Speaking of the library: What’s up at the White Center branch this month

December 1st, 2015 Tracy Posted in Libraries, White Center news Comments Off on Speaking of the library: What’s up at the White Center branch this month

Happy December! Here’s what’s happening at the White Center Library this month:


Play & Learn
Tuesday, December 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29, 11:15am
Newborn to age 5 with adult.
Have fun singing songs, telling stories, reading books, creating art and playing.
Play & Learn is in English and the facilitator is bilingual in English and Spanish.

Star Wars Movie Release Party
Friday, December 18, 3:30pm
Family program, all ages welcome with adult.
Celebrate the release of the new Star Wars movie with Star Wars themed crafts, snacks, games and prizes!

Brick Builders
Monday, December 21, 3pm
Family program, all ages welcome with adult.
The library provides the LEGOs, you provide the fun!

Toy Story Movie Marathon
Monday, December 28, 2pm: Toy Story 1
Tuesday, December 29, 2pm: Toy Story 2
Wednesday, December 30, 2pm:Toy Story 3
Family program, all ages welcome with adult.
Join Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the rest of the gang for this three-day movie marathon.


Minecraft Mania
Tuesday, December 1, 4pm
Ages 8 to 14.
Are you a Minecraft fan? Want to meet other Minecraft players? Come for an afternoon of multiplayer fun.

Game On!
Wednesday, December 2, 9 and 16, 3pm
Middle and high school ages.
Play video games at the library, plus board games and snacks too!

Video Game Crafternoon
Thursday, December 3 and 17, 4pm
Middle and high school ages.
Spend the afternoon creating video game inspired crafts. Buttons, ornaments and more!

International Candy Taste Test
Tuesday, December 8, 4pm
Middle and high school ages.
Come and taste test different candies from around the world and decide which is your favorite.

Super Smash Bros Tournament
Saturday, December 12, Noon
Middle and high school ages.
Enter the second annual Super Smash Bros tournament. There will be snacks for all as well as prizes for the top three winners.

Winter Art Lesson with Molly Hashimoto
Saturday, December 19, 1:30pm
Ages 10 and older.
Learn how to draw a winter wonderland with artist Molly Hashimoto.

Teen Winter Break Movie
Wednesday, December 23, 3pm
Middle and high school ages.
Celebrate this winter break with cookies and a funny movie about an elf who goes to New York City to find his dad.

After Holiday Anti-Party
Saturday, December 26, 1pm
Middle and high school ages.
After the holiday come and relax with your friends. Board games, puzzles, arts, crafts and snacks!

New Year’s Event for Teens
Thursday, December 31, 3pm
Middle and high school ages.
Play games and enjoy snacks to celebrate the New Year.


One-on-One Computer Help
Tuesday, December 1 and 15, 6pm
Have computer or software questions? TechTutor Volunteers are here for you. You may bring your own laptop, but TechTutors cannot provide hands-on or hardware assistance.

Computer Class: Microsoft Excel Level 3
Saturday, December 5, 1pm
Learn to use functions such as Average, Max, Min and PMT. Prerequisite: Basic understanding of Excel and experience creating and saving spreadsheets.

Drop-in to Learn about eBooks
Saturday, December 12, 3pm
Get started with KCLS eBooks! Bring your eReader, tablet, phone or just your questions

The library’s at 11220 16th Avenue SW.

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THURSDAY: Library updates at North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

November 28th, 2015 Tracy Posted in Libraries, North Highline UAC, White Center news Comments Off on THURSDAY: Library updates at North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

Here’s what’s coming up at the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting next Thursday (December 3rd), from president Barbara Dobkin:

North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting (NHUAC)
Thursday, Dec. 3 at 7 pm
North Highline Fire Station (1243 SW 112th Street)

Plan on joining NHUAC for the end-of-the-year meeting with our special guest, Gary Wasdin, Executive Director of the King County Library System. This is an opportunity to hear not only about the progress of the new WCL that is under construction on 107th and 14th Ave SW, but also what the future holds for the library (this new library will replace the current White Center Library that is on 16th Ave, and is being built with funds from the voter approved 2004 Library Bond Levy).

Tricia Davis, King County Budget Analyst, will also be on hand with a presentation on problems with polluted storm water run-off, what the King County Storm Water program does, and issues being considered as they develop the storm water fee for 2016-2017.

Our WC storefront deputy, Bill Kennamer, will provide the latest crime stats and discuss general community safety concerns.

Have you noticed more illegal dumping throughout our community? Find out how you can help and what assistance is available for this problem.

See you there.

Please see NHUAC website for the agenda: northhighlineuac.org
Questions – email: bdobkin@northhighlineuac.org

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Next Friday and Saturday: White Center Library Guild’s Holiday Bazaar and Book Sale

November 8th, 2015 Tracy Posted in Holidays, Libraries, White Center news Comments Off on Next Friday and Saturday: White Center Library Guild’s Holiday Bazaar and Book Sale

Friday and Saturday, don’t miss the White Center Library Guild‘s Holiday Bazaar and Book Sale – which helps the guild raise money for extra programs at the library. The new library remains under construction, so this one’s at the “old” branch, 11220 16th SW – 11 am-4 pm on Friday (November 13th), 11 am-3 pm on Saturday.

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The Big Read: Big program coming up this fall in White Center, SeaTac, and Tukwila

June 2nd, 2015 Tracy Posted in Libraries, White Center news Comments Off on The Big Read: Big program coming up this fall in White Center, SeaTac, and Tukwila

Announced today by the county library system:

The King County Library System (KCLS) will host a community-wide Big Read program this fall to explore and discuss the immigrant experience in the communities of SeaTac, Tukwila, and White Center.

With more than 60% of the population being persons of color, 30% foreign born, 40% speaking a language other than English at home, and more than 70 languages represented in the area’s school districts, SeaTac, Tukwila, and White Center are the most diverse in King County.

Immigrants and refugees have contributed to King County’s sweeping demographic change in the last 20 years. In these neighborhoods, the increase in immigrant-owned businesses, religious centers, and organizations addressing new residents’ unique needs, has generated cultural division and tension as well as great opportunities for building cultural awareness and new social competencies.

Presented by KCLS, the Refugee Women’s Alliance (ReWA), Highline Public Schools, Highline College, King County Housing Authority, and the White Center Community Development Association/White Center Promise, The Big Read will engage residents in conversations about their experiences, and give the entire community a welcoming and safe environment to explore issues that are close to home in these areas, including gentrification and racial tension.

The program will begin this fall, offering free copies of the novel The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears to encourage all residents to read the book and join in the conversation. Author Dinaw Mengestu drew on his own experience having fled Ethiopia to The Other Washington: D.C.

The community read and related activities will begin a cross-cultural dialogue about how we are different, but more importantly, our common experiences and desires for a thriving community.

The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts, designed to revitalize the role of reading in American culture by exposing citizens to great works of literature and encouraging them to read for pleasure and enrichment. King County’s southwest corridor is one of 75 communities nationwide participating in The Big Read from September 2015-June 2016. The national Big Read is managed by Arts Midwest.

For more information, please contact Jo Anderson Cavinta jacavinta@kcls.org 425-369-3454. This fall, there will be a full calendar of events for The Big Read in SeaTac, Tukwila, and White Center available online at kcls.org.

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Big day at White Center Library

May 21st, 2014 Tracy Posted in Libraries, White Center news Comments Off on Big day at White Center Library

After a bit of an unscheduled break, we’re back. Big day at the White Center Library, in case you are looking for things to do – three events on the schedule: Game On! 3-5 pm, Homework Help 5-7, Somali Story Time for all ages, 6:30-7 pm. P.S. All branches of the library will be closed for Memorial Day on Monday.

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Wondering what’s up at White Center Library this month?

January 4th, 2014 Tracy Posted in Libraries, White Center news Comments Off on Wondering what’s up at White Center Library this month?

New year, new month, new list of fun and educational programs ahead at the White Center Library – here’s the flyer they shared:

White Center Library programs for January 2014

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Reminder: White Center Library design meeting tonight

November 19th, 2013 Tracy Posted in Libraries, White Center news Comments Off on Reminder: White Center Library design meeting tonight

One more reminder – if you want to be among the first to see (and comment on) the newest design renderings for the White Center Library project, be at Mount View Elementary School (10811 12th SW; next to the future site of the library) at 6:30 pm tonight. Architects and King County Library System reps will be on hand.

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White Center Library Guild Holiday Bazaar/Sale starts today!

November 15th, 2013 Tracy Posted in Holidays, Libraries, White Center news Comments Off on White Center Library Guild Holiday Bazaar/Sale starts today!

As announced – happening today and tomorrow at White Center Library:

Friday, Nov. 15th & Saturday, Nov. 16th!

Friday, November 15, 11 am-4 pm
Saturday, November 16, 11 am-4 pm

Free Activities

Beginning Crochet,starts at Noon
Beginning Knitting, starts at 3 pm

Holiday Gift Towels Crochet Craft, starts at Noon
Beginning Knitting, starts at 2 pm
Holiday Crafts for Kids, starts at Noon in the meeting room

The White Center Library Guild uses the money raised to help fund programs at the library throughout the year. Most of these funds are used to support children/teen activities that can be life changing for those living in our great community. Come and support this community, find some great Holiday bargains, learn new skills and help your kids learn new craft making.

The library is at 11220 16th SW.

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Next public meeting set for new White Center Library: November 19

October 31st, 2013 Tracy Posted in Libraries, White Center news Comments Off on Next public meeting set for new White Center Library: November 19

Just in – the announcement of the second public meeting about the new White Center Library:

That’s from the King County Library System, announcing the meeting at Mount View Elementary School (10811 12th SW), 6:30-8 pm on Tuesday, November 19th. Here’s our coverage of the first meeting back in July.

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Big Q about White Center’s new library: Where should it sit on the site?

July 23rd, 2013 Tracy Posted in Libraries, White Center news 2 Comments »

Lots of new information emerged about White Center’s new library at the first big public meeting about the project – including three potential configurations for the site. The library could be sited on the northwest corner, with the parking lot to its south:

Or, on the northwest corner with the parking lot to its east:

Or, on the northeast corner with the parking lot to its west:

If all goes well, the project team said at Thursday night’s meeting – billed as an open house but really a presentation with Q/A – construction could start in about a year. More than 50 people were there, and these are the key points they heard from project-team reps including King County Library System director Bill Ptacek:

*The library is still planned for 10,000 square feet, likely one story, with at least one large meeting room (the current WC Library is 6,000 sf). “We feel comfortable (10,000 sf) will be a good size for this community,” said Ptacek. It’ll have about 50 parking spaces, about twice what the current library has.

*The project team hopes to build it at least to “LEED silver” for sustainability

*The construction budget – not including design – is $4.2 million for the building and parking lot

*It’s not expected to have anything resembling a coffee shop; just a vending machine, said Ptacek, who noted that they once talked with Starbucks about the possibility of library/coffee-shop partnerships, but Starbucks just didn’t think there was much in it for them.

*Major attraction: It will be close to Mount View Elementary, where the meeting was held; the school is just to the east of the site. And the closer the better, indicated many who spoke.

*The site has its challenges, it was acknowledged, including changes in grade, but the new library’s location is not up for discussion, Ptacek said firmly.

*Staff members – some of whom were at the meeting – do get input into the project, especially the floor plan.

*Future users are getting input too; one librarian said they hope to have focus groups with teenagers, and possibly even talk with elementary students at Mount View once next school year starts.

*One attendee said she had spoken with Cascade Middle School students, who told her that computer access was their highest priority for the new library, and that they hoped it would have room for them to do homework – many, the attendee said, might have large extended families and no room at home to work.

One big caveat about the hoped-for timeline of starting construction around this time next year: Hard to tell how long it will take to get permits. The Vashon library project took more than a year, it was noted. But, KCLS reps say, County Executive Dow Constantine‘s office is “interested in getting the project going as fast as possible.”

In the meantime, they hope to have design renderings ready to show in October.

And once they have the site layout locked in, then they can get busy with another key part of the plan – finding a partner to use the rest of the land on the site, which is expected under terms of the deal to buy it from the Washington State Housing Finance Commission. Housing is a possibility on whatever part is not used for the library.

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Reminder for tonight: Design open house for new White Center Library

July 18th, 2013 Tracy Posted in Libraries, White Center news Comments Off on Reminder for tonight: Design open house for new White Center Library

It’s not AT White Center Library, but it’s about the NEW White Center Library – tonight’s the open house we first told you about two weeks ago, so you can get a look at what King County Library System is working on, and offer your opinion(s). The open house is at 6:20 pm at Mount View Elementary (10811 12th SW).

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Design open house for new White Center Library on July 18th

July 3rd, 2013 Tracy Posted in Libraries, White Center news Comments Off on Design open house for new White Center Library on July 18th

Announced by the King County Library System:

A library design Open House for the new White Center Library will be held on Thursday, July 18, from 6:30 – 8 PM at Mount View Elementary School. This meeting is an opportunity for the community to meet the architects and library staff who will be working on the project and to offer input on the design of the library. Please come and share your thoughts!

The latest KCLS newsletter for this area also mentions this:

The White Center Library Guild will be hosting their annual sidewalk sale on Sunday, July 21st starting at 10 am. The sale is held in the parking lot at 10009 16th Avenue SW. The guild will have lots of books and other fun stuff to shop.

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Tonight: Libraries, buses, KCSO on North Highline Unincorporated Area Council agenda

June 6th, 2013 Tracy Posted in King County Sheriff's Office, Libraries, Metro, White Center news Comments Off on Tonight: Libraries, buses, KCSO on North Highline Unincorporated Area Council agenda

You’re invited tonight – 7 pm, North Highline Fire District HQ at 1243 SW 112th, as the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council takes on this busy agenda:

7:00 pm Call to Order – Flag Salute – Roll Call –
Approval of Agenda – Approval of Minutes
7:05 pm Public Announcements
7:10 pm Public Comment
3minutes for Individuals
5 minutes for Groups

7:15 pm Election of Officers

7:20 pm Bill Ptacek, King County Library System Director

7:40 pm Deanna Martin, Community Relations Planner
King County Department of Transportation

8:00 pm Deputy William Kennamer, King County Sheriff’s Office
Special Operations Section

8:10 pm Committee Reports

8:15 pm Unfinished Business/Old Business
• Jubilee Days
• Storefront Deputy Petition

8:20 pm New Business
• Napa Building – 16th Avenue

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OPEN LETTER: Gratitude for White Center Library decision, determination in moving forward

March 1st, 2013 Tracy Posted in Libraries, White Center news 3 Comments »

Received from Astha Tada, who wants to share her thoughts on the White Center Library decision far and wide:

Hoorah! It’s been decided! Our new, larger 10,000 square foot library will be built right behind Mount View Elementary at S.W. 107th Street and 14th Avenue S.W. This will be a welcomed resource since effective early elementary education is crucial for school success. It is also still within walking distance from Cascade Middle School/ Evergreen campuses, closer to White Center Heights Elementary and low income facilities.

The requests to delay the decision to understand the full impact of the sites and get greater community involvement were denied by KCLS Trustees who felt rising building costs, long delays, generous loan allowances and another interested buyer compelled them to make this choice.

Like planning a home, the White Center community needs to be sure that the King County Library System (KCLS) has our input in designing our library so that it meets the needs of our diverse White Center patrons. For example, our teens need more access to computers and other technology not found in their homes. Many of our adult citizens rely solely on the library for job applications and searches.

Gratitude! Before we begin the building process, recognition is needed for the hard work, diligence and perseverance of those who fought to keep our library from closing. If not for their efforts, we would not be celebrating right now!

Comments that the library closure was a ploy for annexation are not correct. As one who participated in the long battle to keep both Boulevard Park and White Center libraries from closing, annexation was definitely a key issue presented by KCLS as a reason for consolidation and closure of our smaller libraries. Thank you to those who sacrificed much personal time by attending numerous KCLS Issaquah meetings to testify, monitoring diligently KCLS agendas that listed our libraries, writing letters and editorials, gathering over 2000 petition signatures, informing organizations and citizens, etc.

When the KCLS Board of Trustees was going to vote for consolidation, those who attended would not leave unless the decision was delayed, pending the annexation vote. It was a face-to-face standoff! If you were there, you would have been proud of our supporters’ combined grit and determination to keep our beloved libraries open!

Credit for the hard work include members of the White Center Library Guild, North Highline Unincorporated Area Council, Burien City Council, King County Councilman Joe McDermott, Highline School District, White Center Community Development Association and numerous citizens from Boulevard Park, White Center and elsewhere whose individual actions collectively made a significant difference. The Highline District Board of Directors passed a 2-page formal Resolution 2479 unanimously opposing the closure of our libraries.

I want to, especially, recognize one individual whose passion and commitment were crucial in saving our two libraries. Rachael Levine, former White Center Library Guild president, never wavered in leading the fight, even when many were ready to give up. She was willing to bring her sleeping bag and camp out with me in front of our library to keep it open. Her integrity in how she battles on, the respectful manner in dealing with opposing individuals, and her wisdom and continued service after years of participating in many humanitarian and social organizations make her a true White Center warrior!

Let’s begin the building process by coming together, collaborating and cooperating to build the best library for our White Center community. Time keeps ticking and our high-potential, high-need students are counting on us to help them climb out of poverty. The building bond for this project was approved in 2004. KCLS needs to host planning sessions in our community so that many of you can give input. The Highline School District has offered KCLS school space for these events. Everyone is welcome! All aboard! ONWARD!

Gracias, cam on, ar kun, mahad sanid, fa’afetai, arigato, thank you,

Astha Tada
Community volunteer
Retired Cascade Middle School librarian
2nd Vice President of Beta Beta Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, an organization focused on educational excellence

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Help while you shop: White Center Library Guild Holiday Bazaar on Saturday

December 6th, 2012 Tracy Posted in Holidays, How to Help, Libraries, White Center news Comments Off on Help while you shop: White Center Library Guild Holiday Bazaar on Saturday

Two days till a chance to shop for gifts while supporting the community group that supports your White Center Library: 11 am-3 pm this Saturday (December 8th), the White Center Library Guild Holiday Bazaar will include “cookies, breads, and gently used items” – plus creations by the Burien Knitters group (for the first time!) and entertainment by magician Jeff Evans at 2 pm. Find it in the meeting room at the library, 11220 16th SW.

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King County Library System to pursue new White Center Library site

November 15th, 2012 Tracy Posted in Libraries, White Center news 6 Comments »

ORIGINAL REPORT, 12:26 PM THURSDAY: Quick update, longer story to come – the King County Library System’s Planning Committee has just been briefed by staff on its recommendations on what to do with White Center library services now that annexation to Burien has been turned down by voters. The recommendation: Find a new site slightly to the north, still on 16th/Ambaum, and build a new library for White Center. They believe they have the money and that they can be under construction by 2014 on a yet-to-be-determined site. The new library would be about 10,000 square feet – up from the current 6,000 square foot branch, which could remain open while the new one is under construction, since it won’t be torn down for a rebuild. Many details to be worked out, but planning committee members expressed initial support for the idea. They also wanted to hear more from the jurisdictions that have interest in that area – King County and potential future annexers Seattle and Burien. More to come.

ADDED EARLY FRIDAY: More details from the meeting, though this was only one item on the agenda and it lasted less than 20 minutes: Read the rest of this entry »

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White Center and Boulevard Park libraries’ fate: KCLS planning committee meeting tomorrow

November 14th, 2012 Tracy Posted in Libraries, White Center news Comments Off on White Center and Boulevard Park libraries’ fate: KCLS planning committee meeting tomorrow

Remember the furor over the White Center and Boulevard Park libraries, and whether they would be closed, merged, or … The King County Library System Board put a decision on hold, to see how annexation turned out. Now, annexation has gone down to defeat, and this item is back on the front burner. Tomorrow (Thursday) at noon, the KCLS Planning Committee meets at the Burien Library (4th/156th), and the North Highline libraries are at the top of the agenda. Public welcome.

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White Center Library Guild’s holiday bazaar happening now!

December 3rd, 2011 Tracy Posted in Libraries Comments Off on White Center Library Guild’s holiday bazaar happening now!

Till 3 pm, the White Center Library Guild is presenting its annual holiday bazaar – just days after the library won another reprieve from closure, with supporters including Guild members taking their case to the King County Library Board in Issaquah. The library’s at 11220 16th SW.

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Update: King County Library Board delays decision on White Center-Boulevard Park consolidation

November 29th, 2011 Tracy Posted in Libraries, White Center news 7 Comments »

(TOPLINE: King County Library Board decided at about 7:52 pm NOT to decide, yet, on the re-proposed consolidation of WC and Boulevard Park libraries)

5:10 PM: We’re in Issaquah tonight with dozens of people including White Center community advocates, Burien city councilmembers, and King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, as the King County Library Board goes back to the issue of consolidating the White Center and Boulevard Park libraries in a new location, with a resolution on the agenda to initiate that process.

The meeting is beginning with public comment. First up: a man who says he doesn’t appreciate having had to travel “this far east” to talk about White Center and Boulevard Park libraries, and at an inconvenient hour, too. He says that contrary to something that he says someone said last night at the Burien City Council meeting, there are schools within blocks of the current White Center Library. “Your plan to consolidate and move the library is going to abandon all those schools distance-wise.” He talked about seeing a young boy outside the closed WC Library on blustery Veteran’s Day, with his laptop, saying he was just there because even though the library branch was closed, he could still get the wi-fi. … “We the users are very happy with our libraries- leave them alone, take the money if you have to, build new libraries (somewhere else), leave (these two) as they are.”

Next, White Center/North Highline community advocate Gill Loring. He says he sent a “pretty harsh” e-mail to county elected officials earlier today. The King County Library System is “one of the premier library systems in the United States,” he acknowledged, but it has to keep its promise of a new White Center library – “which I voted for in 2004.” He says he’s been tracking this issue closely for two years as a library patron, book lover, and Library Guild member. “We need those libraries. A consolidated library further south isn’t going to serve the community.” Loring says he is certain a new library would draw more people than the existing one. “I can’t really find any real reasons to consolidate the libraries – looking at all the financials … I still think it comes down to, we were promised two libraries, I would like to see them remain where they are or in the vicinity of where they are so they can better serve our community.”

Next is Butch Henderson, who says he lives “within walking distance of the Boulevard Park library.” He says the consolidation plan “makes no sense to the community.” He too brings up the 2004 vote on the libraries, saying the locations enable the two libraries to serve a diverse population that doesn’t always have access to cars. He accuses the board of “not listening … The people of these communities have spoken about what they want and what they need … but you’re not listening.” He too mentions the students who use the libraries are there for computers and Internet access, things they don’t have at home – and they don’t have convenient transportation. “Libraries help the students succeed in life and in school … We have to support the people in our communities, and I just want to know, are you listening to us?”

Fourth speaker is Joey Martinez, who says he lives in the southern part of Burien and “won’t be directly impacted by this … However, I do want to say, I grew up in East Los Angeles, in a poor neighborhood, and there are two types of kids:” gang-bangers and bookworms, which he says is the same in White Center, so “I’m here to speak for them.” He says those two types of kids are going to become three types of adults – in prison, blue-collar worker, white-collar workers. “I fear if we take these libraries away, we are going to have kids who have only the gang life or the blue-collar life” – stressing that he’s not knocking blue-collar workers, but thinks kids deserve to have the chance at more knowledge access for higher achievement, too.

Fifth speaker, a Boulevard Park Library patron who says he goes there four or five times a week. If the library promises made in 2004 aren’t going to be kept, he says, he wants his money refunded.

Sixth speaker, Barbara Zimmer of Boulevard Park, who says the library is a “priceless asset.” She wants the board to protect that asset. “By keeping the Boulevard Park Library at its present location, we have access to books, computers, and knowledgeable library staff.” She says Southern Heights Elementary students met their progress goal, and she believes partnership with the library helped make that possible.

She was followed by a Bellevue resident who says community libraries are important to her, and she has some questions about “the proposed resolution.” She mentions that the White Center and Boulevard Park libraries are each 3 miles or less from the new Burien Library, and wonders if the latter facility is being so used “past capacity” that a new one needs to be built closer to it. “Should we think about spending a lot of money on a new facility of 15,000 square feet that will be 8/10ths of a mile from a (larger facility) that might be serving the community, or that it might make more sense to spend your money at the current locations, even if you’re not building new facilities … but enhancing services at those locations?”

5:33 PM: Burien City Councilmember Jerry Robison. “I’ve been a customer of the White Center Library since the early ’70s. My mother-in-law was a member of the library guild for many years.” When he grew up in a rural area, he said, the closest thing he had to a library was a Bookmobile. “What we’re looking at here is shutting down two libraries that serve two distinct communities.” He says the distances between the Burien Library and the two libraries is actually greater than a previous speaker mentioned – WC, he says, is more than 4 miles away from the Burien library. “If competition with the Burien library is a problem (then moving a community library closer) is just going to make it worse.” Regarding the “unresolved annexation issue,” he said, even if this does make more sense in an annexed world, “why not just wait” to see what happens? He is refuting other points in the consolidation rationale, one by one. “Frankly the whole proposal does not make any sense. It’s a disservice to Boulevard Park, a disservice to White Center, a disservice to Burien.”

After him, newly elected North Highline Fire Commissioner, and North Highline Unincorporated Area Council member, Liz Giba. She said earlier this year she believed this whole decision was on hold until annexation was settled one way or another. “I assumed some word would go out to the community if that changed. That didn’t happen. We really need you to communicate with us and be open and honest in terms of what you are doing and what decisions you are contemplating to make about our community and the future of the people who live in our communities … particularly young people.” She mentioned a petition signed by students. “Many of them signed the petitions on an ironing board in front of the libraries … This is a promise you have made to our entire community, and you may not understand how poverty affects not only today, but tomorrow and the next generation.” She mentioned the link between education and ending poverty. It’s about words, she said, citing a study showing that four times as many words are spoken in well-off homes as in not-well-off homes. “Words are important!” She says consolidation “will be cutting off a necessary resource” and urges them to put the decision on hold until after an annexation decision.

5:44 PM: Margaret Nelson, who lives in Federal Way, says “I came to support the people of Burien .. About five or six years ago, we went through the same situation, where we had voted to keep our library at its current location, where all of a sudden King County changed its mind” and decided to move the library. She says they got lots of support in fighting that plan. She wonders if the library board members “actually go to the libraries” and see what’s happening there. She notes that the library board members are not elected officials but should listen to the communities. “Do you not want to support us? We are the taxpayers, and we rely on you to listen to us.”

Karen Freeman from King County Executive Dow Constantine‘s office speaks next, conveying his regrets at not being able to attend. She says he too requests that no decision about the library sites be made until the annexation issue is settled: “A delay would be helpful to all parties involved until more insight about community governance .. and the community’s preference regarding the project, can be obtained.”

King County Councilmember Joe McDermott follows her. “I’m here again to do as I have in two previous occasions this year” – to urge them not to consolidate. He revisits the 2004 bond measure that so many have already mentioned. He cites a study about traffic and circulation being higher in libraries bigger than the current White Center Library, which he says voters expected in the 2004 vote. “Positive steps have been taken since the last time I addressed you – Burien is moving forward to annex (North Highline). Meantime, Seattle has not taken any steps .. I do not believe the service boundaries will change in that area.” He mentions a survey of library patrons about a consolidated library location, “done without any comparison to maintain Boulevard Park and expand the White Center Library – it had a single alternative. If you ask me if I want a sexy new library, I’d say yes. If you ask me if I wanted (an expanded White Center Library), the answer could be very different.” As with several preceding speakers, he gets a round of applause when he finishes.

Greg Duff, who ran for Burien City Council this year and has served on NHUAC, is next. He is implying that the Library Board’s pursuit of this option is based on the pursuit of a more affluent clientele. “If you close the libraries, kids will not be able to walk to them.” He also talks about some cost overruns on other KCLS projects. He says he agrees with the board’s notion to pursue construction while costs are still favorable – but regarding an expanded WC Library, not a new consolidated library. “Boulevard Park and White Center are two separate communities and need two separate libraries.” He concludes by asking the board to keep the promise made in the 2004 election.

Now, Burien Councilmember Rose Clark. She is reading a letter from her council: “We are surprised and disappointed” that the consolidation measure is back. “We urge you to reject the idea again,” for the reasons cited back in May. And if annexation does not occur, she reads, the council will work with the Library Board to find a solution. “The King County Library Board is the only special district in the state whose members are not elected,” she notes. “One of the paramount reasons for annexation is to increase the access to resources (for residents),” she reminds, continuing. “Please keep your commitment to the voters.” She says the board had been asked to hold a meeting in the White Center community but “has chosen not to do that” and was asked to keep Burien “in the loop” but has “chosen not to do that.” She says it’s “reprehensible” that a decision like this would be made without holding a meeting in the community. She notes that the council talked about a possible lawsuit last night. She is asked a question by a trustee who wanted to confirm that the letter was an official letter from the city. Clark explains that Burien has mayor-council government and so the letter was sent by the mayor with council consent.

Burien Councilmember Jack Block Jr. follows. He says a journalist remarked to him that the consolidation “sounded like a done deal,” and to hear that from a journalist troubled him. He brings up the Puget Sound Park purchase plan from two years ago that stirred up consolidation concerns. He mentions the third-runway controversy. He says he remembers the 2004 bond-issue commitments and working to get the bond passed because of those commitments. He compares the attempt here to take two libraries away, with a new parking center being built in Bellevue. “If the library system doesn’t follow through on the promises that were made, there will be litigation,” he predicts. He suggests the board should be elected, because if “you don’t perform according to the wishes of the community, you should be un-elected.” He says doing the right thing would be not just tabling the resolution, but fully following through “with the commitments that were made to the community.”

6;09 PM: North Highline Unincorporated Area Council president Barbara Dobkin, who says she is speaking in her official capacity. She too mentions urging the board not to consolidate, back in June. “We heard rumors that perhaps the new library would beon 128th near Ambaum …” so, citing that location, she says the current bus system would require a 40-minute trip. She too mentions the petition signature gathering drive outside the library. “People are very passionate about these libraries. We don’t see how consolidating these ilibraries will” honor that.

6:12 PM: Rachel Levine of the White Center Library Guild, ow. “I am not a stranger to you,” she begins. She says “each one of you have the strength and the courage to vote agianst this.” She reads from the Capital Improvements Plan ” She says, “Itis my belief tat no member of this board. She implies feeling betrayed by the vote and s.” She exhorts them to “look into your conscience.” She addresses each member of the council in turn, starting with president Richard Eadie, who is a King County judge. She addresses each one by name and by occupation. “Be a risk-taker,” she iurges each on. Levine turns to the audience, then, and thanks them for coming out to “speak (their) truth.”

The next speaker offers a challenge on what public libraries are all about in our country right now. “24 million people do not have full time jobs (in the country). 50 million do not have health insurance. .. . These numbers are increasing as we see the divide between the rich and the poor increase. … The US is in a war of poverty,” and unless it’s fought, we will “spiral down,” she said. She says the White Center community has a higher percentage of free-and-reduced=lunch-eligible students – 81 percent in WC. She goes on to talk about the value of professional librarians helping students, who have increased motivation “to keep coming back to school,” and how the library plays a vital role in that situation. She says it’s important to everyone to help students succeed. She cites the national ALA policy about access to libraries “Poor people are not served equally well. Why is that? Because most of hte libraries are run by middle-class people. … We have got to make a difference in the lives of people who are moving down in the poverty levels. If we don’t, we are not going to have a very good country to live in. … We have to do this,” she says emphatically.”If you sign the authorization tonight, you are essentially closing an important door of opportunity for these students..”… The cost you think you are going to be saving pales next to the cost of (not working toward social justice).” Overall, she says it’s an exciting time for public libraries … exhorting the district to “take some risks here,” and concludes, “Don’t close the two libraries.”

Phillip Levine says he’s seen the culture grow into a “managerial society,” and under that structure, certainly, “one huge library” would make sense. But he says that concept also has caused destruction. He says library education is as important as food, clothing, shelter. He wonders why four communities have now objected to proposed loations for their libraries. “I’m really offended by living in a society that’s devoted to the bottom line” – there has to be other qualities that are valued.

Next, Judy Kistler, who says she lives “near the old Tukwila Library,” which is closing, but more importantly, she worked at the BOulevard Park Library until she retired this past spring. She says the libraries mean the world to community members,. She says other decisions have been made that are a “questionable use of taxpayers’ resources.”

(Note, the public comment period has now run an hour and a half.)

The woman after her refers to the voting system in the country.and says that should be where the buck stops – if a body like this can ovdrturn a vote, then the ballot might as well “be trash.” She says they’ve already lost a lot of service in the libraries, and “we need you to see how we’ve lost it.”

Pat Price speaks now on behalf of the Boulevard Park library, saying she and her husband have lived in BP for four years. She says she’s lucky to have a job and a car, but that many of hte library patrons are seniors who live nearby and don’t have cars, so they rely on walking to the library. “These libraries are USED,” she says. “If you move the library away where they can’t reach them. Sure the new fancy libraries will get used by those with cars ..” but not by the others who need them. And if these libraries are closed, she says, the county will need a lot more “Library To Go” vehicles. “I hope you’ll make the right decision,” she concludes.

And at 6:42 pm, that ends the list of speakers, says board president Eadie, who asks if anyone else wants to speak. No one does.

After a quick consideration of the agenda, library system director Bill Ptacek says that the board is certainly not unresponsive to the issues raised by so many speakers tonight. He says this consolidation issue arose two years ago because of something brought forth by the community, uncertain about the annexation situation, and that led to a service-area analysis. “Some of the speakers say it doesn’t make sense, and frankly, it doesn’t make sense,” he said, but moves on into a defense of the rationale behind the proposal, including the availability of more library hours and square feet of library.

He talks about the service-area analysis, and “changed conditions,” for which he summons staffer Jennifer Wiseman to step up and elaborate – conditions that have changed since the 2004 bond measure. One, she says, is the impact of the big new Burien Library, which she says is drawing clients from North Highline, as well as other areas. “Wasn’t that expected?” asks Gill Loring from the audience. She doesn’t answer.

2nd factor, “distribution per capita” – she says North Highline was expected to have more growth than it has had – “we expected a population increase in those areas, and it hasn’t happened.”

3rd factor, “unresolved annexation” – that the unincorporated area has been split into two portions, and the White Center Library is “very near the boundary of the city of Burien.” Ptacek then says that they checked with both Burien and Seattle regarding the current status of annexation, as well as with the governor’s office regarding the sales-tax incentive (which she is now proposing reducing by 10 percent). Board member Rob Spitzer asks for more clarity on the process; Freeman, from the county executive’s office, mentions the Boundary Review Board meeting in January, and mentions that they believe everything will work out OK with the sales-tax credit, and then notes that an election would follow. Burien councilmember Clark says August is the earliest that there would be a public vote on annexation.

Library staffer Christine Anderson now says that “outreach” is being done in the White Center/Boulevard Park area by the library district – beyond its library bulidings – and a map is up on the screen. The map shows more than 30 locations, and a copy is distributed around the room, with a sheet labeling the types of “outreach services” – Traveling Library Centers with “monthly bookmobile service,” ABC Express, also a type of “monthly bookmobile service,” Library2Go, described as a “monthly mini-bookmobile service,” local librarians’ visits to schools, and the Techlab mobile computer lab. (So these sites are not continuous simultaneous services, but spots where KCLS provides services at least once a month.)

7:08 PM: After she speaks, Ptacek says they’re not suggesting these services will or could replace neighborhood libraries, simply that they are a “changed condition” offering a wider variety of services than they could offer in 2004, at the time of the vote for an expanded WC library. Staffer Wiseman returns and says there are budget constraints as the fifth changed condition. Ptacek says the amount of money isn’t necessarily significant given the size of the KCLS budget, but that consolidating/building a new library would enable operation at a “much higher level” than either of the two current libraries. Right now they have enough money, he says, to make a 15,000 square-foot library happen – and even though they haven’t done “feasibility studies,” he says they “think we’re in a position to be able to do that.” Councilmember McDermott then stood up to make sure that Wiseman’s allusion to a comment he made not be taken out of context as if it supported the proposal.

7:17 PM: Board member Spitzer points out to the audience that “we all have a fiduciary duty … to the entire system.” He added, “I can only imagine how I’d feel if I lived just a few blocks from a library that is … that may be closing.” But he also says “When you tell voters you’re going to do something, you take it very seriously. … (But) the world does change.” White Center Library Guild’s Levine rises and asks to be able to provide some information. “Yes, you are all volunteers – but you have the full force of the law behind you, and you can take that levy and move it around any way you want to.” She reads from a resolution that did not make it into the levy that empowers the board. “What we did was give you carte blanche to move that $172 million around, which you have done successfully to create many beautiful libraries … but it doesn’t speak to what this community needs.” She calls the current proposal a “bait and switch” and says she hopes everyone on the board has personal liability insurance protecting them from “what someone like me (might do).”

7:23 PM: Spitzer says he wants to hear from colleagues if the case of “changed conditions” is so compelling that they would take this action. Trustee Jessica Bonebright says they have already waited a couple of years to see how annexation will go, and now, she says, they’re being told to wait another year? She also suggests those who have come to speak tonight are not representative of everyone in the community and cites the survey that was taken, which she describes as showing that a cross-section of the community supported the consolidated library. She adds, “the people who will be able to walk to the new consolidated library are not here tonight.”

Burien councilmembers Block and Clark step back up to the podium to say that the proximity of the current libraries to schools is not shown in their survey, and that they are advocating for low-income people close to the current libraries who would have to walk another mile, mile and a half to get to the theoretical new library. “You’re asking that of these students to fit into YOUR system? Are you going to write them a letter to say that you’re sorry, they fell off your radar?” A few minutes later, Duff returns to the mike, asking if low-income residents were solicited for the survey. The answer wasn’t clearly audible. Another man gets up and says he is reading board members’ body language and thinks he knows how they are going to vote – but wonders how they can do that without hearing from everyone who came to speak in support of the libraries.

7:34 PM: Bonebright then says, but if there’s not a decision in 2012, there are people not here tonight who would wonder, how much longer do we have to wait? (“They should be here, then,” says a woman behind us.) She repeats a point that if Seattle annexed White Center and vicinity, the current WC library would be “three doors down” from the city limit. Giba now steps to the mike: “Annexation is not a new issue.” She mentions that at one point while the library measure was under discussion, Seattle annexation seemed certain. That leads to a statement by board president Eadie, talking about boundary issues, and a discussion with Seattle some time back that did not end positively, regarding recovering costs of “cross-usage.” He and Ptacek go into a little more history. (The woman behind me mutters, “Call for a vote” and starts to speculate on who will vote yes and who will vote no.)

7:47 PM: Block is back at the podium to question the proposal again, wondering if the board’s policy suddenly has to change because construction costs are low, which was just cited by Bonebright, saying people in the area have been waiting for improved library services, while Block says, “Well, we have been waiting seven years for the board to make good on the commitment to build a new library.” They are going back and forth.

7:49 PM: Battery’s running out. If it’s gone before the vote’s in, we’ll update atop this story via iPhone. Spitzer moves to postpone the vote till the Boundary Review Board process on annexation. Board member Lucy Krakowiak points out she is recusing herself because she is a Burien councilmember. Rose Clark mentions the council will then have to decide on proceeding with annexation and she now says the public vote would not be likely before September.

7:53 PM: The motion passes. So the decision is delayed for at least a few months.

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No White Center Library? Consolidation issue revived

November 23rd, 2011 Tracy Posted in King County, Libraries, White Center news 4 Comments »

The issue of potentially consolidating the White Center and Boulevard Park Libraries has resurfaced – five months after it was tabled – and you’re asked to speak up before it’s too late. Just got the word from North Highline Unincorporated Area Council president Barbara Dobkin that it’s on next Tuesday’s library-board agenda:

The board has not revealed any specific sites for the new facility other than saying they are looking at property on 128th Street, SW, nor have they stated when construction might start, or how long they will keep the existing 2 libraries open in the meantime. There is opportunity for public comment at this meeting, which is being held in the KCLS Service Center, 960 Newport Way, Issaquah on November 29 at 5 pm. We would ask that all concerned residents of this community, who voted to pass the library bond levy in 2004 for a new expanded White Center Library which was to be built at the same site, and update and improvements to the existing Blvd Park Library, contact the Library Board by mail: Board of Trustees, King County Library System, 960 Newport Way NW, Issaquah, WA 98027, or e-mail boardoftrustees@kcls,org, or show up a the meeting on Nov 29 and let the board know what you think about their plans.

The library system’s rationale for possible consolidation is outlined in this document.

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