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The Aberdeen Library

Library service in Aberdeen began in 1890 with the donation of 150 books housed in the Oddfellows Hall. It then moved to a reading room donated by Jacob Weatherwax in 1891. After a city ordinance incorporated the library in 1902, it settled into its current location with the construction of a Carnegie building in 1908. This historical building was replaced with the current library building in 1966. In November 1998, residents of Aberdeen voted to match funds for renovating and expanding the library. During the nine-month-long renovation project, the library operated out of temporary quarters. The renovated library reopened October 2, 2000.

The City of Aberdeen contracted for library service from Timberland Regional Library beginning in 1969. In 2008 residents voted to annex to TRL for library services. The current library is a destination place for architecture and library lovers. With 17,051 square feet and 10 staff members who serve a population of 16,654 in Aberdeen, the Aberdeen Timberland Library also partners with 7 Grays Harbor County Timberland libraries to serve the 75,000 constituents of Grays Harbor County.

2021 and beyond

Planning for the remodel began in earnest in 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic, while creating a pause in design planning, allowed Library Staff to transform traditional library services into digital ones. In doing so, staff were able to measure new needs of our community such as online library services, an increase in digital collections, and developing ways to serve our communities for whom a reliable internet connection is inaccessible. The pause also allowed our remodel team to process the design more deeply to meet future needs for spatial distance, cleanliness and safety. The influence of intentional and careful planning ensures our library is future-ready.

The 2021 remodel serves to reconnect the current and future generations of the City of Aberdeen to their library. Using community conversations to guide the process, expertise in the fields of Library and Information Science to inform it, and an extensive architectural and design plan to see it through, the remodel will pair the best of libraries in design and functionality with our city’s rich past, while highlighting the role of the library as crucial to community resiliency, vitality and success.

This remodel will use TRL’s 2020-2022 Strategic Direction to place equity, diversity, and inclusion at the center of the library by serving additional constituents of Aberdeen’s population currently marginalized or underserved including: long term senior residents, people experiencing homelessness, people of all abilities, Latinx community, families, parents and business professional adults among others.

TRL is proud to present the opportunities gained through a remodel of the Aberdeen Timberland Library at this pivotal moment in Aberdeen’s story.

We want to hear from YOU:

For updates and more information online visit: TRL.org/locations/aberdeen

Email comments or questions to: aberdeenredesign@trl.org

Call us: 360-533-2360

Follow our Facebook Page and Chat with us using Facebook Messenger: Aberdeen Timberland Library Page https://www.facebook.com/AberdeenTimberlandLibrary/

Community Board: pinterest.com/aberdeenredesign

Pick up Comment Cards at local businesses and Aberdeen Library Takeout Service

Our library remodel is made possible by a generous donations of funds by Katherine N. Sherk to the Grays Harbor Community Foundation specifically for capital improvements to the Aberdeen Library. Mrs. Sherk was an avid reader and library visitor, a member of the long-standing Review Club of Aberdeen, and a wonderful friend. Mrs. Sherk’s generous contributions, the intentional investments made by the Community Foundation, and the good stewardship of these library funds by TRL, City of Aberdeen, City of Aberdeen Library Advisory Boards and our partners, will ensure that our library remains a state-of-the-art facility.


The design for the new Library should strive to create a building and a place that

Welcomes everyone to a vibrant world of possibilities

Connects people, places, and ideas

Evolves to meet the needs and values of the community

Provides for the safety and security of library staff and visitors

Becomes a highly active, multiuse, family centered learning environment for the community

Revitalizes library services using a community engagement service model and knowledgeable service-oriented staff

Complements the built, natural, cultural, and historic context of the building

Demonstrates good stewardship of public resources

Anticipates community needs to update the library for the next 20 years

Increases public space for library visitors

Enhances the visitor experience so all visitors feel comfortable and accommodated

Combines efficient staffing and expanded library experience for library users

Functions in an efficient and effective manner while being sufficiently flexible to meet the evolving technological, educational, and community requirements of a contemporary library

Minimizes the cost of construction and maintenance through life-cycle cost estimation

Has a significant central interior space with a sense of vitality

Inspires community pride and involvement on a continuing basis

Will be described as beautiful, inviting, engaging

Addresses the library as part of the downtown Aberdeen Revitalization Movement, Main Street Community, Aberdeen Business District and the Aberdeen Gateway Center project.

Demonstrates a sense of history through an appropriate incorporation of the Aberdeen library and community legacy into design development

Design Considerations


Day parts

Mornings are busy. Staff are helping patrons with computer questions, printing & copying needs, handling account questions and materials.

Afternoons can be busy or slow in terms of foot traffic. People have settled in for the day and need less assistance from staff. Many patrons are on the computers, sitting and reading, or sitting while using and charging their devices. Teens often visit the teen area, to play the Xbox, relax or talk with friends, or complete homework.

Evenings from 5-7 are often a quiet extension of the afternoons.


Visitors usually come in alone or with one other person. Groups of 3-4 more than likely need a meeting space to conduct business. Groups of more than 5 are rare except for program times and meetings. Families come to the library for short visits, but rarely stay to play if the space is already full.

The library community includes a wide range of socioeconomic statuses and we are not reaching all segments of our population. 56% of the Aberdeen population has library cards, and only half of those are using them in a measurable way.

Library Uses

  • Reading in library
  • Computers
  • Staff/Technical Assistance
  • Borrow materials
  • Library programs
  • Youth visits and play area
  • Printing/Copying/Faxing
  • WiFi
  • Meeting Room Activities
  • Large group presentations and conferences
  • Small group gathers such as study groups or supervised visits
  • One or two people working together
  • Safe Space
  • Restroom facilities


Birth to 5: TRL has an emphasis on this group in our Strategic direction. We recently refreshed the Youth area with new carpet, toys, and organized/decluttered the space.

School Age: No emphasis has been placed here yet. The library relies on physical materials collections to reflect and engage this age group.

Teens: TRL recently completed a Teen Area Refresh in 2017. This created a separate teen space in the library. With the help and input of local teens, library staff designed the area to be a fun space. We have seen an increase in teen visitors due to this space just for them.

Adults: Currently the majority of the library is adult space.

Families: We had a good following in our Family demographic. With a decrease in Youth Services staff and the implementation of the one-desk model, patrons no longer feel as safe or as supported in the Youth’s area. Patrons enjoy our Early Learning programs, and Storytimes as well as special programs and events.

Seniors: Aberdeen’s population and core library users.


Adjacencies: The youth area is an open space. Noise carries throughout the library.


  • By positioning staff around the library and opening sight lines wherever possible, we are more able to monitor all areas of the library
  • Additional and enhanced security cameras will be positioned strategically around the library
  • Limiting use of the restroom hallway to restroom and elevator access will reduce friction in the space
  • We considered several options and relocation areas and determined the current location as the best location provided adjustments to processes and patron flow can be made to improve safety

Crowded: Friction can occur between users at the adult computer stations and around public seating areas.

Noise: Voices carry easily over the 2nd floor balcony banisters.

Signage/Way Finding: People do not see the signs and regularly ask staff for directions when a sign is in view.

Engagement with Staff: The current customer service model relies on staff handling materials while waiting on patrons. The new customer service model will be enhanced by the remodel, allowing staff to be out in the collections, utilizing stations on both floors to assist our visitors.

Engagement with materials: Patrons have no space to place items while browsing the collection.

Clutter: Visual and physical clutter is overwhelming and disengages a user with the library environment. The Library has functioned as a storage facility for a variety of items over the past 20 years. We are working with community partners to re-home items to appropriate locations.

Current First Floor

Click on image to enlarge.

First Floor Vision

When you walk into the library, you will see a vibrant and productive space. Consider the first floor as a space for business and play. With come and go services, a new design of the first floor has opportunities for quick and easy library access.


Improve opportunities for self-service:

  • Visible and accessible check out stations and hold shelves
  • Visible and accessible Internet stations
  • Improved wayfinding/navigation of library spaces
  • Promotes use of mobile app

Central hub desk for patron-staff interactions:

  • Increases engagement with patrons as staff are in view or roaming about the library
  • Central position allows for greatest line of sight to all directions for safety and security
  • Heightened visibility to visitors
  • Designed with social distancing in mind
  • Establishment of one-desk model to reduce number of staff required on desk at one time

Youth Area:

  • An additional 500 square feet of expanded areas for youth

Birth to 5 years:

  • Increase space for collection
  • Added floor space to allow for programming within the youth section
  • Glass enclosure from youth activities in adjacent areas to reduce noise disruption and to create safety of young children
  • Mobile shelving for part of youth collection to allow for expanded floor area for programming
  • Improved and enlarged gender-neutral, ADA accessible family restroom

School-Age Youth:

  • Increase space for collection
  • Incorporate age appropriate spaces to collaborate, hang out, or complete homework or school projects


  • Incorporate family appropriate seating areas and spaces to spend time together

Teen Space:

  • Removed from former location to allow for expansion of School-Age youth section
  • Increased space available for programming
  • Increased space available for teens to congregate, away from quiet reading areas
  • Provides teens with enhanced ownership of space, identity apart from area for younger children

Computer stations:

  • Arranged in small group configurations to allow for increased privacy
  • Increase number of computer stations by 15%
  • Increases spatial distance to reduce friction between patrons
  • Computer seating still within reach of staff assistance for those who need more hands-on training

Nonfiction area:

  • Shorter shelving in the nonfiction area for greater sense of openness, increased light, more comfortable browsing experience
  • More space between shelves increases capacity for social distance
  • Improved line of sight for security and safety of staff and patrons
  • Retained open ended shelving to allow for ease of circulation between long rows of shelving


  • Limit uses of the hallway as restroom and elevator space
  • Minimizes congestion, improve traffic flow and reduce friction between patrons

Market Street Entrance:

  • Retained bronze iron gate because of community sentiment
  • Stately and architecturally pleasing entrance is important

More efficient staff work area:

  • Space redesigned to accommodate actual workflow
  • Eliminating outdated or redundant spaces
  • Allows space for automation materials handling

Staff Break Room:

  • Reflect actual uses and needs of staff
  • Reduce congestion of workspace in the staff area
  • Provides rejuvenation space for staff throughout the workday

Operation’s Supervisor Office:

  • Allows for private personnel conversations for supervisor with the most direct reports
  • Creates accessibility to the main library and staff workroom, increasing support to the staff and patrons in the daily operations of the library

Current Second Floor

Click on image to enlarge.

Second Floor Vision

An inviting place to stay awhile.

When you travel to the second floor, you will see a peaceful and industrious space. Consider the second floor as a place for connection, participation and discovery. The addition of 2,500 square feet delivers more space for reading, recharging and rejuvenation. An increase of meeting rooms and collections spaces provide opportunities for study and community connections. The new SKILLS Learning Lab promotes the discovery of new and surprising abilities.


Public Space:

  • Additional 2,500 square footage for public space
  • Additional seating, tables and charging stations

Second Staircase:

  • Opens a second entry and exit point to the 2nd floor
  • Adds a convenient access point to the 2nd floor on the north side of the Library

Multiple additional adult reading areas:

  • Periodicals
  • Fiction & Genre Fiction
  • Local History and Northwest Special Collections

2nd floor Restroom:

  • Gender neutral restroom
  • Convenient location for meeting rooms and reading spaces


  • Furniture designed expressly for visits by one or two people rather than the current four person tables
  • Flexible seating arrangements for adults will accommodate wider variety of uses and groupings


  • Keeping 2nd floor computers and tables along the balcony banister as a positive and popular configuration
  • Skills Learning Lab- funded by the Marian J. Weatherwax Trust and awarded by Aberdeen Review Committee will provide a space to learn and practice 21st Century digital skills


  • Staff Kiosk: Staffed regularly and provides a point of contact for patrons with questions
  • Adult services office design increases visibility and access to patrons, users of the 2nd floor space, meeting room and Skills Learning Lab


  • Fiction and Genre Fiction sections reimagined as a destination attraction and seating nearby to be able to browse and read
  • Quiet space in the library offering sufficient space for the collection
  • Periodicals newly located near elevators to accommodate seniors and other adults for short term visits

Meeting Rooms:

  • Four additional meeting rooms with a variety of functions and capacity
  • Free meeting spaces for groups from 1-60

Concept Videos and Images

First Floor Vision

In English

En español

3D Preview of the Redesign First Floor

Second Floor Vision

In English

En español

3D Preview of the Redesign Second Floor

New Pavilion Vision

In English

En español

3D Preview of the New Pavilion

Construction Plans

Thank you to Cardinal Architect of Seattle for the blueprint construction plans.

Click on image to enlarge.

Sources & Resources


Kowalsky, M., & Woodruff, J. (2017). Creating inclusive library environments: A planning guide for serving patrons with disabilities. Chicago, IL: ALA Editions

Miller, R. T., & Genco, B. A. (2016). Better library design: Ideas from Library journal. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.

Sannwald, William. (2016) Checklist of Library Building Design Considerations, 6th ed. Chicago: American Library Association.

Steinfeld, E., & Maisel, J. (2012). Universal design: Creating inclusive environments. Hoboken (N.J.): J. Wiley & Sons.

Vinjamuri, David. (2019) Library Space Planning: A PLA Guide. Chicago: American Library Association.

Woodward, Jeanette. (2010) Countdown to a New Library: Managing the Building Project, 2nd ed. Chicago: American Library Association.


Ogden, Sarah. TRL Community Conversations Results. Tumwater, WA, 2019

Reece, Stephenie. (2020, February) Aberdeen Library Community Townhall (Townhall). Aberdeen, WA, United States.

Reece, Stephenie. (2020, February) Aberdeen Stakeholders Meeting (Townhall). Aberdeen, WA, United States.

Vinjamuri, David. (2019, November) Space Planning: Reinventing your Library Space. Portland, OR, United States.


TEDx Talks. (2020, March 17). Reimaging the Public Library to Reconnect Community [Video]. Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JI2CLgq3LLk



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