Officials say new Pasco branch still on track for 2013

Officials from Mid-Columbia Libraries say plans are on schedule to open a west Pasco branch by 2013.

The library system plans to add a satellite library near Road 68 with a drive-through for returning books and picking up books on hold.

Officials are looking for a company to design and build a 5,000-square-foot building. Kyle Cox, Mid-Columbia Libraries interim director, said they hope to have a contract in place by March.

A west Pasco satellite library was part of a 10-year contract Pasco and the library district approved last year. The district committed to opening it no later than 2013.

Plans are to hire a firm to design and build a building and then lease it from the developer, Cox said.

Other library systems have leased space instead of purchasing it, he said, because it can save money and allow flexibility as population changes.

The library interior needs to be mostly open, with a designated children's area, according to the library system's request to possible developers.

The satellite branch also needs work space for staff to process materials, Cox said. And Mid-Columbia Libraries would like it built with low-maintenance, sound-reducing materials and with features that support technology needs.

The west Pasco library will only be about the third the size of the Pasco Library, which Cox said is close to 15,000 square feet.

Plans have been influenced by a survey conducted in 2010. More than 1,100 people described what they envisioned for a west Pasco branch, Cox said.

The top response was that people wanted comfortable spaces to work and read. A location near Road 68 came in second.

That's why Mid-Columbia Libraries is asking for a site in the area south of Powerline Road, north of Argent Road and in between roads 60 and 84, Cox said.

A drive-through book drop-off and pick-up was the third most popular response in the survey, and was determined to be a top attribute in discussions with stakeholders who met in November, he said.

Some library users want to be able to get in and out quickly, which the drive-through allows, Cox said. But it also could make the library easier to use for seniors or those with disabilities because they wouldn't need to leave their vehicles.

The drive-through is not something that Mid-Columbia Libraries has tried at any of its 11 branches in Benton, Franklin and parts of Adams counties, Cox said. But it has been done elsewhere.

Mid-Columbia Libraries plans to move into the building in September 2012, which Cox said would allow time to set up materials and technology and determine how to make the drive-through work smoothly.

West Pasco and Franklin County residents will be satisfied by the result, Cox said. The library system plans to offer more chances for public input as the process continues.

The library board will discuss the west Pasco branch at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Keewaydin Park branch, 405 S. Dayton St., Kennewick.