Maple Valley Library, King County Library System

  • By Linda Holden Givens
  • Posted 11/15/2016
  • Essay 20197

The Maple Valley Library is located at 21844 SE 248th Street in Maple Valley, a Cedar River Valley community located some 10 miles southeast of Renton. The 12,000-square-foot building, which opened in December 2000, is the sixth site that the library has called home. The King County Library System (KCLS) began providing bookmobile service in 1946, and the first Maple Valley Library opened in the Cedar Grange Hall in 1947. Ten years later the library moved to a real-estate company building, and a year after that, in 1958, it moved into a telephone company building. Finally in 1959 it moved into its own structure, a 540-square-foot portable building. Nine years later the library moved into a building nearly eight times as large, in which it would serve as a community center for more than three decades. Maple Valley voters approved annexation of the library to KCLS on September 16, 1997, and the library moved to its present home three years later.

Gibbon's Hall/Cedar Grange Hall -- First Maple Valley Library

Library service first came to Maple Valley in 1946, when the newly formed King County Library System began providing a traveling bookmobile that visited for 30 minutes every two weeks. The next year, on May 27, 1947, the first Maple Valley Library opened in the Cedar Grange Hall, at 22531 SE 218th Street, which provided free space on the upper level of the building.

The building was built as a community hall in the first decade of the twentieth century by William David Gibbon (1862-1944), a businessman and landowner who had immigrated to the United States as a child in 1866. Initially known as "Gibbon's Hall," the building, located along the Cedar River, soon became the social center of the community. Cedar Grange No. 534 formed in 1913, one of many chapters in Washington of the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, the oldest nationwide farm organization in the United States. At the local level, the Maple Valley Cedar Grange organized and held regular meetings for the purpose of improving social, political, economic, and educational opportunities for the community. By 1919, the Cedar Grange moved into the Gibbon's Hall building. Gibbon went bankrupt around 1925 and Charles and Jennie Olson purchased the building. In 1929, the Cedar Grange purchased the building from the Olsons and named it the Cedar Grange Hall.

When the Maple Valley Library opened in the Cedar Grange Hall in 1947 it had four book shelves and 881 books. KCLS hired Roville Jaqueline Hatfield (1890-1966) as the first librarian. Room-maintenance costs were shared by the community through gifts. The first seven months in operation, book circulation totaled 4,342. More shelving was added in 1948 and book circulation increased to 12,240.

In 1949, the Maple Valley Library Board was formed. Five representatives from local organizations came together to provide support and promote interest and awareness of library services by sponsoring events and collecting funds. The money collected was turned over to the Cedar Grange, which applied it to operating costs such as heat and lights.

By 1955, there were 582 people registered as borrowers and the library held 5,098 volumes. The library was open 12 hours per week to general users, in addition to 2.25 hours for 12 school classes. Bookmobile service continued, and indeed increased to three days each week instead of once every two weeks. Among the groups collecting funds for library expenses during this time were the Maple Valley Community Club, the local P.T.A, the Maple Valley Library Board, and various others.

Catherine Christy Benedict (1914-2004), began working as a librarian at Maple Valley in 1955 and served until 1976. Other Maple Valley librarians included Kenna Hatfield, Juliette Blickfeldt (1903-1986), and Evelyn Sroufe (1917-2012).

Growing Up Fast

By 1957, the library had doubled its four bookshelves to eight, along with a magazine rack, moveable book cart, and dictionary stand. These items were donated by the community. The library outgrew its space in the Cedar Grange Hall and had become a burden to the Grange, which asked the Library Board to move the library out of the hall. The library needed enough space to serve an estimated 600 borrowers. At the same time the Library Board became the Library Guild. The library moved to its second location in May 1957 -- temporary quarters in an 8-by-15-foot real-estate office in the back of an older house. The building was occupied by Squak Mountain Realty Insurance Real Estate.

The library moved to its third location in July 1958 -- an older and larger house on the same property as the previous temporary location. An agreement was signed with the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company allowing free use of a portion of the company's property in the building.

Plans were already being discussed for a new library building. The building was to be designed by Felix Campanella (1930-1999) and David Arthur of Johnston, Campanella, and Murakami of Renton at no charge to the community. Work was done by volunteers from businesses and residents generously donated materials and their time. The Maple Valley building committee had only $50 and a whole lot of faith.

On February 22, 1959, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for the new 540-square-foot portable building. Moving day was on October 21, 1959. An open house was held on December 1, 1959, to celebrate all the volunteer effort that went into the development of this fourth location for the library. The value of the building was estimated at $5,000 and the treasury showed an expenditure of just $782.79.

At the time the building was more than adequate, but both library use and the collection continued to grow rapidly. In addition, the new building was located on telephone company property. Felix Campanella assisted in planning to protect the library if the company decided to take back the property. By the mid-1960s, the library was growing out of its space and, as Campanella had predicted, the telephone company wanted its property back. Discussions for a new library building commenced again.

A New Building Funded by the First Library Bonds

This time the library would be financed by the first King County Library System bond issue and by matching federal funds. A $6 million bond measure was approved by county voters on November 8, 1966, with 63 percent approval, allowing KCLS to build more libraries. This was the first library bond placed before voters in the state. After the bond measure passed, Herbert F. Mutschler (1919-2001), director of the King County Library System, told a reporter for the Renton Record-Chronicle that:

"Three areas atop the priority list will get early starts toward construction, because urgent planning already had begun and sites were selected, but monies were not available. These top-priority areas include Lake Hills, Eastgate and Maple Valley" ("Maple Valley Among First ...")

Felix Campanella of Johnston, Campanella, and Murakami again planned and designed the new building. Local residents Joseph Vernon, Georgina Marie and Joseph (Joe) Flynn, and Ivar and Hazel Orcutt offered their property as a gift for the site. The parking lot was leased from the Seattle Water Department. In August 1967, Fred and Laura Brunton, owners of the historic Olson Mansion, opened the mansion for an open house and tour sponsored by the Maple Valley Library Guild to benefit the sustaining fund for the library's operation.

The Bayley Company was selected as the general contractor for the 4,000-square-foot building that would be the library's fifth location. It opened on July 14, 1968, at 23730 Maple Valley-Black Diamond Rd. SE. The estimated cost of the building was $112,000. The new library contained a children's area, community meeting room, reading area, staff lounge, workroom, and the capacity to shelve 25,000 books and other materials.

In the Woods

As it had at every new location, the library expanded rapidly, with rising population in the area, increased circulation, and a steady evolution of library collections and services. Over the next 30 years, the Maple Valley library grew into a community center hosting a wide range of activities. And as before, although this time after considerably longer, the library again outgrew its existing building. In the final years of the twentieth century, planning began for a new library building.

While that was in process, the citizens of Maple Valley, which was then an unincorporated area of King County, decided to incorporate the City of Maple Valley. Because the Maple Valley Library was located within what would be an incorporated city, voters would also need to decide whether the new city should operate the library, or whether the Maple Valley Library should annex into the King County Library System, which had been operating the library from its beginning. It was an easy decision.

On July 14, 1997, even before the city's incorporation became effective, Maple Valley residents initiated and expressed their intent to annex to KCLS. The City of Maple Valley was formally incorporated on August 31, 1997. Two weeks later, on September 16, 1997, a special election was held among qualified voters to approve or reject annexation of the library to KCLS. Voters overwhelmingly approved annexation, with 94 percent in favor. When they did, plans were already underway to build the next library building.

On September 15, 1999, at noon, officials broke ground for the new Maple Valley Library at 21844 SE 248th Street on a site surrounded by Douglas fir trees. At 12,000 square feet, the library's sixth location was designed with a u-shaped shed roof to minimize visual impact. The roof featured a downspout capable of releasing 300 gallons of water a minute into a central gravel pool.

Two architecture firms, Johnston Architects and James Cutler Architects; Barbara Swift, a landscape architect; civil engineers SvR Design Company; and general contractor R. Miller Construction worked to design and build a modern library and its necessary parking in the wooded area. As one member explained, "A comprehensive research effort of the design team gave it a clear understanding of the site's ecosystem, and its ability to accommodate development" (Swift Company website), and the builders took special care during construction to protect the woods from damage. Located between Highway 18 and the Maple Valley-Black Diamond Road, the building was largely hidden by trees. Wood and glass were used to convey an opening presence and at the same time shape a strong connection to the outdoors.

On a rainy December 22, 2000, the Maple Valley Library opened. More than 300 people attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony. "It was raining so hard that we had to cut the ribbon inside," Librarian Services Manager Philis Bodle recalled (email, May 23, 2016). In the years following the opening, the new building won several awards for its architecture, landscape, and integration into a Douglas fir forest.

With the new building holding more than 40,000 items, and of course offering access to all KCLS holdings, the Maple Valley Library saw yearly circulation increase consistently. As the Maple Valley Library Guild had done from the beginning at the Cedar Grange Hall, the Friends of the Maple Valley Library continued to sponsor a variety of art shows, fundraisers, and programs at the library. In the decade and a half since the current Maple Valley Library opened, multiple improvements have been made. Funded by a major capital bond issue approved by voters in 2004, significant interior renovations, including new carpets, lighting, furniture, and relocated computer stations, were completed in 2011. The work allowed the Maple Valley Library to continue offering a range of new technology and ever-increasing sources of information to the community.

Sources: Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History, "Maple Valley -- Thumbnail History" (by Alan J. Stein), "King County Board of Commissioners establishes the King County Rural Library District on January 4, 1943" (by Paula Becker), "King County Rural Library District and The Seattle Public Library contract to allow district patrons to utilize all services of The Seattle Public Library on June 14, 1943" (by Paula Becker), "King County Library System" (by Paula Becker), "Washington State Grange" (by John Caldbick), "King County Landmarks: Olof and Mathilda Olson House and Barn (1907, 1909), Maple Valley," (by Heather MacIntosh), "Maple Valley -- Thumbnail History" (by Alan Stein), and "Mobile Services, The Seattle Public Library -- The Bookmobile" (by David Wilma), (accessed April 22, 2016); "Maple Valley Library -- 1955," manuscript in collection of Maple Valley Library, Maple Valley, Washington; Jeanne Thorsen, "Black Diamond/Maple Valley Study Team," August 20, 1996, manuscript in collection of Maple Valley Library; Lorene Krall, The Story of Our Community: Maple Valley, Washington," (Maple Valley: Maple Valley Historical Society, 1985); Morda C. Slauson, One Hundred Years on the Cedar (Renton: (self-published?), 1968), 27-41; "Delivering on a Promise to Voters: KCLS Capital Improvement Plan 11-Year Report, September 2015," King County Library System (KCLS) website accessed October 15, 2016 (, 35; "History," KCLS website accessed October 15, 2016 (; "2014 Year In Review: Impact Beyond Numbers," KCLS website accessed October 15, 2016 (; "Maple Valley Library," Swift Company website accessed April 25, 2016 (; "Maple Valley Among First to Get Library," Renton Record-Chronicle, November 16, 1966, p. 5; "Local Artist to Be Shown at Open House," Ibid., July 26, 1967, p. 8; "Library Progressing Outside and Inside," Maple Valley Leaves, July 2000, p. 3; "Few Notice as Valley Library Observes Its Fifth Year of Service," Voice of the Valley, July 25, 1973, p. 1; "Library Celebrating," Ibid., November 2, 1994, p. 2; "Construction to Begin on the New Maple Valley Library," Ibid., October 6, 1999, p. 1; "Maple Valley Library: Library Receives 3 Design Awards," Voice of the Valley, January 2, 2001, p. 7; Kathleen Kear, "Cedar Grange in Need of a New Roof," Voice of the Valley, November 11, 2013 (; "County Library Has Use Increase of 32%," The Seattle Times, March 13, 1948, p. 20; "County Branch Libraries Have Open-House Days," Ibid., April 12, 1959, p. 14; Elizabeth Wright Evans, "New Libraries Are Symbols of Cultural Progress," Ibid., October 28, 1962, p. 13; Byron Fish, "Vote for Bond Issues or Stop Reading," Ibid., November 4, 1966, p. 13; John J. Reddin, "Faces of the City: Mrs. Mary Hansen IS County Library System," Ibid., November 6, 1966, p. 7; "King County Measures," Ibid., November 9, 1966, p. 6; Lyle Burt, "226 Failure: Evans Pledges to Help Cities Find Solutions," Ibid., November 9, 1966, p. 1; "Maple Valley Library Will Open Tuesday," Ibid., July 7, 1968, p. 16; "Election Results," Ibid., September 26, 1997, p. A-14; Valerie Easton, "The Swift Solution," The Seattle Times, March 7, 2004 (; Manuel Valdes, "Quiet Libraries Morphing into Busy Community Hubs," Ibid., January 4, 2007; Philis Bodie, emails to Linda Holden Givens, April 28-June 24, 2016, in possession of Linda Holden Givens, Auburn, Washington; King County Library System Annual Reports for 1946, 1947, 1948, and 1949, King County Library System folder, King County Archives, Seattle, Washington; Minnie J. Little, "Annual Report 1947: Report on Two Bookmobiles -- King County Public Library" (Document No. 3669), King County Library System folder, King County Archives; "Highlights of 1951 -- Public Libraries Are Part of Our Country's Heritage" (Document No. 3672), King County Library System folder, King County Archives; "Library Location Plan -- A Guide for Library Planning in King County, Washington" (Document No. 2559), King County Library System folder, King County Archives; King County Council Ordinance No. 12810,"Establishing the date for an election on the question of annexation of the City of Maple Valley into the King County Rural Library District," King County Archives.

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