Enumclaw Public Library opens and is dedicated on September 28, 1991.

  • By Linda Holden Givens
  • Posted 11/01/2016
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 20181
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On September 28, 1991, the City of Enumclaw's new public library building is dedicated. The project was made possible when city voters approved a local library bond issue after two earlier proposals failed. The city library has outgrown the previous building, built in 1954, due to population increase and growing use of the library by city residents and non-residents alike. The new 10,541-square-foot building is located on the former right-of-way of the Burlington Northern Railroad at the corner of Griffin Avenue and Railroad Street. The dedication includes a slide presentation on early Enumclaw, comments from Enumclaw officials and library staff, and unveiling of the new building's unique brick artwork. The library will be funded and operated by the city until 2012, when local voters approve annexing the Enumclaw Library to the King County Library System (KCLS).

Planning and Funding the New Library

The Burlington Northern right-of-way on which the new library was ultimately built had been purchased by the city in 1983 as the site for a project known as Town Center. The Library Board requested the acquired land be used for the new library and that request was incorporated in the Town Center plan. Building plans were underway in 1988 with the new library portion included. In order to fund the new library, a $1.25 million city bond issue was proposed for the September 20, 1988, election ballot.

The plan was not without dispute, however. On June 27, 1988, the city council voted to seek other sites for the new library instead of agreeing to the Town Center site and placing the bond measure on the ballot. The local Friends of the Library group presented the city council with a petition containing 199 signatures supporting the proposed library site. Ultimately, on July 27, 1988, the city council voted 5 to 2 to approve sending the library bond issue to city voters. On the day the city council voted, the Enumclaw Courier Herald editorialized:

"By not knuckling under to fears that Enumclaw was wasting a prime retail corner, the council made a statement that a library is an important part of the quality of life here and deserves a prime location to best serve both Enumclaw residents and visitors. The city isn't wasting a retail spot. It is gaining facility that will bring people downtown today and help them be more informed and better citizens tomorrow. The more attractive ... the library's location, the more people it will draw and the better off everyone will be" ("Library Lands ...").

However, on September 20, 1988, the bond measure failed narrowly. The final count was 807 votes in favor to 545 opposed, giving the measure 59.7 percent, just barely under the 60 percent supermajority that bond measures require for approval. Library supporters tried again on May 16, 1989. On the second attempt, voters approved the library bond -- or so they thought. Due to a proofreader's mistake, a key phrase was missed in the official title of the library bond issue. So the bond measure went to voters once more, on November 7, 1989. The third time was a charm and the Enumclaw voters approved the bond issue with 825 votes in favor to 482 against, exceeding the required supermajority with 63.1 percent in favor, after 14 months and three elections.

On August 21, 1990, a rainy day, the groundbreaking ceremony took place. Activities surrounding the long-awaited groundbreaking included an essay contest in which kids 12 or under answered the question "why our new library is important to me." Designed by Lewis/Nelson Architects, the building was constructed by by contractors Jensen Sand and Gravel, Inc. (Phase I) and Federal Construction Company (Phase II).

Dedication Ceremony

On September 21, 1991, more than 40,000 items were moved to the new building by volunteers (with some professional assistance). On September 28, 1991, a dedication ceremony and open house celebrated the opening of the new Enumclaw Library. The new building was built to resemble an old train depot. The brochure for the dedication ceremony described its features:

"The 10,541 square foot building is located on the former right-of-way of the Burlington Northern Railroad. Not far from the new front entrance of the library stood two railroad stations that played an important role in Enumclaw history. If you're quiet, you can almost hear the train whistle blow. The library is designed to provide the user with a comfortable environment to use the many resources available. A fifty-seat public meeting room can be used for library sponsored programs or reserved for meetings. Quiet study space and access to a personal computer are provided just off the main reading area. The south wall of the building features a 15' x 6' panel of carved brick by Mara Smith and Kris King. The mural depicts highlights of Enumclaw Plateau history and life" ("Enumclaw Public Library Dedication ...").

The dedication festivities featured slide presentations of the early years, storytelling, a performance of the play The Odd Couple, and a band. Mayor Keith Blackburn, President of the Library Board David Berner, librarian Robert Baer (d. 2004), and Myron Lewis of Lewis/Nelson Architects were all on hand. Longtime library supporter Eleanor D. Adoll Englund (d. 2000) unveiled the brick mural.

Twenty-one years later in 2012, Enumclaw voters approved the Enumclaw Library's annexation to the King County Library System. As of 2016 it is the most recent library to annex to KCLS.


HistoryLink.org Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History, "Enumclaw Library, King County Library System" (by Linda Holden Givens) http://www.historylink.org (accessed November 1, 2016); "Board Seeks Building Plan for New City Library," The Enumclaw Courier-Herald, February 18, 1988, p. 1; Doug Williams, "New Library Site Showdown Set," The Enumclaw Courier-Herald, July 6, 1988, p. 1; "Library Lands on the Right Corner," The Enumclaw Courier-Herald, July 27, 1988, p. 10; Doug Williams, "Library Must Win Third Fight on Ballot," The Enumclaw Courier-Herald, September 13, 1989, p. 1; "Library site work begins this month," The Enumclaw Courier-Herald, August 1, 1990, p. 1; Bob Coleman, "Library Needs Help for Sept. 21 Move," The Enumclaw Courier-Herald, August 28, 1991, p. 2; Bob Coleman, "Chapter 2 -- Books Moved as Library Readied for Opening," The Enumclaw Courier-Herald, September 25, 1991; p. 1; Joe Haberstroh, "Enumclaw Puts Library Bond Issue on Ballot," The Seattle Times, July 26, 1988, p. D-3; Joe Haberstroh, "Enumclaw Voters Will Decide on New Library," The Seattle Times, September 14, 1988, p. H-5; Joe Haberstroh, "Enumclaw Library," The Seattle Times, September 21, 1988, p. H-5; McKay Jenkins and Margaret Bakken, "Final Results Show Enumclaw Rejected Library Bond," The Seattle Times, October 3, 1988; p. B-3; Sara Crickenberger, "Mail-in Ballot May Be Sought for Enumclaw Library Bond Issue," The Seattle Times, March 20, 1989; p. B-3; Michele Matassa Flores, "Library's Backers Relieved by Victory," The Seattle Times, November 8, 1989, p. F-9; Margaret Bakken, "Park Proposal Draws Little Interest -- School District May Construct Offices on Site," The Seattle Times, March 12, 1990, p. B-3; "Enumclaw Library Construction Starts," The Seattle Times, August 21, 1990, p. C-3; Gordon Koestler, "Crowed Library Seeks Space on September Ballot," The Enumclaw Eagle, May 18, 1988, p. A-3; Gordon Koestler, "Absentees Shelve Library Plans," The Enumclaw Eagle, October 5, 1988, p. A-1; Jean Parietti, "Library Opts for a Sure Thing in Moving Books," The Valley Daily News, September 18, 1991, p. A-3; "Art Prospectus" (folder containing material from 1989 to 1991), Enumclaw Library, Enumclaw, Washington; "Dedication Ceremony" (folder containing material from 1989 to 1991), Enumclaw Library; Gordon Koestler, "Embattled Enumclaw Library Bond in Trouble Again," The Enumclaw Eagle, September 6, 1989, news clipping, Album No. 3, Enumclaw Library; "Enumclaw Public Library Dedication Ceremony and Open House Saturday, September 28, 1991," (program), Album No. 4, Enumclaw Library; "About Enumclaw Library," King County Library System (KCLS) website accessed August 3, 2016 (http://kcls.org/about-enumclaw-library/).

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