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Yelm Timberland Regional Library
Photo courtesy of Guustaaf Damave

– Editor’s Note:
The Yelm Timberland Library Board gave the annual library report to the Mayor and City Council last night. This writer is the Library Board’s Chair and read the statement that was approved by the entire Board, except for one Board member. This report is supported by the Timberland Regional Library (TRL).

The letter presented to Yelm’s officials is printed below in its entirety and presents the facts that the city needs to decide if there will be a commitment to continuing a library here.


While Mayor Harding acknowledged that city officials have met with TRL officials, he said that the city does not know what support for a library here will be in the future.

TRL Manager of Administrative Services Michael Crose was in the audience and addressed the Mayor and Council saying that the Yelm Library Board’s public statement accurately reflects the views of TRL and added that in order to effect a new library in Yelm, we must all work together, since timing is critical with the economy softening somewhat.

Yelm Council member John Thompson expressed his appreciation to the Library Board Chair for the consideration given to Prairie Park’s future (they are the current Library landlord, for which he is General Manager).

Yelm council member Mike McGowan stated he is a TRL employee in Yelm and values his work there. He said this library is vital to the youth in this town, since they use the facility more than adults, as evidenced by their checkout rate of materials compared to adults.

Yelm Timberland Library Board member Ronni Nutter asked to have her name removed from the Board Letter saying she saw the letter for the first time yesterday morning and had concerns.
Mrs. Nutter thought the Board’s roll was not to tell the city and council what to do about the Library.

Ed. Note: Here is the city’s definition of board responsibilities from the website:
“The Yelm Library Advisory Board advises the Mayor and City Council on specific library matters. It consists of five members appointed by the Mayor for a period of five years, on the basis of demonstrated interest in, or knowledge and support of public libraries…

The Yelm Library Advisory Board makes studies, reports, and recommendations and serves as an advisory body to the Mayor and City Council in all matters relative to the need for acquisition, utilization, care, maintenance and disposition of the library building or buildings and all property or equipment pertaining to or associated with library purposes which is or is intended to be owned by the City of Yelm; evaluates, advises and makes recommendations regarding the relationship between the City of Yelm and Timberland Regional Library District (TRL); evaluates legislative issues before the Washington State Legislature related to library matters, which may impact the City of Yelm, property owners within the City of Yelm, and/or patrons of the Timberland Regional Library District; serves as liaison between citizens and the Mayor and City Council on library-related issues; and reviews, advises and makes recommendations on rules and regulations governing the use of the library, its building(s) and grounds, and such equipment owned by the City of Yelm.”


Here is the Yelm Timberland Library Board Letter in its entirety:

Letter from the Yelm Library Advisory Board
to the Yelm City Council

My fellow Yelm Library Board members and I are here tonight to not only to give our annual Library report to the City, we are here to raise questions to you members of the City Council and the Greater Yelm Community about the future of a Library in Yelm beyond the current Yelm Timberland Librarys lease expiration date of July, 2012.

While John Thompson raised this issue at a Fall 2007 Council Meeting and there was a discussion in one of your Study Sessions and recent Retreat, we are here tonight to bring this issue into the public forum. Further, Mr. McGowan is an employee of TRL, so two members of this Council have a vested interest in this discussion.

The Timberland Regional Library gave the city an exemption for 10 years in 2002 to operate in the Prairie Park (PP) complex and building owned by Margaret Clapp, whose corporate manager is John Thompson. Obviously, PP wants to know the city’s intention to continue the building lease for a library beyond 2012, as they want to look for a new tenant(s) if the library is not going to continue there. Further, they have notified their intent to substantially raise the payment of the monthly lease, in which they gave the city quite a favorable rate in 2002. As you know, the state recently notified the city regarding the city’s practice of collecting tax money for use of a public facility being housed in a private building as being improper [Yelm History Museum housed in Clapp’s PP complex], so continuing a lease in PP may not be an option considering the state’s notification, along with the likelihood of a substantial rate increase in the existing lease. Additionally, TRL would be hard pressed to grant Yelm another exemption to operate a library in a private facility, as the other 18 jurisdictions in the TRL five-county region are all required to be in public facilities. Some of these cities have expressed their concerns about the favoritism granted Yelm on this issue. The only other anomaly in Timberland is Montesano. The W.H. Abel Library in Montesano was a gift to the former Grays Harbor County Library. The title to the building was permanently transferred to TRL when the District was established.

With 4 years before a planned move needs to be in the final stages, the City of Yelm has no land and/or structure put forth in which to house a Library. Given the short lead-time to acquire land, plan, construct and move, TRL and your Yelm Library Board are letting you know we believe Yelm’s Library facility beyond 2012 should be recognized as a priority issue by the City Council and the residents of the Yelm area.

While TRL is a committed partner with the greater Yelm community by being willing to pay the full cost of financial/site analysis, a feasibility study, financial considerations, 50% of architectural services up to the point where the project is ready to go to bidders,
interior design costs and TRL professional support for developing the new library (i.e. physical plan), they can only do so if and when the City has committed to funding the purchase of land for a public Library facility and set aside resources for its share of professional architectural services.

Once there is a commitment from the public and City Council to purchase land for a Library, the TRL Foundation (TRLF) can work with the city to provide data as to how much can the city employ from other financing sources, cost of project vs. dollars raised information and assistance in requesting donated/discounted land from developers or private individuals. TRL and the TRLF can also begin working with financial donors to solicit funds for construction, furnishings and equipment once there is a commitment from Yelm.

Bottom line: Your Yelm Library Board and TRL officials are standing before you tonight to raise the red flag about the future of the Yelm Timberland Library. We wish to work in partnership with the City to assure that this future includes this valuable community resource. A monumental project such as this requires the combined efforts of city officials, the resources of TRL and the citizens of the greater Yelm community. The Yelm Library Board and TRL are ready to start the process needed to create a permanent Library facility as soon as the city’s commitment has been demonstrated.

Thank you,

Yelm Library Advisory Board
Jeanette Burnham
Steve Klein, Chair
Annie McCandliss
Roberta Stephenson
Kristen Blalack, Librarian


Blogger Klein is the Yelm Library Citizen Advisory Board Chair.

Posted by Steve on March 26, 2008 at 6:20 am | Permalink

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  1. “As a private citizen of Yelm, I want to thank the Clapp Sisters for their generosity and I want to ask them – would they consider gifting the building to the Yelm Library. This would benefit the entire community, its youth and our growing population.

    “This July, a dream shared by many became an exciting reality when the new Yelm Timberland Library opened its doors for the first time!
    Just days after the Library moved into its spacious, light-filled new home, Grand Opening festivities celebrated the cooperative community effort that made the project possible. It all began two years ago, when Prairie Park developers Margaret Clapp and her sister, Liz Williams, approached Yelm community librarian Kristin Blalack with an idea:
    Move the library out of its cramped 2,500 square foot location adjacent to City Hall and into a new 8,000 square foot space at Prairie Park. It meant that for the first time, the public library would lease privately owned space, which was being offered at a significantly reduced rate. After considering the inadequate size of the existing library, the increased demand for library services and the rapid growth of Yelm and its surrounding areas, the Timberland Board voted to approve the new partnership.”

    Comment by Stephany Ray on March 27, 2008 at 12:33 am

  2. Yes I do want a library in Yelm, but I love the one we already have. I love where it is located, I love the architecture of the building, I love the artwork, which was painted under instruction of now deceased Neo Brown. It would be very sad to see it moved.

    Comment by Kelly on April 1, 2008 at 6:35 am

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