The Federal Way Library, one of the region's largest, will reopen Saturday with floor-to-ceiling windows letting in more light, nearly 40 percent more space, and 19,000 new books and other materials.
The result of the $8.1 million expansion and renovation is a more open and inviting facility, said John Sheller, managing librarian.
“We’ve created a much more relaxed space,” Sheller said. “The moment you step into the library, you can see the entire library.”
With 34,500 square feet, the Federal Way Library will be second in size to Bellevue’s among the 46 libraries in the King County Library System. Tacoma’s main library downtown, by comparison, occupies about 90,000 square feet.
The Federal Way Library has been closed since March 2009. Formerly called the Federal Way Regional Library, it has been a hub for library users from beyond Federal Way, including Northeast Tacoma.
The library system also operates the 10,000-square-foot 320th Library, just over a mile from the Federal Way Library at 34200 First Way S.
During the 14-month closure, the library system operated a 1,000-square-foot temporary library at The Commons at Federal Way. It closed Saturday.
The expansion was part of a $172 million capital bond voters approved in 2004.
The Federal Way Library opened in December 1991. As the city grew, the number of total visits each month reached 40,000.
Now skylights have been added, while large new windows let in light and look out on a natural setting among evergreen trees. The windows also showcase rainwater that runs off the roof through downspouts into exterior “rain gardens” at ground level.
“To have this much natural light inside is really an improvement,” Sheller said. “We’re just thrilled with the space.”
Two library users at The Commons mall site Friday anticipated the opening of the expanded library, hoping it won’t be as crowded as before.
“I hope it’s going to be much bigger than the first one,” said Vincy Punnoose, 30, of Fife.
Jung Kim of Federal Way said she wants more computers and meeting rooms, in addition to more space.
“I go to the library almost every day,” said Kim, 31.
Soon she’ll see 11 more public desktop computers, for a total of 40. There also are six laptop computers and two areas for people to plug in their personal laptops and use the library’s Wi-Fi network.
The library also now has three study rooms, glass-enclosed so that small groups “can talk and won’t be interfering with people trying to read,” Sheller said.
All the furniture is new, and the library features 19,000 new books, magazines, DVDs and CDs for a total collection of more than 200,000 items.
Other changes include:
• A new children’s area where every shelf is “kid-height.” There’s also a new teen collection.
• A “quiet” reading room that is glassed in and holds up to 20 people.
• A large-print section.
• Improved automated checkout, but people still can check out materials from library staff.
• Lower shelving throughout and simplified, color-coded arrangement of collections.
“We’re hoping that it makes it more personal for people,” Sheller said.