If residents of Central Kitsap could have anything they want in a library, what would that be?
That’s the question behind an online survey by the Kitsap Regional Library, aimed at finding out if residents of the Silverdale area would financially support building a new and improved library.
“This can’t be KLR (Kitsap Regional Library system) telling the community you need a new library,” said Jeff Brody, community relations director for KRL. “That’s got to come from the residents themselves.”
After a library levy failed in 2007 and again in 2010, the district didn’t have the money to make any improvements or expand the Silverdale Library. While the district supports a new library in Silverdale, part of the funding for it would have to come from donations to a capital campaign, Brody said.
“But before we take on something like that, we need to know if the citizens will support it,” he said.
So the survey was drafted.
The online survey, at www.surveymonkey.com/s/SilverdaleLibrary, will be used to determine the public’s level of interest in a new library. The survey should not be confused with another survey currently offered by KRL that looks at how patrons throughout the county view the library they use and what they think of services offered at area libraries.
“We’ve emailed our Silverdale cardholders and we’ve received about 1,000 responses,” he said. “But we want to get comments from people who don’t regularly use the library. We want the survey to be representative of a variety of people. We want to hear from non-users.”
Brody said he is working to put together a committee of people with fundraising experience from the Silverdale area who will review the survey results and determine whether to undertake fundraising efforts to build a new library.
The Silverdale library which is now about 4,900 square feet, is owned by the regional library district. It was originally owned by Friends of the Silverdale Library, a non-profit group. But when Navy Base Kitsap/ Bangor was built, there were impact fees from the federal government that were made available to help with the additional use the library would have. Those funds, however, could only be given to a public agency or government body. So the Friends group deeded the library to KRL for a dollar. Using those impact fees, the library was expanded to its current size. It was originally a 16 by 16 foot Navy surplus building.
If a new building were to be built costs would be about $400 a square foot. That figure includes construction costs, exterior and interior finishes, landscaping, furnishings, computers, and books.
“Everything except the cost of employees,” he said.
The conceptual new library would be about the size of the Sylvan Way branch, (excluding the administrative office space) or about 15,000 square feet.
A capital campaign could raise $3 to $4 million but the total costs would be around $9 million. Additional funding could come from levies or other sources such as grants.
While some say libraries are becoming obsolete, Brody doesn’t think so.
“It’s true that with technology, we may not need large spaces for books,” he said. “We’re seeing more use of e-books. And reference material in the future won’t be collections of encyclopedias, but instead they will be available through online subscriptions. But libraries are places to gather--community centers. They are the one place you can go without having to buy a membership, to meet with friends, or to collaborate and not have to pay for it.”
Additionally, he said, libraries offer trained staff to help with research, children’s programs, literacy programs, opportunities to learn about careers and job searches, and a place for education to continue in the summer months for kids and forever for adults.
“Libraries are evolving,” he said. “I don’t yet think we are dinosaurs.”