Ferndale residents like what they see on first day at new library

Residents who checked out the new Ferndale Public Library on its opening day Wednesday, Oct. 29, were happy with the results as they moved through the building with its high ceilings and skylights, exposed woodwork and views of Schell Marsh through a wall of windows.

“I love the open space. I like the windows and the natural lighting. I’m pretty impressed with the space here,” Ferndale resident Brian Richeson said as he stood inside the 15,150-square-foot building at 2125 Main St. in Ferndale.

That approval was shared by Sara Johnston, a Ferndale resident who was sitting on a couch and reading “Queen of Halloween” with daughter Sadie, 3, as son Micah, 1, played nearby.

“It’s beautiful. It’s gorgeous. It’s state of the art,” Johnston said.

Sadie also had an opinion about the space.

“I like the kitchen,” the girl said, referring to a play area in the Kids section.

Seattle-based SHKS Architects designed the library, which draws from Ferndale’s pioneer-agricultural heritage, the simple almost austere look of buildings at Pioneer Park, other buildings along Main Street, and community desire for a modern and adaptable building with connections to the surrounding natural area. The exterior was made of cedar with plain-looking wood that’s “meant to weather naturally,” said Christine Perkins, executive director of the Whatcom County Library System.

The project is a collaboration some eight years in the making of the city of Ferndale, Whatcom County Library System, Whatcom Community Foundation and the Friends of the Ferndale Public Library.

Other library features include a community meeting room near the entrance; a plaza outside for people to gather; 40 to 50 new parking spaces, along with shared parking with nearby City Hall; room to expand; radiant heating; natural ventilation; plenty of seating; and a lot of places for people to plug in their devices, including for those tapping into the library’s Wi-Fi.

“I’m hearing a lot of laughter and good spirits,” Perkins said Wednesday of people’s responses. “Kind of that look of awe of, ‘Wow, we have this.’ ”

Lynden-based Faber Construction received the $4.7 million contract to build the library. Money came from the city of Ferndale, private donations from the community, grants and bonds — including a $550,000 bond approved by Ferndale voters.

The library system budgeted $395,000 for furniture, technology and other equipment.

The walls are painted avocado-green or burnt orange. Signs clearly mark the sections for kids and teens, as well as where to go for those seeking information. The ceiling ranges from 14 feet on one end of the building to 25 feet on the other end. The carpeting, which features designs reminiscent of tree branches or raindrops and leaves, helps absorb the noise in the wide open space, which at one point Wednesday included young children listening to storytime.

“It feels warm, even though it’s a big space,” said Sarah Koehler, the library’s manager.

“This community should feel really good about what they’ve done,” said Pamela Jons of the Whatcom Community Foundation, which managed the public fundraising campaign for the project.

One resident who felt good was 11-year-old Michael Richeson, who was selected to be the first person to check out an item from the new library. The sixth-grader at Cedar Tree Montessori in Bellingham was there with dad Brian Richeson.

“I go to the library twice a week. I love reading,” Michael said, noting that he also liked checking out video games from the library.

As for his thoughts on the new building: “This is more than I hoped for. It’s amazing.”