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Group of Mercer Island residents wants out of King County Library System

The King County Library System is having trouble convincing some Mercer Island residents that their library needs a remodel. ( Skorheim)
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Some Mercer Island residents are filing a petition to break away from the King County Library System because they don't like the county's remodel plans. They say the library is just fine the way it is.

Gary Robinson, a member of the group filing the petition, tells KIRO Radio's Dori Monson that KCLS has a certain idea about how a library should look, and their library built in 1992 and designed by island residents, doesn't fit the mold.

"We call it the airport look. KCLS has this notion that public libraries should look like airports. That's not our persuasion and we like it just the way it is," says Robinson. "Our library is a community library and it should reflect the community values."

Monson says he knows about a community library losing its character to a remodel.

"In the neighborhood where I grew up, in Ballard, they had a beautiful little library and it was very much what you describe, a little community library. They had a little fountain area where you could go and read books and I just escaped out there all the time when I was a little kid. The one they have now is boxy and sterile and ugly in comparison, but that seems to be the trend."

This is just another example, Monson says, of the government not working for the citizens, but working for the bureaucrats.

"This goes back to what I think is the ignorance of the voters who they see library on an initiative, on a bond, and they say oh we love books, I'll vote yes. And they don't think about the ramifications that maybe with all that money, government is going to tear down a perfectly good building and build a palace that is an edifice to themselves. It's like they're the old pharaohs just building the edifice to their own greatness."

Robinson says the group thinks that the city could run the library on its own.

"We would be glad to have that opportunity," says Robinson. "We're going to pay $5 million to $6 million this next year and it costs maybe $1.5 million or $2.2 million, at the most, to run the library, depending on how you do the accounting. So yes, we would like to have our library back."

Monson says certainly the county library system won't want to see them go as Mercer Island has high property taxes and likely is a real boost to the whole system.

But Robinson wants to note the money isn't the issue, they just don't feel like KCLS is being receptive to the community's concerns.

"We don't begrudge paying as much as we pay. What we absolutely do not like is that KCLS won't listen to us," says Robinson. "They don't listen at all."

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About the Author

Whether it's floating on Green Lake, eating shrimp tacos at Agua Verde, or taking weekend drives out to the Cascades, she loves to enjoy the Pacific Northwest lifestyle as much as humanly possible.


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