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Auburn Library finds temporary home during renovation

The King County Library System has found a temporary site to serve patrons when it closes the popular Auburn Library for a year of renovations in 2011.

But library users won't have far to walk, because the temporary site will be just to the west of the library at the vacant United Rentals property.

"We have a letter of intent. We don't have it secured yet," said Kay Johnson, director of facilities development for the King County Library System. "We are in the process of negotiating with the seller for it."

Beyond the limited life of the building as a temporary library, the primary, long-term purpose of the property will be to provide parking for the library, some of which it will lose to the renovation and expansion.

Because of the City of Auburn's parking requirements for the gymnasium now under construction on the north end of Les Gove Park and the conversion of the parks administration building to an activities center, the City needs to find extra parking. It will purchase the use of some of the parking space and also provide landscaping.

The temporary building will require a minimum of cleaning and the addition of shelving for books. After the renovation is completed and the Auburn Library reopens, KCLS will tear the building down and realize a long-standing goal – to provide visibility of the library from Auburn Way South. The City has long been interested in providing a view of Les Gove Park from the busy corridor.

"We are working very hard to get our drawings in for City review, so we're very hopeful to be able to bid (the library expansion contract) in January," Johnson said. "Closing the library will come in 2011 after we bid it, maybe in March or April. Right now, we are just trying to finish up the drawings and get the permitting completed.

"We hope to get this sale completed as soon as possible," Johnson added. "But we do have to go through some due diligence, so we are going to have our architects look at the building for the temporary site, and we are going to have our surveyors look at it."

The City originally pressed for a 20,000-square-foot Library in the early 1990s, but funding and other constraints only allowed KCLS to build to 15,000 square feet, and that's what the library opened with in 1998. King County residents supported a $172 million capital bond in September 2004 to pay for the Auburn Library project among other library expansions and renovations.

The expansion will add the originally-intended 5,000 square feet, most noticeably in the form of a glass-paneled addition that will expand into a portion of the parking space on the current east side of the building.

Among the other features will be:

• An expanded children's area.

• A new meeting room in the northeast corner of the addition, serving as a quiet space when it is not a meeting room. When there is not a gathering in the current meeting room, it is closed, locked and unavailable. The new meeting room will feature sliding glass doors to make it a more interactive, multi-use space.

• The relocation of bathrooms to the west side of the building and an expanded entrance way and media area in the space the restrooms now occupy.

• A quiet study area that will significantly increase the amount of seating space.

• An automated material handling system that will let patrons check in their books and get a receipt for them.

• Additional spaces for laptops and additional laptops for check out. The library will keep the same amount of fixed computers.

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