What’s old is new

The Bremerton Library on 5th Street is now open after being closed for severeal months for remodeling. - Photo by Jesse Beals
The Bremerton Library on 5th Street is now open after being closed for severeal months for remodeling.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

Welcome to the new Downtown Bremerton Library.

Following a seven-month renovation, the library housed in the Martin Luther King Jr. Building on Fifth Street reopened its doors to the public Monday.

One of the first things visitors will notice is a brighter look to the yellow building, both inside and out.

The rotunda skylight in the center of the library was restored and new art-deco reproduction lighting lighten things up.

“All the little details were obscured by years of grunge and paint and it had a big crack in it before,” said Carolyn Ferguson Neal, the new ranch manager, of the skylight.

New energy-efficient blinds and carpeting were also installed.

“There’s no longer asbestos (flooring) tile,” said Kitsap Regional Library public relations director Audrey Newell. “We had a hard time maintaining the collection because the windows leaked in.”

Those problems are no longer a worry. Nor is braving the cold and damp to reach the library’s separate outdoor restroom. Those facilities are now available on the main floor.

Children don’t need to feel cramped into a small corner of the library anymore. An expanded children’s area features stuffed lions set up to be reminiscent of the New York Public Library.

“It’s much more welcoming for little guys and we’ll have monthly story times in there,” Neal said.

With the library’s reopening, there is a first-time opening of KRL’s Northwest Collection in the northwest corner of the library. The collection of decades of city, county, state and other historical documents have been under lock and key for years at the Sylvan Way branch. The public could access it, but not with nearly as much ease.

“It used to be we had limited space and anytime you had something new, you had to throw something away,” Neal, who serves as the historian for KRL, said.

“You can identify a problem and Carolyn can come in here and find (documents) for you,” Newell said. “This is a pretty significant change in the way we’re doing business. We’re trusting the public with their documents.”

Neal pointed out tables and chairs in the room that were refurbished and have been a part of the library since its original opening in 1938.

With eight computers available to the public and Wi-Fi access at the downtown branch just as there is throughout the KRL system, it is all a blend of old and new.

“We’re trying to make this kind of the heritage library,” Neal said. “Where it’s got this beautiful (woodwork) and it’s also cutting edge ... as far as technology.”

The library will celebrate its grand reopening April 7 from 4 p.m.-8 p.m. featuring live music, local dignitatries, refreshments and a history presentation. The following day will feature events geared toward children, on the first Saturday the library has been open in 20 years by Neal’s estimate, as part of extended hours throughout the KRL system.

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