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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane Public Library asks public about expansion plans

FILE - Kate Burns and her daughter, Charlotte, look for music CDs and books to check out during a visit several years ago at the Spokane Public Library South Hill branch. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
By Nina Culver For The Spokesman-Review

Spokane residents are being asked what improvements they would like to see at their local libraries – including their opinions regarding building a new branch adjacent to the South Hill Senior Center inside Thornton Murphy Park.

Spokane Public Library plans to put a construction bond on the November ballot and officials are collecting input during a series of open houses and town hall meetings in April and May. They hope to focus on what the public wants before deciding what projects to complete and how much money to ask voters for, said Deputy Director Caris O’Malley.

“We are trying to put together a plan for what the library of the future will look like,” he said.

People are being asked what amenities they would like to see, such as group study rooms, maker spaces, expanded children’s areas and quiet areas.

“Our South Hill library is too small for our current needs,” O’Malley said.

Executive director Andrew Chanse explained to a sparse crowd at the Shadle Park Library town hall meeting Thursday evening that there’s no room to expand the South Hill library at its current location. Finding an empty lot big enough to build a new library has been a challenge, Chanse said.

But another option has surfaced in recent weeks. An analysis of library users has shown that 50 percent of users who live near the East Side Library on Stone Street drive to the South Hill Library. The East Side branch is the smaller of the two and Chanse said a second option is to build a new East Side branch on a new site across the freeway on Sprague Avenue to draw customers there and remodel the South Hill branch.

“We really wanted to give the public a choice,” Chanse said.

Library users are also being asked to give input on whether to renovate the Hillyard Library or build a new branch on the Shaw Middle School site. An expansion of the Shadle Park Library is being considered and users are being asked how large that expansion should be. Improvements are also planned for the Indian Trail Library.

“The more people the better,” said O’Malley. “We definitely need as much input as we can get.”

Editor’s note: This article was changed on Tuesday, April 24, 2018 to remove references to the Spokane Public Library as a “district” in the headline and within the story. The library system is a part of the city of Spokane’s government and not a separate taxing district.