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West Seattle Herald
Seattle , Washington
June 24, 2011     West Seattle Herald
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June 24, 2011

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16 Friday, June 24, 2011 West Seattle Herald Fate of Burien libraries argued By Christopher Juneau The King County Library Sys- tem (KCLS) is considering con- solidating the White Center and Boulevard Park Libraries in a loca- tion yet to be decided. This consolidation would be in a new building that would be a 10,000-15,000 square-foot facility, significantly larger than the current 6,000 square-foot White Center Library and the still smaller Bou- levard Park building. KCLS man- agement has stated that the traffic and circulation is over 30 percent higher in these larger facilities as opposed to those with a 5,000- 6,000 square-footage. This is the model, KCLS management claims, that maximizes the efficiency of patron usage. It is not traffic, though, that Rachael Levine, president of the White Center Library Guild, is worried about -- it's access. "It's all about access to small- er libraries that we are concerned about because of the communities they are in" Levine declared. Levine argues that the location of the White Center Library is crucial for the residents of White Center, citing her informal petition, which had already collected over 400 signatures before the Burien Wild Strawberry Festival last weekend. Her goal is to have the decision of whether or not to consolidate the two libraries delayed until after it becomes clear if Burien or Seattle will incorporate the remainder of North Highline. She has been collecting signa- tures outside the library, sta(ting at 11 a.m. every morning that the library is open, asking those who use the library if they would like to add their support. To everyone who signs, She makes clear that it is an informal petition and carries no legal weight; it is a citizen's advisory. Levine states that her reason for doing this is so that she could collect the signatures of the children and stu- dents who frequent the library, as opposed to only adults. She also says it helps to protect the privacy of those who would rather not write down their address, as would be required on a formal petition. As for the library itself, she explained that not all residents of White Center could easily com- mute to another library due to a lack of transportation, opportunity, or time. "The library is also part of the community," Levine said. "Con- solidation would be like tipping it out by the roots." Though she agrees that a larger consolidated library would increase traffic, she points out that this traffic would be largely in terms of cars, as opposed to foot traf- fic, such as students from nearby schools. She also agrees that it would be more "fiscally respon- sible" to have one building, but that "the geography doesn't lend itself to that model." Levine also points out that the programs are essential to the well being and safety of the children in the area. She related about numer- ous children who told her that they come to the library because "it is a safe place." She attributes this, in part, to the programs that are held there. These programs are especially important, Levine says, to impov- erished families who depend on the library as constructive place for their child to stay after school while they are still at work. A local White Center resident agreed: "After we came to America, my children relied on the library to learn English. Now they are gradu- ating from college." Bill Ptacek, KCLS director and an advocate of the consolidation, claims that moving the library would always make it farther from some people and closer to others. He also says that if a new site were selected, it should be close to bus lines. "The library's goal is to maxi- mize service. That everyone has a library within walking distance is not within expectations" Ptacek said. As for foot traffic, Ptacek says that according to their studies, many people in the White Center area drive. As for the students, Ptacek claims, "We are not see- ing a vast majority of those stu- dents. We've never characterized the library as a safe place." 5111 SW Grayson St $649,950 Mid-century modern home with captivating vistas of the Puget Sound, lovingly restored on oversized grounds in desirable North Admiral location! Nestled in a unique setting amongst beautiful gardens and towering trees on a quiet street end across from bluff above Alki Beach! Formal living & dining rooms with vaulted ceilings, sit down views, hardwoods, fireplace & wall of windows. Sunny kitchen overlooking gorgeous rear yard with mature landscape, arbors, lawns & private patio. New roof in 2006. 206.932.2550 or emil However, Ptacek is concerned that a lack of action will cause inflation to eat away at the money they have prepared for the construc- tion of the new facility. He views the new facility as an opportunity to move forward, maximize resources and increase the level of service to the public. "white Center has a higher level of square-footage per capita service than any other area in KCLS. Even after consolidation, it would be higher than the average," he noted. Ptacek is reluctant to build a new facility so close to what may become Seattle's new southern bor- der and Levine says that the KCLS management is "trying to do the tight thing, but they aren't listening to the people and they're not paying attention to the kids who came to the library with their teachers" "Why don't they work out a deal with Seattle, even if that area is annexed and give us the librar- ies we voted on?" Levine asked, referring to the bond passed in 2004 that approved the construction of a new White Center Library and the expansion of Boulevard Park. "There was no mention of a con- solidated library then" Ptacek says "The board has a responsibility to change the plan if the conditions change." He also adds that in terms of a deal with $349,950 Immaculate 3 bdrm, 2 bth home on beautiful street in outstanding neighborhood just north of Weslwood Towne Center! New hardwood floors installed on main floor. Perfect floor plan features open living rm w/high ceilings & frplc, dining rm opens to custom deck, fully equipped kitchen w/breakfast rm, 3 bdrms on main level, master w/private bth & walk-in closet, cozy family/rec rm w/wood pellet stove, Irg laundry & huge 2 car garage! Pride of ownership thru-out! New roof, high efficiency gas heating!. 206.932.2550 or www.jamest/ 5781 E State Route 106 Photo by Christopher Juneau Rachael Levine, left, collects petition signatures on an ironing board in front of the White Center Library. 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