Restoring Library Services to Hilltop and the Eastside
The Tacoma Public Library (TPL) once had libraries in the Eastside and Hilltop neighborhoods. These neighborhoods have traditionally been, and currently are, communities of color, strong in diversity and community, but with relatively limited access to resources. The Swan Creek and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) libraries were closed in 2011 as the City of Tacoma experienced fiscal challenges following the Great Recession. This disinvestment of library services generated an immediate and ongoing outcry from the Hilltop neighborhood in particular, and the formation of the Hilltop Library Planning Committee (HLPC), which exists and persists to this day.
In 2019, the Tacoma Public Library Director requested and received City funds to study the best way to restore library services to the Eastside and Hilltop neighborhoods. Although this project was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Study was completed in June 2022. This final report clearly articulates the respective visions of the Eastside and Hilltop communities’ desires for the restoration of library services and provides recommendations for specific facility types and service options that will best meet that vision.
Tacoma Public Library thanks all community partners and participants who contributed their time and energy to the feasibility study.
When the initial feasibility study concluded, TPL then worked with SHKS, the architectural firm that worked on the feasibility study, to survey specific sites on the Eastside and Hilltop. This site survey, completed in 2023, considered many potential sites sourced from community input from the feasibility study, ultimately recommending two on the Hilltop and Eastside, respectively, that would be viable for libraries.
Concurrently with the site surveys, in 2023 the City of Tacoma convened a Facilities Advisory Committee that worked on assessing properties across the City's entire portfolio, including libraries. That group recommended to City Council that new libraries be built on the Eastside and in Hilltop in a report, opens a new window summarizing their findings.
At this time, there is no funding secured to build new libraries. However, TPL continues to diligently gather the information that will be needed to source this funding. It is likely that Tacoma Public Library will have a bond on local ballots in 2024.
Watch BERK Consulting's presentation of the results: