After 40 years of ownership by the City of Arlington, Sno-Isle Libraries now owns the Arlington Library.
“It’s very exciting,” said Arlington Library Manager Monica Jackson. “The city has been a really great partner in taking care of all of our needs and this opens up opportunities to help us further serve the community.”
The City of Arlington and Sno-Isle Libraries have long operated under an annexation agreement in which the city provides and maintains the building while Sno-Isle Libraries provides library services. The only change in that agreement is now the ownership of the library building.
“We really appreciate how well the city has worked with us on this,” said David Durante, Director of Strategic Services for Sno-Isle Libraries. “This has been a smooth transition.”
The low-slung library building looked futuristic when it opened on June 28, 1981. The building burrows into a gentle slope and the four roof corners extend to ground level on concrete walls. Its south-facing windows and skylight were designed with passive solar heating in mind.
First on the list of improvements are a new roof and gutters and a new heat/vent/air conditioning system. Planning is underway with completion expected in 2022.
The building’s original 1981 furnace, mounted high in the ceiling, lacks effective filtration. The Sno-Isle Libraries Facilities Department knows about the Arlington Library building’s needs, said R.D. Burley, Assistant Director of Facilities, Safety and Security for Sno-Isle Libraries.
In late 2020, Burley and his Facilities team started talks with Arlington City Administrator Paul Ellis about the Arlington Library’s physical needs and potential costs to fix problems. They identified a new roof and HVAC system, better lighting and more efficient windows. The slope of the parking lot and roots from the historic oak tree lifting the sidewalk in front of the library present additional challenges.
As talks continued in early 2021, the parties determined it would be in the best interests of the city and its residents if Sno-Isle Libraries owned the building, Burley said. That also fits into Sno-Isle Libraries’ broader goal of creating great spaces for its customers.
“Owning our buildings is a step in that direction,” he said.
Discussions continued through April between the Arlington City Council and the Sno-Isle Libraries Board of Trustees. The parties initiated the transfer of ownership to Sno-Isle Libraries on April 26. The transaction closed on June 11. The transfer of ownership includes the gravel parking lot south of the Arlington Library.
While the Arlington Library provided contact-free services during the coronavirus pandemic, Sno-Isle Libraries also made investments to improve customer service. The first thing customers see is the gazebo at the front entrance that allows people to sit outside in almost any weather. Jackson said a lot of kids meet at the library after school and the gazebo will give them a dry or shady outdoor place to meet.
Burley said Sno-Isle Libraries has a proven track record of successfully managing its community libraries while being careful stewards of taxpayers’ money with smart, energy-saving investments that pay dividends over the long haul.
“Sno-Isle Libraries has been able to create inspiring spaces in the buildings it owns and invest in sustainable technologies that save energy and reap long-term rewards for our taxpayers,” Sno-Isle Libraries Executive Director Lois Langer Thompson said. “The connections we provide for our communities are so important: the connections to our buildings, our materials, our services and our staff.”