New Lakewood, Sumner libraries in let’s-talk stage

The Pierce County Library System wants to find out the public’s interest in replacing existing libraries in Sumner and Lakewood with new ones.

Officials are using open houses and an online survey for feedback on what citizens want from libraries so that new facilities can be designed accordingly.

The Sumner library branch is in a building co-owned by the City of Sumner and the library system (PCLS). The building will close because it is aging and needs costly repairs. Officials said the community has an opportunity to have a new library built on land the city purchased on East Main Street—something that city leaders voiced strong support of during a meeting of the PCLS Board of Trustees in June.

In Lakewood, the branch there was built 56 years ago, more than 30 years before Lakewood became an incorporated city. The library serves nearly 60,000 people with services and resources, but it doesn’t support current or future uses of libraries and would require millions of dollars in upgrades, according to PCLS. As part of a city plan for municipal development, Lakewood officials want a new library in a redeveloped downtown core.

In addition, the Tillicum library branch serves a Lakewood neighborhood in a small, aging building that is shared with a community center.

“The current libraries are well-loved and well-used and have served the communities well,” said PCLS executive director Georgia Lomax. “Unfortunately, the buildings are underserving the communities, as more people and more services compete for limited space. The libraries were built with the purpose of housing books. Today, libraries serve many more individual and community needs.”

This summer, PCLS is talking residents of the Lakewood and Sumner areas in libraries, at community events and online to learn what they want in new libraries. An online survey is available at And two week-long open houses are scheduled at each of the current branches:

  • July 28 to Aug. 3 in Sumner (1116 Fryar Ave.).
  • Aug. 12-17 in Lakewood (6300 Wildaire Road SW.) and Tillicum (14916 Washington Ave. SW.).

Lomax said new libraries would be designed around how people want to use them, as well as for offering books, movies and other resources. Library buildings must meet the needs of people who also expect to find music, computer and related technologies, community meeting spaces, and quiet work and study areas, she said.

PCLS serves a population of about 600,000 people in a service area stretching from Key Peninsula to Buckley. More than 1 million books, e-books, audiobooks, movies and other material are available through 20 branches and online.