Reimagining Spaces Project
NCW Libraries is investing more than $10 million in a multi-year project to redesign 29 of our community libraries. The Reimagining Spaces Project is our way of ensuring that all of our libraries are safe, accessible, welcoming spaces that are positioned to serve the diverse communities of North Central Washington for years to come.
This project is built on the idea that our future libraries will be most successful if we start with YOU – our library users, supporters, and community members. As a result, a key component of each library’s reimagining will be a series of events and opportunities that explore what each community needs and wants from their local library.
Our libraries already provide spaces to learn, connect, and access the vital resources and experiences we provide. We are eager to bring a fresh update to each space so that we can better serve every member of our communities.
2022-2023: Brewster, Curlew, Peshastin
2023-2024: Bridgeport, Chelan, Ephrata, Manson, Omak, Oroville, Soap Lake
2024-2025: East Wenatchee, George, Grand Coulee, Leavenworth, Mattawa, Okanogan, Pateros, Tonasket, Waterville
2025-2026: Coulee City, Entiat, Moses Lake, Quincy, Republic, Twisp, Warden
We hope to accomplish all projects within five years, with several cohorts per year.
More Info & General Questions
The mission of NCW Libraries is to connect the people of North Central Washington to vital resources and opportunities that foster individual growth and strengthen communities. Guided by our strategic plan, we are working to strengthen our core services, build community partnerships, and enhance our user experience.
For the last sixty years, NCW Libraries has served communities throughout Chelan, Douglas, Grant, Okanogan, and Ferry Counties through the operation of 30 community libraries, 2 mobile bookmobiles, and a robust mail order library system. Our city partners, as well as Friends of the Library groups in unincorporated communities, have faithfully provided and managed the physical spaces that allow us to provide a diverse collection of materials, and dynamic public programs, to a broad audience. While we work hard to get the most out of the buildings our partners provide, many of these facilities were never designed to meet the needs of a growing public with 21st century needs like job skills training, community events, public meeting rooms, modern technology, or ADA accessibility.
Recognizing the need, the NCW Libraries Board of Trustees acted in 2021 to allocate $10.3 million dollars for interior improvements to the physical spaces that the library system operates. These funds and the guidelines surrounding them are intended to help NCW Libraries reach four important goals:
- Make a visible and impactful investment in library service to our communities.
- Follow an engaging, community-centric concept design process that will build and strengthen community partnerships and increase usership of local libraries.
- Ensure that library staff have access to high-functioning spaces equipped to make their work more efficient and their working conditions more acceptable and equitable.
- Designate and spend taxpayer resources equitably and sustainably and within an appropriate time frame.
In November 2022, NCW Libraries hired Library Forward, a national, award-winning, library-specific design firm based out of the San Francisco Bay area, and Forte Architects, an architecture firm based in Wenatchee with decades-long experience delivering on a wide variety of public projects throughout North Central Washington. Working with our local library staff, the library’s Facilities team, and community leaders, Library Forward and Forte Architects will facilitate community engagement at the start of every community’s Reimaging Spaces project. Based on the feedback that is received about the community’s wishes and needs for its library, an inspiring and responsive interior design plan will be developed, and local contractors will be invited to bid on elements of the project. Each community’s design and build is expected to take from 10-13 months, with projects in various stages staggered in order to complete the overall plan in 4-5 years.
Improvements to the spaces may include Furniture, Fixtures, & Shelving; Technology Upgrades & Related Wiring; Wall Coverings & Flooring; Lighting & Related Wiring; Security Upgrades; Staff Area Upgrades; Exterior Signage & Wayfinding.
NCW Libraries expects the reimagined spaces to bring a cleaner, brighter, more accessible feel that is welcoming and accommodates a variety of community needs. The goal of each project is to create a space that reflects the needs and personality of the community and sparks creativity and joy.
Of the 30 community libraries NCW Libraries operates throughout North Central Washington, only Wenatchee Public Library is owned by the library district. Updates and maintenance for this facility, as well as the district’s administrative building and two bookmobiles, is budgeted for within the district’s general operating fund.
In late 2019, NCW Libraries engaged MENG Analysis, a Seattle-based engineering firm that specializes in independent quality and cost performance services, to perform comprehensive facility condition assessments (FCA) of the facilities which house NCW Libraries branches. The resulting branch reports were provided to each building owner and gave the library district a better understanding of the state of each building’s shell, core, and mechanical systems. While necessary updates to building systems and structures would need to be the responsibility of each building owner, NCW Libraries saw a need and an opportunity to provide resources that could update the look and feel of the interior of each community library by redesignating funds that had been reserved for Strategic Initiatives.
Libraries outside of scope
The Wenatchee Library recently underwent an extensive remodel and systems upgrade to the 24,000 square foot building. In 2018, the Friends of the Wenatchee Library began fundraising for the building-wide remodel to the original 1958 building. The work was approached in two phases, with phase 1 encompassing upgrades to the HVAC, new paint, new lighting, new flooring, and the addition of mezzanine seating and a community use meeting room. Phase 2 began in 2022 and will provide a new teen space, larger public meeting rooms at the basement level, and redesigned staff work areas.
In June of 2022 the Town of Winthrop celebrated the opening of a new permanent home for the Winthrop Library. What had long been a dream of the community became a reality through the tireless efforts of the Friends of the Winthrop Library, in collaboration with the Town of Winthrop and NCW Libraries. The new 6,000 square foot library draws its inspiration from the surrounding agricultural architecture and the jaw-dropping mountain views. The space is a light-filled, open space with space to read a book by the fireplace, a children’s space that encourages exploration, and a makerspace that inspires creativity. The Town of Winthrop and the Friends of the Library also manage an additional 1,000 square foot community meeting room. Winthrop received their portion of funding in advance to our launch of Reimagining Spaces to ensure funds were distributed fairly across the district.