Our Langley Library is undergoing the largest remodel in its hundred year history. Construction began in March, and is expected to be completed within a year. Rest assured, the building’s exterior will maintain its historic appeal.

Last week I donned a hard hat, safety vest and closed-toe shoes to tour and report on the progress made by Valdez Construction, the contractor selected for the library’s construction project.

My tour guide was Chy Ross, Langley Library’s project manager, with the official title of Sno-Isle Library’s assistant director of capital strategy. Joining him were Kaley Costello, Langley Library’s manager, and Katie Leone, Sno-Isle Library’s marketing and communications manager.

A view from the lower level of the Langley Library. From left: Chy Ross, Langley Library’s project manager, with the official title of Sno-Isle Library’s assistant director of capital strategy. In the center is Katie Leone, Sno-Isle Library’s marketing and communications manager. On the right is Langley Library Manager Kaley Costello. Photo taken by Kate Poss

Upon entering, I was surprised to see that the former staff office, circulation desk and restrooms had been dismantled. Book shelves, counters, computers, tables and carpeting were removed. Walking among the new framing, I was struck by how much I love this space, and how, even in its bare bones state, the building felt like a sanctuary. I once worked here, and learned lifelong skills of understanding and research—which included finding the right book, the right film and the right music —for our community of patrons.

While walking through the library, I observed, and imagined as completed in my mind’s eye, the new 500 square-foot community meeting room. It is being framed where the former newspaper and magazine racks once surrounded a couch where patrons once snoozed beneath a big window. The new design features doors which can open to a larger space to accommodate gatherings for library and community events.

View of opening to first floor and proposed meeting room. Photo from Sno-Isle Libraries.

Additionally, public study rooms and an expanded staff area are framed in.

Opened in the center of the upper library’s 3,600 square foot floor is an entryway, making room for 1,500 square feet of public library space below.

Formerly a dusty and dark basement, where a library mystery program was once held, and donated books were stored, the space is now light-filled. The downstairs will eventually house a library collection, a study room, the library’s state-of-the-art energy efficient HVAC system, and the staff break room. Stairs will lead from the upper level to the bottom; and a clear elevator will transport patrons unable to manage the stairs.

Clerestory windows, to be installed on the upper level will provide natural lighting to both levels.

“Their installation allows us to be more energy efficient, and to use daylight for lighting,” Chy explained. “Interior lighting will be programmed, creating energy savings. One of the things we’re most excited about is the tremendous energy savings of the HVAC design, which will reduce our carbon footprint.”

View from the newly opened downstairs to upstairs. Photo shared by Sno-Isle Library

The library will have two public restrooms, after having only one for decades.

The children’s room, which was the original library a hundred years ago, revealed exposed wood framing, which remains rot free, attesting to the quality of wood used then. The original wainscoting along the ceiling will remain, as well as the brick fireplace, which will be framed.

The room will have doors that can be closed for children’s programs, and allow for neurodiverse families to feel comfortable.

Chy said 75% of the building material that was removed can be recycled or reused.

Meanwhile, Kaley Costello suggested that folks donate books, normally given to Friends of the Langley Library, to other Sno-Isle libraries, nearby South Whidbey Commons or Good Cheer, until the library opens in 2025. She said that Friends of the Langley Library donated $60,000 toward the library’s remodel.

“They’re very generous,” Kaley said.

When asked if any of the library’s original art will return, Kaley said the portrait of Helen Coe will be present in the remodel. Helen Coe was Langley’s mayor of an all-woman council in 1921. She purchased and deeded land to the Ladies’ Civic Improvement Club for a public library, reading rooms and auditorium.

“We can’t open without Helen!” Kaley said.

Helen Coe, 1921 mayor of the City of Langley, and the woman who bought and deeded the present site of the Langley Library in 1923. Photo from Langley Library

Stay tuned for further updates on the Langley Library remodel. In the mean time, the library is operating from a temporary location at the South Whidbey Community Center.

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