The coronavirus prevented patrons from entering libraries, but the essential work of maintaining the buildings has never stopped.
In 2019, the King County Library System developed a five-year Capital Investment Program (CIP) to maintain buildings and protect the capital assets made possible by a 2004 voter-approved Capital Bond.
The $172 million measure produced 17 new libraries, expanded 11 libraries and renovated 15 libraries. It also added a three-level parking garage and an expanded parking lot. The Library System’s total square footage grew dramatically–almost 30%.
With the additional space, maintenance has become a major priority, and KCLS Facilities Management Services has been busy ensuring CIP projects are completed. The funding for CIP projects comes from KCLS’ General Fund.
The Capital Investment Program ensures that libraries will be safe, healthy and in excellent condition once they are allowed to reopen to the public, said Greg Smith, KCLS Director of Facilities Management Services. Staying on top of maintenance issues not only protects taxpayers’ investment in libraries, he said, but saves money by averting emergency repairs if equipment or systems fail due to lack of maintenance.
Facilities also has responded to coronavirus public health guidelines in many ways. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, for example, are ongoing priorities yet received special attention amid the pandemic, including new air filters.
Maintaining the integrity of the HVAC systems also proved timely; the area’s unprecedented period of lingering wildfire smoke led to air quality considered “very unhealthy” outside our buildings. But Facilities’ work ensured the air quality inside the libraries was healthy.
In preparation for the return of staff, Facilities also sanitized and disinfected buildings and work spaces. Librarians now can fill hold requests and provide books and other library materials through KCLS’ contactless Curbside to Go service.
Smith said that library closures offered an opportunity to undertake work efficiently and without disturbing patrons. Projects include roof replacements, sewage and pump maintenance, painting, carpet replacements and remodeling restrooms.
Projects are prioritized based on four criteria: health and safety standards; urgency; projects that support new or expanded services; and condition of the capital assets. There are 17 projects scheduled for 2020, and 13 are anticipated to be completed by the end of the year. Four others were deferred, pending funding.
Among the projects either already completed or scheduled by the end of 2020, are:
- Modernization of the elevators at Bellevue Library, including new motors and greater energy efficiency.
- Two new boilers installed at Bellevue Library.
- Burien Library roof protective coating.
- Partial roof repair at Covington Library.
- Remodeled restrooms at Des Moines Library.
- Remodeled restrooms at Kirkland Library.
- Carpet replacement at Redmond Library.
- HVAC replacement at Shoreline Library.
- Roof replacement at Woodinville Library.
- Replacement of four maintenance vehicles.
KCLS continues to monitor and take care of buildings as part of its commitment to strong stewardship, and to pave the way for the public to visit and enjoy their libraries when that time comes.