Street fair celebrates Friends of the Langley Library’s centennial and more
— Created September 8, 2021 by Melanie Hammons
By Melanie Hammons
The last days of summer may be upon us but Saturday, Sept. 18, from 1 to 4 p.m., Langley will close out the season in style with a street fair. Hosted by Friends of the Langley Library, the Centennial Street Fair commemorates the 100th year of that organization’s incorporation, while also highlighting the valuable resources offered by the Langley library, said centennial co-chair, Kathleen Petrich.
Petrich said VIP guests, a mayoral proclamation, historical tours, live music by Quinn Fitzpatrick and much more are intended to highlight the benefits offered by the library which she describes as “an incredibly sweet institution with incredible significance today.”
“Although we’re separate entities, Friends of the Langley Library has a common mission to our community, much as the library itself,” said Petrich. “We’re both supporting the bigger cause of awareness.”
A downtown street blocked off during the event will encourage participants to take advantage of a pop-up book sale, raffle prize drawings, a kid’s table with fun activities, and a “cake cutting” (consisting of individually wrapped cupcakes), all while safely social distancing.
At least 10 local sponsors have signed on to fund the Centennial Street Fair. Raffle prizes are the generous contributions of local businesses also. The top raffle prize, said Petrich, is “a hand-knotted rug from ‘Music for the Eyes,’ that’s valued at several hundred dollars.” Visitors can also take in historical tours of Langley during the street fair.
Even though the street fair is set for Sept. 18, the centennial celebration has featured ongoing events scheduled throughout the summer and into the fall. As might be expected, book sales, in addition to the one on the 18th, form an important part of that, said Petrich.
“Our pop-up book sale on June 28 was really successful and well-attended, in spite of the scorching heat wave that enveloped the region that day,” she said. “We plan to announce details for at least one more sale at a later date.”
Moving into the fall, Friends of the Langley Library is pleased to announce a Whidbey Island Center for the Arts virtual visit by much-loved book reviewer, author and retired librarian, Nancy Pearl. Petrich said Nancy Pearl “gives a delightful presentation that promises to be a crowning feature of the Centennial Celebration.”
The WICA-sponsored event with Pearl highlights the importance of libraries, good books and reading. It also fits very nicely with the Langley Library’s overall mission, which as Petrich pointed out, is a mission that has not changed over the years.
“The library never really closed during the pandemic and this was a lifesaver for the Langley community. Events quickly adapted to online streaming and more of us found ourselves taking advantage of eBooks and audio books,” Petrich said. “An open window gave safe access to patrons who needed to ask questions, check out materials, etc.”
Children’s activities also were quickly adapted to an online format. Craft activities that could be picked up and taken home have proven to be very popular with the younger set. And whatever the age of library patrons, they accessed resources and research materials quickly and safely, thanks to technology advances.
One of the most valuable resources offered by the library continues to be technology familiarization, especially as it advocates for community members who lack Internet service, said Petrich.
“The library has done an amazing job of mitigating the ‘technology divide,’ and that’s something that’s been evident for a few years now,” she said. “Many people who, because of their background, life experience, or age aren’t ‘tech savvy,’ find IT support from the library. They feel comfortable asking questions of staff and making use of the printers here. During this pandemic, we’ve seen how the library has been the heart of the community in a safe forum, as it lessened the adverse effects of isolation.”
One very recent positive development in 2021 for the library is the promise of additional funding from the state legislature for building upgrades. More details about that may be forthcoming by the day of the Centennial Street Fair (it’s possible a groundbreaking for the new remodel will happen then as well). Petrich said she believes the main focus of these remodels will be on ADA compliance.
“The original library building is historic simply due to its age,” she said. “Our organization would love to see the old basement be turned into a conference room. But however the monies are used, we are grateful and happy to see how this can benefit our library.”
Both the Langley Library and the Friends of the Langley Library have overseen many facets of change over the years. The Friends incorporated in the year 1921, as the “Langley Civic Club,” which stated its main purpose as furnishing “. . . maintenance and support of a public library; providing a suitable site for a building or buildings for the use of the library or other civic purposes . . .”
A commemorative plaque awarded by the State of Washington designates the Friends as “A Century Corporation,” in recognition of its continued presence from the 1921 founding. And 100 years in, the Langley Civic Club, now known as the Friends of the Langley Library, still supports the library through funding programs for library users of all ages, building upgrades and education support and training for library staff. Funding for the Friends is through donations and memberships from the community.
The library building itself was completed in 1923 and dedicated to “The young men of Langley and vicinity who served in the World War.” The building was donated to the city in 1943, and in 1961, Langley entered into a cooperative arrangement with Sno-Isle Libraries to make up a network of 23 constituent libraries.
It may be noteworthy to consider the library, as well as the Friends, were born on the heels of the Spanish Flu Pandemic. Overseeing decades of technological changes that have enhanced its services, the Langley Library is still faithfully serving the local community. A century later, a different pandemic hasn’t affected that overall mission, as all age groups, from children to seniors, find programs and resources tailored and adapted to meet their needs.
Additional information about the history of the Langley Library is available at langleyhistory.org