The 10,000 square-foot Tukwila Library, is a great example of an urban library that serves one of the most diverse communities in the U.S. The library’s sustainable design, collection, resources and programs all reflect its location, north of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, as a “gateway city” which welcomes immigrants and refugees, has historic (Duwamish) tribal roots, and a workforce that includes Boeing, Westfield Southcenter Mall, and many other businesses.
When it opened in April 29, 2017, the library was the anchor tenant of a new development, Tukwila Village, which now features senior housing, a community center and other amenities. Tukwila, as you may know, was written up in the New York Times as having one of the most diverse school districts in the country, with 80 languages and 80 percent of students eligible for free or reduced lunch.
Since the day the library opened, it has functioned as Tukwila’s “living room,” where all people can meet, learn, grow and feel part of a larger community, and as a steady driver for meaningful connections and interactions. These include on-site and outreach services ranging from Summer Meals to job-readiness programs; partnerships with the local Refugee Women’s Alliance teaching literacy and computer skills; weekly Talk Time and Citizenship Classes, and a Prime Time literacy series for at-risk families.
A National Welcoming Week event included “Confluence Tukwila: Arrivals,” in which people of different cultures shared family stories. The library held a Teen Voices program on social-justice issues; works with the Tukwila Teen Leadership Council to develop teen/tween programs, and provides weekly Snack Packs to at-risk middle school students.
Tukwila Mayor Allan Ekberg, who attended the Confluence event, said it “helped open the doors of understanding. These activities enliven the library, and bring the community together.”
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