Opinion: Hoorah! Gratitude! A New White Center Library!
By Astha Tada
Hoorah! It’s been decided! Our new, larger 10,000 square foot library will be built right behind Mount View Elementary at S.W. 107th Street and 14th Avenue S.W. This will be a welcomed resource since effective early elementary education is crucial for school success. It is also still within walking distance from Cascade Middle School/ Evergreen campuses, closer to White Center Heights Elementary and low income facilities.
The requests to delay the decision to understand the full impact of the sites and get greater community involvement were denied by KCLS trustees who felt rising building costs, long delays, generous loan allowances and another interested buyer compelled them to make this choice.
Like planning a home, the White Center community needs to be sure that the King County Library System (KCLS) has our input in designing our library so that it meets the needs of our diverse White Center patrons. For example, our teens need more access to computers and other technology not found in their homes. Many of our adult citizens rely solely on the library for job applications and searches.
Gratitude! Before we begin the building process, recognition is needed for the hard work, diligence and perseverance of those who fought to keep our library from closing. If not for their efforts, we would not be celebrating right now!
Comments that the library closure was a ploy for annexation are not correct. As one who participated in the long battle to keep both Boulevard Park and White Center libraries from closing, annexation was definitely a key issue presented by KCLS as a reason for consolidation and closure of our smaller libraries.
Thank you to those who sacrificed much personal time by attending numerous KCLS Issaquah meetings to testify, monitoring diligently KCLS agendas that listed our libraries, writing letters and editorials, gathering over 2000 petition signatures, informing organizations and citizens, etc.
When the KCLS Board of Trustees was going to vote for consolidation, those who attended would not leave unless the decision was delayed, pending the annexation vote. It was a face-to-face stand off! If you were there, you would have been proud of our supporters’ combined grit and determination to keep our beloved libraries open!
Credit for the hard work include members of the White Center Library Guild, North Highline Unincorporated Area Council, Burien City Council, King County Councilman, Joe McDermott, Highline School District, White Center Community Development Association and numerous citizens from Boulevard Park, White Center and elsewhere whose individual actions collectively made a significant difference. The Highline District Board of
Directors passed a 2-page formal Resolution 2479 unanimously opposing the closure of our libraries.
I want to, especially, recognize one individual whose passion and commitment were crucial in saving our two libraries. Rachael Levine, former White Center Library Guild president, never wavered in leading the fight, even when many were ready to give up. She was willing to bring her sleeping bag and camp out with me in front of our library to keep it open.
Her integrity in how she battles on, the respectful manner in dealing with opposing individuals, and her wisdom and continued service after years of participating in many humanitarian and social organizations make her a true White Center warrior!
Let’s begin the building process by coming together, collaborating and cooperating to build the best library for our White Center community. Time keeps ticking and our high-potential, high-need students are counting on us to help them climb out of poverty. The building bond for this project was approved in 2004. KCLS needs to host planning sessions in our community so that many of you can give input. The Highline School District has offered KCLS school space for these events. Everyone is welcome! All aboard! ONWARD!
Gracias, cam on, ar kun, mahad sanid, fa’afetai, arigato, thank you,
Astha Tada is a community volunteer, retired Cascade Middle School librarian and 2nd vice president of Beta Beta Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, an organization focused on educational excellence.