The new facility replaces the old main community library that has stood at the corner of Mill Plain and Fort Vancouver Way for nearly 50 years. Now located four blocks west next to the historic Academy building, the new library is more than double the size, features added technology, and is more energy efficient.
The move is the result of a 2006 library facilities bond in which citizens voted to raise $43 million to replace and improve the main library and the Cascade Park library branch. The bond was estimated cost to taxpayers 17.5 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. That is about $35 in taxes each year over the 20-year life of the bond for a home with an assessed value of $200,000.
The new five-floor building features extensive use of natural light and designated areas for everything from sipping a cup of coffee to slipping the hours away with the latest bestseller. All of this space will be accessible seven days a week, returning to the library’s 2008 operating schedule after several years of slightly reduced service.
On the first floor of the new building patrons will find classrooms and computer space as well as the young adult collection, dubbed “Teen Central.” The first floor also hosts a coffee corner and a bookstand where “Friends of the Library” will sell used books.
While the second floor is dedicated to library operations, the third floor is home to the children’s collection and a 4,000 square-foot Early Learning Center. The first-in-the-country center reflects a library district focus on early literacy.
On the forth and fifth floors readers will discover fiction and biography titles and a comfy place to read in the café-style Vancouver Room or outside on a large terrace.
The new library design encourages staff members to interact with patrons with the implementation of an automated book sorting system. Fewer staffers are required staffers to toil behind the scenes processing books, freeing them to work directly with the public.
Planning for the library started almost immediately after the 2006 bond was approved. The community was then invited to participate in forums and meetings with library staff to shape how the new library could be a center for the community.
The project was personal for architect Aiden Dunning, who grew up in Vancouver but now works with the Miller Hull Partnership based in Seattle. He said his favorite part of working on the project was a chance to spend time back in Clark County.
To see our video of the old library’s last 20 minutes in operation, see the couv.com post “Vancouver Community Library Closes.”
To learn about the new library’s grand opening event, click here.
Listen to audio of the video by clicking on the podcast player at the top of this post.
Video shot and edited by Jordan Thompson and Miles Burnett
Vancouver Community Library
901 C St
Vancouver, WA 98660