Langley may remodel library basement

"Langley reference librarian Laurie Barker-Perez climbs through the tiny doorway to the library's basement. The city of Langley may soon build a new entry onto the basement.Matt Johnson, staff photo Almost hidden in a narrow passageway between the Langley Library and City Hall, there is a doorway too small for even a large child to step through upright. The doorway is not a passageway to Wonderland. But someday it could lead to the library's extra copies of Alice in Wonderland and other books in the library's basement. Faced with a shortage of storage and a sudden $20,000 gift from the Friends of the Langley Library, the city of Langley is considering remodeling the library's barely-accessible, plastic-lined basement. For the estimated cost of $43,000, the library's 1,500-square-foot basement could have a 5-foot-wide stairway, a tall, broad doorway, concrete floors, bright lighting and storage shelves. The space would be a boon to the library and to City Hall, both of which have extreme storage shortages. Rick Hill, the city's director of public works, showed the Langley City Council a set of rough plans for the remodel at the council's regular meeting Oct. 18. As it is now, Hill said, the library basement is a safety hazard. Both the library and the city currently store a number of items there. Although it is dry and well-ventilated, the access is hazardous and the interior lighting is dim. During a meeting two weeks ago to plan the library's future, the Friends of the Library volunteered their $20,000 gift toward the project. Hill said the city could make up the rest with current library funds and by saving about $2,500 per year for the next six years. Twenty-five hundred dollars a year isn't really a very big hit on the budget, Hill said. Because safety is a big issue with the basement -- the egress is barely 4 feet high -- Hill said the project could be completed incrementally, with a new exterior stairway and door going in first. He said the city would need the blessing of the Friends first, since they are putting up the largest amount of money initially. Councilmember Doug Allderdice wondered if the work was necessary. Is it room the city needs? he asked. Both Hill and Langley Mayor Lloyd Furman said yes, citing the large amount of paperwork and records the city must keep on hand at all times. I have it piled up in my office, Hill said. And in mine, said Furman. However, Furman said the project could wait if need be. It's not a crisis, he said. Hill said he will go back to the Friends and the library's board of directors within the next few weeks to find out what sort of timetable they want the basement work to be on. "

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