A world of possibilities | Orcas Library Fair on the way

Books, sun and food.

What more do you need?

The Friends of the Orcas Island Library book fair will be on Saturday, Aug. 12 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Stroll the library grounds and peruse thousands of high quality donated books, listen to music and nibble on offerings from food vendors.

“The library fair has been happening for so long that people just expect it to be fun. They have such wonderful memories of it,” said Tim Lunde, president of the friends. “People line up an hour ahead of time to get a good place in line to get first pick of the books.”

The tomes are meticulously organized atop 30 tables and priced at $1 for paperbacks, $2 for hardbacks and 50 cents for preschool books. The library accepts books throughout the year for its winter and summer book sale fundraisers, and volunteers sift through dozens of cardboard boxes. Only the best books are included in the sale; the rest are sold to a secondhand dealer. What doesn’t sell at the fair is shipped off-island to a recycling facility.

“Every year, about two months before the sale, we say, ‘gosh we don’t have any books.’ And then the last few weeks before the fair, we are just inundated. We always have plenty of inventory,” said Lunde.

The event will also feature delectable food, free ice cream, booths with locally made wares, a quilt raffle and music from Katie Jensen, Mike Speece and Jimmy Hostler, Marc Cohen, Carl Burger, Tish Knapp, Marj Franke, Paul Williams, Yohann and Piano Joe as well as storytelling from Nita Couchman.

All proceeds directly benefit the Orcas Island Library. The sale often raises between $8,000 and $10,000.

The fair will also be a chance for islanders to check out the recently completed 5,000-square-foot library expansion.

The Orcas Island Library unveiled its $4 million project to a crowd of 1400 islanders on June 23. HKP Architects in Mt. Vernon drew the plans that included vaulted, acoustically backed ceilings, fir finish work, LED lighting and open, bright spaces. HBHansen Construction, based out of Lynden, Washington, won the contracting bid for the job.

The expansion includes more room for children and young adults, quiet reading and work space, rooms for meetings, additional computers and multiple types of seating to work with one’s own computer, more book space with accessible shelving, outdoor seating and improved handicap accessibility. The original entrance and lobby will be turned into a cafe-style seating area; the bathrooms will remain and there are two additional restrooms in the new building.

The board of trustees secured the bulk of the $4.2 million project prior to the groundbreaking last July. They brought in $2 million in private donations; $1.4 million from a state grant and $100,000 from the Friends of the Library.

“It was pretty darn cool – we were the first ones to donate,” Lunde said.

In November 2016, Orcas Island voters overwhelmingly (63 percent) supported a levy lid lift, taking it from 30.3 cents per $1,000 valuation to 45 cents. The library levy hadn’t been increased since 1987. The levy revenue allowed the district to borrow funds to cover the $700,000 remaining to be raised (debt repayment is $128,000 annually for six years) as well as increase maintenance and operations and restore reserves.

When expansion-related debt is repaid, the increase in levy revenue will rebuild adequate operating reserves, which recent operations funding shortfalls have eroded.

In October, the Friends of the Library will host their first annual membership meeting in the new library.

“It is clear that the grand opening was just the beginning of the changes that will be happening at our library this coming year,” said friends board member Sandy Wilson. “As time goes by we’ll learn just how the new and old spaces will be best utilized, how the book sales will be handled in the Friends Corner, what the usage will be after school starts and many more unknowns.”