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Sunday, June 20, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

Spacious change at the High Point library

By alyson Beery
Seattle Times staff reporter

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When 91-year-old Mary Sarff entered the High Point Branch of the Seattle Public Library at its dedication ceremony yesterday, she immediately noticed a similarity to the old building.

"The sound level hasn't changed a bit," she said. Sarff was a volunteer tutor five days a week at the old High Point Branch, which closed last year.

Aside from the clamor, the 7,200-square-foot building at 3411 S.W. Raymond St. couldn't be more different from the old library, a 1,200-foot space in a duplex a few blocks away.

Christy Tyson, branch manager for Southwest and High Point libraries since 1991, was excited to work in a spacious, well-lit environment, a step up from the converted kitchen and living room that served as the old library.

"The building had 29 chairs," said Tyson. "Most days after school, all 29 chairs were occupied, sometimes by more than one person. We eventually had to establish a one-person-per-chair rule."

With its window seats, tables with varying heights and different chair sizes as well as outdoor reading areas, the new High Point Branch shouldn't have overcrowded seats. Except maybe on opening day.

City Librarian Deborah Jacobs welcomed a culturally diverse, multigenerational crowd to the High Point Branch, the ninth project completed under the Seattle Public Library's 1998 voter-approved building program.

The $3.3 million branch was designed by Brad Miller of Miller Hayashi Architects and built by Cope Construction. Mayor Greg Nickels, Library Board Trustee Gordon McHenry Jr. and City Council President Jan Drago also spoke at the dedication.

"The sun gods must like to read," said Drago. "This is the fifth library that we've opened this year and for every single opening we've been blessed with sunshine."

The festivities offered something for all ages. Patrons were encouraged to listen to storytelling or music by the Cajun band Les Femmes d'Enfer, create sparkly party hats, enjoy cookies and coffee and interact with 8-foot-tall book fairy Lulu.

The new branch is intended to reflect the diversity of the High Point community, said Tyson, and includes books in a variety of languages and information for people seeking U.S. citizenship.
 
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Librarians hope the new facility will entice more adults to visit, while still providing books for children and young adults.

Alyson Beery: 206-464-2238 or abeery@seattletimes.com.

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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