Disturbing Plans for The Mercer Island Library

Thanks to commenter Barbara Halliday, who let me know about a project to renovate our library and the response by a group of concerned citizens. Before I get into any specifics, why don’t you judge for yourself. Here’s the Library today:


And this is the Library tomorrow?


Source: Presentation from public meeting on 1/7/2104. 

A few of the major differences:

  • The skylight is gone. Why would you ever take out a skylight?
  • There are many fewer books. Libraries serve many functions, but the serendipity of walking around and browsing books is an important one, especially for younger readers.
  • The Library may be closed for up to a year to complete the project.
  • The new design is marked by the loss of a feeling of warmth.

To that latter point, the response of the citizens’ group struck me: “The issue with furniture and finishes is not darker wood, but having a warm, and friendly home-like atmosphere, not a bright, very light atmosphere similar to airport terminals.”  

I moved here about 6 years ago now. I was– and am– pleased at what a comfortable and attractive library we have. It’s got great windows and nice spaces for sitting. It’s not the biggest library, but it’s got stacks of books, like a library should.

I agree with the citizens’ group that this overhaul is not only not necessary, it’s out of character and will leave us with a worse library. The group advocates that we meet current shortcomings, in particular Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements, with a reconfiguration that stays in character with Mercer Island. It’s at least worth looking at.


2 responses to “Disturbing Plans for The Mercer Island Library

  1. Thanks Ellie, you got at the heart of the matter quite succinctly. The two links you gave cover the issues well.
    We’re happy that KCLS is now meeting with a committee of MI Council Members and a demographic cross section of Citizens to really look at the remodel design and the interim library.
    For those who want to stay up to date on this issue keep watch at http://www.libraryremodel.org and send us your email address at libraryremodel@gmail.com to be on our emailing list. You can also like our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/MILibraryRemodel

  2. Did the county vote on this library upgrade? If we did, I’m sure I voted no. From the pics above I can’t see why such a nice building would need to be replaced, the building is only 23 years old. This is similar to so many other local government projects, no real need to upgrade, just because we can, the money rolls in from the taxpayers. Our KCLS Renton Fairwood library is going through the same thing, it was a beautiful functional library, for some stupid reason they decided to practically tear it down and completely rebuild it, what a waste! Look at what Seattle did to their downtown library, must have cost billions, a perfectly reasonable library was torn down so they could build an architectural masterpiece. Why does a library have to be so extravagant? Answer: it doesn’t

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