Tukwila Library is open and ready to serve the community.
The new facility – 14380 Tukwila International Boulevard – opened last Saturday with a ribbon cutting ceremony, attended by community members, as well as city school and county officials. It replaces Foster Library, located just a block east of the new building.
Tukwila Library Advisory Board member Marie Parrish had a big smile on her face as she addressed the crowd during the ceremony.
“Wow. That’s all I can say is wow,” Parrish said, borrowing a line from her favorite children’s book, “Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse”
by Kevin Henkes.
“My smile will last all day, but this day is a bit bittersweet,” Parrish said. “We are missing Sharon Kidd.”
Kidd, who died in 2015, was a longtime librarian at the Foster Library.
“For many years she was passionate about libraries and how they can enrich and even changes lives,” Parrish said. “She took great interest in her patrons – especially the children. After she retired she was appointed to the Tukwila Library Advisory Board and continued her tireless advocacy for libraries in Tukwila. When this project was delayed and delayed again, the size of the library that KCLS (King County Library System) could build with money available became smaller but our community’s need didn’t. Sharon was insistent that our community needed this space. Her tenacity kept this vision alive and visible and conversations with KCLS and the city inspired us to keep fighting with her.”
A red oak tree at the new library’s entrance is dedicated to Kidd.
“Please stop and enjoy the spot and remember Sharon,” Parrish said.
Louise Strander spoke during the ribbon cutting on behalf of her family, which was one of more than 300 donors that helped raise $1 million through the KCLS Foundation Board to increase the size of the library from 8,000 square feet to 10,000 square feet. The remainder of the $9.6 million project was funded by a $172 million capital bond passed by county voters in 2004.
“Tukwila has a rich history and bright future,” said Strander, who is also a member of the Tukwila Planning Commission. “Ours is a growing community, one that is diverse, one that it welcoming. A library is much more than meeting rooms and bookshelves it offers the opportunity to connect with others through programs like Talk Time, where those who want to practice English come together and chat, and it lets us welcome our new friends and neighbors with events like naturalization ceremonies.”
The meeting room in the new library is named after Strander’s parents, former Tukwila Mayor John B. and Louise M. Strander.
Ryan Bussard, design principal for Perkins + Will – the Seattle-based architects for the library project – said the new facility was designed with the community in mind.
Shortly after the firm got the library contract, Bussard and his colleagues visited the space to see how it was used.
“We thought we went on a quiet Wednesday afternoon with not many people there, but it was flooded with parents – parents reading to children on the floor of the library, going to meetings, using the computers,” he said. “Little did we know, we timed it perfectly for that Wednesday afternoon that the school let out exactly at that time, and the students overwhelmed the space. Two things came to mind. The first was maybe we need to grow the library a little bit, and then as we watched (children) each kick off their parents from the computers, maybe add a few more computers.”
At almost twice the size of the old 5,200-square-foot facility, the new library features an expanded collection, more computers, additional seating and a community meeting room.
“You shaped the library behind us,” Bussard told community members during the ribbon cutting ceremony. “We worked closely with you to understand what your needs were, what the library wanted to put into this, but most importantly, what were the connections to the culture and the community in Tukwila.”
The new building showcases natural elements of the Pacific Northwest – large glass windows allow lots of natural light in and motorized windows and skylights bring in fresh air on warm days.
“There is so much wood in the building that is has a enough sequestered carbon to take 91 cars off the road in one year,” Bussard said.
The faculty features murals and art that reflect the diversity in the community, including a large sculpture outside the building on the corner of Tukwila International Boulevard and South 144th Street. Last summer, community members helped paint the steel beams that make up the sculpture.
The library is the first facility to open in the Tukwila Village development, which covers 6 acres of city-owned property. The mixed-use development will also including housing and retail.
“We have never seen a crane on (Tukwila) International Boulevard in my lifetime, and now we have a crane towering above us,” Tukwila Mayor Allan Ekberg said during the grand opening ceremony for the library. “This is the key to making this community inclusive for all. Later this year, we will also be celebrating the opening of the community center behind us which will have Kona Coffee and facilities that you can take advantage of to host parties and social events along with a kitchen.”
The Tukwila School District has an agreement to purchase the old Foster Library, which opened in 1995, for $1.19 million and plans house its technology and maintenance/operations departments there.
Click here for more photos from Saturday’s grand opening.