Freeland Library turns 20

Once it was a dream, a hope for what could be. But a bit of vision, a lot of hard work and selling a few flowers paid off and this year the Freeland Library turns 20.

Anne Wickstrand

Once it was a dream, a hope for what could be. But a bit of vision, a lot of hard work and selling a few flowers paid off and this year the Freeland Library turns 20.

The library first opened its doors at the existing location in 1994 after a large community effort to fund a new building.

It was an exciting time for volunteers who founded the Friends of Freeland Library more than two decades ago to provide a resource for the community.

“It’s grown enormously,” said Iris Linton, one of the founding members of the organization and its current vice president.

On top of changing locations and ownership, the library is known for the variety of programs it offers and expansions to keep up with demand, fueled by many volunteers and staff members.

The library first got a foothold in the community in the 1960s in a small corner of a pet store in Freeland Village. It then relocated to other spaces, most notably a store owned by Bettie Bell in the 1970s which was one of the smallest in the state. Bell eventually announced her retirement and the library needed a new location.

To fill the need, the Friends of Freeland Library was formed in 1986 to purchase land for a new library.

For Linton, having a library was paramount to the community.

“I’ve never lived anywhere in the world without having access of library,” she said. “It was necessary to have one for local residents and anyone who wanted to use it.”

The group raised money and found a space to lease in the meantime. Linton recalled one year when the friends group traveled to Skagit Valley during tulip season. They bought loads of tulips to sell and raise money for the library effort.

“It was a very exciting few years putting on fundraising events to raise a bunch of money,” she said. “Some were hilarious.”

Through tulip sales, barbecues and donations, the group finally raised enough money in 1990 to purchase 40,000 square feet of land. The library opened in 1994 on the lot where it currently sits.

Since then it has been expanded multiple times to fill the growing needs and reads of Freeland residents through the Sno-Isle system.

For Debby Colfer, who is now the Clinton Library Manager, the friends group was a way to get involved in the community for a new resident at the time.

“I was ready to be involved in something bigger in the community,” Colfer said.

Colfer joined the group with a friend to raise money for a new building. She remembers thinking of her son, who was about 3 years old at the time, “We’ll be lucky to have a library by the time he graduates high school.”

The library was built just three years after that, and her son is turning 25 this summer.

“It was this incredible coming together of the community that happened in a relatively short period of time,” she recalled.

Colfer continues to keep the library a part of her life by volunteering every Sunday.


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