Friends of Birch Bay Library up and running

By Oliver Lazenby

The Friends of Birch Bay Library has started raising money for a library and Valerie McBeth, the group’s president, said she is “hugely encouraged” by the amount of interest so far.

Patricia and Patrick Alesse of The C Shop present Friends of Birch Bay Library president Valerie McBeth, l., with a $1,000 donation for the future Birch Bay Library. Photo courtesy of Friends of Birch Bay Library

At the Friends’ June 26 meeting, Birch Bay business The C Shop presented the group with a $1,000 check. The group’s meetings have attracted many new faces with diverse expertise, McBeth said.

The Whatcom County Library System (WCLS) in April bought a property at 7968 Birch Bay Drive, and will operate a library branch there once the Friends group raises enough money for the work required to make the existing buildings a functional library.

WCLS doesn’t yet know how much remodeling and construction will cost, but executive director Christine Perkins said a very rough initial estimate puts the number at $3.5 million total. That number includes the cost of the property – $675,000 – which WCLS expects to recoup from the Friends group eventually.

WCLS will own the property and be responsible for maintaining it – a new arrangement for the library system, which doesn’t typically own its locations.

Perkins said the system hopes to provide some intermediate services at the property before the library opens. For example, WCLS could park its bookmobile there, install a drop box for returning library materials, and provide a place for library users to pick up items on hold.

“I’m really excited to see the new bright faces coming to the Friends’ meetings,” Perkins said. “I know that excitement is growing and I think that these are the people who can get the job done.”

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