Much pomp and circumstance awaited us for trip number 13 to the libraries in Federal Way! Bruce, Lorin, and I headed out early-ish Saturday morning for the re-opening of the Federal Way Regional branch after a little more than a year of closure for renovations and expansion. We also visited the Federal Way 320th library and, of course, finished our trip with a bite to eat.
The 600 other people also welcoming the newly re-opened library meant that we had to park a couple of blocks away. But, on a beautiful Saturday morning, and to the tunes of the high school jazz band serenading the crowd, the walk was perfect and gave us a sense of how leafy the environs around the library really are. One of the design principles for the site was to incorporate the wooded surroundings as much as possible. Only a few trees were cut down for the expansion, but they were turned into beautiful tables and other decorating accessories to grace the inside of the library. Lighting, shelving, and carpeting also emphasized a forest theme.
We learned many more interesting facts about the library from our volunteer tour guide, Susan, an Arts Commissioner for the City of Federal Way. She guided us through the library so that we could enjoy the newly spacious design and its functional art. This library has to have the best study rooms I’ve seen so far – there is one that looks out over the rain garden and three of the four walls are glass such that two face outside and one faces the rest of the library. Everyone mentioned how amazing the building sounds in the rain. . .I almost wished it had been raining! (not really)
I also want to give a special thanks to Bill Ptacek, the King County Library System Director, and Lee, the Special Projects Coordinator for the Automated Materials Handling System. Both spent a very generous amount of time chatting with us about what makes Federal Way special and their enthusiasm for the libraries is absolutely contagious. Did you know that KCLS is the most automated library system in the U.S.? I didn’t either, until Saturday!
Before we headed over to Federal Way 320th, we spent a few minutes watching Brothers from Different Mothers entertain the kids of all ages. Standing room only crowds greeted them. . .and while it was a far cry from their most recent gig in the Bahamas, everyone seemed to be having a grand time!
A few miles separates Federal Way Regional from Federal Way 320th, and, fittingly, as we stepped inside, one of the patrons commented how quiet the library was now that the Regional branch was open again. Though, it still looked pretty busy to me! The librarian at the check out did let us know that they increased their hourly check outs from 50 to 500 per hour during the Regional branch closure. That sounded simply exhausting. Also, one of the neatest spaces I’ve seen in a library was in 320th’s children’s area – there’s a “2 puppet” limit!
Our final stop for the day involved the, nearly required event now, sampling of a local restaurant. We selected Indochine. Located just a few minutes away from both libraries, it has wonderful interior decor! My tofu pad thai was delicious. . .and even more so for lunch two more days afterwards. As we headed back home, I reflected how unique all of these jaunts continue to turn out to be - how many ways can one really visit a library?! It turns out, a lot. Though good company and good food remain a constant. . .all of the libraries and communities continue to offer something unique, delightful, and inspiring!