Library News

New 10-year plan for library buildings approved

Originally published Jul. 26, 2016

There could be as many as seven new facilities in the Sno-Isle Libraries system over the coming decade, according to a plan unanimously approved by the library district’s Board of Trustees at the regularly scheduled July 25, 2016, meeting.

“We call it the ‘Capital Facilities Plan,’ but really it’s more of a statement of capital facilities needs across the district,” Executive Director Jonalyn Woolf-Ivory said. “This plan responds to the services our customers are requesting and the growth in the communities we serve.”

The plan is available online at It puts facilities in four broad categories: maintain, renovate, replace and areas of opportunity.

The plan puts facilities in four broad categories: maintain, renovate, replace and areas of opportunity.

Most of the existing 21 libraries, and the administrative service center in Marysville, fall into the “maintain” category. These facilities are anticipated to meet current and projected needs with regular and ongoing maintenance, according to the plan.

One facility, the Mill Creek Library, is identified for renovation. Built in 1987 and expanded in 1992, the plan acknowledges that the library “is significantly undersized” for the community. However, further expansion at the current site may not be possible so the plan recommends renovating the building to maximize its service to the community.

The plan also calls out library buildings in Arlington, Lake Stevens and Stanwood as too small to meet current needs, let alone existing and anticipated growth in those areas.

“These communities told us they want new libraries and we’re working with them to determine the best way forward,” Woolf-Ivory said. “There are reasons for each of these facilities to be replaced.”

The approved facilities plan refers to an “Areas of Opportunity” category, which includes an interesting mix of projects.

“The common theme of these projects is addressing unserved or underserved community needs, as well as population growth,” Woolf-Ivory said.

Topping the list is an area identified in the plan as “128th Street/Mariner.”

“There are 30,000 people living in this island of unincorporated Snohomish County surrounded by Mukilteo, Everett, Mill Creek and Lynnwood,” Woolf-Ivory said of the area south of the Everett city limits which includes Mariner High School. “The tremendous library needs in the Mariner area were becoming apparent a decade ago, but the economic downturn put put things on  hold.”

The plan calls for a “library demonstration project” for the area and Woolf-Ivory says it could be up and running in the first quarter of this coming year. Such a project could mean a library using leased space, staffed with existing Sno-Isle Libraries employees and stocked with existing materials and the normal collection-addition processes.

The plan calls for a second demonstration project in the Lakewood/Smokey Point area, where significant growth is occurring now with more expected by 2025, according to the plan. “The Camano Library (which opened in 2015), started as a demonstration project,” Woolf-Ivory said. “Using the demonstration-project model, I’m hoping we can provide increased services to Lakewood/Smokey Point by the fourth quarter of 2017.”

The plan identifies a new library for what is termed the greater Mill Creek area.

According to the plan, “The current (Mill Creek Library) is too small to adequately serve the existing customer base and significant population growth is projected in the areas east and south of the current Mill Creek Library.” Strong community feedback from area residents indicate they want the existing Mill Creek Library to remain at its current location in addition to a new library in the area.

Also in the areas-of-opportunity category is the Lynnwood Library. “While the existing library meets today’s needs, tomorrow is a different story,” Woolf-Ivory said.

More than 1,000 multi-family housing units are under construction or permitted in and around Lynnwood’s core. City officials are also moving forward with the City Center Project, which envisions a new library as part a new civic center. In addition, Lynwood is already a regional transit hub and Link Light Rail is expected to open in 2023.

“We want to be prepared to support the city’s vision for itself,” Woolf-Ivory said.

While the plan lays out the needs, it doesn’t include a timeline for the projects or the costs.

“Each of these projects is as unique as the community it serves now or will serve,” Woolf-Ivory said. “The timeline for each project will be a collaborative effort and influenced by each community's sense of urgency for an improved library.”

That said, some projects on the list that are likely to move ahead more quickly than others.

“Lake Stevens’ efforts for a new library 10 years ago were frustrated by the economic downturn,” Woolf-Ivory said. Voter-approval for funding will be required to match the community’s urgency for a larger library. “The soonest that could happen is Feb. 14, 2017,” Woolf-Ivory said.

Also on a potentially faster track are the library demonstration projects at 128th Street/Mariner and Lakewood/Smokey Point. Because they will get started with the library district’s existing budget and won’t require voter approval, both projects could up and running in 2017.

“This document reflects what we heard from our communities and customers,” Woolf-Ivory said. “We asked questions and listened. Residents told us they love their libraries and want more space to read, to study and to gather as a community.”

As for costs, that too, is determined through the collaborative process with each community.

“Size, location, new building or existing building, level of philanthropic support; there are many variables that can effect project cost,” Woolf-Ivory said. Library facilities are generally funded by capital bonds, which must be approved by voters in a designated Library Capital Facilities Area. “In the end, it is a decision by the community, not by Sno-Isle Libraries.”

Work on the plan began mid-2015 when the library district commissioned a study to look at the future of libraries. “We could see our own data, but we wanted to check our trends against a national perspective,” Woolf-Ivory said. Findings from that study, released in September, 2015, confirmed what Sno-Isle Libraries officials were seeing, that libraries are becoming places to meet, study, attend programs and use technology.

“More people are coming to the community libraries and they are coming for more than checking out a book,” Woolf-Ivory said. While numbers vary from library to library, data comparing the first quarter of 2015 and 2016 show an average 12 percent increase in people going to libraries across the district.

This past fall, an initial phase of public meetings, an online survey and interviews with community leaders began with the help of the Seattle-based consulting firm, Enviroissues.

“We knew that some of the community libraries are undersized for their communities; the Lake Stevens Library is a prime example,” Woolf-Ivory said. “But we work closely with our communities to provide the library and services that they want. We needed to go listen to our customers and the communities.”

That community input became part of a draft plan that was released this past May. “Then, we took the draft plan back out to the communities to check our work,” Woolf-Ivory said of the second phase of public review. An online survey and face-to-face presentations to community groups by her and other library officials helped fine-tune the plan.

“It was very helpful and we did make some changes,” Woolf-Ivory said. “For example, the draft plan identified the Arlington Library for renovation. The community told us they wanted more, that they want a new building, and that’s reflected in the plan approved by our trustees.”


Sno-Isle Libraries is a tax-supported library district serving Snohomish and Island counties. The mission is to be a community doorway to reading, resources and lifelong learning, and a center for people, ideas and culture. Policy is set by a seven-member Board of Trustees appointed by the Snohomish County Council and Island County Board of Commissioners.

Sno-Isle Libraries provides a network of public library services to more than 728,000 residents across approximately 2,200 square miles. The population within the library district is projected to increase by 14 percent by 2025, with some areas growing at a much higher rate.

Library services and materials are delivered through 21 facilities in 21 cities, towns and communities; through mobile library services and online. Eight of the 21 community libraries are owned by the library district. The library district owns the Service Center, an administrative and distribution facility in Marysville which supports library operations across the district. Twelve facilities are owned and maintained by individual cities and towns. One facility is owned by a local Friends of the Library group.

ALA honors Maloney for Whidbey Reads graphics

Originally published Jul. 20, 2016

Boys in the boat poster

This Whidbey Reads poster by Brenda Maloney was part of the work that won the 2015 American Libraries Association contest in that category.

See a gallery of other Sno-isle Libraries posters by Maloney.

Brenda Maloney, graphic designer for Sno-Isle Libraries, has been recognized by the American Library Association (ALA) for her work.

Maloney’s posters and programs for Whidbey Reads 2015 won in the category of “Reading Program Themes (all ages) -print” in the large library group. The award was announced in June at the ALA national conference in June. This is the third year in a row that Maloney has been honored in the ALA’s PR Xchange Awards Competition.

Contest organizers said the panel of 17 judges was very impressed with the depth and breadth of all of the work submitted. About 390 entries were submitted and judges called the competition “extremely tight.”

The complete list of winners is available online, as is the slide show presented at the PR Xchange Awards ceremony at the 2016 American Library Association conference.

















Robot Rally brings turnout for technology

Originally published Jul. 20, 2016

More than 50 children, tweens, teens and adults built, programmed and operated robots on Saturday, July 16 at the Marysville Library, all part of the “Robot Rally” program.

Robot rally photo
Jose Alcantara holds his robot after a successful run at the Robot Rally, July 16, 2016, at the Marysville Library.
Photo gallery

“I think it was really successful,” Jill Wubbenhorst, assistant managing librarian at the Marysville Library, said as the event was wrapping up. “We had children with their parents, the high-school team and university students.”

The event included demonstrations by the Lakewood High School's Full Metal Robotics team, the Cedarcrest Middle School Timberbots and the Washington State University - Everett engineering club. The WSU students brought components from their second-place entry in the University Rover Challenge at the Mars Desert Research Station in Hanksville, Utah.

Participants on Saturday were able to use Ozobots, LEGO Mindstorm robots and laptop computers.

Kathy Smargiassi, children’s librarian at the Marysville Library, was helping some of the younger participants get their first experiences with robot hardware and the coding that makes robots work. “It’s not that I’m an expert, but the lesson is you don’t have to be to get started,” Smargiassi said.

But there were experts on-site, including Austin Sundseth, Vice President of the Engineering Club at WSU – Everett. Sundseth and his club-mates recently placed second in an international competition to build Mars rover prototypes. To make many of the specialized parts they needed, club members worked closely with the Advanced Manufacturing Training and Education Center at Everett Community College.

“It was a great experience and we’re getting ready to enter again next year,” Sundseth to a group of younger attendees. “I’m from Marysville, went to high school here and did Running Start. When I graduate with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, I’ll be 20 years old.”

And then what?

“I want to work on space technology,” said Sundseth, adding that he’s got his sights set on companies such as Blue Origin, the Kent-based space firm set up by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

The event was part of Sno-Isle Libraries’ Explore Summer program and funded by the Gellerson Memorial Programming Endowment through the Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation.

Pokémon among the stacks: Libraries welcome players

Originally published Jul. 15, 2016

Pokemon photo

Pokémon at the Arlington Library

“I wanna be the very best,

Like no one ever was.

To catch them is my real test,

To train them is my cause.

… Gotta catch ’em all.”

Lyrics from the Pokémon
TV show theme song

On July 11, a group of 20-somethings walked into the Stanwood Library and stood in a circle.

With heads down, they stared intently at their phones.

Unsure, library staffer Melissa Borders approached the all-male group and asked:

“Are you playing Pokémon GO?”

It’s a scene playing out more and more since the mobile online game launched in the U.S. on July 6 and one that is especially common in places such as libraries.

“We love it,” said Sno-Isle Libraries Executive Director Jonalyn Woolf-Ivory. “We are all about supporting our communities and Pokémon GO has quickly become something our customers are embracing.”

Libraries and other public places figure prominently in the world of Pokémon GO. Players go in search of Pokémon figures, which they capture and then train at Pokémon GO Gyms. Along the way, they may need supplies, which are available at PokéStops.

Libraries can be any or all of those things and Sno-Isle Libraries welcomes players on their quests.

“We’re putting up signs that say ‘Welcome Pokémon Trainers,” said Dawn Rutherford, Teen Services Coordinator for the library district. If there is one caveat, it is a request to respect other library users while capturing Pokémon, training or resupplying.

So far, that doesn’t seem to be a problem.

“Pokémon GO players can be very focused on the game,” Rutherford said. “We are also hearing stories of people making it out of the house more and families walking around playing the game together. We are thrilled to be a place Pokémon trainers can safely connect and discover!”

Rutherford added that it appears that most if not all Sno-Isle Libraries facilities are identified in some way in Pokémon GO: “Some of our libraries are Gyms, many are PokéStops and I’m pretty sure all have Pokémon waiting to be caught.”

'Write Now' looking for instructors with 'write stuff'

Originally published Jul. 7, 2016

Ernest Hemingway said writing is easy: “All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

There definitely won’t be any bleeding and typewriters are unlikely, but Sno-Isle Libraries is looking for people who can help others be writers, maybe even the next Hemingway.

Write Now graphic“We’re soliciting proposals for a series of workshops, classes, lectures and presentations,” said Lead Librarian for Readers’ Services Jackie Parker. “The project is called ‘Write Now: Write, Revise, Publish, and Find an Audience.’

The goal, Parker said, is to help writers and prospective writers develop their skills.

“There’s been a lot of interest from local authors and attendees at writing and author-related events,” Parker said.  “Writers are readers, readers are often writers and Sno-Isle Libraries has hundreds of thousands of readers.”

The project is accepting proposals that cover any step of the writing and publishing process and from any perspective, including: traditional publishing, indie/self-publishing, fiction, non-fiction, author, agent, bookseller and marketing. Selected proposals will include clearly measurable learning outcomes that will be measured in a post-event survey.

Sample session topics include:

  • Specific aspects of how to write or revise
  • How to get an agent
  • How to self-publish
  • How to design a book cover
  • How to market a book on social media
  • How to approach booksellers

“The strongest proposals will be on a list of courses that each our 21 community libraries can book,” Parker said. “We’re hoping to sponsor between 15-20 sessions this fall.”

The timeline for fall 2016 classes is:

  • July 20: Proposals due
  • July 28: Notice of acceptance
  • July 29: Session list sent to community libraries for bookings
  • October-December: Sessions to take place

Parker said she is reaching out to established writers groups in the Snohomish and Island counties, but that proposals will be considered from all corners. If the series is a success, Sno-Isle Libraries will continue to offer the Write Now series through 2017.

Parameters for proposals include:

  • Must be submitted through the online form.
  • Sessions should range from 1-4 hours.
  • Presentations should focus on learning
  • Presentations may include contact information for the presenter
  • Presenters are welcome to sell books after their session.
  • Sno-Isle Libraries will not provide presenters with a list of registered attendees due to privacy policies.
  • Sno-Isle Libraries will market classes to the public and presenters are encouraged to promote to their networks.
  • A contract with Sno-Isle Libraries is required to ensure engagement and payment.

For more information, contact Jackie Parker, Lead Librarian for Readers’ Services, 360-651-7049,

Candidate, issue forums July 6 & 7 on Whidbey Island

Originally published Jul. 5, 2016

League of Women Voters and Sno-Isle Libraries logosThe League of Women Voters and Sno-Isle Libraries are partnering on two public forums for races and issues to be decided in the August primary election. League of Women Voters of Whidbey Island representatives will ask questions of the candidates at these events which are free and open to the public.

The scheduled forums are:

Wednesday, July 6, 6:30 p.m., at Oak Harbor Elks Lodge, 155 Ernst St., Oak Harbor

  • 10th Legislative District Senate - Candidates expected to attend include Sen. Barbara Bailey, Angie Homola and Nick Petrish.
  • Island County Board of Commissioners Pos. 2 – Candidates expected to attend include Commissioner Jill Johnson, John Fowkes and Dustin Amundson.

Thursday, July 7, 6:30 p.m., at Unitarian Universalist Church, 20103 SR 525, Freeland

  • 10th Legislative District Senate - Candidates expected to attend include Sen. Barbara Bailey, Angie Homola and Nick Petrish.
  • Discussion of Port District of South Whidbey Island ballot measure “Concerning Fairgrounds property and a property tax increase to support it.”

Speaking at teen-suicide forums difficult, but rewarding, choice

Originally published Jul. 1, 2016

Megan LaPlante photo

Megan LaPlante (right) speaks during the June 23 Issues That Matter forum at Snohomish Library. Listening are Rena Fitzgerald (left) and Dr. Gary Goldbaum. Photo gallery

It was the end of an eighth-grade choir field trip and Megan LaPlante and her friend were braiding each other’s hair.

“They were laughing, just girls being girls,” said Megan’s mom, Susan LaPlante.

Hours later, the friend took her own life.

It wasn’t until the next morning at school that Megan and her classmates learned about the suicide.

“I got a call from Megan about 8:15 in the morning. It was awful,” Susan LaPlante said. “She couldn’t speak; just sobbing.”

Issues That Matter – Teen Suicide

Three more Issues That Matter forums on teen suicide are scheduled:

  • July 7, Stanwood Camano Community Resource Center, 9612 271st St. NW, Stanwood
  • July 13, Rosehill Community Center, 304 Lincoln Ave., Mukilteo
  • July 21, Oak Harbor Library, 1000 SE Regatta Dr., Oak Harbor

All events start at 6:30 p.m. They are open and free to the public with funding provided by the Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation. The forums feature panels of experts and community members to discuss what can be done about teen suicide.

Online resources

Library research resources

A year later, the loss still feels fresh, but Megan is working to turn tragedy into something that may help others. A freshman at Monroe High School, Megan is also Miss Washington High School America and will compete for the national title, July 15-16 in San Antonio, Texas.

As part of the pageant, each contestant is required to have an advocacy platform, something that they not only feel passionately about, but are also supporting with their time and voice. After losing her friend in 2015, Megan decided her platform would be “Preventing Teen Suicide through Hope and Awareness.”

It wasn’t an easy choice.

“Megan wasn’t sure,” Susan LaPlante said. “It’s so personal and so difficult. We talked about it a lot. I told her, ‘You need to talk about it for yourself.  And, it can help others.’”

While she’ll be taking the message to the national stage, Megan’s first opportunity to speak publically on the subject came June 23 at Sno-Isle Libraries’ Issues That Matter forum on teen suicide at Snohomish Library.  She will speak at similar forums on July 7 in Stanwood and July 21 in Oak Harbor.

At the Snohomish event, the public packed the meeting room. Megan was on the panel with two experts on the issue, Dr. Gary Goldbaum, Director of the Snohomish Health District, and Rena Fitzgerald, manager of the Care Crisis Chat line at Volunteers of America Western Washington in Everett.

When it was her turn to speak, Megan’s voice was charged with emotion.

“It’s such a big issue, but not a lot of people know about it,” Megan said later. “People don’t touch on it. Parents don’t learn about this and kids die. They don’t know, but they should know about this.”

The path to suicide, why some choose it and others don’t, can be difficult to understand. From Megan’s perspective, one important thing to do is just be there for someone who reaches out.

“If they’ve opened up to you, they are trusting you and thinking you will do something and possibly stop it,” Megan said. “Just hang out as much as possible and make them feel loved and welcome because they are, they really are.

“There are things that you can do. Say, ‘Come on over,’ or ‘Go to a movie with me.’  And if they say, ‘Leave me alone,’ tell them, ‘No, you’re hurting, I’m staying with you.’”

Part of Megan’s platform is to work with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The organization works with local supporters to sponsor Out of the Darkness Walks to raise funds for suicide prevention work. Fellow panelist Fitzgerald and Denise Bathurst, a Mukilteo School District counselor, are organizing a walk for Oct. 15 at Legion Park in Everett.

While choosing to speak about teen suicide wasn’t easy for Megan, the response at the Issues That Matter Forum convinced her that it was the right choice.

“A girl came up to me after it was over to say how much it helped,” Megan said.

Susan LaPlante had a similar experience with a parent.

“The father of a boy who died in April came up and said Megan’s comments were so relevant. It was very confirming,” Susan LaPlante said. “That night was amazing.”

'Storytime' is about growth; the children and the community

Originally published Jun. 29, 2016

Logan Schlicker launches a toy airplane during Storytime at Lake Stevens Library. (Photo gallery)

Two or three mornings a week, the Lake Stevens Library is full of young readers.

Well, make that soon-to-be young readers and don’t expect it to be whisper-quiet because the groups that are filling the air and floor are all under age 5 and accompanied by a parent or caregiver. It’s called “Storytime” and children’s librarian Monica Jackson says it is a popular and growing program.

Lindsay Johns and her daughter, Ava, during Storytime at Lake Stevens Library.

Storytime Schedule


  • Toddler (18 months- 3 years): 10 a.m., Mondays, July 11, 18, 25 and Aug. 1
  • Preschool (3-5 years): 10 a.m., Thursdays, July 7, 14, 21, 28 and Aug. 4

    *Note: The July 7 Preschool Storytime at Lake Stevens Library will feature the Washington State University Extension Beach Watchers, a group of trained beach naturalists dedicated to the protection of Puget Sound beaches through education.

Fall (weekly, starting Sept. 20)

  • Baby (newborn-18 months): 10 a.m., Tuesdays

  • Toddler (18 months- 3 years): 10 a.m., Wednesdays

  • Preschool (3-5 years): 10 a.m., Thursdays

“Every week it seems a new child and parent are joining us,” said Jackson, who is the children’s librarian at the library. “The Lake Stevens area is just growing so fast with young families.”

On a recent morning, one of those first-timers was Mandi Schlicker and her son, Logan.

“It was our first time to visit the library for Storytime,” Schlicker said. “The program offered many aspects of entertainment for Logan, stories, singing, dancing and then a little play time with lots of toys. We look forward to going again!”

And, it’s not just the little ones who like these 60-minute sessions: “It was nice to socialize with other moms,” Schlicker said.

Lake Stevens Library Managing Librarian Sonia Gustafson agrees that while such reading programs are popular at most libraries, the community’s demographics make them particularly attractive in Lake Stevens.

“This area is growing fast,” said Gustafson, who stays close to community issues by regularly participating in meetings with city staff.

In 2000, Lake Stevens had about 6,300 residents and was the 12th largest city in Snohomish County. In 2014, the population was just shy of 30,000 and ranked fifth in the county. The city is planning for another 10,000 people by 2035. Much of that growth so far is coming from young families attracted by good schools and comparatively affordable housing.

“We see families come in, sometimes with laundry baskets to load up with books and DVDs,” Gustafson said. “The next week, they’re back to return those and load up again.”

For the younger ones, and their parents, Storytime is the draw.

“We started going there because my friend from high school takes her daughter here,” said Lindsay Johns, mother of Ava. “She posted on Facebook and we went and its lots of fun.

“The movement and interaction with kids her age is always fun. We love the songs and hanging out with other babies. I feel like she can move around there.”

Johns said she also appreciates the expertise of the library staff: “Monica is really great at what she does.”

Jackson has been a children’s, teen and adult services librarian in school, public and college libraries. Her undergraduate degree is in Elementary Education and she received her Master of Library Science from the University of Washington. She’s been at the Lake Stevens Library since 2011.

Sno-Isle Libraries closed July 4

Originally published Jun. 28, 2016

Sno-Isle Libraries will be closed Monday, July 4 for Independence Day. Regular hours will resume Tuesday, July 5. See locations & hours.

Arlington Library starts summer program with Hungry Games

Originally published Jun. 27, 2016


Photo of children trying to eat doughnuts.

After removing the plastic bags, 12-year-olds Ocean Jang (left), Treety Jang and Sheamin Kim go after doughnuts on a string without using their hands Monday while competing in The Hungry Games outside Arlington Library.

Dan Bates photo/The Herald

By Kari Bray, Herald Writer

Published: Tuesday, June 21, 2016

ARLINGTON — The wreckage of squashed bananas and shattered pretzels littered the grass. Shirts were stained white with whipped cream and teeth were stained black by Oreo cookies. Doughnuts dangled from a string between three trees on the edge of the battlefield.

Librarian Abby Bormann called out orders amidst the chaos, a megaphone her only tool for corralling more than 50 children and teens fueled by the thrill of starting summer break.

The students were challenged to participate in the Hungry Games, a series of food-themed contests, to kick off Sno-Isle Libraries' summer reading program Monday afternoon. The reading program started June 1 but many students are just now starting their summer breaks.

On Monday, kids lined up to “Face the Cookie,” where they balanced an Oreo on their forehead and tried to get it to their mouths without using hands or arms. They partnered up for the pretzel toss, where one teammate held a crazy straw in their mouth and the other tried to toss five pretzels onto the straw like horseshoes. They tied Twizzlers into knots with their mouths and searched with their faces for a piece of bubblegum buried in a plate of whipped cream.

In one of the most popular tournaments, participants faced off against each other for banana jousting. They mounted their trusty steeds — pool noodles with a horse or shark face on them — and exchanged blows with bananas to see whose would break open first. The person with the last banana in one piece claimed victory.

“For war. For glory. For bananas!” shouted Lucas Gibson, a 12-year-old who goes to Post Middle School. He and his friend, Shayne Shelton, were the first two to joust. Lucas won a squishy stress ball as a prize after Shayne's banana fell apart.

Friends Katanna Breece and Annabelle Hoffman, both 12, competed in all of the Hungry Games events. They were looking for something to do now that their school is out until fall.

“We've been kind of bored for the summer,” Katanna confessed.

Annabelle shrugged. “I just wanted to eat doughnuts off of trees.”

That was the final challenge of the day: trying to eat a doughnut hanging off of a tree without using hands.

After the games, Bormann urged students to stop by the library, across the street from the battlefield, and sign up for the summer reading program. All 21 Sno-Isle Libraries have programs this summer for elementary-age kids and middle or high school students. They can sign up in person at one of the libraries or online at

By keeping track of how many hours they read, participants can get books as prizes and be entered into a drawing for a gift certificate to their nearest book store.

There also are dozens of summer reading events at libraries around Snohomish and Island counties.

“Each branch is doing something different,” Bormann said. “We're focusing on games and gaming.”

Upcoming activities in Arlington include a Harry Potter game day and a Doctor Who trivia and costume contest. Calendars of events for all of the libraries are available at Other libraries have planned activities with music, magicians and presentations from Sarvey Wildlife Center, among other highlights.

The summer reading program, called “Explore Summer,” goes until Aug. 31.

Sheamin Kim, 12, is excited to start her summer reading. She loves books and planned to go find a new one at the library after finishing the Hungry Games.

“If I could live in the library, I would,” she said.

Issues That Matter forum takes emotional look at teen suicide

Originally published Jun. 24, 2016

Photo of Issues That Matter panelists

Megan LaPlante, A Monroe High School student (at right) speaks during the June 23 Issues That Matter event at Snohomish Library. LaPlante, who is Miss Washington High School America 2016, has made teen suicide awareness and prevention part of her platform. Listening are fellow panelists Rena Fitzgerald, manager of the Crisis Chat line run by Volunteers of America Western Washington, and Dr. Gary Goldbaum, Health Officer and Director of the Snohomish Health District. Photo gallery  #snoisleITM

Issues That Matter forums

The remaining three Issues That Matter events on teen suicide are scheduled for:

  • July 7, Stanwood Camano Community Resource Center, 9612 271st St. NW, Stanwood
  • July 13, Rosehill Community Center, 304 Lincoln Ave., Mukilteo
  • July 21, Oak Harbor Library, 1000 SE Regatta Dr., Oak Harbor

All events will start at 6:30 p.m. They are open are to the public and free, with funding provided by the Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation. The forums feature panels of experts and community members to discuss what can be done about teen suicide.

An emotional and hopefully helpful evening unfolded during Sno-Isle Libraries’ “Issues That Matter” event at Snohomish Library.

The June 23 event was the first of four public forums about the causes, scope and prevention of teen suicide in Snohomish and Island counties. Local health officials have noted an increase in teen suicides over the past several years. The Issues That Matter initiative is designed to encourage conversations on topics that impact the community.

“Suicide affects all ages and entire communities,” said forum panelist Dr. Gary Goldbaum, Health Officer and Director of the Snohomish Health District. “Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. and the suicide rate in Snohomish County is higher than the national average.”

A study done by the health district in 2014 showed that 20 percent of high school students in Snohomish County consider suicide.

Goldbaum said the public-health approach to suicide is not blaming or shaming. “Suicide is not inevitable,” he said. “We can, we will prevent suicides.”

Rena Fitzgerald, manager of the Crisis Chat line run by Volunteers of America Western Washington in Everett, debunked the idea that talking about suicide makes people suicidal. Indeed, she said, the opposite is true.

“We think people don’t talk about it, but most people do talk about it,” Fitzgerald told the capacity audience in the library's meeting room. “They say, ‘I can’t do this anymore’ or I’ve figured out a solution.’ You don’t have to be a mental-health professional to help someone. Call the crisis line for advice.”

Megan LaPlante brought a personal perspective to the panel.

LaPlante, a sophomore-to-be at Monroe High School, became emotional as she recounted the suicide of a friend. LaPlante, who is Miss Washington High School America 2016, has made teen suicide awareness and prevention part of her platform. LaPlante showed a video from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) called “Talk Saves Lives.”

Audience members also became emotional as they stood to share their stories. One mother asked what can be done so, "We don't have another funeral in Marysville.” Another tearful mother said: “I lost my son last year; he wasn't quite a teen yet. I wish I had known warning signs.”

Fitzgerald noted there will be an Out of the Darkness community walk on Oct. 15 at Legion Park in Everett. Sponsored by the AFSP, the walks are intended to raise awareness and funds to help the organizations work toward its goals.

Teen suicide resources


Teens can make a difference with ambassador program

Originally published Jun. 16, 2016

Sno-Isle Libraries has volunteer opportunities for 14- to 18-year-olds looking to make a difference in their communities.

“It’s called the ‘Teen Ambassador’ program,” said Dawn Rutherford, teen-services coordinator for the library district. “We’re looking for a variety of personalities and interests, but the common denominator will be teens who want to help and communicate with others.”

Teen ambassador posterThe program is for teens across the district, which has 21 libraries across Snohomish and Island counties. Starting in August, ambassadors would commit to volunteering at least four hours a month for the next year.

“Our goal is that ambassadors will bring more teen voices - their own and others’ - to our libraries,” Rutherford said. “Ambassadors will gain leadership and workplace skills while educating and raising awareness about library programs and resources.”

“Not only will ambassadors have an opportunity to help build connections in their community, but they’ll also get a behind-the-scenes look at how the library works.”

Just how ambassadors bring those voices forward will depend on the skills and interests they bring to the job, said Rutherford, who had a similar experience when she was a teen. “Teen Ambassadors may be good writers, have social-media skills, be great at video or photography, be interested in advocacy or maybe just love movies, music and books,” she said.

For those thinking about going on to college, this kind of experience may be beneficial. According to the College Board, which sponsors the Advanced Placement (AP) program and administers the SAT and other standardized tests, extracurricular experience on an application adds information for college admissions screeners to consider.

The Teen Ambassador-program application process includes:

  • Applications due June 30, 2016.
  • Interviews in July.
  • Training in August.
  • Teen Ambassador work begins in September.

“Teen Ambassadors may report on library events, create reviews, post on social media and blogs and generally represent the library in a friendly professional manner,” Rutherford said. “Sno-Isle Libraries already has a number of ways teens can get involved, including our video bloggers, or ‘vloggers,’ and the Teen Explore Summer. Teen Ambassadors is another way for teens to make their voice heard.”

Snohomish Library has carpet project covered

Originally published Jun. 14, 2016

Photo of worn carpeting at Snohomish Library
The carpeting at Snohomish Library is showing signs of wear after 13 years. Photo gallery

The Snohomish Library is going to shrink for a month this summer.

“We need to replace the carpeting and some flooring in the library,” Managing Librarian Darlene Weber said. “It’s a big job that requires closing the main part of the building. The good news is that we’re going to turn the meeting room into a mini-version of the library so that our customers can still access many of the materials and services they want and need.”

The book on August library service

  • The main area of the Snohomish Library building will be closed Aug. 7-Sept. 5 for a carpeting and flooring project.
  • The meeting room, lobby and restrooms will not be available for general public use from Aug. 7-Sept. 5.
  • From Aug. 7-31, limited library services will be available in the building’s meeting room from 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m., Mondays-Saturdays and 1-5 p.m. on Sundays.
  • There will be no library service from Sept. 1-5 
  • The main library and all other areas will repoen with full services on Tuesday, Sept. 6.

The main library will be closed from Aug. 7 –Sept. 5. During that time, there will be no public access to the main library, the entrance area and the restrooms.

“We will be able to provide limited library service during the closure,” Weber said. “Customers can come to the outside entrance of the meeting room to pick up items on hold, turn in ‘Explore Summer’ logs and get prizes and take care of issues related to their accounts.”

“We also hope to have some small collections for people to browse, especially for children, so come visit us!”

Weber said that, unfortunately, the limited space in the meeting room will make it not possible to provide some services, including access to public computers and normal programs and events. And, Weber said, since the meeting room is being used as the mini-library, it won’t be available for other public uses and reservations.

“While we won’t have computers available, the Wi-Fi will be on and accessible to those outside and with their own devices,” Weber said.

Most of the carpet and flooring in the 23,000-square-foot library is original to when it was built in 2003. “We’re really excited about this major update and replacement of worn out carpet and flooring,” Weber said.

The ongoing maintenance work is just part of what facilities manager Brian Rush has brought to the Snohomish facility in recent years. Energy efficiency upgrades mean that in 2015, the building used 17 percent less electricity and 70 percent less natural gas than in 2011.

“This is a standard replacement and update cycle of carpeting for us. After 13 years of use in a public space we would expect to be replacing the carpet,” Rush said. “We want to keep this building looking great, and this kind of routine, proactive maintenance is a part of doing that.”

For those who want or need to use a full-service facility during the closure, she suggests Snohomish customers look toward the Monroe or Marysville libraries. “If someone would like to get set up to use another location during the closure, we’d be happy to help, especially for public computing,” Weber said.


Four forums to tackle tough issue of teen suicide

Originally published Jun. 1, 2016

Teen suicide is a dark issue, one that can be difficult for family members and loved ones to comprehend. It’s also a problem that experts say can shrink when light is shined upon it.

Shining a light is what Sno-Isle Libraries hopeteen suicide forums posts to do in hosting a series of four public forums about the causes, scope and prevention of teen suicide in Snohomish and Island counties. The events are part of Sno-Isle Libraries' “Issues That Matter” initiative designed to encourage conversations on topics that impact the community. The events are scheduled for:

  • June 23, Snohomish Library, 311 Maple Ave., Snohomish
  • July 7, Stanwood Camano Community Resource Center, 9612 271st St. NW, Stanwood
  • July 13, Rosehill Community Center, 304 Lincoln Ave., Mukilteo
  • July 21, Oak Harbor Library, 1000 SE Regatta Dr., Oak Harbor

All events will start at 6:30 p.m. They are open are to the public and free, with funding provided by the Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation. The forums will feature panels of experts and community members to discuss what can be done about teen suicide.

One of those panelists will be Rena Fitzgerald, program manager for Care Crisis Chat run by Volunteers of America – Western Washington. “The suicide rate in Snohomish County is just about the highest it’s ever been. It’s more than a public health problem, it’s a crisis,” Fitzgerald said earlier this year.

Another participant will be Dr. Gary Goldbaum, health officer for the Snohomish Health District. In June 2015, the Snohomish Health District released figures showing 13 young people had taken their own lives since September, 2014, more than double the annual number of previous years.

A 2014 survey of 11,852, sixth-, eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders in Snohomish County found significant numbers of students – from 16-21 percent depending on grade level – had seriously considered suicide. Nearly one in five surveyed students reported they did not have a parent or trusted adult that they feel comfortable confiding in for asking for help.

The health district has sent out fliers to school districts on what resources are available to help. The crisis line managed by Fitzgerald is open to people of all ages, but about half of the users are younger than 25.

Suicide prevention – for both youth and adults – was one of the top three issues of Snohomish County identified in the Community Health Improvement Plan. The plan aims to reduce the rate of suicide in Snohomish County from 14.6 per 100,000 to 10.2 per 100,000 by 2020.

Charlene Ray, Island County Mental Health clinical supervisor, will be participating at the Oak Harbor event on July 21. Island County Human Services provides a variety of mental health services including a school-based program in all four school districts of Island County; Oak Harbor, Coupeville, South Whidbey and Camano/Stanwood. Suicide prevention is among the concerns addressed by the program.

More information about the forums, along with library resources addressing the topic, is available online at

Get ready to 'Explore Summer' with Sno-Isle Libraries

Originally published May. 26, 2016

Think summer reading is lazing under a tree as a warm breeze turns the pages for you?

Well, could be, but the Sno-Isle Libraries, “Explore Summer – Read, Learn Discover” program is aimed at youth from tiny to teens and has something more competitive, energetic and probably louder in store.

Explore Summer graphic“While children and teens of all ages are welcome to participate in ’Explore Summer, it is designed to better prepare students when they return to school in the fall by battling the summer slide” said Leslie Moore, youth and outreach services manager for Sno-Isle Libraries. “We have a really full lineup of events, activities and library materials to keep kids engaged, entertained, and learning while having fun.”

“Explore Summer,” which runs from June 1-Aug. 31, may just make students smarter, too.

Educators from school districts across Snohomish and Island counties say that summer programs such as “Explore Summer – Read, Learn Discover” can improve a student’s performance when they go back to school in the fall. School officials supporting Sno-Isle Libraries’ program include:

  • Edmonds School District Library and Instructional Technology Coordinator Marianne Costello
  • Everett School District Associate Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Joyce Stewart
  • Lakewood School District Director of Teaching and Learning Melissa VanZanten
  • Mukilteo School District Assistant Superintendent Alison Brynelson
  • Oak Harbor School District Special Programs Director Janice Gaare
  • Sultan School District Superintendent Dan Chaplik

“Explore Summer” challenges participants to become bronze-, silver- and gold-medal readers. The program includes reading logs for kids and teens that are available at any Sno-Isle library or can be printed at home by going to Gaining each level and other milestones will make participants eligible for prizes awarded at each library.

In addition, children can earn extra badges in Beanstack. Beanstack is a personalized online service designed for families with young readers discover books, activities, apps and other items that matched to your child's age and interests.

 Yes, “Explore Summer” definitely includes reading, but there is more.

“The Sarvey Wildlife Center is bringing their ‘Birds of Prey’ show to several libraries, we’ve got bands playing, magicians, the Pacific Science Center, the ‘Noiseguy’ … a whole summer of some pretty exciting and fun activities scheduled across our libraries,” Moore said.

The “Explore Summer” program addresses a number of the Sno-Isle Libraries strategic goals, including literacy and learning, community and culture, free and equal access and championing early literacy.

Dedication of library friends results in dedication of art

Originally published May. 24, 2016

It was a long time coming, but on Saturday, May 21, a dedicated group from Friends of the Camano Island Library were joined by their friends and supporters for an art dedication event at the library.

John Ebner and Ryan Jansen with Islnaders sculture

John Ebner (left) and Ryan Jansen stand with their art piece "Islanders" following a May 21, 2016 dedication event at Camano Island Library. Ebner conceived of the sculpture and Jansen fabricated it at the Stanwood High School welding shop. More photos

Officially installed and accepted as permanent art displays were:

"Wonders and Curiosities on Every Shelf," a 14-foot by 2-foot, mixed-media mural printed digitally on aluminum by Danny Koffman.

“Brown, Matsui, and Levi Strauss,” by Duane Simshauser includes metal plates, hardware cloth, jeans, branches, concert tickets, acrylic on wood panels.

"Islanders," a steel sculpture conceptualized by John Ebner and fabricated by Ryan Jansen.

The event included a reception to meet the three local artists, followed by opening remarks by Jonalyn Woolf-Ivory, executive director of Sno-Isle Libraries, then the presentation of the three art pieces, followed by comments by Connie Hall, co-chair of the Camano Library Fundraising Committee and then closing comments by Woolf-Ivory.

The Camano Island Library began as a pilot project in 2006. The economic downturn and other factors turned the intended three-year timeframe into an eight-year odyssey that resulted in the opening of the new library in August, 2015.

Norma Mouton, chair of the Friends of Camano Island Library Art Committee, said art was always part of the plan and more is on the way. “We decided on five pieces and ended up with seven,” Mouton said prior to Saturday’s ceremony. “These are just the first three.”

Sno-Isle Libraries closed May 30

Originally published May. 24, 2016

Sno-Isle Libraries will be closed Monday, May 30 for Memorial Day. Regular hours will resume Tuesday, May 31. See locations & hours.

Survey asks library customers about technology use

Originally published May. 24, 2016

Sno-Isle Libraries is asking its customers to share how they use and value various library technology services.

Impact Survey graphicFrom May 23-June 12, an online survey will be open to ask library customers how they use and benefit from technology and related services at their library. Called the Impact Survey, it is an ongoing national research project created by the University of Washington Information School with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

This is the second time Sno-Isle Libraries has offered the survey to customers. In 2014, library district officials used the information from the survey to inform and adjust services such as public computers, wireless internet access, online resources and digital literacy training.

Anne Murphy, lead librarian for public computing, said the 2014 results were informative and some have been put to work.

“We learned that our services such as internet access and printing are valuable, even to those with access at home,” Murphy said. “We also learned that staff assistance on the computers is frequently requested and highly valued by our customers.”

Murphy said that information resulted in added staff training to help ensure even service levels across the district’s 21 libraries.

“We want every customer that walks through our doors to receive the same high quality level of assistance with technology,” Murphy said. “To date, 42 information services staff members have received training about teaching technology classes, and many have already taught classes in their branches.”

More training will be on the way later this year with the development of curriculum around the most popular devices and electronic resources used by Sno-Isle Libraries customers, Murphy said.

The plan is to offer the survey every two years.

“We want to learn if the changes we make are effective,” said Christa Werle, public services project manager. “We want to stay close to our communities and learn how customers’ needs are evolving.”

The survey results from Sno-Isle customers also help inform the national study. Since October, 2013, 71,239 library customers from 1,167 libraries across the U.S. have taken the survey.

Camano Island Library project garners design award

Originally published May. 18, 2016

Camano Island Library photo

The Camano Island Library is a striking addition to Terry's Corner on Camano Island. Photo by Lucas Henning. Photo gallery 



Camano Island Library staff members are getting used to hearing customers’ verbal votes of approval about their building:

“Ooh, what a nice library!”

“Aah, what a pleasant space.”

And now, it’s official. The Camano Island Library is an award-winning design.

Library art dedication set for Saturday, May 21

From the beginning, art was part of the design for the Camano Island Library and on Saturday afternoon, May 21, work by three local artists will dedicated for permanent display at the library.

The event is scheduled for 2-4 p.m. at the Camano Island Library, 848 N. Sunrise Blvd., Camano Island, WA 98282.

 “When the library moved to the new location, we decided we needed permanent art as part of the décor,” said Norma Mouton, chair of the Friends of Camano Island Library Art Committee. “We worked with the architect to determine where (the art would be located).”

Art works to be dedicated on Saturday are:

  • "Wonders and Curiosities on Every Shelf," a 14-foot by 2-foot, mixed-media mural printed digitally on aluminum by Danny Koffman.
  • “Brown, Matsui, and Levi Strauss,” by Duane Simshauser includes metal plates, hardware cloth, jeans, branches, concert tickets, acrylic on wood panels.
  • "Islanders," a steel sculpture conceptualized by John Ebner and fabricated by Ryan Jansen.

The AIA Northwest Washington chapter of the American Institute of Architects has honored architect Dan Nelson of Stanwood-based Designs Northwest, Stig Carlson of Stig Carlson Architecture in Coupeville, general contractor Kirtley Cole Construction of Everett and Sno-Isle Libraries with a Citation Award for their collective work in turning a former restaurant into a library.

The honor was bestowed May 5 at the group’s annual awards dinner in Bellingham. The awards celebrate projects that represent the finest standards in sustainability, innovation, building performance and overall integration with the client and surrounding community. Architects based in Whatcom, Skagit, San Juan and Island counties are eligible for consideration.

“I think the award is recognition that we took an existing structure and turned that into a focal point and an asset for the community,” Nelson said. “The award criteria included social enhancement and community involvement. There was really good community input, a lot of public meetings and working closely with Camano Islanders.”

The process for a Camano Island Library began in December, 2006, when the Sno-Isle Libraries Board of Trustees approved a pilot library project. Six months later a temporary facility opened in a storefront at Terry’s Corner. With voter approval of funding, work began in 2014 on the then-empty Islanders Restaurant, also at Terry’s Corner in Camano Commons, and the new library opened in August, 2015.

“We had a good working relationship with Dan at Designs Northwest, Stig Carlson and everyone on the project,” said Jeanne Crisp, Director of Facilities and Special Projects for Sno-Isle Libraries.

It helped, Nelson said, that his firm was familiar with the site.

“We did the initial concept for Camano Commons and the schematic for the restaurant that the library eventually became,” Nelson said. “”Then, Stig came together with Designs Northwest to work on the library. There were challenges in turning a facility that had been a restaurant into a library, but it helped the functionality to add approximately 900 square feet on to the original structure.”

By all accounts, the customers, community and the library district are happy with the now award-winning result.

“The support of the community meant we can provide what they had asked for: adequate library space for children’s activities; a larger selection of popular books, movie and music titles; as well as more space and public computers for research, school assignments and comfortable browsing,” Jonalyn Woolf-Ivory, Sno-Isle Libraries Executive Director said. “A permanent library on Camano Island enables Sno-Isle Libraries to continue to focus on building literate, economically sound and connected communities.”

Other firms involved in the project include structural engineering by Lund Opsahl of Seattle, interior design by H2K Design of Stanwood, mechanical  consultant RICE Group of Lynnwood and electrical by Case Engineering of Bothell. Jayme Zold and Kim Williams were the project architects from Designs Northwest Architects who also worked on the project.

Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation gets statewide award

Originally published May. 18, 2016

The Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation has received the 2016 Washington Library Association Foundation Merit Award.

Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation logo“The foundation is a strong supporter of our efforts to serve our communities and customers,” Sno-Isle Libraries Executive Director Jonalyn Woolf-Ivory said. “The foundation enhances programming aimed at early literacy, multicultural understanding, staff development and community involvement. The foundation has been a strong advocate for public libraries since its formation.”

The award was presented in April during the state library association’s 2016 conference in Spokane.

Three very visible examples of recent foundation support include the TEDxSnoIsleLibraries 2015 event, the increasingly popular annual Third Grade Reading Challenge and just this past month, the Trudy Sundberg Lecture Series.

TEDxSnoIsleLibraries was the first TEDx event in Snohomish County. At the Edmonds Center for the Arts, the day-long series was an unqualified success. TEDxSnoIsleLibraries could not have happened without the support and trust from the foundation’s Directors. The foundation’s initial $20,000 pledge encouraged 22 community partners to jump on board, which resulted in over $80,000 of regional support for the effort.

TEDxSnoIsleLibraries 2016 is scheduled for Nov. 18, again at Edmonds Center for the Arts.

The reading challenge, officially known as “The Sno-Isle Libraries Mega-Fun, Biblio-Trivia, Rockem-Sockem Third Grade Reading Challenge,” began seven years ago with just two schools on Whidbey Island. This year, the program involved had 46 schools and 192 teams with 1,312 students participating. The foundation’s support helps prepare the next generation of readers to become the literate leaders of tomorrow.

The Trudy Sundberg Lecture Series was three years in the making, fundraising in honor of the former Whidbey Island educator and activist. The two inaugural lectures earlier this month by Pulitzer Prize winner Hedrick Smith drew overflow crowds.

“I’m just so pleased to be able to support an organization such as Sno-Isle Libraries,” said Paul Pitkin, the foundation’s executive director. “We have great people supporting a great mission.”

There was one place where I could find out who I was and what I was going to become.
And that was the public library.
- Jerzy Kosinski

Sno-Isle Libraries Administrative & Service Center
7312 35th Ave NE, Marysville, WA 98271-7417
360-651-7000 (local) • 877-766-4753 (toll free) • 360-651-7151 (fax)
©2016 Sno-Isle Libraries