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Displaced South Whatcom Library to get interim location in Sudden Valley

Former school teacher Paulette Eltrich shares one of her favorite children's books with her granddaughter Grace Lange, 4, at the grand opening of the South Whatcom Library on April 12, 2014, in Sudden Valley. Several months after its building was deemed unsafe, the library will move to an interim space at the Sudden Valley Adult Center in late February or early March.
Former school teacher Paulette Eltrich shares one of her favorite children's books with her granddaughter Grace Lange, 4, at the grand opening of the South Whatcom Library on April 12, 2014, in Sudden Valley. Several months after its building was deemed unsafe, the library will move to an interim space at the Sudden Valley Adult Center in late February or early March. The Bellingham Herald

South Whatcom Library soon will have a place to call home — at least temporarily — several months after its building was deemed unsafe.

In late February or early March, the library will move to an interim space at the Sudden Valley Adult Center, 10 Barn View Court inside Gate 2 of Sudden Valley, just north of the Lake Louise Road-Lake Whatcom Boulevard intersection.

“We want everyone in southern Whatcom County to know that it is their library. It can be hard to find, but we hope people will take time to nose around,” said Christine Perkins, executive director of the Whatcom County Library System.

An agreement was signed in December to use the Adult Center space for $300 a month, said Leslie McRoberts of the Sudden Valley Community Association board of directors, a private homeowners association. Sudden Valley uses the building for classes and special programs, which will be restricted while the library occupies the site. Part of the building — including restrooms — will be a shared space when the members-only adult pool outside the Adult Center is open in fair weather, Perkins said.

South Whatcom Library opened in March 2014 in a 6,500-square-foot portion of a remodeled horse barn. It replaced a twice-weekly Bookmobile as the only library services in the county’s southern reach. But the library closed abruptly barely four months later, when officials conducting an inspection in late June discovered that a beetle infestation had weakened the building’s structural supports.

SVCA board President Larry Brown said an insurance claim has been filed, but it might take a year to resolve, and repairs cannot proceed until then. Sudden Valley’s claim involves all three barn structures at the site, including a former ice rink and the building known as the Dance Barn, which also houses the Creekside Cafe coffee shop and a YMCA gym on its lower level.

“Sudden Valley is willing to do whatever we can to assure there is continuing library service in the valley for the South Whatcom community,” Brown said.

Meanwhile, the library continues to offer services such as public Wi-Fi, a small browsing section, events, and pickup and returns at the YMCA and at the common area shared by the Y and the cafe, Perkins said. She said the library staff is happy to have a more conventional space and thanked its neighbors for their assistance.

“We have been fortunate that the Y has been very gracious,” Perkins said. “Unfortunately, it isn’t the same as having an actual space.”

Perkins said some work needs to be done at the Adult Center to accommodate the library, including laying carpet over a wood floor where dance classes were held and installing a false wall for shelving in front of mirrors used by dancers. About 80 percent of the library collection will be moved to the temporary location, including books, CDs and DVDs for children, teens and adults. There will be Wi-Fi and computer stations.

“We’ll be losing out on different seating options,” Perkins said, “but we will have a separate room for quiet study.”

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