Bellingham Public Library

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Bellingham Public Library is a library system for residents of the City of Bellingham in Whatcom County, Washington. It maintains three libraries, one in the Civic Center of downtown Bellingham, one in Fairhaven, and one in Barkley Village.


Downtown Bellingham's Carnegie library was demolished in the early 1950s
Fairhaven Library, constructed in 1905, is still in service

Bellingham Bay Public Library and Fairhaven Library were originally established separately in the early 1890s. Bellingham Bay Library began in 1891 as a subscription library and became a free library in 1903.[1] In 1906, the city of Bellingham received funds from the Carnegie Corporation for a permanent building, which was constructed in 1908 and used until 1951, when the current Central Branch library building was opened.[1]

The Fairhaven Library also began as a subscription library in 1890. Fairhaven Library received funds from the Carnegie Corporation for a permanent building, which was completed in 1905 and is used to this day.[1] The Central Library and Fairhaven Library were consolidated into one library system in 1903, when the towns of Fairhaven and Whatcom joined together to form Bellingham.


Bellingham Public Library circulates 1.6 million items each year and has over 52,000 registered cardholders.[2] In 2008, Bellingham Public Library's per capita circulation was 18.7 – the highest rate for libraries of its size in Washington state.[3]

Bellingham Public Library hosts a number of special events throughout the year, including weekly storytime events for children, author appearances, adult literacy tutoring, and family and community outreach events. The library also offers readers' advisory talks and materials to assist patrons in selection of materials from the collection. A popular annual community event is the library's "Summer Reading Program", with separate programs for children, teens and adults.[4]

Bellingham Public Library maintains special collections in genealogy and local Northwest Washington history. There are also special services for Adult Basic Education, as well as a circulating collection of kits for reading groups.


In addition to the three branches operated by the Bellingham Public Library system, materials can also be checked out and returned at Whatcom Community College Library. The Bellingham Public Library system also maintains a reciprocal borrowing agreement with Whatcom County Library System. In 2010, Bellingham Public Library became a partner with other library systems in "Whatcom Libraries Collaborate". This program allows a cardholder from any of the six library systems (including academic and public libraries) located in Whatcom County to borrow materials from any other member library.[5]

Bellingham Public Library is a sponsor of the "Whatcom READS!" program, together with Whatcom County Library System, Bellingham Technical College Library, Whatcom Community College Library, Western Washington University Library, and other local organizations. This program is modeled after the "If All Seattle Read the Same Book" project initiated by librarian Nancy Pearl, and consists of a series of discussion groups and author events focusing on one particular book, which brings the community together through literature.[6]


  1. ^ a b c "Bellingham Public Library History"
  2. ^ "Bellingham Public Library website"
  3. ^ "Library Board Announces Hours, Service Reductions" Archived October 12, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ "Summer Reading"
  5. ^ "Whatcom Libraries Collaborate"
  6. ^ "Whatcom Reads" Archived August 21, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.

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Coordinates: 48°45′15″N 122°28′45″W / 48.75417°N 122.47917°W / 48.75417; -122.47917