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News / Clark County News

Camas eyes $479,000 contract to ‘refresh and reimagine’ library

Director tells Camas City Council that project would address safety and accessibility concerns

By Kelly Moyer, Camas-Washougal Post-Record
Published: October 14, 2023, 6:03am
3 Photos
The Camas City Council is considering a $479,000 consultant contract to help "refresh and reimagine" the Camas Public Library.
The Camas City Council is considering a $479,000 consultant contract to help "refresh and reimagine" the Camas Public Library. (Kelly Moyer/Post-Record files) Photo Gallery

Camas City Council members are set to approve a $479,000 consultant contract to help “refresh and reimagine” the Camas Public Library.

Camas Library Director Connie Urquhart told the Camas City Council that the scope of services included in the contract will address safety and accessibility concerns, such as lighting and flooring inside the library; improve the library’s entrances off of Northeast Fourth and Fifth avenues; and help define the future Children’s Learning Hive.

“The Camas Public Library opened an expanded and renovated building 20 years ago, in what many think of as the showpiece of our city,” Urquhart stated in her staff report to the city council. “In the last two decades, (the city’s) budget has precluded staff from administering anything more than emergency repairs.”

Urquhart said the council had already approved several library projects related to safety and accessibility in its 2023-24 budget and that “several surveys both at the library and for the city’s surveying on (American Rescue Plan funding for COVID relief)” showed the children’s library was “something citizens want to see done.”

“Residents polled in last year’s strategic planning engagement cited the children’s library as a top area of focus for improvement,” Urquhart noted in her staff report. Urquhart said that, “due to the volume and level of work to be done,” the library was seeking an outside consultant to design and manage the projects.

The library director added that eight firms had responded to the city’s request for proposals and that Johnston Architects of Seattle was “by far and away, the firm with the most public library experience.”

The architectural firm would provide scalable models for the city and help prioritize what can be done within the city’s expected budget, Urquhart said.

She added that the new president of the Friends of the Camas Public Library nonprofit group also has a background in fundraising and has worked with organizations that are kicking off capital fundraising projects.

The library director added that “a large portion” of the library building update work is already funded — including $730,000 from a state grant for exterior work, $610,000 from American Rescue Plan Act money earmarked for the library and a $10,000 Norman C. Danielson grant, as well as a $10,000 donation from 100 Women Who Care for the children’s library.

The consultant’s scope of work, if approved by the city council during its Oct. 16 meeting as part of the consent agenda, would include a first phase concentrated on the exterior work — improved entrances, mitigation of water damage, replacement of monument signs, and repairs to the library’s windows and door casings — and a second phase that focuses on the Children’s Learning Hive and also provides new furniture, flooring and lighting in other parts of the library.

“The library is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, with a storied history of beloved memories in the hearts and minds of our citizens,” Urquhart noted in her staff report. “The next generation of Camas residents deserve to have a library with the same shine, and one that adapts to the needs of its community. Johnston Architects feel they can get us there with this project.”