History of the Kent Library
The Kent Library was born seventy-six years ago on August 23, 1920. Located in a room of the Red Cross Community house, this first library was comprised of donations, and the staff members were volunteers. On December 22, 1922, the Library moved into a room in the Kent City Hall at Second and Grove. City funds supported the library. The first salaried librarian, Anna Fisher, was hired in 1926 and held that position until 1950.
On October 5, 1959, the city contracted with the King County Library System for staff and materials. A new 4,200 square foot library, co-owned by the City and KCLS, was planned for the corner of Fourth and Titus. One house needed to be removed from the site, and it was burned to the ground by the Kent Fire Department for firefighting practice on April 22, 1959.
On June 23, 1969, the Kent News-Journal reported a new record for the library: that day 1,154 items were checked out.
After a library bond issue was passed, the library at Fourth and Titus was expanded to 15,000 square feet and opened on October 21, 1973. Library board suggestions for improvements for 1975 included a recommendation that the library serve coffee to its customers once a week to enhance public relations. The Kent community continued to grow, and a consultant was hired to develop a plan based on this reported growth. A 25,000 square foot building was recommended for the downtown area.
The site of the Sea-Kent Cold Storage Plant at the corners of First and Second at Smith Street was selected for the new library. The groundbreaking ceremony was held on October 20, 1988. The plant was demolished; but nobody suspected that the soil was frozen down to 24 feet, requiring permafrost technology to thaw the ground. The technique of drilling holes into the soil and allowing ground water to seep into them speeded up the thawing process. Fill dirt reinforced the land, and pilings were driven more than 30 feet into the ground to secure a firm foundation. The new 22,500 square foot Kent Library opened in September, 1991. Residents of the city voted to annex to the King County Library System in 1993.
The libraryâ€™s interior has been updated several times since opening.Â In 2009, a major re-model included enlargement of the meeting rooms and general refurbishment of the building.
Last Upated: April 6, 2011