The Pierce County Library System’s Lakewood library branch is shutting its doors and moving to a short-term location due to the dilapidated state of the 59-year-old building.
The library system announced the closure of one of its busiest libraries will take place in early June with a move to a temporary location later in the year. Almost a quarter of a million people visited the library annually before the coronavirus pandemic.
The Lakewood library at 6300 Wildaire Road SW needs work, spokesperson Mary Getchell said.
Building inspectors and architects have told the library system that the roof is in dire shape. Inspections determined the current Lakewood library requires $10 million to $15 million in repairs. Getchell previously told The News Tribune the library has substantial roof damage, resulting in water leaks. Staff are concerned about the safety of the books.
The elevator, heating and cooling system and plumbing need to be replaced as well.
Library system deputy director Melinda Chesbro said the decision was difficult, balancing safety and taxpayers’ investment.
“We know the situation at the Lakewood Library is urgent and the timing is right to move to a short-term location,” her statement said.
The library system is looking for space near the Lakewood Towne Center as a short-term location. It is unclear when the temporary location will open.
“We can’t say which one because we don’t have a signed lease yet,” Getchell said.
Ultimately, the library wants the public to decide the fate of the Lakewood and Tillicum libraries. Previously, Getchell said the library couldn’t last another rainy season.
“The costs for repairs and replacements outweigh the value of the building,” Getchell said in a news release. “At this time, the library system does not plan to invest further in the current building and determined further investments are cost prohibitive.”
A community committee will hold 12 members. The City of Lakewood and the library system will each choose six, Getchell said. The committee will review the facts and provide a recommendation to the Board of Trustees this fall.
Lakewood library visitors are encouraged to visit neighboring libraries during the relocation process. The Steilacoom Pierce County Library is at 2950 Steilacoom Blvd. and University Place Pierce County Library is at 3609 Market Place W.
This story was originally published May 11, 2022 5:00 AM.