Celebrating five decades as the Valley’s go-to place for reading material and community programs, the Valley Library unveiled its new name – The Spokane Valley Library – Wednesday afternoon amid 100 adults and children sticky with free ice cream.
“We like the name change because we’re Valley residents, you know,” said Kathy Chalich who came for story time with her children: Tyra, 6, Ski, 4, and Zane, 2.
“Getting some ice cream,” was the best part of the renaming, Ski Chalich said in the library’s bustling parking lot where a barbershop quartet crooned.
As the library, 12004 E. Main Ave., celebrates its history this year, the library board and the city continue to look at ways to expand the library as needs change and demand grows with the Valley’s population.
“It all comes down to space,” said library manager Ellen Miller.
The library is short on parking, floor space for computers and meeting rooms, she said, and officials have looked into a new library for the Valley for the past few years.
“This place can be just an absolute zoo,” said Mike Wirt, Spokane County library director.
The Spokane County Library District has not passed a bond for facilities improvements since 1996, and it finished projects around the county associated with that bond in 2001, he said.
The district began looking into building a new Valley library twice the size of the existing building just as the city of Spokane Valley incorporated in 2003.
“We put it on hold,” Wirt said, and the plans for a new building were placed in the city’s new comprehensive land use plan being crafted by the Valley’s planning commission now.
The next step will be for the City Council to accept the plan with whatever changes it makes.
After that, the district would look into finding a piece of land, probably between five and six acres, to build on and begin estimating costs, Wirt said.
“It’s a matter of having a whole bunch of plans fall into place,” he said.
State law allows counties to create special tax districts for libraries in specific areas. The county can put the district and a bond before voters, which is how the Moran Prairie neighborhood recently funded a new library.
“It’s not really fair to ask people in Deer Park to vote for something in the Valley,” Wirt said.
If voters approved both the district and the bond, the old building would be sold and a new library would go up that could be part of a Spokane Valley city center proposed in the comprehensive plan.
Between 15 and 20 years down the road, the district hopes to build a second Valley library on the eastern end of town, Wirt said, but breaking ground on any new library wouldn’t happen until at least five years from now.
In the short term, the library will add more adult classes and work on improving information technology, he said.
A class on scholarships and new classes on Internet use and databases are in the works.
“That’s a really exciting change in libraries, to get actively involved,” in helping patrons sift through digital information, Wirt said.
In the next year, the Spokane Valley Library will install wireless Internet that allows patrons to browse the Web from their personal laptops while they are in the library or even in the library’s parking lot, he said.
“I think people will find the wireless pretty cool,” he said.
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