Sen. Liias, Sno-Isle Libraries, partners launch Mariner Community Campus

What began as a storefront library in an underserved area of south Snohomish County has become the nexus of an effort to bring a multi-service focal point and identity to the burgeoning community.

The Mariner Community Campus project is the brainchild of state Sen. Marko Liias, D-Mukilteo. The idea took root following a visit to the Mariner Library, a demonstration library opened by Sno-Isle Libraries in February, 2017.

“I saw what was happening, how people were responding to having an easily accessible library right in their community,” said Sen. Liias, who grew up in the area.

Liias reached out with a proposal to officials from the library district and others including the Mukilteo School District, United Way of Snohomish County and Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers: Let’s create an accessible place to provide basic needs and resources to local residents in the Mariner-area community.

To get things rolling, Liias worked this past legislative session to include $322,000 in the state’s Capital Budget as seed money to plan the project with Sno-Isle Libraries taking the lead for this first phase.
“We’re honored that Sen. Liias was inspired by the Mariner Library and approached us for the first phase of this innovative project,” Executive Director Jonalyn Woolf-Ivory said.

The first step was to convene potentially interested community partners. The initial meeting in late August brought together 18 service providers and funders in Snohomish County that, along with Sno-Isle Libraries, included:

• Boys and Girls Clubs of Snohomish County
• Community Transit
• Economic Alliance Snohomish County
• Edmonds Community College
• Everett Community College
• Greater Foundation Snohomish County
• Leadership Snohomish County
• Mukilteo School District
• Snohomish County
• Snohomish Health District
• Snohomish STEM Network
• State of Washington
• United Way Snohomish County
• Volunteers of America Western Washington
• Washington State Family and Community Engagement Trust
• Washington State University Everett
• YMCA of Snohomish County

The vision, Liias told the group, is to create a permanent public-private partnership that would:
• Build a safe and accessible community campus
• Provide a community benefit meeting the basic needs of all residents
• Support the Mariner area through integrated and high-quality services and amenities that reinforce healthy families and a strong community

The underlying principle, he added, is based on the notions of free and equal access to resources and technology, community opportunities, connection to community and social equity.
Woolf-Ivory said she’s heartened by recognition of need in the Mariner area.

“We looked at this area for our capital facilities plan,” Woolf-Ivory said. “We saw 30,000 people living in this area who are underserved due to a variety of factors. Since the Mariner Library opened its doors, there have been more than 80,000 visits.

“We’re excited to participate with Sen. Liias, the other partners and local residents to help create a place that will meet the community’s needs.”