This week the Save The Renton Library group made an amazing presentation at the City Council meeting. If you are a Renton resident you can watch it on Channel 21 or if you have a fast computer you can watch it here.

However, if these are not an option then you should head over to the Save The Renton Library website and checkout the 6-page presentation, if it does not convince you that annexation is not the right move for Renton I don’t know what will.

While you are there make sure you check out the endorsements list and read a few things that people are saying about the library.

It is not too late to get involved in the fight to keep the Renton Public Library local, use the contact form below to find out how you can help. Thanks so much and remember to Vote No on Prop 1!

In the early 1900’s Renton was a small coal mining village.    Renton’s original “Library” consisted of a storefront collection of donated books organized by the Miner’s Association and the Citizens of Renton in 1904.  It was originally located over a general store owned by Robert Woods, Sr. located on the corner of Walla Walla Avenue and Main Street, Later the library moved to the other end of a small confectionery store in the David J. Jones building on the corner of 3rd Ave. and Wells Street.  This early storefront library even had a librarian, Blanche Pritchard, whose monthly salary was $35.00.

In 1913, a small group of citizens formed themselves into an informal committee and library support group, and they obtained a grant to build a new library.  Construction of the original red brick building (located in what is now Liberty Park) was started with a $10,000 grant provided by Andrew Carnegie on land donated by Rafael Sartori, and was open for business in the spring of 1914.  The City Council appropriated $1,000 for salaries and maintenance (but no money for books). While no money was appropriated for materials, the library was able to build a collection with discarded books from the Seattle Public Library and the Tacoma Library. In addition to these discards the supporters of the library were able to expand the collection through fundraising and additional book donations from the community of approximately 4,000 people.

With the development of the Boeing Company in the 1940’s, there was a dramatic increase in Renton’s population, creating a “boom town” of more than 18,000.  In January of 1947, Highlands, which had previously housed a branch of the King County Library system, was annexed to the City of Renton.  Renton Library was now a “system,” with a Main library and a branch library.  Funds were inadequate for the operation of library service in one facility, and now there were two.  Once again, in the 1960s, a citizen’s committee, spearheaded by the Greater Renton Chamber of Commerce worked with the League of Women Voters to pass a bond measure for the establishment of a new public library.  Funds provided by the City of Renton and a bond measure of $150,000, passed by the voters of the city on November 3, 1964, made possible the construction of the current library, completed in 1967 and located over the Cedar River, which flows through the heart of the city.  In 1973, a new building for the Highlands branch was also built.

Community activists established a Renton Historical Collection and a Society to preserve Renton history.  Volunteers collected and preserved artifacts, books, letters, photographs and other treasures, many of which are still preserved in the Pacific Northwest collection today.   

Today, Renton’s population is over 88,000, and with the annexations of nearby unincorporated areas of King County, it is growing rapidly.

Throughout its long and colorful history of over a hundred years, Renton Library has always been a legacy of and for the people of Renton.  Libraries are first and foremost community centers, and the citizens of Renton have demonstrated repeatedly how important their community library is to them by both their activism and their votes. In February, Renton residents will again have a chance to show their support for the library that has been a part of the Renton community for the last 100 years.

The Vote Knower’s have created this awesome flyer for library supporters to put in their car windows. Unfortunately, the internet does not take kindly to Word documents so I can not link it here on the blog. However, if you would like to show your support around town for the Renton Public Library just contact me below and I will send one your way.

The future of the Renton Public Library depends on us spreading the word about remaining independent and we need all the support we can get.

 

The following is a blog that was posted about 3 months ago by “All About Renton” and while this blog points out some interesting facts about the library’s 2007 master plan study it also states some opinions. So, please be aware that the opinion put forth in this post may not reflect the opinion of  everyone who is trying to get the facts out about annexation to KCLS. We want to take this opprotunity again to invite anyone from KCLS to join in this annexation discussion as well as you, the residents of Renton. Feel free to comment or even submit a blog of your own telling why you think the Renton Public Library should annex to KCLS before we give our own library and city a chance to make the necessary changes and improvements.

From “All About Renton”

Back in 2007 Miriam Pollak and Associates, an independent library consulting firm, were hired by the city to do a Master Plan Study for the Renton Public Library. Being that Renton is facing a  huge crossroads with exponential population growth and newly annexed areas, the firm was hired to determine which direction the Renton Public Library should take in the next few years to deal with this new growth. Should the Renton Public Library remain an independent library or should they join the King County Library System? While I encourage all of you who are interested/concerned in a potential annexation to KCLS to read this study, at 86 pages it is anything but light reading and some may even consider it a cure for insomnia. Therefore, I have taken it upon myself to briefly tell you about the results.

The study had a great cross-section of participants – library staff, Library Board of Trustees, city administrators, focus groups that included mom’s groups, immigrants and immigrant advocate groups, school librarians and even a survey for library patrons, see complete list of participants on page 5. The panel basically said things that are to be expected, we need more stuff. More room, more computers, more materials, more staff, more programs, more more more. How could we not meed more stuff, our population size has nearly doubled in just 5 years (8)  just by that fact alone it would make sense that we need more space or spaces for our library to accommodate that growth. In addition to needing more stuff we need to get up to date with technology and this mainly means new wires so everything can be faster and there can be more of it, you know computers. Totally agree with that one too.

Miriam Pollack agreed with these concerns and actually showed that Renton significantly lags behind other libraries in the region and throughout Washington in areas of technology, collection and programs. (6, 34-6) So, how do we bring the library up to date and start serving this diverse community? Do we continue to operate as an independent library or do we join KCLS?

The independent firm that was hired to help RPL make a master plan for the next 5 years suggested that we remain independent. That’s right, based on Renton’s history of independence, local control and sense of community our library would be better off remaining independent. So why are we voting to annex to KCLS in February. My personal opinion is that it boils down to work. It is easier for someone else to determine how our library will function, better yet it is easier to know who is funding our library. Again, that is just my own opinion.

The study gives a lot of good information and even discusses the pros and cons of joining KCLS (pp. 47-8) and please know that I will be sharing all of that information with you in the coming days and weeks but I can’t make each entry a novel or you won’t read.

If you can not tell by the tone of this email I am not in favor of joining KCLS. I think Renton needs to keep local control on our library. Let’s work as a community to decide what types of new facilities we want, what new programs we design, what staff we see consistently and most importantly let’s have pride in our library. It is amazing, I don’t know of any other library that is built over a river, let alone a river where salmon swim upstream. It truly is an icon of our community and I think we should keep it.