Details: King County Library Board shelves consolidation, till info’s in on annexation

Story and photos by Deanie Schwarz
Reporting for White Center Now

More than 50 community members were in attendance as the King County Library Services Board of Trustees met in Issaquah Tuesday, hoping to have their collective voices heard regarding the North Highline Library Service Recommendation to consolidate the White Center and Boulevard Park libraries.

(From left, Liz Giba of NHUAC, Burien City Councilmember Rose Clark, WCCDA’s Virgil Domaoan, King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, NHUAC president Barb Dobkin)
The White Center Library Guild presented its petition (as reported here) to the Board with just shy of 1,800 signatures. Comments to the Board were broad, repeating many of the same issues presented in previous meetings. But the perceived lack of effective outreach to the regular WC and Boulevard Park library users was pointed out by Virgil Domaoan, community builder director of the White Center Community Development Association, who lives in Boulevard Park.

He joined the petition efforts initiated by the White Center Library Guild and discovered during their doorbelling campaign that people had not heard about the potential library closures and were concerned how they would get to another location to use a computer every day. He pointed out these are families who do not have the computers commonly found in other neighborhoods where internet access and computer ownership is common place. Domaoan said only one person refused to sign the petition, a mother who wanted her son to be present when she signed it so he could witness what she was doing as a civic lesson.

Greg Duff, former North Highline Unincorporated Area Council member who is a candidate for Burien City Council, told the Board that his petition drive at the recent Burien Wild Strawberry Festival resulted in two main takeaways from the public he spoke with: It was suggested that Board members themselves visit the Boulevard Park and White Center libraries any day around 4:00 PM to see for themselves the high volume of computer users. The second takeaway was why should they, as voters, ever vote for a library bond again when they were lied to about the 2004 bond?

Astha Tada, speaking to the Board as a former teacher and as a Guild Member, wore an 18-pound backpack as she spoke. That’s the average weight of what kids carry every day back and forth to school, saying she learned that when she “googled” it in her research. In true teacher fashion, she wore it to illustrate the unwieldy weight children would be expected to bear while walking even further to a new library location from school and home because, she said, there will be no transportation options for them when they do not have money for a bus.

Safia Jama told the Board through a Somali interpreter that she is the mother of six children raised in White Center for the last 15 years. “Every day I have taken my children to the library in White Center. My children are in elementary, middle and high school and university. I am not lying. All of them use the library every day.”

Having heard all of these and many other passionate and articulate speakers, the Board spared any debate regarding convening an Executive Session to hear the staff’s proposed sites for a new library, as Director Ptacek suggested the Board do as the agenda outlined. The agenda was changed and a motion was made and immediately approved to delay any decisions on consolidation until further information was available about the potential for the Burien annexation of North Highline.

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