Words

Library Road Trip

A countywide journey

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

A year ago, when Whatcom County Library System (WCLS) staff first brainstormed ways to commemorate our 75th anniversary, we thought, “Wouldn’t it be fun to take a giant road trip to each of our 10 libraries and a bookmobile stop the day of our actual anniversary?” 

So on Nov. 7, 2019, I, along with three staff members and WCLS trustee Brad Cornwell, set out to do precisely that.

We started a day early by visiting the bookmobile at the future site of the Birch Bay Vogt Community Library. The next morning, our day began at 7am at Whatcom Literacy Council’s annual Literacy Breakfast. WCLS staff packed three tables with attendees to support our longtime partner organization. The Literacy Council surprised us with a lively rendition of “Happy Birthday,” and featured speaker Nancy Pearl posed for photos with our crew.

We dashed off to the WCLS Administrative Services building on Northwest Drive to watch a slideshow of historical library photos collected by staff members Deborah Morgan and Erin Suda as part of a Washington Rural Heritage project.  (You can see a selection at http://www.washingtonruralheritage.org/digital/collection/wcls75

We then headed north to the Blaine Library, where WCLS has been operating the library on Third Street for more than 30 years. We’re currently gathering community input for the design of a new library (see http://www.wcls.org/blaine for details).

We continued up I-5, across two international borders to Point Roberts. The exterior of the Point Roberts Library, which opened in the renovated Julius Firehall in 2018, was festooned with antique aprons that waved in the morning breeze. Inside, colorful Barber skirts popular in the 1940s decorated the walls. These were woven by Lummi weavers and sold to appreciative schoolgirls back in the day. 

Next we retraced our path across the border and visited the Sumas Library, where staff urged us to return that evening for a 1940s-era swing dance complete with a live band. 

At the Lynden Library we admired five gorgeous wall hangings depicting scenes of Lynden, sewn by the Pieceable Quilters and recently donated to the library. Then we zipped over to the Everson Library, where Branch Manager Eileen Shaw greeted us in 1940s attire and County Executive-elect Satpal Sidhu shared his family’s story of moving to Whatcom County.

At the Deming Library, staff were busy setting up for a community potluck. We typed out a message for the future on a manual typewriter, then continued up the Mt. Baker Highway to the North Fork Library in Kendall for snacks and to offer our predictions for the library’s future.

On our way south, we caught up with the Bookmobile in Wickersham before continuing to the South Whatcom Library. With the sun starting to set, we made it to the Ferndale Library before pulling up to the Lummi Island ferry for our last stop of the night. The Island Library featured a display cabinet with historic memorabilia and a timeline of significant milestones in library history. 

Bellingham libraries were not on our itinerary because the city libraries are not part of WCLS, an independent taxing district serving the residents of rural Whatcom County. 

For those who’d like a closer peek at our epic 210-mile tour of the Whatcom County Library System, check out this video at http://bit.ly/wclf2019, then join us for the next chapter! 

Christine Perkins is the executive director of Whatcom County Library System

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