The Upper Skagit Library District was formed in 2001 to serve the residents of the rural areas of the Concrete School District. The library first opened its doors to patrons in 2005 while located at the 1,600 sq. ft. Ted Anderson East Skagit County Resource Center room B, and served from that location until 2021.
Initially, the USLD was a partial-county library district, meaning that citizens of the incorporated town of Concrete were not automatically included in the service area. If they wanted to become patrons of the USLD they had to pay a service fee to receive their library cards. In 2015 the Town of Concrete initiated the process of annexation into the library district and town residents voted in favor of joining the district.
Soon after the library’s doors opened, the community donated books and other materials, shelving and furniture were bought surplus from the Sno-Isle Library District, and surplus computers were bought from the National Park Service. With all of these resources in one room, and with only one restroom, one staff workroom/restroom, and a floor that struggled to bear the weight of the shelves and books, it was apparent that the library would quickly outgrow its current space. In 2014 a New Library Task Force was formed to explore all possibilities available in acquiring a new space. In 2015 the Friends of the Upper Skagit Library transformed into the 501(c)3 Upper Skagit Library Foundation, with the goal of fundraising for the acquisition of a new space. In 2016 it was determined that the construction of a new library building was not feasible, and remodeling an existing location would be the only option for the USLD.
In 2017 the former home of the Heskett-Arnold American Legion Hall Post 132 was purchased by local benefactors and donated to the library and remodeled for temporary use. In 2018 the library gained possession of the building and began the process of remodeling it and upgrading it to bring it up to the standards demanded of it by the county and state. This process was completed in February 2021, and the move was completed in March 2021, however patrons were only allowed to enter the building for the first time in May of 2021, due to COVID-19 restrictions. In January of 2022 the USLD finally opened on Thursdays for the first time in its history and expanded hours across all open days of the week for patrons who previously were unable to come into the library due to schedule conflicts.
Historically the USLD has been a key force in the community in serving residents locally, particularly those who struggle economically or those who struggle to get transportation downriver. Having a larger, more centrally-located space allows the USLD to provide services to residents closer to where they live and work, which is vital to helping our community grow and thrive. Patrons utilize the library not just for materials like books, films, games, magazines, audio CDs, newspapers, and Washington State Discover Passes, but for vital access to the internet, computers and other technology, and printing/faxing services. Staff assist patrons with job hunting, test preparations, school assignments, research, and technical support. During extreme weather the library serves as cold and hot weather shelters, and on a regular basis the library serves as a community meeting space for residents to socialize and participate in programs for fun or education.
Serving the community has always been the USLD’s number one priority and as such, this is not the end of the road of our expansion – in fact it’s just the beginning! As we move into the future keep your eyes out for even more services and community outreach!