ultimate wall color, carpet texture or number of seating areas.
Ms. Langer Thompson emphasized that the library when its remodel is complete, will be welcoming to everyone.
“I want to do a big push for everyone to be welcome,” she said. “We wish to create inspiring spaces so that customers and staff experience spaces that are welcoming, inclusive, easy-to-use, and support current and emerging library use.”