Rachael Ries says she has really enjoyed her time as Branch Manager of the Washougal location of the Fort Vancouver Regional Library.
Over the past five years, she has worked hard to build positive community relationships and create lasting productive partnerships that benefit everyone involved. She will always remember her time in Washougal with fondness and pride.
That’s why Ries describes her next job change — she’s set to leave the Washougal branch to take over as FVRL’s Cascade Park Library branch on April 1 — as “bittersweet.”
“I’m really connected to the community, and we have a lot of partners and partnerships that I’ve created and established, and it’s going to be really hard to leave behind,” Ries said. “Hillary Marshall, the high school librarian, and I have worked together a lot, and you don’t always find community partners like that. Bolt and Amy (Minister) of 54-40 Brewing Company also do a lot for our community. We started the reading group there and got them started early on with trivia, which they now manage on their own. I will miss all of these different ways that we have tried to provide opportunities and reach people in Washougal rather than just within the confines of the library.
Ries joined the FVRL system in 2012, when she was hired as a library assistant for the downtown Vancouver branch. She was promoted to circulation supervisor later that year, took the same position in Washougal in January 2014, accepted a position as reference librarian at the Vancouver Community Library in March 2015, and succeeded Christine Hughey as as Washougal branch manager in December 2015.
“Part of the reason I wanted to move to Cascade Park is because it’s a good opportunity for my professional growth,” Ries said. “It’s a bigger branch, and I will be able to manage and work with more employees. There is specifically a librarian, supervising librarian in training, a newer position for our district, and it will be really nice to guide her and help her grow. For me, that’s a big part of what I’m moving towards where I see my leadership and my roles in the district.
Ries said she will miss her colleagues and the residents of Washougal who regularly visit the library.
“We have an exceptional team here,” she said. “We work very well (together). They are dedicated and creative, and they really care about the community and the library. It’s a good mix of personalities. …And I wouldn’t be the librarian I’m without (the bosses). I know that sounds a bit cliché, but it’s true. They have been incredibly supportive. I can show up at different places like Safeway and people would talk to me because they would recognize me at the library. That connection, being in a community and being part of that community, I’m going to miss that too.
Ries has been heavily involved in the construction of a new library in downtown Washougal, which the FVRL has pledged to build at some point over the next few years. She won’t be the first director of the new facility, as she previously thought, but said she’s still excited about the project.
“It would have been nice to see this project come to fruition, but I’m really proud of everything we’ve done,” she said. “We have organized the “Dîner en blanc” four years in a row and raised a lot of money. I’ve helped the Friends (of Washougal Library) with some of their big fundraising events, and the foundation (FVRL) has been an integral part of those big fundraising projects like Dine in White. We have made very good progress, and I feel good about it. But even though I manage Cascade Park, I’m still invested in getting their library to Washougal because I work for the same library district.
Friends of the Washougal Library will be hosting a “farewell party” for Ries from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, March 18 at the library, 1661 “C” St., Washougal.
Community meetings to discuss the future library scheduled for March 16
FVRL will hold its second round of community input meetings, featuring the architects of the new Washougal Library, on Wednesday, March 16.
The first session will be from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the East Clark County Resource Center of the Children’s Home Society of Washington, 1702 “C” St., Washougal. Session two will be from 6-8 p.m. at 54-40 Brewing Company, 3801 S. Truman Road, Washougal.
Employees of Hacker Architects, the Portland-based FVRL firm selected in 2021 to lead the conceptual and schematic design process for the library, will show four different options for how the future Washougal Library building could fit into the 17,424 square foot parcel of downtown Washougal land near the intersection of “C” and Main streets, donated by Wes Hickey of Lone Wolf Development in 2020.
Ries said the second round of community meetings will be similar to the first meetings to discuss the future Washougal Library, with the architects presenting information and responding to questions and comments from the public.
“We have completed the site assessment,” Ries said, “and (the architects) have done some preliminary measurements and testing. One of the challenges we have is that there is a 6-foot slope, and that’s what they had to look at — how to locate the library and still keep it on one level. That’s our goal — we don’t want a two-level building if we can avoid it, and it looks like we’ll be able to do it on one floor, it’s more cost effective and also easier to manage from a personnel and security point of view.
The first public meeting, held in July 2019, was a success thanks to its high level of participation and thoughtful feedback from the Washougal community, Ries said.
“We really combed through (the contribution) and the architects took those things to heart,” she said. “I think these briefings were very helpful in hearing what our community wants and letting the architects know how to lay out the site and what to incorporate into the building. »
Ries said the architects are tentatively expected to return for a third public meeting in the summer of 2022 to present their “full rendering of what the library could potentially look like inside and out in much greater detail.”
However, there are still several unknowns regarding the future library, including when Washougal residents might see construction begin on the downtown site.
“It’s really hard to say,” Ries said. “It’s really based on our funding. The (library) district has approved an additional $1.5 million for our project, so it’s moving forward, but an actual date I can’t say. We’re estimating about $7.5 million to build a 13,000 square foot library, and we’ve (raised) just under $4 million, so we still have $3.5-4 million left to get up. It really was more of a marathon than a sprint.
Fundraising group seeks new leader
The Friends of the Washougal Library – a group that has been instrumental in raising funds for the new library – is currently looking for a new chair.
“It’s an active group, and they’re supportive and very invested in this new library,” Ries said, “so that would be a good group to join.”
The Friends group held a meeting where “several ideas were brainstormed” in February, according to group secretary Kimberly Wongwai.
“(Acting Vice President) Jan Frietag is involved with a book club in the area, and she suggested there might be a way to contact other local book clubs to generate interest. for our group of friends,” Wongwai said. “We have many opportunities for involvement in various activities and at different levels of engagement during this exciting time as the new Washougal Library is in the design phase.”
For more information on the Friends group, email [email protected].
MAJOR EVENTS IN QUEST TO BUILD A NEW WASHOUGAL LIBRARY
The Fort Vancouver Regional Library (FVRL) is building a new facility for the Washougal Community Library that will provide more materials, resources, internet and computer access, as well as more space for meetings , programs and workshops.
Here are some of the major highlights of the decade-long quest to build a bigger library in Washougal:
2013: A facilities study by consultancy BergerABAM identifies the need for new library facilities in Woodland, Ridgefield and Washougal.
October 2014: A pre-design study by FFA Architecture and Interiors recommends the square footage, features, and eventual cost of the bookcase.
2015-18: FVRL is working with community stakeholders to find a suitable site for the new library. The Friends of the Washougal Community Library group begins its fundraising efforts.
June 2019: The FVRL Board of Directors is setting aside $1.45 million from its Capital Reserve Plan to help build the new Washougal Library.
September 2019: The annual Dîner en blanc fundraiser raises $102,000 for the construction project fund.
November 2020: Wes Hickey of Lone Wolf Development, LLC is donating 17,000 square feet of land on Durgan Street between Main and “C” streets for the new library. J
February 2021: FVRL seeks an architect to create a conceptual design for the library
May 2021: FVRL selects Portland-based Hacker Architects to lead the conceptual and schematic design process for the new library.
July 29, 2021: FVRL is hosting a public meeting to solicit community feedback on what Washougal residents hope to see in the new library.
August 2021: FVRL uses surveys to gather community feedback.
March 2022: Fundraising is halfway done, with just under $4 million raised for the new 13,000 square foot library.
March 16, 2022: FVRL will hold a second round of meetings to solicit feedback from community members.
Summer/Fall 2022 (provisional): FVRL plans to hold a third round of public consultation meetings.