Forks Library renovation project receives major donation

Construction planning next step

Report updated: Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013

ThThe $774,500 planned renovation of Forks Library is now on track for construction. 

A donation made recently in the memory of James and Nikki Klahn to the Friends of the Forks Library renovation fund, North Olympic Library System Library Director Paula Barnes announced Monday, Feb. 11. Several other sizable contributions are also pending, she said in a prepared statement.

Plans now call for a completely upgraded meeting room at the library to be named the James and Nikki Klahn Community Meeting Room.

The project is so extensive, the NOLS is reporting, that the Forks Library will need to completely vacate the building for an as-yet undetermined amount of time. A temporary “pocket library” with limited staffing, collections and services will be established elsewhere in Forks, assuming the Library can find a suitable spot. If the NOLS Board approves going forward with the project, construction is likely to begin in July or August 2013, with completion likely in nine to twelve months.  

At the next meeting of the Library Board of Trustees, set for Thursday, Feb. 28, Barnes plans to ask the NOLS Board for permission to complete the design process and issue a call for bids for construction for the library renovation plan. The board meeting being held in the Carver Room at the Port Angeles Main Library.

“Thanks to the voters approving a levy lid lift for the Library in 2010, NOLS has been able to direct $275,000 from operating funds and about $325,000 from timber revenues to the Forks construction project,” said Forks Branch Manager Theresa Tetreau in a NOLS press release. “Community fundraising has generated another $168,000 toward the goal of $175,000. We are overwhelmed by the generosity of our community, especially during these tough economic times.”

“Even though they’re still $7,000 short, I’m pretty confident that the rest of the money can be raised, so at the next Board of Trustees meeting, I’m going to recommend they take the next step and call for bids for construction,” Barnes said. “Until we actually get construction bids, we won’t know for sure how much the project will cost, and how much money we’ll need.”

The roof and renovation project represents the first significant upgrade for the well-used and much-loved Forks Branch Library since it moved into its current quarters thirty years ago.  The work will include complete removal of the existing roof and replacement with a new roof, new energy-efficient windows and heating system, removal of some interior walls to create more open, flexible public spaces, ADA-accessible restrooms, updated electrical panels and lighting, new paint, floor coverings and furniture. The estimated project budget is $775,000, although that figure is now more than a year old. Library staff are currently working with architect Jerry Schlie to update the budget, prior to providing a project report to the Library Board.  

The North Olympic Library System has committed $599,500 in funding from budget set-asides and timber receipts towards the renovation project. NOLS required the Forks community to come up with $175,000 in funding in addition to their contribution. 

Over the past five years, check-outs of books and other materials have jumped by more than 12 percent at the Forks Libaray, from 75,901 in 2008 to 85,315 in 2012, or an average of 284 books, DVDs, e-books and other materials every day. An average of 190 people per day visit the Library, to attend a class, do homework, or browse the new book shelves.

The Friends of Forks Library raised funds prior to the large donation announced Wednesday by holding used book sales, a dance at the now-gone Rainforest Arts Center and from other sources.