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Lake Stevens Library bond misses 60-percent mark

Originally published Feb. 14, 2018

The current Lake Stevens Library on Main Street.

It looks like the Lake Stevens community won’t be getting a new library.

“In 2017 and again this year, most voters said the community needs a new library, but the library bond measure didn’t meet the required threshold for passing,” said Jonalyn Woolf-Ivory, Sno-Isle Libraries Executive Director.

Election results show 50.81 percent of voters approving a bond measure to build a new library. The measure needs at least 60 percent approval and a minimum voter turnout of 3,112 ballots cast. As of Feb. 14, 7,013 ballots had been counted. Election results are scheduled to be certified Feb. 23.

“Although disappointed with the results of this election, we want to thank the community for its continued use of their library,” Woolf-Ivory said. “We are committed to continue providing library services to the Lake Stevens community.”

Assuming the ballot-count trend continues, the bond measure would fail and the Lake Stevens Library Capital Facility Area (LCFA) taxing district approved by voters in 2017 would be dissolved. State law allows only two tries at a bond measure once an LCFA is approved. A similar bond measure was on the 2017 ballot. That measure also received a majority of support from voters at 66 percent approval, but not enough ballots were returned to validate the election.

“We want to thank all who have been so committed to the community’s vision for a new library,” Woolf-Ivory said. “We will closely review the results of this election before deciding on next steps.”

The ballot measure called for up to $17 million in bond sales to finance a new 20,000 square foot library. The new facility would have been on property previously purchased by the library district near 99th Avenue NE and Market Place in the Chapel Hill area.   

The current Lake Stevens Library building on Main Street is owned by the City of Lake Stevens. It is on property the city envisions for redevelopment as part of the Downtown Subarea Plan.  The Chapel Hill property purchased by the library district for the new library is adjacent to property owned by the city. City and library officials are collaborating on a joint-use plan. The properties are part of the city’s Lake Stevens Center Subarea Plan.

Early returns show Lake Stevens levy behind

Originally published Feb. 13, 2018

The Lake Stevens community may not be getting a new library.

“The current ballot count does not look promising, however, we are going to await the final count before commenting further,” said Jonalyn Woolf-Ivory, Sno-Isle Libraries Executive Director.

Early results show 50.87 percent of voters approving a bond measure to build a new library. The measure needs at least 60 percent approval and a minimum voter turnout of 2,792 ballots cast. As of Feb. 12, 5,904 ballots had been returned. Election results are scheduled to be certified Feb. 23.

“We want to thank all who have been so committed to the community’s vision for a new library,” Woolf-Ivory said. “Regardless of the outcome of the election, we are committed to continue providing library services to the Lake Stevens community.”

If bond measure fails, the Lake Stevens Library Capital Facility Area (LCFA) taxing district approved by voters in 2017 would be dissolved. State law allows only two tries at a bond measure once an LCFA is approved. A similar bond measure was on the 2017 ballot. That measure received 66 percent approval, but not enough ballots were returned to validate the election.

If the measure does fail, Woolf-Ivory said, “We will closely review the results of this election before deciding on next steps.”

If the bond measure passes, the next steps would include hiring an architect, forming a building committee and starting the design and pre-construction phases. There will be multiple opportunities for the public to provide input during the process.

“Construction should begin by mid-2019 and we’d hope to open the doors of the new library by fall 2020,” Woolf-Ivory said. “In the meantime, we would continue providing library services to the Lake Stevens community.”

The ballot measure calls for up to $17 million in bond sales to finance a new 20,000 square foot library. The new facility would on property previously purchased by the library district near 99th Avenue NE and Market Place. Project costs include the property, engineering, construction, furnishings, equipment and materials (books, DVDs, etc.).

Passage of the bond measure would enable a property-tax levy of 21.1 cents for each $1,000 of assessed value. Once the bonds are paid off over 20 years, the bond levy would no longer be assessed.

The current Lake Stevens Library building is owned by the City of Lake Stevens. It is on property the city envisions for redevelopment as part of the Downtown Subarea Plan.  The new library would be owned by the library district and is adjacent to property owned by the city. City and library officials are collaborating on a joint-use plan for the properties. The properties are part of the city’s Lake Stevens Center Subarea Plan.

Information about the new Lake Stevens Library project is at

Sno-Isle Libraries closed Feb. 19

Originally published Feb. 13, 2018

Sno-Isle Libraries will be closed Monday, Feb. 19 for Presidents Day. Regular hours will resume Tuesday, Feb. 20. See locations & hours.

Orientation set for potential contractors to Sno-Isle Libraries

Originally published Feb. 12, 2018

Sno-Isle Libraries is hosting an orientation for companies that may want to provide facilities-related services to the library district.

The event is scheduled for 9-11 a.m., Friday, Feb. 23 at the Sno-Isle Libraries Administrative Service Center, 7312 35th Ave. NE, Marysville, WA, 98271.

Sno-Isle Libraries logoSno-Isle Libraries provides library services to more than 740,000 residents in Snohomish and Island counties through 23 community libraries, online services and Library on Wheels.  

“We want to help prospective bidders in our communities understand how to do business with Sno-Isle Libraries,” said Brian Rush, facilities manager. “We value our relationship with vendors and strive to be excellent stewards of the public funds entrusted to us.”

Sno-Isle Libraries follows Washington State Bid Law and Prevailing Wage Guidelines. Information about becoming a state-approved vendor or contractor will be available and library-district staff members will offer assistance that day to help attendees start the process. 

Topics to be discussed include: 

  • General overview of facilities
  • MRSC approved contractor list
  • Prevailing wage requirements
  • Intents and affidavits
  • Work rules and safety 
  • Procurement and invoicing 
  • State bid law and requirements
  • Library district 10-year facilities plan
  • Projects – expense and capital
  • Sno-Isle Libraries website
  • Q&A session

Advance notification of attendance is requested at, but not required.

Olympics reading list lands librarian on TV

Originally published Jan. 31, 2018

Jennifer Forman and Margaret Larson photo
Librarian Jennifer Forman (left) discusses books about the Olympics with TV host Margaret Larson on the set of KING-5 TV’s New Day Northwest show on Jan. 31, 2018. Photo gallery, KING-5 video.

Jennifer Forman is a librarian at the Snohomish Library and a fan of the Olympics.

Her interest prompted Forman to create a reading/viewing list of books, DVDs and online resources to enhance the experience of those not going to Pyeongchang, South Korea, for the Feb. 8-25 Winter Olympics.

While Forman’s list isn’t getting her to the Games, it did take her to KING-5 TV’s New Day Northwest show. Producers of the show saw Forman’s list on Facebook and asked her to come on down and join show host Margaret Larson on the set for a chat about the books.

“I’m just a fan of the Olympics,” Forman said, adding that summer or winter, it’s the Olympic spirit that attracts her to the Games.

Forman appeared on Jan. 31 on the show.

BookFlix puts stars in the ears of young readers

Originally published Jan. 30, 2018

When Meryl Streep speaks, people listen, and she has the Academy Awards to prove it.

Now, Sno-Isle Libraries is bringing Streep’s voice and those of other well-known actors and singers to a new audience: preschoolers and beginning readers.

BookFlix logoBookFlix is an online storytelling service available to the nearly half-million Sno-Isle Libraries cardholders. The service is part of the library district’s strategic priority to increase kindergarten readiness in language and literacy.

“Sno-Isle Libraries is committed to getting children ready to read and ready for kindergarten,” said Joy Feldman, early learning coordinator for the library district.  “We look for literacy programs that support the five research-verified best-practices of talking, singing, reading, writing and playing.”

BookFlix, from Scholastic Digital, pairs visual presentations of classic children’s tales with factual, non-fiction ebooks about the same subject. The goal is to build a love of reading and learning.

“The data show that 87 percent of BookFLIX readers report an increase in reading motivation,” Feldman said. “We know that creating a genuine interest in books lays the groundwork for later reading success.”

BookFLIX combines great stories with great storytellers.

“Have you ever wondered what makes a successful read-aloud?” Feldman said. “Research shows that the most important quality is the storyteller.” While a parent’s voice is the gold standard, BookFlix narrators include actors such as Streep, Morgan Freeman, John Lithgow and singers including Randy Travis and Cyndi Lauper. BookFlix even has an online quiz to make a game of identifying the celebrity voice.

“The University of Washington i-Labs tells us that for young children to learn, the content needs to be meaningful to them,” Feldman said. “Bringing high-quality nonfiction and fiction together creates stronger and more successful learning opportunities for young readers as they prepare for kindergarten and beyond.”

In addition to BookFlix, Sno-Isle Libraries offers other online resources for young readers, including:


Issues That Matter mental health forums continue in February

Originally published Jan. 30, 2018

It’s clear that the Sno-Isle Libraries’ Issues That Matter events for 2017-18 are striking chords.

The theme, “Mental Health: Let’s Talk,” encompasses a breadth of subjects, from dealing with dementia to addiction to traumatic brain injury and more. Since this past November, the community events are drawing large and engaged audiences. The recent “Care for Alzheimer's Caregivers” program brought an overflow crowd to the Lynnwood Library.

The series continues in February with these five forums:

Mental Health Resources in Island County
1:30 p.m., Monday, Feb. 5, at the Coupeville Library. Panelists: Charlene Ray, Island County Mental Health; Chris Garden, Coupeville Marshal & North Sound Behavioral Health advisory board member; Rob May, EMS, Whidbey Health;  Judy Heinemann, Compass Health. Host: Jackie Henderson, Director of Island County Human Services

Addiction/Substance Abuse
6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 7, at the Mariner High School Little Theater, hosted by the Mariner Library.
Panelists: Natalie Fryar, Director of Clinical Operations, Evergreen Recovery Centers; Sgt. Ian Huri, Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, Office of Neighborhoods; Robert Smiley, The Hand Up Project, Founder. Moderator: Judy Hoff from The Hoff Foundation

Caring for Someone During a Mental Health Emergency
6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 13, at the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts, Langley, hosted by ClintonFreeland and Langley libraries. Sarri Gilman, author of "Transform Your Boundaries," 25 Mental Health Tips to Support Your Wellbeing and a TEDxSnoIsleLibraries speaker will be joined by Dr. Howard Aposhyan, Charlene Ray, LICSW, and others who will share ways to understand mental health challenges and how to find help and support. 

Veterans and Mental Health
6:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 22, at Mill Creek City Council Chambers, hosted by the Mill Creek Library. Panelists: Chuck Wright, veteran and traumatic stress specialist; Laurie Akers, a therapist specializing in helping transitioning veterans; Sam Powers, veteran and director of Student Veteran life at the University of Washington. Moderator: Andrew Ballard, educator and marketing executive.

Helping Friends or Family with Mental Health Issues
6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 27 at the Granite Falls Library.  Panelists: Stacey Alles, Chief Operating Officer, Compass Health; Susan Gregory, Crisis Services Assistant Program Manager, Volunteers of America Western Washington; Shira Hasson-Schiff, Director of Prevention services, Cocoon House; Peggy Ray, Program Manager, Arlington/Granite Falls/Lake Stevens Community Resource Centers – Lutheran Community Services Northwest. Moderator: Dennis Smith, retired school psychologist and counselor, Granite Falls Community Coalition board member

All five events will be live-streamed to the Sno-Isle Libraries Facebook page where videos from previous events in the series are also available. More information about the series along with resource lists are on the Sno-Isle Libraries website.

Issues That Matter programs are intended to encourage community conversations on high-profile topics. These events are free and open to the public. Funding is provided by the Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation. 



Opinion: Lake Stevens Library bond merits voters' support

Originally published Jan. 29, 2018

 (This editorial was published Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018 in The Daily Herald newspaper as the opinion of The Herald Editorial Board.)

Little has changed since last year’s close-but-no-library election in Lake Stevens, either in the need for a new library in the quickly growing Snohomish County community or in the proposal itself.

Backers of the new library, which would be operated as the current library is by the 21-library Sno-Isle Libraries system, saw no reason to scale back their proposal based on the strong support that voters showed last year.

Last February, voters in Lake Stevens voted with 69 percent approval to create a library taxing district — which mirrors the boundaries of the Lake Stevens School District — and gave 66 percent approval for the $17 million bond request to build the new library, 6 percentage points greater than the 60 percent supermajority that bond elections require.

The threshold that the library bond wasn’t able to meet was the validation requirement that at least 40 percent of the voters in the previous general election turn out for the election. Library backers missed that mark by some 749 voters, but only because the previous election was the 2016 presidential election, and turnout was particularly high in most Lake Stevens precincts.

Lake Stevens, now with a population nearing 32,000 and expected to reach 47,500 by 2025, many of them families, is in desperate need to replace its current 2,400-square foot facility, one that is smaller than most single-family homes. The current library struggles to meet the needs of its community, yet logged more than 110,000 visits in 2016 and checked out more than 175,000 items.

The current library leases city-owned space in the North Cove neighborhood, land on which the city has its own development plans.

What the bond, providing up to $17 million, would build is a library nearly eight times the size of the current library, at 20,00 square feet, with space for 70,000 books and other media, 40 study chairs, 30 public computers and a community room.

In the year since last year’s request to voters, a few details have changed.

The library would be built on property already purchased by the Sno-Isle system in the Chapel Hill neighborhood at 99th Avenue and Market Place. But library and city officials now have a better sense of how the library will fit in with a city campus that is planned to include a police station and a city services building.

And because of an increase in property values, the millage rate for the 20-year bond would also be a few cents less at 21.1 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. The owner of a median-valued $387,000 home would pay about $82 a year.

Assuming voters approve the bond measure, the community’s involvement would continue as Sno-Isle works with residents this spring and summer regarding the design and look of the new library.

Voters have an important task in levy and bond elections, as they are determining a portion of the property taxes that nearly all home and business owners will pay in coming years. But along with costs to individual property owners, voters also should consider the investment they are being asked to make.

Along with the library bond, Lake Stevens voters also will vote on levies for the Lake Stevens School District: a four-year replacement levy for the district’s programs and operation at a rate of $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed value; and a four-year technology levy, ranging from 33 cents to 25 cents per $1,000.

Voters should view the library’s and school district’s requests as complementary investments that will significantly contribute to the livability of Lake Stevens and to the education and development of its children.

For more information regarding the Lake Stevens Library bond, go to

Feb. 13 special election

Voters in several districts in Snohomish County are being asked to submit ballots for the Feb. 13 special election for levies and/or bonds in their community.

Elections are being held in the following districts: Arlington School District, Darrington School District, Darrington’s Fire District 24, Edmonds School District, Everett School District, Granite Falls School District, Index School District, Lake Stevens School District, Lake Stevens Library District, Monroe School District, Mukilteo School District, Northshore School District, Snohomish School District, Stanwood-Camano School District and the Sultan School District

Ballots are being mailed today, and can be returned by mail (with a postage stamp) or at one of several ballot drop boxes throughout the county by 8 p.m. Feb. 13. For a list of drop-box locations, go to

New voters can register until Feb. 5 in person at the county elections office.

Naol Debele joins Board of Trustees

Originally published Jan. 23, 2018

Naol Debele

Naol Debele is the newest member of the Sno-Isle Libraries Board of Trustees.

Debele is a student at Edmonds Community College (EdCC) where he serves as a student trustee on the college Board of Trustees. He works as a teacher’s assistant for mathematics in the college’s Learning Support Center, is a member of the college Strategic Council committee, volunteers with the college foundation and participated on the winning team in the college Ethics Challenge.

Debele expects to graduate from EdCC in 2018 with an Associate in Arts transfer degree. He has participated in several physics-related projects at the University of Washington and intends to transfer to a university and study physics.

“We’re very pleased to have Naol join the library district’s Board of Trustees,” Board Vice President Martin Munguia said at the board’s Jan. 22, 2018 regular meeting. “His life experience and perspective will be valuable additions to board discussions and decision making.”

Prior to attending EdCC, Debele attended the Piney Woods School in Piney Woods, Miss. Before that, he attended the Andinet International School in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

“I believe I will bring a different perspective to the board,” Debele said in his application. “I have been using Sno-Isle Libraries for the past two years and understand what great impact it has had on me and my education.”

“Sno-Isle Libraries’ mission aligns with my beliefs and values in which I was raised and advocate for; to ensure equality, equity and affordable education in our community,” Debele said. “I am dedicated and passionate to be on the board that oversees the organization.”

Debele was appointed by the Snohomish County Council and Island County Board of Commissioners to finish the term of Sue Cohn, who resigned in 2017. The term ends on Dec. 31, 2019, and Debele would then be eligible for reappointment to a full seven-year term.

Sno-Isle Libraries is directed by a seven-member Board of Trustees. Trustees are volunteers who may submit applications and are then appointed when positions are available by the Snohomish County Council and Island County Board of Commissioners to represent residents throughout the library district.

Debele joins board members Marti Anamosa, President; Martin Munguia, Vice President; Susan Kostick, Secretary; and members Kelli Smith, Rico Tessandore and Rose Olson. The executive director is Jonalyn Woolf-Ivory.

Lake Stevens Rotarians hear about library bond

Originally published Jan. 12, 2018

Sonia Gustafson, managing librarian at the Lake Stevens Library, speaks to the Lake Stevens Rotary on Friday, Jan. 12.

Whether it is a water project in Africa or funding scholarships for high-schoolers, Lake Stevens Rotarians are all about service to others.

At their Jan. 12 breakfast meeting, members heard about another effort that, if approved by voters, is intended serve the community. Lake Stevens Library managing librarian Sonia Gustafson presented information about a bond measure on the upcoming Feb. 13 ballot that would build a new, larger library to serve the growing Lake Stevens area.

“Since I’ve been at the library, customers regularly ask, ‘Why isn’t it bigger,’” Gustafson told the group gathered at the Lake Stevens School District Educational Service Center. The current library is about 2,500 square feet, she said. A new library would be eight times larger, about 20,000 square feet, if the bond measure is approved.

Along with more space, a new library would include more books and other materials, more computers … “Really, more of everything,” Gustafson said.  And, the proposed library would have one thing the current library doesn’t have, she said, “If the ballot measure is approved, the new library would have a meeting room available to the community.”

The proposed library would be built on the corner of 99th Avenue NE and Market Place. Sno-Isle Libraries purchased land in 2016, next to property already owned by the City of Lake Stevens. Gustafson said the location prompts another common question: “Why not stay at the current spot?”

“The existing building is owned by the city and they have other plans for that area,” she said. The city’s downtown subarea plan calls for an expanded North Cove Park, including the area where the current library sits. Some other city-owned buildings at the location have already been removed.

Another question that comes up, Gustafson told the Rotarians, is, “Didn’t we already vote on this?”

A year ago, there were two items on the ballot. The first measure established the Lake Stevens Library Capital Facility Area, passing with 69 percent approval. The second measure was a bond to build the new library. While it received a 66 percent approval, the required turnout fell short by 749 voters and didn’t pass.

The Feb. 13 ballot includes only one measure, the bond that would build a new library if approved, she said. For more information, two in-person open-house events are scheduled and there is an online version. The open-house events are:

Saturday, Jan. 20
10-11:30 a.m.
Community Center
1808 Main St.

Wednesday, Jan. 24
6-7:30 p.m.
Fire District Station 82
9811 Chapel Hill Road 

Sno-Isle Libraries closed Jan. 15

Originally published Jan. 9, 2018

Sno-Isle Libraries will be closed Monday, Jan. 15 for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Regular hours will resume Tuesday, Jan. 16. See locations & hours.

Lakewood/Smokey Point ‘meant to be a library’

Originally published Jan. 8, 2018


Photo by Kevin Clark, The Daily Herald

Paisley Molnick, 5, reads a book during the grand opening of the new Lakewood/Smokey Point Library Saturday morning in Arlington on January 6, 2018.

Sno-Isle Libraries’ newest library now open in Lakewood-Smokey Point

(This article was published in the Jan. 8, 2018 edition of the The Daily Herald and online at

By Kari Bray
Herald writer

SMOKEY POINT — For a 7-year-old with a stack of books balanced precariously in his arms, the reason to visit a brand-new library was a no-brainer.

“I wanted to have books and I really like reading,” said Jack, who went to the Lakewood/Smokey Point Library’s grand opening with his younger sister and their dad, Malcolm Eyman of Marysville.

The Eyman family was among dozens of people who filled the library Saturday morning. Speeches and a ribbon cutting were followed by loosely organized chaos as children, parents, elected officials, library staff and others squeezed past each other and around bookshelves, chairs, tables and bouquets of green, yellow and white balloons.

The Lakewood/Smokey Point location is the latest addition to Sno-Isle Libraries. It’s a demonstration library — the district’s third in recent years — and is meant to provide resources to a previously under-served area while gauging the need for a permanent library. The new Mariner Library at the south end of Everett also is a demonstration; another on Camano Island led to a permanent location in 2015.

It took a lot of work to turn vacant commercial space at 3411 169th Place NE into the Lakewood/Smokey Point Library, said Jonalyn Woolf-Ivory, executive director of Sno-Isle. She called it an example of the excitement and growth that is sweeping the area.

“Your day is here, and your library is open,” she said.

Arlington Mayor Barbara Tolbert said libraries are vital hubs for communities. Along with books, there’s high-speed internet, a conference room and librarians who can offer help. The new library also is near stores and restaurants, to create a convenient outing for families.

The mayor said she was impressed as soon as she walked in.

“This looks like it’s always been a library,” she said. “I think it was meant to be a library.”

The Sno-Isle Board of Trustees several years ago started looking at the need for new libraries around the district, which spans Snohomish and Island counties. Smokey Point “jumped out at us,” said Marti Anamosa, board president.

She sees it as a gathering place for neighbors and an anchor for those with limited resources.

It’s about opportunity, said Michael Mack, superintendent of the Lakewood School District. With multiple schools just down the road, the area has sorely needed a library, he said.

The new library has four employees and others will rotate through, manager Jocelyn Redel said. The space was designed for convenience, with holds, check-outs and customer service near the entrance. The children’s section is large, and kindergarten readiness will be a focus, Redel said. Family story times are set to start soon and there will be math and science programs for preschool-age students.

Though there are libraries in Arlington, Marysville and Stanwood, accessing them has gotten tougher as the area has grown, Redel said. It can be hard for people in Smokey Point, Lakewood, Lake Goodwin, Silvana and other nearby communities to get to them as traffic worsens and the libraries themselves become more busy. Redel views the new location as a way to ensure equal access.

The library’s hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.



Mental Health forums continue in January

Originally published Jan. 2, 2018

Mental Health: Let's TalkDoes your high-schooler seem depressed? Is the whole family being worn down by a loved one’s dementia? These and other problems will be explored as the Sno-Isle Libraries Issues That Matter series “Mental Health: Let’s Talk” continues in January.

Six programs are scheduled this month at libraries in Snohomish and Island counties.

Parenting a Troubled Teen will take place at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 11, at Camano Island Library. High school mental health counselor Rochelle Long will explain how to tell if teens are battling with deep mental health issues, or simply reacting to social pressures, changing bodies and normal moodiness.

Trauma Timeline: Breaking down barriers for community healing will start at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 20, at Darrington Library. Art therapists Kim McAndrews and Bonnie Walchuk will talk about what they learned while doing research in the wake of the 2014 Oso landslide, which led to their report "Supporting a Rural Community with Art-Based Experientials Following a Natural Disaster."  McAndrews is a mental health counselor and Walchuk is a family therapy intern.  Darrington Mayor Dan Rankin will moderate the discussion.

Alzheimer's Disease: Treatment Options, Mental Health of Caregivers will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 25 at Lynnwood Library. The panel of experts will include representatives from:

  • Northshore Senior Center
  • Homage Senior Services, and
  • Alzheimer's Association of Washington State.

Youth and Mental Health will be the subject of the forum hosted by Lake Stevens Library at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 25 at Lake Stevens School District's Education Service Center, 12309 22nd St NE. Panelists will include:

  • Hannah Herkert, Student Mental Health Support Specialist, Lake Steven School District, and
  • Christina Riesen, National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Veterans and Mental Health will take place at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27, at Monroe Library. Panelists will be:

  • Dan Overton, Program Coordinator, WDVA Traumatic Brain Injury Program
  • Arleen Gibson, Founder, H3 Horses Healing Heroes
  • Jim Bloss, veteran and community activist/volunteer
  • Ben Kendall, therapist, Snohomish County Music Project, and
  • Facilitator will be Donald Lachman, Special Projects Coordinator, Washington Department of the Veterans Administration.

Youth Mental Health is the focus of the Oak Harbor Library program at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 30.
Participating organizations will include:

  • Whidbey Health EMS
  • Oak Harbor Police Department
  • Forefront, and
  • Oak Harbor School District.

For a complete list of upcoming events, archived recordings of past programs, and lists of community and library mental health resources, visit

Sno-Isle Libraries' Issues That Matter programs are meant to encourage community conversations on high-profile topics. These events are free and open to the public. Funding is provided by the Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation. 

Lakewood/Smokey Point Library grand opening on Jan. 6

Originally published Dec. 26, 2017


Staff members stock books in the children's area at the new Lakewood/Smokey Point Library, which is scheduled to open Jan. 6.

Time-lapse video of  stocking the library

(This article was published Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017 in the Arlington Times newspaper)

By Douglas Buell
Arlington Times

If you love reading and the irresistible draw of an aisle of alphabetized book titles, the new Lakewood/Smokey Point Library will open its doors Jan. 6.

The grand opening celebration begins at 9:30 a.m. in space leased by Sno-Isle Libraries at 3411 169th Place NE, Suites A-C, just off Smokey Point Boulevard, next to Lowe’s and Tractor Supply.

The library will normally be open Tuesday through Saturday, but will start with special hours from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Jan. 7-8.

Customers will be able to access all materials and resources available at the other 22 community libraries across Snohomish and Island counties, Sno-Isle spokesman Jim Hills said.

The library system last summer signed a five-year lease for about 4,000 square feet of space.

The Sno-Isle Library 2016-2025 Capital Facilities Plan identified that the growing Lakewood-Smokey Point community deserves better library services.

The library is considered a demonstration project, enabling both Sno-Isle and the fast-growing Lakewood/Smokey Point community to see how library services can best be delivered, Hills said. It’s modeled after the Mariner Library near128th Street SW and I-5, which was also recommended for a demonstration library in the facilities plan.

The new Lakewood/Smokey Point Library will feature a “laptop bar” where visitors can sit on stools at tall tables and access computers or laptops via wi-fi, for a coffee shop-like experience.

The Smokey Point site is in a high-traffic shopping area, on Community Transit bus service routes and near a Park and Ride center. The strip mall also houses a state vehicle licensing office, among other tenants.

The library district's facilities plan states that students, retirees and seniors will benefit most from a more easily accessible library in the vicinity. Six public schools are within three miles.

The Arlington and Marysville areas are expected to grow by 16 percent to a population of 123,497 by 2025, with most of that growth expected in Lakewood-Smokey Point.

Sno-Isle Libraries holiday closures

Originally published Dec. 18, 2017

Sno-Isle Libraries will be closed Sunday, Dec. 24 and Monday, Dec. 25 for Christmas. All libraries will also close at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 31 and be closed all day Monday, Jan. 1 for the New Year's holiday. Regular hours will resume Tuesday, Jan. 2. Have a safe and joyful holiday season!

Opinion: Take the library levy to the voters

Originally published Dec. 12, 2017

(This opinion was published Dec. 8 and Dec. 9 in the South Whidbey Record and Whidbey News-Times newspapers.)

Even in this age of digital and online content, libraries remain vital institutions in communities across the nation.

Many are still community gathering sites, and great places to find books or conduct research. But many have changed with the times and are as vital as ever.

Sno-Isle Libraries are among those. They provide friendly spaces where people can get access to computers and digital media, take classes, meet in groups, attend events or even find jobs.

There’s even an online library.

Like most things, however, costs are increasing for the two-county library system, which serves more than 700,000 people and libraries in Clinton, Langley, Freeland, Coupeville and Oak Harbor in Island County alone. As a result, libraries officials predict a $2-million budget deficit in 2019.

The right solution is straightforward. The district should ask voters within the library district, which encompasses Island and Snohomish counties, for the 9-cent increase in the levy rate, for a total rate of 47 cents per $1,000.

The 9-cent hike represents a property tax increase of $27 a year for the owner of a $300,000 house.

The other option is to make cuts, which could mean reductions in library hours, Sunday closures, cuts in employees or purchases of fewer books and other materials.

Sno-Isle Libraries Board of Trustees is set to make a decision on how to move forward at the meeting Monday.

Taking the issue to the voters gives them the chance to decide how much they want to support libraries. Hopefully, it’s enough to pass the modest increase and prevent cuts that could begin to erode the important role the libraries play in their communities.

Libraries of one form or another have served vital roles in civilized societies, and in informing and educating the public.

In the United States, philanthropists such as Andrew Carnegie saw the value in public libraries and literacy and built hundreds of them across the nation.

The role of libraries has evolved and increased in many ways, making their significance and importance more important than ever.

Trustees vote to put levy on April 24 ballot

Originally published Dec. 12, 2017

Sno-Isle Libraries will ask voters to maintain funding with a ballot measure in April, 2018.

“Going to the voters is not a decision we take lightly,” Board of Trustees President Marti Anamosa said before a unanimous vote at the Dec. 11 regular meeting. “Libraries are vital to our communities. Addressing the levy rate now enables the library to continue providing the resources that are so important to our communities and customers.”

The resolution passed by the trustees calls for asking the voters to consider restoring 9 cents to the library district's regular operating levy. The 2018 levy rate is expected to be 38 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. If voters approve the ballot measure scheduled for April 24, 2018, the levy rate would go to 47 cents in 2019.

Sno-Isle Libraries receives 98 percent of its funding from a property-tax levy across most of Snohomish and all of Island counties.

“The predictability of property-tax revenue helps in budgeting, but unfortunately costs often rise more rapidly than revenue,” Sno-Isle Libraries Executive Director Jonalyn Woolf-Ivory said. The library district’s strategy, she said, is to do what most people do; budget carefully and put some away in savings.

“We last went to the voters in 2009,” Woolf-Ivory said. “Those were tough times and we promised that if our communities said ‘yes,’ we wouldn’t come back for at least five years and we’ve stretched that five years to nine. We made good on our promise by using what was necessary to maintain services and reserved the rest until needed.”

Woolf-Ivory said the need to draw from reserves began three years ago and was used again to balance the 2018 budget. “By the 2019 budget, there won’t be enough in regular funding and the levy stabilization reserve to maintain current services.”

Board President Anamosa said the combination of the library district’s history of “careful, thoughtful and practical” budgeting with recent community survey results made the decision to go to voters a reasonable choice.

“The results from phone, email and online surveys, as well as three open-house events, indicate to me that the community wants an opportunity to vote,” Anamosa said.

Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation President Terry Lippincott thanked the trustees for bringing the levy question to the voters.

"The Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation partners with Sno-Isle Libraries to bring strong programming to community libraries," Lippincott said. "We're excited to be part of the community support that includes corporate partners, friends-of-the-library organizations and a huge group of dedicated library volunteers."

Voter approval of a library operations levy means library services would continue at current levels. If voters do not approve the ballot measure in April, the next step would be budget cuts for 2019 and service reductions.

“We project that the 2019 budget would need to be cut by $2 million,” said Woolf-Ivory, adding that additional reductions would be needed in 2020 and subsequent years.

“If cuts are necessary, the only way you get to $2 million is examining reductions in personnel and materials costs,” Woolf-Ivory said. Such budget reductions would mean:

  • Fewer open hours, fewer library services and fewer librarians would be hired as current staff members depart.
  • Fewer new titles, a smaller collection and longer customer wait times for print and digital books, movies and music.

Without additional revenue, budget reductions in 2019 would be followed by additional cuts in 2020 and beyond, reducing the library district's ability to meet requests and expectations of communities and customers each year.

Sno-Isle Libraries operates 22 community libraries, bookmobile, outreach and online services available to more than 743,000 people across Snohomish and Island counties. More than 476,000 library cardholders use a variety of services annually. Children and families attended 7,280 library programs, drawing 221,000 attendees in 2016.

Librarian appointed to Oak Harbor School Board

Originally published Dec. 6, 2017

Whidbey News-Times photo

Jessica Aws, youth librarian at the Oak Harbor Library, following her appointment to the Oak Harbor School Board on Dec. 5. 

(This article was published Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, in the Whidbey News-Times.)

By Laura Guido
Whidbey New-Times

The Oak Harbor School Board appointed Jessica Aws at a special session meeting Monday to fill the vacant position left by Christine Abbott.

Cory Glach, who ran in the general election for another spot on the board, and Aws both applied for the position in November and were interviewed by the board during the meeting.

Abbott resigned on Nov. 1 because her family received orders from the Navy and is moving later in December.

Aws is a youth librarian at the Oak Harbor Library and serves as chair of the Oak Harbor Youth Coalition.

“Education is my passion,” Aws told the board during the interview.

She said she felt her education has been empowering, and she wants to work to ensure all students also have a chance at having so many opportunities as well. Aws received a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and master’s in medieval archaeology and library and information science.

She said her experience with community networking would position her to engage with district parents to find out their needs and vision for the district.

Aws said she also believes her experience making decisions in the youth coalition would transfer well to serving on the school board, and she would want to make sure all voices are heard and considered before moving forward on complicated issues.

She is interested in the the McCleary decision, a state Supreme Court decision which ruled that the Legislature had failed in its obligation to fully fund education, and especially how laws passed as a result of it will affect local levies.

Her goals for students include going “above and beyond what is required for education,” by increasing access to extracurricular activities.

Aws moved to Oak Harbor just over a year ago and said she didn’t consider joining the board until this vacancy opened up.

“I see this opportunity to be able to continue to really network and be able to, especially at the organizational level, see where the library and school district can come together and serve our students to the best of our abilities,” she said.

Aws will be sworn in at the next board meeting on Monday, Dec. 11.

New Lake Stevens Library on Feb. 13 ballot

Originally published Dec. 4, 2017

If voters approve a Feb. 13, 2018, bond measure, the current Lake Stevens Library (top) would be replaced with a new, larger building on property near the corner of  99th Avenue NE and Market Place (below).

Voters will get a chance to decide on a new library for the Lake Stevens area.

The final step to putting a library bond measure on the Feb. 13, 2018, ballot was passed unanimously Dec. 4 by the Snohomish County Council.

“The Lake Stevens community has told us for years that a new, larger library is needed,” Sno-Isle Libraries Executive Director Jonalyn Woolf-Ivory said. “The actions and support of the Friends of the Lake Stevens Library, the Lake Stevens Library Board, the City of Lake Stevens, the Sno-Isle Libraries Board of Trustees and now the county council bring that opportunity to the community.”

County Council member Sam Low, previously a member of the Lake Stevens City Council, said he supports going to the voters. “The citizens of Lake Stevens have told me they want to have a voice with regard to a library in our city,” Low said.  “This vote will allow that voice.”

The Lake Stevens City Council on Oct. 24 unanimously passed a resolution supporting putting the bond measure on the Feb. 13 ballot. This past summer, both the Lake Stevens Library Board and the Friends of the Lake Stevens Library sent letters to the city council calling for a larger library for the community.

The bond measure on the ballot will be for up to $17 million to build and furnish a new 20,000 square foot library. The location of the new building would be near 99th Avenue NE and Market Place in an area known as Chapel Hill.

“Our 2016-25 Capital Facilities Plan identified the need in the Lake Stevens community as a priority,” Woolf-Ivory said. “Community members were clear that they felt the current library is too small for this rapidly growing area.”

The current library is about 2,500 square feet. It is in a city-owned building in an area identified by the city for redevelopment. The location of the proposed new library is included in a subarea plan by the City of Lake Stevens. The new building would be owned and maintained by Sno-Isle Libraries.

The proposed site was purchased by the library district in 2016 and is adjacent to property owned by the City of Lake Stevens. Woolf-Ivory, Lake Stevens Mayor John Spencer and others from the city and library district have been in discussions on how to collaboratively best use the parcels.

This is the second time the library bond measure will go to voters. On the Feb. 14, 2017 ballot, the bond measure received a 66-percent “Yes” vote. While the approval rate was above the required 60 percent, voter turnout missed the needed threshold.

Also on the 2017 ballot was a measure establishing the Lake Steven Library Capital Facility Area (LCFA). That measure passed with a 69 percent “Yes” vote and didn’t have a voter-turnout requirement.

The proposed bond would be for 20-years and repaid by a property-tax levy assessed within the LCFA boundaries, which mirror those of the Lake Stevens School District. The projected levy rate would be 21.1 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. The owner of a $350,000 home would pay $73.85. When the bonds are paid off in 20 years, the levy would go away.

Board of Trustees adopts budget for 2018

Originally published Nov. 28, 2017

The 2018 budget for Sno-Isle Libraries is in place following unanimous action by the Board of Trustees at the Nov. 27 regular meeting.

“This budget focuses on the 2017-19 strategic priorities for the library district,” Executive Director Jonalyn Woolf-Ivory said in presenting the budget during the meeting at the district’s Service Center in Marysville. “The budget also continues to integrate elements of our 10-year capital facilities plan.”

On the revenue side, the budget is based on just more than $57 million in total revenue. Property-tax revenue accounts for 96.7 percent of the revenue. Property-tax revenue comes from a levy on properties in unincorporated Snohomish and Island counties as well as cities that have annexed to the library district.

The estimated levy rate for 2018 will decrease to 38 cents for each $1,000 of assessed property value, well under the 50-cent cap allowed by law. The decline is due to a combination of the law limiting levy increases to not more than 1 percent a year and rising property values.

To maintain current levels of service, the 2018 budget includes a transfer from reserves totaling $4.8 million.

“Using reserves in this manner was always part of the library district’s long-term budget planning,” Woolf-Ivory said. “Voters approved a levy-rate increase in 2009. For the six years starting in 2010, funds were placed into the levy rate stabilization reserve account. Starting in 2016, we began using those savings to maintain service levels.”

On the expense side of the budget, the two biggest items are related to people and materials. Salaries and benefits account for 68 percent of the expenditures for 2018. New materials for the library district collection – books, music, movies, digital resources and more – add up to 13.4 percent of the operating budget.

Among the other expenditures include professional and contract services at 4 percent of the budget and software and licensing fees at 2 percent.

A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life.
- Henry Ward Beecher