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We are thrilled to announce today that NCW Libraries’ Board of Trustees has adopted an exciting plan to invest the Library’s $10.3 million Strategic Initiatives Fund on direct facility improvements across our system’s five-county area!

Our new and ambitious Facility Improvement Plan is the result of the Facility Condition Assessments we conducted in 2020 and the Facilities Planning and Visioning Strategy work that we finalized this year. Read on for the full press release and read a basic outline of the plan here.

PRESS RELEASE: October 4, 2021

NCW Libraries announced today that it is embarking on a $10 million, multi-year revitalization of 28 of its branch libraries to ensure that they are safe, accessible, welcoming spaces that are positioned to serve the diverse communities of North Central Washington for years to come. 

The library district will partner with cities and other building owners, investing their funds equitably across the district to update spaces and add features that will be unique to each location based on the identified needs and wants of each community. Library interiors will be improved both visually and functionally, providing inspiring spaces that are accessible to all.

“This project is an unprecedented opportunity for NCW Libraries to partner with its branch communities to redesign their libraries to bring them up to 21st century standards and more importantly, to reflect the communities they serve,” said Library Trustee Denise Sorom. “Spaces will be inviting and highly flexible in order to accommodate a wide range of programs. This will drive up visitation and opportunities for engaging with community partners. Libraries will be able to act as community gathering places, centers for creativity and learning in addition to offering the same wide range of services patrons have enjoyed for years.”

The work will be done over the next three to five years, in groups of 9 to 10 libraries at a time. Library officials will begin meeting with city leaders and building owners this fall to talk about the plan, and will then start gathering input from library users and community members on what changes they would like to see at their local library. The Library’s plan includes hiring a Facilities Manager to oversee the work.

Of the 30 libraries operated by NCW Libraries, 29 facilities are owned by cities and community groups. The library district is eager to partner with building owners to carry out this work. 

“The library facilities that our municipal partners and friends of the library groups provide for their communities play a crucial role in the library services we are able to make available, and we are incredibly grateful for them,” said Barbara Walters, Executive Director. “We are excited to partner with building owners and other stakeholders as we begin talking about how the library’s resources can enhance the library facilities they provide.”

The only library owned by the district — Wenatchee Public Library — recently underwent an extensive remodel and will not be included in this $10 million project. However, the Wenatchee Library recently received a $798,000 grant from the Washington State Department of Commerce to fund a second phase of work that will include the creation of a teen area and a coffee bar. This work will be completed in conjunction with the work at other libraries. 

In addition, the district’s Winthrop Library is currently under construction, so won’t be part of this larger multi-year project. NCW Libraries has worked closely with the Friends of the Winthrop Library, which is overseeing construction of the new facility, to apply their portion of the fund to furniture, fixtures, and other allowable costs. The Winthrop Library is on track to be completed in the spring of 2022. 

NCW Libraries’ previous administration had accumulated the $10 million reserve fund over several years, which the Library’s Board of Trustees set aside for strategic initiatives in 2018. “I can’t imagine a better way to spend this fund,” said Trustee Jim Mitchell. “This project is a clear and direct investment in our communities and in the future of library service in North Central Washington.”

“Modern, accessible libraries are the center pieces of vibrant communities,” said Trustee Jill Sheley. “This funding allows our libraries to create spaces that will uniquely fit the needs of each of our branch locations.  Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, each library can design and build what its own patrons value, ensuring that each library reflects the character of where it lives.”

NCW Libraries has been connecting people across the five-county region to vital library resources and opportunities for more than 60 years. In addition to its 30 branch libraries, the district operates two bookmobiles, provides mail order service and a robust array of digital collections and online resources, and offers STEM and bilingual outreach service throughout Chelan, Douglas, Grant, Okanogan, and Ferry counties.

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