(This article was published in the Jan. 8, 2018 edition of the The Daily Herald and online at heraldnet.com)
By Kari Bray
SMOKEY POINT — For a 7-year-old with a stack of books balanced precariously in his arms, the reason to visit a brand-new library was a no-brainer.
“I wanted to have books and I really like reading,” said Jack, who went to the Lakewood/Smokey Point Library’s grand opening with his younger sister and their dad, Malcolm Eyman of Marysville.
The Eyman family was among dozens of people who filled the library Saturday morning. Speeches and a ribbon cutting were followed by loosely organized chaos as children, parents, elected officials, library staff and others squeezed past each other and around bookshelves, chairs, tables and bouquets of green, yellow and white balloons.
The Lakewood/Smokey Point location is the latest addition to Sno-Isle Libraries. It’s a demonstration library — the district’s third in recent years — and is meant to provide resources to a previously under-served area while gauging the need for a permanent library. The new Mariner Library at the south end of Everett also is a demonstration; another on Camano Island led to a permanent location in 2015.
It took a lot of work to turn vacant commercial space at 3411 169th Place NE into the Lakewood/Smokey Point Library, said Jonalyn Woolf-Ivory, executive director of Sno-Isle. She called it an example of the excitement and growth that is sweeping the area.
“Your day is here, and your library is open,” she said.
Arlington Mayor Barbara Tolbert said libraries are vital hubs for communities. Along with books, there’s high-speed internet, a conference room and librarians who can offer help. The new library also is near stores and restaurants, to create a convenient outing for families.
The mayor said she was impressed as soon as she walked in.
“This looks like it’s always been a library,” she said. “I think it was meant to be a library.”
The Sno-Isle Board of Trustees several years ago started looking at the need for new libraries around the district, which spans Snohomish and Island counties. Smokey Point “jumped out at us,” said Marti Anamosa, board president.
She sees it as a gathering place for neighbors and an anchor for those with limited resources.
It’s about opportunity, said Michael Mack, superintendent of the Lakewood School District. With multiple schools just down the road, the area has sorely needed a library, he said.
The new library has four employees and others will rotate through, manager Jocelyn Redel said. The space was designed for convenience, with holds, check-outs and customer service near the entrance. The children’s section is large, and kindergarten readiness will be a focus, Redel said. Family story times are set to start soon and there will be math and science programs for preschool-age students.
Though there are libraries in Arlington, Marysville and Stanwood, accessing them has gotten tougher as the area has grown, Redel said. It can be hard for people in Smokey Point, Lakewood, Lake Goodwin, Silvana and other nearby communities to get to them as traffic worsens and the libraries themselves become more busy. Redel views the new location as a way to ensure equal access.
The library’s hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.