Breidablik library set to open up a whole new world

POULSBO — To enter the Breidablik Elementary library, students will soon walk beneath an arch fashioned out of driftwood.

If they decide to stay and read, they might pick a spot next to the rocky turtle tank.

Or take up beneath a tree.

Or climb into the lower floor of a treehouse.

It’s quite a change from the morning of Jan. 13, when a fire triggered the school’s sprinkler system and doused most of the room’s books, causing extensive damage and briefly threatening the library’s two residents, bearded lizards Kevin and Ishtar.

Since then, hundreds of artists, educators, parents, teachers and community members have come together to turn the once-flooded room into a habitat-themed library.

Now the entire community is invited to the library’s reopening celebration at 5 p.m. April 11 at the school. An open house will be held from 5-7 p.m. There will also be a dedication ceremony and recognition of volunteers and donors from 7-7:30 p.m.

Breidablik Principal Lynn Rasmussen said the event will pay tribute to some 200 donors and volunteers.

Volunteers came to the rescue immediately after the fire, first by helping to dry out waterlogged books, thousands of which had to be thrown away, and then by donating time, money and expertise to the library’s redesign.

“It’s a reaffirmation of the goodwill of people,” Rasmussen said. “It really is.”

While the library still has some work to be done — Rasmussen’s voice was drowned briefly by a power drill Monday afternoon while the lizards’ cage was completed. The room has already has started to resemble the finished product, including the most important feature, which isn’t a new feature at all.

The books have started to be shelved.

“It’s been wonderful. It’s like they’re coming home,” Librarian Mary Fox said.

Thousands of the library’s books were damaged in the dousing and many were beyond saving.

Insurance paid for the replacements, but volunteers have come forward with hundreds of tomes, including a donation from the Seattle SuperSonics organization.

Volunteer work has been donated in other ways as well. One local craftsman offered driftwood chairs, a zoo habitat expert donated time and expertise and an author and illustrator printed an image of a spirit bear to gaze quizzically at the room.

Now there’s a waterfall and pond that will house sideneck turtles, a brilliant sky that’s been painted in one corner and a new cage for Kevin and Ishtar.

While hundreds of adults worked on the room, the student readers it’s meant for may be looking forward to the grand opening most of all.

As they passed, several students pressed their foreheads against the library’s windows and stared inside.

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