Methow Valley News, July 17, 2019

Winthrop library plans come into sharper form

BY DON NELSON

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Photo by Don Nelson
Angela Morris of the North Central Regional Library addressed a Winthrop library information session last weekend.

Design is still a work in progress

The proposed design for a new public library in Winthrop continues to evolve but goals for the facility haven’t changed, interested residents were told at an informational meeting last Saturday (July 13).

A sizeable crowd at the Winthrop Barn listened attentively as representatives of Friends of the Winthrop Library (FOWL) — the nonprofit group that is spearheading the new library effort and the fundraising for its construction — and the project’s architects talked about plans for the building.

The new library will be built on a .81-acre parcel purchased by the Town of Winthrop, on White Avenue near Little Star Montessori School. FOWL is also hoping to acquire an adjacent smaller lot to provide more space for the building, parking and landscaping. Although some private funds have been pledged toward that purchase, FOWL doesn’t yet have the necessary financing to buy the parcel.

FOWL estimates that the building’s costs will not exceed $4.5 million. The state Legislature’s recently adopted capital budget includes $2 million to support the new library’s construction; most of the rest is expected to be raised through private donations.

FOWL will turn the library over to the town of Winthrop when completed. The North Central Regional Library (NCRL) system, of which the Winthrop library is a part, will provide furnishings, staff and equipment for the new building, as well as maintenance, for the portion of the building devoted to library use. Plans now call for groundbreaking in 2020 and completion in 2022.

Current plans call for a 7,300-square-foot building — reduced from earlier projections of around 8,000 square feet — that would include a 6,000-square-foot library area, connected by a hallway to a 1,300-square foot public use space that would be the town’s responsibility. The library portion could be closed off when not in operation, but the public space (including restrooms) could be kept open for a variety of uses. The two spaces would share main entrances.

Earlier, FOWL selected Johnston Architects and Prentiss Balance Wickline to coordinate in designing the new building. Both are Seattle-based architectural firms with extensive experience in the Methow Valley.

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Graphic courtesy of Friends of the Winthrop Library
A preliminary scheme for siting the new Winthrop library includes two public entrances and parking access off of Norfolk Road.

Community needs

The existing library on Highway 20 adjacent to Mack Lloyd Park was always intended to be a temporary site. With less than 1,200 square feet, the library has no room for expansion and is often crowded, particularly for special events. Although small, the Winthrop library has the highest per-capita usage in the NCRL system.

At Saturday’s session, FOWL board Chair Shannon Polson and Executive Director Jill Sheley reviewed the research and community needs assessment completed over the past 18 months to determine the facility’s parameters. Ray and Mary Johnston of Johnston Architects, and Margo Peterson Aspholm of Prentiss Balance Wickline, talked about designs, schematics, materials and other considerations for the new building.

Ray Johnston told the audience that the architects have continued to refine the design “with your help.” The plan calls for meeting rooms, separate gathering areas for teens and younger kids, a “living room” with a fireplace, expanded access to technology tools, and many more books.

Aspholm said the assumed acquisition of the adjacent lot “gives us some breathing room” for the building and its environment. The proposed entrance would be off of Norfolk Avenue rather than directly onto White Avenue. The two main entries — described as the “river” and “mountain” entrances because of their orientation — would provide a dramatic introduction to a building that Aspholm described as “the crossroads for the community.”

The architects said that to the extent possible, they will use local materials that “celebrate” the Methow Valley’s history and natural ambiance. They anticipate a “parklike setting” for the structure, and potential connections to the area’s recreational trails.

Ray Johnston said that the plan is to create a large “clear span” space that doesn’t need posts for structural support.  Several potential designs were presented, with differing rooflines (gable or shed) and building profiles. Lighting, acoustics and heating/ventilation systems have to be designed specifically for library needs, Ray Johnston said.

Angela Morris, director of public services for Wenatchee-based NCRL, was on hand as well. In response to a question, she assured the crowd that all the furnishings and equipment the expanded library will be new.

No additional taxes will be required to build or operate the new library. Town residents currently pay a library district assessment which goes to the NCRL system.

Article originally appeared here

Methow Valley News, May 29, 2019

FOWL names Jill Sheley as executive director for library effort

 BY DON NELSON

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Jill Sheley

Friends of the Winthrop Public Library (FOWL) has named Jill Sheley as its executive director, effective June 1.

FOWL is a nonprofit organization that has been working since 2017 to bring a new library to Winthrop. The organization is spearheading the building project and private fundraising efforts for the new facility, and will turn it over to the town of Winthrop when completed. The North Central Regional Library (NCRL) system, of which the Winthrop library is a part, will provide furnishings, staff and equipment for the new building, as well as maintenance.

Sheley, a resident of Winthrop for 10 years, has had a long track record of leading complex projects as a management consultant, according to a FOWL press release. Since founding her own company, S2 Advisors, in 1997, Sheley has guided strategic and tactical business planning and implemented complex process and technology improvements for her clients. Sheley, a native Texan, is a graduate of Texas A&M University where she earned a bachelor of business administration degree with a concentration in accounting.

“Jill’s professional experience, along with her many years of service to multiple valley organizations, make her perfectly suited to take the helm of this legacy community effort to create our new library,” said Shannon Polson, FOWL’s board chair, in the press release.

Sheley, her husband and their twin sons moved to Winthrop in 2009 to enjoy its skiing, biking, golf and much more. She founded the junior golf program at Bear Creek and is treasurer of the Confluence Art Gallery in Twisp. She’s volunteered as a Nordic ski coach, an alpine race coordinator, a Guardian Angel and a high school English tutor, according to the release.

“I am honored the board has confidence in me to lead FOWL towards its mission of creating a library where people can connect, access worldwide learning resources and discover and explore their passions,” Sheley said in the release. “I believe our new library will draw people together, and every single person will feel welcome and delighted to enter the front door of a place that reflects the community’s values, hopes and needs.”

FOWL announced recently that is has selected Johnston Architects and Prentiss Balance Wickline to coordinate designing the new building. The new library will be built on a .81-acre parcel purchased by the town, on White Avenue near Little Star Montessori School. Construction is expected to begin in spring 2020. Preliminary conceptual sketches show an 8,400-square-foot “footprint” for the building.

FOWL is hosting two community meetings/workshops to gather public input on the project. The first meeting will be at 2 p.m. on Sunday (June 2) at the Winthrop Barn. The second will be on July 13 at 10 a.m., also at the Barn.

FOWL is a registered 501(c)(3) organization. For more information, visit www.winthroplibraryfriends.org.

Article Originally Appeared Here

Methow Valley News, May 22, 2019

FOWL to host workshops on new library

 BY METHOW VALLEY NEWS

Friends of the Winthrop Public Library (FOWL), the nonprofit organization working to bring a new library to Winthrop, will host community meetings/workshops in June and July to gather public input on the project.

The first meeting will be at 2 p.m. on June 2 at the Winthrop Barn. The second will be on July 13 at 10 a.m., also at the Barn.

Shannon Polson, chairperson of FOWL board of directors, said the group is hoping for meaningful attendance at each event “for maximum community engagement.”

FOWL announced last week that is has selected Johnston Architects and Prentiss Balance Wickline to coordinate designing the new building.

The new library will be built on a .81-acre parcel purchased by the town, on White Avenue near Little Star Montessori School. FOWL is spearheading the building project and private fundraising efforts for the new facility, and will turn it over to the town of Winthrop when completed. The North Central Regional Library (NCRL) system, of which the Winthrop library is a part, will provide furnishings, staff and equipment for the new building, as well as maintenance.

Construction is expected to begin in spring 2020. Preliminary conceptual sketches show an 8,400-square-foot “footprint” for the building. Since early 2017, FOWL has been promoting construction of a new library to replace the overcrowded, outdated building on Highway 20. The Winthrop library is also included in the state’s recently approved biennial capital budget. The project is earmarked for $2 million in state funding when available.

Friends of the Winthrop Public Library (FOWL), the nonprofit organization working to bring a new library to Winthrop, will host community meetings/workshops in June and July to gather public input on the project.

The first meeting will be at 2 p.m. on June 2 at the Winthrop Barn. The second will be on July 13 at 10 a.m., also at the Barn.

Shannon Polson, chairperson of FOWL board of directors, said the group is hoping for meaningful attendance at each event “for maximum community engagement.”

FOWL announced last week that is has selected Johnston Architects and Prentiss Balance Wickline to coordinate designing the new building.

The new library will be built on a .81-acre parcel purchased by the town, on White Avenue near Little Star Montessori School. FOWL is spearheading the building project and private fundraising efforts for the new facility, and will turn it over to the town of Winthrop when completed. The North Central Regional Library (NCRL) system, of which the Winthrop library is a part, will provide furnishings, staff and equipment for the new building, as well as maintenance.

Construction is expected to begin in spring 2020. Preliminary conceptual sketches show an 8,400-square-foot “footprint” for the building. Since early 2017, FOWL has been promoting construction of a new library to replace the overcrowded, outdated building on Highway 20. The Winthrop library is also included in the state’s recently approved biennial capital budget. The project is earmarked for $2 million in state funding when available.

Article originally appeared here.

Methow Valley News, May 15, 2019

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Architects selected to design new Winthrop public library

Two firms with local connections will collaborate

BY DON NELSON

Friends of the Winthrop Pub-lic Library (FOWL), the nonprofit organization working to bring a new library to Winthrop, announced Tuesday (March 14) that it has selected Johnston Architects and Prentiss Balance Wickline to coor-dinate designing the new building.

Both are Seattle-based architec-tural firms with extensive experi-ence in the Methow Valley. Johnston Architects also has a long history of designing public libraries.

The new library will be built on a .81-acre parcel purchased by the town, on White Avenue near Little Star Montessori School. FOWL is spearheading the building project and private fundraising efforts for the new facility, and will turn it over to the town of Winthrop when com-pleted. The North Central Regional Library (NCRL) system, of which the Winthrop library is a part, will provide furnishings, staff and equip-ment for the new building, as well as maintenance.

“We are incredibly excited to begin the exacting process of creat-ing Winthrop’s future library with these accomplished and creative architects,” said Shannon Polson, chairperson of the FOWL board of directors, in a press release. “Both Johnston Architects and Prentiss Balance Wickline have extensive experience working in the Methow Valley and deep respect for the com-munity’s vision for this important public place. “

FOWL chose the architectural collaboration after a selection pro-cess that considered three candi-date architectural teams over nearly six months, according to the press release.

Johnston Architects has created nearly 30 community libraries. The firm managed a program and design process that resulted in the creation of TwispWorks, and has also created numerous valley homes.

Ray Johnston, a principal of the firm, has already contributed to the new Winthrop public library effort. In December 2018, he helped the community assess its vision and goals by leading a workshop that collected information from partici-pants about their ideas and hopes for their new library.

Balance Wickline — with offices in Seattle and Winthrop — has deep connections to the Methow Val-ley. Firm architects Tom Lenchek and Margo Peterson-Aspholm have both designed numerous residences here. Additionally, they were the architects of the new Little Star Montessori School, and they have contributed pro bono services to a number of Methow Valley commu-nity projects

.“It’s an honor to work with the Johnston team,” said Peterson-Aspholm. “We respect them person-ally and professionally, and we share a love of the valley, too. But most importantly, we share a fundamental belief in the power of architecture to foster community.”

The firms will next start to formalize the wants, needs and parameters of library stakehold-ers, including the community of library patrons, the Town of Win-throp, FOWL, and the North Cen-tral Regional Library, according to the press release. After that, master planning for the site and creating a schematic design of the building itself will begin. Both architectural firms will collaborate throughout the entire process.

“We’re thrilled to move full steam ahead,” Ray Johnston said about the partnership with Prentiss Balance Wickline. “Together, and with ongo-ing input and feedback from the community, we will help create a dynamic, functional and beautiful library space that we hope everyone in the valley will celebrate, use and cherish.”

Construction is expected to begin in spring 2020. Preliminary concep-tual sketches show an 8,400-square-foot “footprint” for the building that addresses the major findings of the community needs assessment, Polson said.

Since early 2017, FOWL has been promoting construction of a new library to replace the overcrowded, outdated building on Highway 20.

The new Winthrop library is also included in the state’s recently approved biennial capital budget. The project is earmarked for $2 mil-lion in state funding when available.

Methow Valley News, March 27, 2019

FOWL update refines what new Winthrop library should provide Based on variety of community input and growth data

BY DON NELSON

A needs assessment for Winthrop’s new public library is helping the facility’s supporters narrow in on what the building should contain and provide, the Town Council learned last week.

Shannon Polson, chair of Friends of the Winthrop Library (FOWL), the nonprofit group that is coordinating and raising funds for the project, told the council that although the library will be in Winthrop it is being conceived of as a community-wide resource.

The town has purchased a .81-acre parcel on White Avenue as the site for a new library, at the intersection of White Avenue and Norfolk Road,

Since early 2017, FOWL has been promoting construction of a new library to replace the overcrowded, outdated building on Highway 20, which was never anticipated to be a permanent site for the library. FOWL will build the library with privately generated funds and then turn it over to the town. The North Central Regional Library (NCRL) system, of which the Winthrop library is a part, will provide all the furnishing and equipment for the new building, as well as maintenance.

Construction is projected to begin in spring 2020 with completion about a year later.

Polson noted that the Winthrop library has the highest per-capita circulation of any NCRL branch, and is also a popular Wi-Fi spot that even draws visitors who want to get online.

The needs assessment included eight community conversations with more than 40 participants, a town survey that drew 70 responses, several focus groups for library staff, volunteers and local teens, an NCRL survey that drew more than 100 participants, and a “Hopes and Dreams” workshop last December that drew about 60 attendees.

Pulling all that together, along with data about the valley’s population and expected growth, FOWL created a list of “key takeaways” about what the community wants, Polson said.

Those include light-filled spaces, a workable community gathering space and meeting rooms, separate areas for teens and younger children, “cozy” places to read, up-to-date technology and expanded programming for adults and children.

Polson said the library “couldn’t be at a better location” to serve all those needs and connect to other town amenities.

Motivating the project, Polson said, are factors such a growing rural technology divide, the need to address the valley’s poverty challenges, and a growing senior population as well as steadily increasing school enrollment.

Preliminary conceptual sketches show an 8,400-square-foot “footprint” for the building that addresses the major findings of the needs assessment, Polson said. The plan will continue to evolve as FOWL solicits more community input, she said.

The next step is selection of an architect, Polson said. Meanwhile, FOWL is continuing its major-donors fundraising campaign. The group may be able to apply for sizeable foundation grants, she said, but needs to establish a substantial commitment of matching funds first. FOWL expects to hire a part-time executive director in the near future, Polson said.

Article originally appeared here

Methow Valley News, October 24, 2018

FOWL’s next priority: site for a new Winthrop public library

BY METHOW VALLEY NEWS

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File photo by Don Nelson

Any popular activity quickly fills up the Winthrop library, particularly if kids are involved.

Pitch to Town Council asks for support

BY DON NELSON

The tiny Winthrop library has the largest per capita circulation of any of the 30 outposts in the North Central Regional Library (NCRL) system. More than Okanogan, Twisp, Omak, Leavenworth – more even than Wenatchee.

All of that activity is jammed into a minuscule space that was never designed to accommodate all the things a modern library provides.

Since early 2017, the nonprofit group Friends of the Winthrop Library (FOWL) has promoted construction of a new library in town, and intends to raise the money needed to build one. FOWL has been working on a needs assessment as the basis for specific recommendations for the new facility. The group has conducted interviews, surveys and engaged in community conversations to generate ideas.

Before FOWL can go much farther, the selection and purchase of a site are top priorities, representatives of the group told the Winthrop Town Council last week. To be determined are when and how the town will participate in finding and buying an appropriate site. FOWL intends to fundraise the money necessary to build a new library, and then turn it over to the town to own and maintain.

In a presentation to the council, FOWL project manager Rachel Macmorran said that the former ranger station the library is now housed in — one of several library locations over the years — was never meant to be a permanent space.

“We love our library, we use our library, but we don’t fit in our library,” Macmorran said. The building is inadequate not only for current use but also for expected growth, she said.

Local challenges, Macmorran said, include the rural technology divide, limited public spaces for activities, and the fact that 30 percent of the valley’s students don’t have Internet access for their homework. Poverty is also an issue she said, even if free Internet access is available in spaces such as local coffee shops. “The price of a cup of coffee can be an obstacle,” she said.

Many advantages

A new facility will help bridge the technology gap, build community, strengthen the local economy, and increase learning opportunities for all ages, Macmorran said. “All the challenges can be met with one building that is barrier-free, democratic and offers something for everyone,” she said.

And, she said, a strong library “communicates underlying values” in the community.

As for a location, Macmorran said, the ideal site will be centrally located, visible, walkable and easily accessible

Macmorran said that fundraising for the new library would include a 4 percent set-aside for repairs. NCRL will provide maintenance, cleaning, and all the equipment and furnishings necessary. FOWL will work with the town and NCRL to determine the best management structure.

FOWL is being assisted in its needs assessment by Johnston Architects, a Seattle firm with strong connections to the valley. The firm specializes in library architecture and has designed several in the Puget Sound area. Ray Johnston, one of the firm’s principals, is acting as a pro bono adviser to FOWL, Macmorran said.

To get citizen input, FOWL will host a “community conversation” about what a new library should include on Dec. 9, from 2-4 p.m. in the Winthrop Barn. Johnston will facilitate that meeting.

Already, Macmorran said, “community buy-in is strong” and NCRL is eager to assist. “They’re behind us 100 percent,” she said of the regional library system. Ultimately, the goal is to begin construction in spring of 2020 with a completion date of spring 2021, she said. “It will be an object of civic pride,” Macmorran said.

Sequentially, Macmorran said, site selection and purchase have to happen before design can begin. The current site is not a possibility because of flood plain issues and other constrictions, she said.

Macmorran said FOWL is looking to the town for some indication of how it will participate in finding and buying a site. Town Planner Rocklynn Culp said potential major donors to the project “want to see that the town is invested in it … so the town has some skin in the game.

Sarah Berns, FOWL’s secretary, said that “the town’s buy-in is multifaceted and necessary for donors to get involved.” The FOWL presentation said that a demonstrably strong partnership among the nonprofit group, the town and NCRL will be necessary to successfully apply for potential grants.

The Town Council is beginning its budget deliberations for 2019 and funding for a site is expected to be part of the discussions.

Article originally appeared here

Methow Valley News, April 4, 2018

FOWL works to build a new library in Winthrop

 BY METHOW VALLEY NEWS

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Photo by Ashley Ahearn
Winthrop librarian Sally Portman has worked to make the small building a welcoming space.

Group gathers feedback now for fundraising effort later

BY ASHLEY AHEARN

Winthrop has a small but mighty library that has served the community for decades, but a growing number of people say it’s time for an upgrade.

The current building, on Highway 20 on the outskirts of town, is a former interpretive center and was only meant as a temporary location. The library is just over 1,000 square feet and is often filled beyond capacity during events.

“Having a free, public space that promotes learning and discovery and community is a critical piece that we’re urgently in need of in this valley,” said Shannon Polson, chair of the board of Friends of the Winthrop Library (FOWL).

FOWL is a group of volunteers spearheading an effort to build a larger, state-of-the-art, LEED-certified library in Winthrop. The group has been gathering feedback from community members as part of the needs assessment process and working to establish partnerships with the Town of Winthrop and the North Central Regional Library.

There is a feedback form on the group’s website, www.winthroplibraryfriends.org, where community members can share what they’d like to see in a new library.

“We want to hear from everyone who wants to share their thoughts and opinions on this,” said Polson.

Still early days

FOWL will be setting up small informational meetings to gather more feedback throughout this summer and plans to hold a centralized workshop and community conversation in the fall, before beginning to fundraise in earnest.

FOWL does not have a cost estimate for the new building, nor has the group completed any architectural plans, though they anticipate that the square footage of the building will need to be significantly larger than the current building.

“From community members we’ve heard that people want something light-filled, inspired and in scope with our local community,” said Sarah Berns, secretary of the FOWL board. “We’re all excited to build something that fits with the Westernization guidelines in this community.”

Berns said the library should be centrally located near public transportation and green space, with easy access for retirees and families with young children.

The town and FOWL have not agreed upon a location for the new building, though several are under consideration, including the library’s current location. A portion of that plot of land is in a flood plain and may not be conducive to hosting a larger structure.

Who pays?

Towns and cities in this area are responsible for providing and maintaining the buildings that house their local libraries. FOWL plans to raise all the funds needed to build the new library, and then give the building to the town of Winthrop.

“We’re very open to trying to help them find a good location and support their planning efforts so it fits with the vision we’ve crafted for the town through the comprehensive plan,” said Rocklynn Culp, Winthrop town planner.

Ongoing maintenance for a large building could add to the town’s operating expenses, however.

“From the other side of the planning coin there’s the logistics of that and how far public resources can stretch … There’s the bottom line reality of what our tax base is and supporting all the facilities that we’re trying to support,” Culp said, “but there’s a total willingness on their part and ours to work through those issues.”

The North Central Regional Library (NCRL) would provide staffing, materials, deliveries and infrastructure inside the building once it’s constructed, so those costs would not fall on the town.

NCRL oversees the operations of 30 library branches in Okanogan and four surrounding counties and has a 2018 operating budget of more than $14 million, most of which comes from property taxes.

The need

A survey of 147 Winthrop residents conducted by the town in 2017 found that more than half visit the library more than once a month and a quarter go every week.

“Winthrop has an amazingly high circulation. They are big readers,” said Angela Morris, director of public services for NCRL. Circulation numbers in Winthrop, with a population of 394 according to the 2010 Census, approach circulation numbers in much larger communities, such as Leavenworth and Cashmere.

And, judging by the survey results, there’s reason to believe that community usage of the public library would increase if a new building was built. One-third of the survey respondents who said they visit the library less than once a month said they would go more often if there was an “increased, more welcoming space” and a larger collection; 36 percent expressed a need for more programs for adults.

“The most important factors for maintaining health into old age are continuing to engage in community and ongoing learning,” said Marcia Ives, board member of Methow At Home, which helps people in the Methow Valley age in place. “There couldn’t be a more ideal location than a public library for the ability to support our aging population.”

In the digital age, libraries across the country are increasing their focus on community programs and trainings that help kids and retirees gain the skills they need to navigate today’s technology. In rural parts of the country, libraries can be an important access point for reliable internet connection. But with its two aging computers and limited gathering space, the Winthrop library struggles to meet the needs of the community.

“I want to have adult programs and I really can’t have them during the day when I’m open because it takes up the entire space,” said Sally Portman, Winthrop librarian. “We also need rooms for meetings and storage.”

More than books

Portman has been the librarian in Winthrop for 30 years.

“I love being a librarian because I love the patrons — they become family,” she said, smiling as she shuffled papers aside and turned on her computer before opening the library doors to patrons on a recent weekday afternoon. It’s clear the little library is a beloved and relied-upon resource for the community, in no small part because of Portman’s devotion, and the trust she’s earned over the years.

“I get kids here all the time without their parents but it’s not babysitting,” she said. “The kids know what to do. I think all the parents trust the library and the other patrons here so they’re happy to leave kids.”

For Rachel Mackmorran, an architect and board member of FOWL, her local library played an important role in her own childhood, which is a big part of why she’s volunteering her time to see that Winthrop gets a new library.

“I grew up in a rural area 10 miles outside the nearest small town and my family was poor. I was also very academically inclined but limited by those factors. I found my support in the public library,” Mackmorran recalled. “I walked there from school pretty much every day because it was where I could study and explore and be safe and be myself.”

Article originally appeared here

Omak Okanogan Chronicle, February 21, 2018

Winthrop ponders library expansion

Friends of the Winthrop Public Library hoist the sign, "No place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library" during the 2017 Twisp Fourth of July Parade.

Friends of the Winthrop Public Library hoist the sign, "No place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library" during the 2017 Twisp Fourth of July Parade.

 

WINTHROP – The Winthrop Public Library, intended to be temporary, falls 6,000 square feet short of the American Library Association’s recommendation for its valley service area.

The 1,000-square-foot building lacks 2,000 square feet to accommodate the immediate community alone, according to the ALA.

Then, there’s the issue of public space across the Methow, Shannon Polson said.

On a trajectory to develop a new, expanded library, Friends of the Winthrop Public Library has visited community groups around the region, gauging public opinion about the current space and the community’s needs.

Polson, the group’s president, said the assessment revealed a recurring theme: limited public space to serve Winthrop and the remaining Methow Valley.

The findings originated from “community conversations,” North Central Regional Library’s strategic planning survey, public comment at library events and the Winthrop town parks survey, which drew 147 responses.

Community needs

Students in the Methow Valley School District may not feel safe going home after school, a parent told the group during one of its community talks. Yet, the library closes between 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. on weeknights.

From Methow at Home in Twisp, Polson learned few public venues exist for the valley’s aging population to engage in meaningful conversation and continued learning, she said.

Then, there’s the population of remote workers and students who seek public places rather than coffee shops or restaurants to cut costs, Polson said. An area resident told of a student enrolled in an online master’s degree program who left the valley for lack of study space and access to public computers, she said.

During a Winthrop Chamber of Commerce meeting, Polson learned Red Cross volunteers who came to Winthrop during the 2014 wildfires had to meet outside because there was nowhere else to go, she said.

Library vision

Friends of the Winthrop Public Library’s vision for a future library includes a 7,000-squarefoot structure, possibly with bookshelves on casters to expand the space further, Polson said.

She envisions meeting rooms to host book clubs, study halls and public meetings, a makerspace for the working professional or student, a children’s area to probe curiosity and learning in a soundproof environment and a space set apart for young adults.

A makerspace could include 3D printers, programming software and audio and video recording booths, Polson said. Meanwhile, a children’s area could invite youngsters into the physical world with shapes, mirrors and activities to capture their interests, she said.

The group also hopes to increase the number of computer stations “significantly” and offer technology training.

Other possibilities include a children’s stage for performances, an interactive children’s science exhibit, a semi-permanent display of Methow settlement and Methow Tribe history, a memorial to Methow Veterans, a semi-permanent display of Nordic/Olympic history, an outdoor garden with library seating, a semi-permanent display of Methow ecology and a sustainable building with instructive displays, according to presentation notes.

An expanded space would also mean regional, state or national literary conferences, book festivals, writing workshops and the like could regularly meet in the valley, potentially boosting tourism, Polson said.

"I really, truly believe this project will really in a beautiful way transform our community," she said.

Once the community needs assessment has been finalized, the group will enter into a “robust” feasibility study, determining potential donors and foundation grants, she said.

Progress on the library’s development can be found here.