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Due to its location in a flood plain, the library's current building is not sustainable long-term. Read below for details on the critical issues the library is currently faced with.
The current building sits on what used to be a large slough. The area was filled in and the water diverted through a large culvert behind the library. With the rising and lowering of the tide, heavy rains, and long dry periods, the fill beneath the library continues to shift. Various parts of the building are rising and falling at different rates. The pilings under the building have failed due to the soil shifting and because they no longer have the same tension as when they were driven into the ground over fifty years ago. Through a 2014 engineering study, it was determined that all of the pilings under the building have failed.
Although the building is currently safe to occupy, there is a concern the constant shifting of the foundation could cause structural damage requiring the closure of the building. There are cracks in ceiling beams and support posts.
As the building continually shifts, the roof also moves opening up new paths for water to enter the building. The roof had a new coating applied in 2017 but leaks, both new and old, continue to appear because of the building movement. Parts of the ceiling have come down as a result of the leaking. It is not uncommon for staff to need to take measures to protect office equipment and library materials from the leaking, most commonly by placing tarps or trash bins in the areas where leaks are most problematic.
No part of the building has any seismic reinforcement. While the building was built to code at the time that it was constructed, it does not meet today’s building codes. The current building is in the Local and Cascadia Tsunami Zones. Without modern retrofitting, the current building and any of its utilities and services are vulnerable to considerable seismic damage in the event of an earthquake. This also presents a significant danger to library patrons, staff, and anyone using the building.
The building’s continual movement and shifting affects the walls. This is evident by the cracks found in many of the walls throughout the building. The most obvious and greatest number are in the Northeast corner. The cracks continue to grow in size and number throughout the library.
The HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems range in age from almost sixty to twenty years old. All systems experience high use and are in constant need of repair.
The current building was built when libraries were mainly book focused. Today libraries serve as community spaces where people meet, learn, socialize, and use library materials. Space needs to be flexible to meet the ever-changing needs of library users.
The layout and configuration of the current building prevents spaces within the library to change or be adapted to meet these ever-changing needs. This includes:
- Shelving that is fixed in place and does not allow for easy adaptation for the library’s continually evolving collection.
- Insufficient number of electrical outlets to serve the needs of patrons and the library.
- Inability to relocate public computers due to the fixed location of their power sources.
- Current configuration of the building does not allow for clear lines of sight for safety reasons and to better assist patrons.
- The cost of making the repairs and necessary improvements to the structure is equal to or exceeds the cost of a new building.
- A repaired building would still leave the library in a vulnerable position on unstable ground in a tsunami and flood zone. The new library needs to be sited out of the tsunami zone.
- Construction to repair the building and make necessary upgrades would require the library be closed for a year or more robbing the community of a valuable resource.
- This is not a problem that is going to go away. The longer the solution is delayed the more costly it becomes and the potential for loss of services increases.