On June 25, 2005, at 1 p.m., past and present library staff, city officials, and residents gather at the Bothell Library to celebrate 100 years of library service to the community. Fifty-nine of those years have been spent in association with the King County Library System (KCLS), Bothell partnering with KCLS in 1946 and annexing its library into the system in 1986. Attendees at the centennial celebration, hosted by the library, the Friends of the Bothell Library, the City of Bothell, and KCLS, are welcomed with refreshments, speeches, and reminiscences of the library's past. Patrons and residents are invited to leave written memories, to be gathered and added to a scrapbook, continuing the library story. In 2005 the Bothell Library, at 18215 98th Avenue NE, has about 8,000 visitors a week, with a materials circulation of 70,000 items a month, and is considered the fourth busiest library in the King County Library System.
Celebrating and Remembering
Speaking to the press before the event, Bothell Library manager Denise Bugallo invited people to attend and to share some of their own recollections:
"We welcome people to write anything they like about the library. It gives them the opportunity to share their feelings about the library and then we will collect all of these thoughts and expressions for a scrapbook. It will be part of the library's history" ("You've Come a Long Way ...").
Bothell Library had a humble start. In the early years of the twentieth century, the small platted town of Bothell struggled to provide culture to its growing number of residents. It had begun as a logging town, with shingle mills and surrounding farms and dairies, plus a small downtown business district that stretched along Main Street.
Bothell's first library opened with 300 books in the Odd Fellows Hall in 1905, with telephone switchboard operator Della Chambers serving as librarian. Although there would be no official city library in Bothell for some time, citizens set up private collections, usually circulating books for a small borrowing fee, in such locations as Bothell Methodist Church, Carlton Ericksen's general store, and Harlan Rupp's drugstore. The City of Bothell was incorporated in 1909.
The library's next location came in 1925, the result of organizing by a women's group. Opening January 19, 1925, in a rented room of the American Hotel with a collection of 1,000 books, the library was moved later the same year to the Bothell Hotel for cheaper rent. In 1928 the library began its affiliation with the City of Bothell when it was set up in Town Hall and, in September of 1929 -- a month before the stock market crash -- the City Council agreed to provide a librarian's wages. This amount was split by four librarians, who each worked one week a month. The council continued to support the library through the lean decades of the 1930s Great Depression.
Partnering with KCLS
The Bothell Library's service area experienced rapid growth change through its history and the library seemed always to be racing to catch up. Needing money and professional support, the City of Bothell in 1946 contracted with KCLS for library service. This allowed city residents to benefit from the county system's larger collection, greater resources, and professional staff.
In 1969 the Bothell Library moved from its Town Hall location to a newly built 8,300-square-foot library building on 182nd Street, funded by a city bond issue, KCLS, and a federal grant. Local voters approved annexation of the Bothell Library to KCLS in 1986. In 1995 the library moved to a new 22,500-square-foot building at 18215 98th Avenue NE, where it opened as the Bothell Regional Library.
Preserving Its Past and Looking to the Future
The Bothell Library is fortunate to have had local historians write and collect its library history. Over the years, some news clippings had been saved. Betty Green, a member of the Friends of the Bothell Library since the late 1960s, spent many years organizing and adding to this collection, which includes copies of news items, programs, photos, and written accounts. Green filed them in three-ring binders which are kept at the Bothell Library. The collection includes "The Library Story in Bothell," a typed manuscript written by Marguerite Lytle Chase, and Books in Bothell: The History of the Bothell Library, 1905-1980, by Richard Gordon McCloskey. Photos from the library's 100th birthday event took their place in the binder collection.
Speaking to a reporter at the birthday celebration on June 25, 2005, assistant manager Rob Bowman said of the Bothell Library over the years:
"People come in and they always smile at you. They'll tell you what their kids are doing at school. ... It's kind of a close-knit community in that way. Even 100 years ago in a small town that was hard to reach from the Seattle area, residents kept books in circulation. School superintendents, shopkeepers and clergy maintained book collections and the only lull without some sort of library in Bothell was for a few years around 1920" ("Library to Celebrate ...").
Or as Friends member Betty Green expressed it, "People wanted a library and they were figuring out a way to get it" ("Library to Celebrate ...").