On Saturday, January 7, 2012, the Lake Forest Park Library reopens in the city's Towne Centre mall. Relocated from a previous space in the mall and expanded using green products and methods, the library -- funded by a King County Library System (KCLS) bond issue approved by county voters eight years earlier -- features new dedicated areas for children and teens, study areas, more computers, books, and other materials, and a much-needed multipurpose room. Celebration events include speeches by library and city dignitaries, music, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony, followed by a magic show held at the mall's Third Place Commons.
Four Locations, One Mall
Lake Forest Park's first library opened in what was then called Forest Park Center on June 20, 1965. Despite the fact that it moved several times since then, the Lake Forest Park Library always remained located in the mall (which in the 1980s would be renamed Lake Forest Park Towne Centre, and around 2014 rebranded again as Town Center at Lake Forest Park). Starting with a staff of three, the library circulated 73,000 items during its first year of operation. It prospered and grew to the point that a larger library was needed, and one in a more visible place. The King County Library System, the Lake Forest Park City Council and the library's Friends group appealed to the mall management for a better location.
In 1970 the library was moved to a larger spot on the lower level. Population growth in the 1990s challenged all city services and the library again needed a larger space, a bigger materials budget, and a more welcoming location. In 1996 Lake Forest Park Library made a big change when it was moved to the main level near the mall entrance. Highly successful in this new spot, the Lake Forest Park Library grew rapidly and in a short time, a larger and better location was once again needed. When King County voters approved a $172 million bond in 2004, an expanded Lake Forest Park Library was included in the plans.
Originally KCLS planned to expand the Lake Forest Park Library at or near its 1996 location on the main level, but there was not adequate available space there. A suitable location on the lower level offered 5,841 square feet of space, a 60 percent increase in size compared to the previous library. Architects Hutteball and Oremus of Kirkland, working with CDK Construction of Duvall, followed green construction guidelines, using a high percentage of recycled and green materials, energy-efficient lighting, and an HVAC system with sensors that could adjust to occupancy size. Whenever possible, materials manufactured within 500 miles were used.
The new space had a dedicated Children's Area and a Teen Zone as well as an often-requested multipurpose room that could be opened or closed to the main library area. The $1.4 million project also added more computers, including a public "Cyber Bar," along with more seating and study areas and new furniture. The library's collections were also expanded.
The reopening celebration began at 9:15 a.m. on January 7, 2012, with the Shorecrest High School Highland Dancers and a bagpiper entertaining those gathered outside the doors to the new library. The new location was only an escalator ride away from Third Place Books on the main floor level. At 9:30, KCLS Library Director Bill Ptacek gave a welcome, followed by remarks from KCLS Trustee Jennifer Bonebright and Lake Forest Park Mayor Mary Jane Goss. Architect Kevin Oremus spoke briefly about features of the new library.
Also speaking were Friends of the Lake Forest Park Library President Karen Edwardsen and Rita Requa, Chair of the Library Advisory Committee. Dignitaries and children then gathered for the ribbon-cutting ceremony and the crowd was invited to tour the building and enjoy refreshments provided by the Friends group and the mall's Honey Bear Bakery and Cafe. At 11 a.m. the celebration continued on the mall's Third Place Commons stage with a program given by magician Jeff Evans, who entertained the crowd with Sparky, his trained chicken.
Six months following the reopening, library visits had risen by 16 percent from the previous year's numbers. In its new location, the Lake Forest Park Library continues to play an important part in shaping the character of the city.