|Trip number 5 was another stunningly beautiful Pacific Northwest day. Lorin must be our good luck sunshine man as on both trips with him so far we’ve had beautiful weather. While much of the rest of the country has had record breaking cold and snow, Washington state notched its warmest January on record (!!). February has only brought more sunshine and warm-ish temperatures. For this trip, I had stopped to pick up Doris on the way to carpool with Lorin and off we went bright and early.|| |
It was an early start as we headed out to Black Diamond to experience the Black Diamond Bakery and visit the Black Diamond branch of KCLS. We planned to arrive a little early to the bakery as I’ve heard it’s crowded and I’m glad we did! Not only did we miss the turn and have to turn around a few miles outside of Black Diamond - there was definitely a wait when we left about an hour later! We were also lucky enough to snag a seat by the large window wall with a beautiful view of Mt. Rainier. I have three libraries to talk about so I can’t wax on and on about the Black Diamond Bakery. I’ll just save you the time and effort of reading my glowing review and tell you to go the first chance you get! Doris and I also left with a strawberry-rhubarb pie to share. Divine.
After a delightful breakfast (I took home leftovers to enjoy the next two days too), we headed off to find the library. Should have taken that left turn at Albuquerque! Another missed turn necessitated the second turn around of the day. Back on track, we quickly approached the Black Diamond Library and it was fantastic! Designed to look a bit like a big red barn to fit into the rural neighborhood, there is also a stunning view of Mt. Rainier in the background. Although I’ve attempted to include a picture, the rising sun was our enemy as we tried to snap pictures of the library and the mountain. As we headed inside, a rooster crowed. I’m not kidding, it was such a picturesque sunny Saturday morning scene! We introduced ourselves to Michele, a Library Assistant who was kind enough to talk to us about this particular branch. The large community room is a popular draw and story times have had 60+ attendees! After snapping a few pictures, we headed back into the sunshine, listened to one last rooster crow, and headed just a few miles back up the road to our next destination.
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The Maple Valley Library is an award-winning library set within the trees (90 percent were spared in the construction) and it’s well hidden enough that it required yet another turn around on the road. I can’t even begin to do the design of the library and parking area justice, so I’ll let this article do it for me. We had a delightful chat with two library staff members that have each worked for at least 20 years in Maple Valley. The circulation and reference desks have wonderful seven layer glass laminated tops that are designed to mimic flowing water. As usual, this library was hopping on a Saturday afternoon – most computers were taken, the parking lot was full, and there were many patrons enjoying the various seating areas. After thoroughly enjoying a reading corner with ample windows and comfortable seating and our talk with the staff, we were off to our final adventure of the day.
It was my original intent to visit only Maple Valley and Black Diamond. . .but, since the library is managed in clusters of 3-4 branches and we were so close to the final branch in this cluster, we headed out to Covington. My first thought as we approached and entered the Covington Library was that it was huge! I was surprised to find out it’s actually still quite a bit smaller than the Redmond branch. We happened to arrive when the Managing Librarian, Catherine, was available and she was gracious enough to give us a complete tour. I have heard that this library is much envied, and the children’s area alone might contribute to much of it. Covington has a fantastic space for children where they are encouraged to “Be Creative”. They also have the coolest chairs ever in the teen area – I had never seen anything like them before. Other highlights include the automated handling machine and the quiet room, where patrons are known to self-monitor with even whisperers receiving glances! If you want to hear more directly from patrons at the library, listen here: Covington Book Bench.
As we piled back into the car to head home, I reflected on what KCLS has done to create common themes across branches, yet allow each one to reflect their diverse communities as much as possible. While signage within the library is beginning to be similar and the computers remain popular at every branch, the individual emphasis on location, building, and programming makes one feel “right at home.”