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Timberland staff recommends moving Amanda Park library branch to Lewis County

The latest idea for a little-used branch of the Timberland Regional Library system in northwest Grays Harbor County is to move it to Lewis County.

That was the topic of discussion at this week’s TRL facilities committee meeting. Timberland Executive Director Cheryl Heywood is recommending that the Amanda Park branch be moved, building and all, to the town of Randle in Lewis County.

“Our recommendation is for you to consider moving that building,” she said. Alternative library services would then be offered in the Amanda Park area.

Mobile library services are already planned for the area, or what Timberland calls its “anywhere library services,” plus library patrons would be offered services by mail, Deputy Director Kendra Jones said Tuesday.

Since 2016, the library system has spent a little more than $2 million on salaries and other repairs and improvements to the Amanda Park building. Meanwhile, the population of Amanda Park is 89 people, and the total number of active library card users is probably less than 50. Heywood said that since 2011, there has been a 99 percent decrease in book holds, an 83 percent decrease in physical checkouts, a 68 percent decrease in giving out new library cards, but a 130 percent increase in downloadable checkouts.

Pacific County Trustee Toni Gwin asked a key question: What does it cost to move a building?

Operations Director Brenda Lane estimated that cost at between $200,000 and $250,000.

Surprisingly, Timberland is not a stranger to moving buildings. The Hoodsport branch in Mason County was created using the old North Mason library in Belfair, which was moved by barge to Hoodsport in 1996, according to Timberland information.

Similar to Hoodsport, the Amanda Park branch would be cut into pieces and then reassembled in Lewis County, Lane said.

Timberland has had plans to build a new, 2,800-square-foot branch in Randle at a cost of about $1.8 million. But instead of building new, the branch could be relocated and expanded, she said. The cost of the move, the architects and the additional site work would cost about $1.2 million, she said.

Randle has a branch library now, but it’s in leased space, according to library information.

Gwin also asked about community input into the relocation idea. Heywood said Timberland has held Zoom meetings with the community of Amanda Park that were well attended.

“I think this needs to be in person,” Gwin said.

Thurston County Trustee Mary Beth Harrington agreed. “People need to feel like they are at least heard,” she said.

Deputy Director Jones warned the trustees that an in-person meeting may be nothing more than hearing from those who don’t want the branch to move.

“We may not get a whole lot of groundbreaking information,” she said.

Still, Gwin and Harrington said that meeting needs to happen.

When the branch might move is still to be determined, but Lane stressed the need to act quickly, saying Timberland has to decide soon on whether to build in Lewis County or move the Amanda Park branch.

She said a decision may need to happen as early as July.

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