It took some horse-trading and a general election, but Salmon Creek got its library.
Three Creeks Community Library, which will start its summer reading program June 1 for anyone 19 years old or younger, opened in January 2003 and has since become the third most popular destination in the Fort Vancouver Library District.
“We’ll always remain viable because we’re a great deal,” said community librarian Mike Jansen. “You don’t have to read that many books a year before you’ve made your money back on your taxes.”
With eight story times, a teen council, game days, building competitions, visiting performers and book discussions, Three Creeks is already hosting about all the events it can.
Jansen said adults and children comprise equal proportions of the library’s visitors, and e-books haven’t meant decreased attendance. It’s circulation has increased by more than 12 percent in the last five years.
Laura Longmire purchased her first Fort Vancouver library card from the downtown branch forty years ago. Now she gets books from all over the Pacific Northwest without ever having to leave her Salmon Creek residence.
“I get my books online,” Longmire said just after scanning her selections from the district’s inter-library loan program on one of the checkout computers. “We’ve had self check-in longer than anyone else.”
The library has also increasingly invested in online information databases like CREDO Reference and powerspeak foreign language courses. The library district is already working to add e-books to its services.
The North Salmon Creek Neighborhood Association started opposing Fred Meyer‘s proposed megastore at 800 N.E. Tenny Rd. in 1995. After approvals and rejections of the project from judges, Clark County commissioners, planners and land use hearing examiners, negotiations were still at a stalemate. The Portland chain eventually offered to sell the library district 32,000 square feet of land for the library and started construction on its store in 1997.
“They’ve never short-changed us,” said Averil Massey during an interview about why the association started. She said the agreement to stop opposing Fred Meyer in exchange for library land was a very amicable one. She even shops at the store.
Fire District 6 voters approved a $4.5 million, 10-year bond in 1998 that funded the library’s construction, which broke ground near the end of 2000 and would take a little over a year.
Jansen said being farther from Vancouver’s core doesn’t affect how popular the library is, but that it has a more difficult time making partnerships.
“Those institutional resources aren’t as available as in communities like La Center or even Woodland,” Jansen said.
To help bolster community support, Friends of Three Creeks Library started in 2005. Jansen said it raises about $20,000 a year through book sales. The library also enters schools to boost readership – Jansen said there is a noticeable difference in sign-ups for the summer reading program between schools the library does and doesn’t visit.
For more information, visit Three Creeks Library’s event page.