|History and Timeline|
1947 Bookmobile Stop at Birch Bay Area Whitehorn school, part of the Whitehorn community.
Origins Community libraries have existed in Whatcom County for over a century. Early libraries were started by women's clubs in Blaine, Ferndale, and Sumas, and the public library is one of Lynden's oldest institutions. In the early 1940s, the County Grange successfully promoted the establishment of a rural county library district in Whatcom County to provide library services to people in areas with no easy access to city libraries. Funding for the Library System is provided from the property tax base of unincorporated areas. Library service was extended to incorporated areas outside Bellingham as the small cities contracted for service, beginning with Sumas in 1947. Residents in every small city voted to annex to the library district in the 1980s and 1990s.
November 7, 1944 Residents in unincorporated Whatcom County voted by more than a 2 to 1 margin to tax themselves for library services. Members of the County Grange became the first trustees.
1944 The City of Bellingham and Whatcom County Library entered into an agreement to serve county residents who lived outside of the city limits. The agreement with the Bellingham Public Library has been maintained almost without interruption since that time.
1945 Early branches were established with buildings provided in Birch Bay, Deming, Glacier, a grocery store on the Guide Meridian, Laurel, Lummi Island, Mountain View, Pleasant Valley, Point Roberts, Van Wyck, and Wiser Lake.
1947 The City of Sumas became the first city to join the Whatcom County Library District, providing a building for that purpose. The first bookmobile was purchased and Bookmobile Service began and continues to the present day.
1954 First outreach service began with visits to the county hospital.
1958 A second bookmobile was purchased to expand Bookmobile Service to more areas.
1961-1981 The cities of Blaine, Lynden, Everson and Ferndale joined the Library System by contracting for library service. In Everson and Lynden, new libraries were built.
1966 Outreach Service to nursing homes began.
1971 Library service to the county jail began.
1972 The Whatcom County Library System's administrative services moved from the basement of Bellingham Public Library to its current location on Northwest Drive.
May 20, 1980 A measure to raise the library district tax lid, which had dropped significantly below $.50 per $1,000 of assessed value due to increasing property values, was approved by more than 60% of voters.
1980s This decade was a time of tremendous growth when citizens in Ferndale, Nooksack, Blaine and Sumas voted to become permanent parts of the Library District through annexation. The Maple Falls Branch opened in 1982.
1984 The first Whatcom County Library Long Range Plan was written.
1988 Blaine Library moved into a new location increasing library space from under 1,200 to over 5,400 square feet. This was funded in part through federal LSCA (Library Services and Construction Act) funds.
1990 Sumas Library moved to a new building shared with the Senior Center and built by the City, increasing library space from 600 to 2,400 square feet.
Washington State Library Commission awarded WCLS and Bellingham Public Library almost $100,000 to begin automating circulation jointly.
1992 The Friends of the Deming Library opened a new building, built and owned by the Friends, which increased library space from 400 to 2,500 square feet. Friends of Island Library purchased and remodeled a former house, moving the Island Branch to a larger space. The citizens of the city of Ferndale took on a bond to enable the library to move into a new building. Library space increased from 2,800 to 9,300 square feet.
1994 A special excess levy was passed by county voters to authorize purchase of computers and software to allow fast and easy access for all residents of Whatcom County through a shared automation system with the Bellingham Public Library.
1997 City of Lynden annexed to the Whatcom County Library System and with wide support from the city and residents began work toward a new library. Friends of the Everson Library completed an expansion which increased library space from 2,800 to 4,300 square feet.
2000 Library use exceeded one million items!!!
2003 The new Lynden Public Library opened and includes the System Reference Center, which relocated from the Northwest Drive office.
Rory became the library's mascot.
A new integrated library system was purchased jointly by Bellingham Public Library and Whatcom County Library System, allowing seamless resource sharing between the two libraries.
2004 Whatcom County Library Foundation was established with $25,000 in funds from the Pen Foundation for the PEN/Newman's Own First Amendment Award "In appreciation of your resolve to defend the First Amendment right of freedom to read against the threat of government intervention." The Foundation adopted the "Begin With Books" project and made plans for fundraising for broad system and individual branch project support.
2005 Deming Friends take on a major and much needed library expansion project.
2006 The City of Ferndale received an anonymous donation for one million dollars to be used toward a new library building.
2007 Land was purchased on Kendall Road (SR 547) for relocating the Maple Falls Library through the determined efforts of the Friends of the North Fork Library.
The Library Board passed its first Strategic Plan, which included individual branch library plans and listed accomplishments. Five priorities were listed for the coming five years: Advocacy, Usership, Facilities, Innovation, Finances.
2008 Downloadable audiobooks were added through the library's web page, books available from any computer to your listening device.
2009 The Friends of the Deming Library complete a 5000 square foot addition to the existing 2500 square foot library--the motto for the project was "We did it once, we can do it again!"
The voters of Whatcom County passed a levy lid lift in November choosing that WCLS should maintain library services for the next 5 to 6 years depending on local and national economic factors.
2010 The Friends of the North Fork Community Library break ground for a relocated Maple Falls branch across from the Kendall Elementary School. Watch for updates on the move and grand opening!
The Ferndale City Council took action to remodel the former Boys and Girls Club as a temporary library location until funds are secured for the permanent location on Main Street. The move to the temporary site is scheduled for early 2011.
On February 28, 2011 the North Fork Community Library opened its doors for patrons. The Grand Opening Celebration honored the Friends of the Library, the staff and the countless hours of donated time from volunteers and contractors that together, built this library. It is located at 7506 Kendall Road, just off Hwy 542.
The Friends of the North Fork Community Library received the Distinguished Service Award from the Washington Library Association in April 2011 for their effort.
In March, the Ferndale Public Library moved into its new temporary home at the remodeled Pioneer Park Pavilion while fundraising and funding options continue for the permanent location on Main Street.