by Alex Garland
On Monday, January 9th the Beacon Hill Branch of the Seattle Public Library will temporarily close its doors for renovations.
The Beacon Hill Branch first opened in July of 2004, and after 12 years is in need of new carpeting and other refurbishments.
Paid for by the voter approved 2012 library levy, the branch will make additional interior improvements, include upgrading the lighting, re-configuring teen and children’s areas, adding power to seating areas and tables, and moving computers closer to the print section – separating them from the children’s area.
The library listened to patrons, taking their comments to heart about the desire for a different set up at the branch, as well as the need for modernized practices that better aligned with how patrons currently utilize the space.
Some patrons were also vocal about their wish for quiet study spaces, while others voiced the need for collaborative work spaces, and designated areas for adults to read to children.
One Beacon Hill Branch patron, Mike Abbasi, says he uses the library every day. “I’m a junkie” he exclaims, arms filled with books.
Mike heard about the closure through notifications on the library’s doors. “It was a little disheartening to hear they’re closing for a short while…but I know things have to change. I wish them well and I’m really glad we have a great library system.”
During the shutdown, he plans on visiting other nearby branches. “I’ll probably go to Central, Columbia, King County as well.” Mike comes to the library for a mix of the books and computers, “People are really nice, it’s a nice place to go, a constructive and positive place”.
Emily Lynch, with a baby strapped to her chest while holding hands with a small child, stopped to talk outside the library about how the closure with impact her. Currently on maternity leave from her job at a different branch of the Seattle Public Library, Emily uses the Beacon Hill Branch because it’s close to her home. During the shutdown, she’ll “…probably use the Columbia Branch, it’s not very far.”
In addition to carpet replacement, Emily said the library was also improving some of the sight lines around the building, so patrons could around it much better.
Despite regularly using the Beacon Hill Branch, Emily feels positive about the changes, “It sounds like a good improvement. I think it will be good to not have the computers squeezed over by the children’s area and closer to the printing, which people want to do anyway. I think it will be good, just a slight inconvenience for a few weeks.”
Other patrons, who admittedly don’t work for the library or use the branch daily, were unaware of the branch closing. Beth Kelly, who visits the branch at least once a month, responded favorably to closing the branch for a short amount of time, “I think it sounds reasonable if it’s a remodel situation”.
“I didn’t know it was closing. This isn’t my usual branch.” says Ian Morgan, “I live down in Rainier Vista area so I go to Columbia Branch. My initial reaction is that it’s unfortunate to have it close for a couple of months. I’ve heard of that with other branches, but I’m curious if people thought there’s another option. How they can do it without closing down. I’m sure it will be a community resource that is missed for a couple of months.”
All other SPL branches will be available to patrons. Any reserved items that have not been picked up from the Beacon Hill Branch prior to its closing will be sent to the Columbia Branch for retrieval.
The Beacon Hill Branch’s programs and classes will also shift to nearby branches.
Baby story times and ESL classes will be held at the Columbia Branch. Homework Help will be available at the Columbia, Douglass-Truth and New Holly branches. Students also can visit the Jefferson Community Center, 3801 Beacon Ave. S., for informal assistance with homework. Tax help appointments will be available at the New Holly Branch in February.
Please check the Library’s online calendar for the full schedule.
Patrons may get Library services at the following nearby locations:
• Central Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., 206-386-4636
• Columbia Branch: 4721 Rainier Ave. S., 206-386-1908
• Douglass-Truth Branch: 2300 E. Yesler Way, 206-684-4704
• International District/Chinatown Branch: 713 Eighth Ave. S., 206-386-1300
• New Holly Branch: 7058 32nd Ave. S., 206-386-1905
The refurbished Beacon Hill Branch is expected to reopen in February; an official reopening date will be announced once construction gets underway.
“It’s never a good time to close for improvements but we’re excited about the changes this will bring.” says Andra Addison, Communications Director for the Seattle Public Library.
Alex Garland is a Beacon Hill based photojournalist and the founder of the Dignity Virus. He can be followed on Twitter @AGarlandPhoto