Building on Support from Voters: 2004 capital bond progress

  • Friday, November 17, 2017 10:58am
  • Opinion
Stephen Smith

Stephen Smith

Thirteen years ago, the King County Library System embarked on an ambitious, long-term Capital Improvement Plan that has made KCLS one of the busiest and most beautiful library systems in the country.

When King County voters approved a $172 million capital bond in 2004, it was a resounding endorsement of libraries and their importance to the residents they serve. This strong show of support resulted in 16 new libraries, 11 expanded libraries, 14 renovated libraries and two parking lot expansions. In all, the footprint of our libraries has grown dramatically – almost 30 percent — providing more space for collections, programs and services, and creating gathering places that are focal points in their communities.

Although two libraries in Renton (not funded by the bond) account for some of the additional square footage, the capital bond funded three new libraries in communities that had never had one before: Greenbridge Library completed in 2008; Newcastle Library completed in 2012; and Kent Panther Lake Library, which will be completed in 2018.

Voters can take pride in state-of-the-art facilities that reflect the unique characteristics of their communities. The bond measure also made possible the installation of new art work by notable, predominantly northwest artists. The King County Library System’s public art collection is highly regarded, offering visual and intellectual stimulation, and adding a rich dimension to both the interior and exterior of our libraries.

The long-awaited opening of the Tukwila Library on April 29 marked a significant milestone for KCLS in 2017. Replacing the nearby Foster Library, the new 10,000 square-foot building anchors the City of Tukwila’s long-range plan for the area, which includes a central plaza, mixed-use development, and other amenities. The nearly 1,000 people who turned out for the library’s opening day celebration reflected a vibrant community that is one of the most diverse in the nation.

KCLS is in the final phase of its Capital Improvement Plan with only two projects remaining: an interior update of the Boulevard Park Library, and the new Kent Panther Lake Library, which will be the 50th library in the System.

Residents have supported King County Library System for 75 years. Thank you for building a vital community asset that has served generations of library patrons. With your continued support, KCLS will proudly serve many more to come.

To learn more, please visit

Stephen Smith is interim director of the King County Library System.

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