Explore Bainbridge Library: The Local Hub of Learning and Engagement

One place that I always enjoy visiting on Bainbridge Island is the Bainbridge Library. The staff at this library in Bainbridge Washington is always so helpful and friendly, and the building is gorgeous. I visit this library regularly because getting from Seattle to Bainbridge by ferry is very easy.

History and Important Events

Port Madison Mill Store Library

In the late 1800s, several schools had libraries where students could check out books to read on Bainbridge Island.

In 1863, Port Madison Public Library opened as the second library on Puget Sound that was opened to the public. The library, located on the second floor of the Port Madison Mill, was supported by Puget Sound Ladies’ Silver Teas. This group of ladies already supported several school libraries scattered around Bainbridge Island.

First Bainbridge Library Built

Workers constructed the first Bainbridge library in the Good Templers Building in 1913. The library consisted of a single room and was often used for community meetings. The Winslow Library Association oversaw the operation of the Winslow Public Library. This library continued to serve the public until 1947.

Rolling Bay Public Library

Bainbridge in 1950s
Bainbridge in 1950s – Courtesy of blog.library.gsu.edu

A year later, the Rolling Bay Parent Teacher Association opened a library across from the Moran Boy’s School. In 1924, this library became a Kitsap County Library system branch after its formation in 1944.

Bainbridge Public Library Inc. Formed

In 1960, 27 residents met at the Winslow City Hall and formed Bainbridge Public Library Inc. Mrs. Lyman Black was appointed the board’s first chairman. A year later, lawyer Edmund Stafford donated money for the first Bainbridge library to be built. The board appointed John Rudolph, who had attended every meeting since the library board had formed, as the building’s architect.

First Bainbridge Rotary Auction Held

Over 2,000 people gathered in the Winslow Shipyard’s administration building in August 1960 to hold an auction to raise funds for the library’s construction. Generous donors brought many items to be auctioned off, including two live sheep, 500 gallons of furnace oil and a side of beef. Ultimately, people living on Bainbridge Island had raised almost $29,000, and the Rotary Club donated $6,000. The library opened on March 17, 1962, at its current location.

Bainbridge Library Entrance

Bainbridge Public Library Children’s Library

In 1968, the children’s library opened on the first floor of the building. Doctor and Mrs. James Hodges gave money for the books and remodeling of the space. The first story hour was held in 1971 after Blakey Mill donated to remodel the Eddy Room in honor of their founder, Eddy Blakey.

Friends of the Library Volunteer Program

In 1976, the Friends of the Library group held their first meeting. They created six working groups:

  • Dirty Book Committee
  • Reading and Music at Convalescent Center
  • Book Discussion Group
  • Puppet Making
  • Story Hours for Children
  • Family Programs

As of 2023, over 2,000 volunteers assist at the library. At least annually, this group holds book sales, with most books selling for $1 to $2. I was so thankful to grab some real bargains during my last visit.

Adjacent Building Purchased

The Bainbridge Washington library purchased the building adjacent to the main library in 1977, with plans to use the additional space soon following. The library bought buildings behind the main library that they rented to businesses as retail space. Shortly afterward, the county gave land adjacent to the library to the library.

Creation of Haiku No Niwa Garden

Members of the Japanese American Community used this space to create the Haiku No Niwa garden. This is one of my favorite places in the whole world. They built it as a tribute to their ancestors, who, despite being American citizens, were forced off the island and made to live in internment camps during World War II. One of the reasons that I love this space so much is the haiku stones with words on them. My favorite reads, “They blossom We gaze Petals scatter.” The stones have the words in English and Japanese.

Bainbridge Wood Door

Continued Growth

In 2007, the library opened again in a completely renovated space. The demand for services from the library continued to soar, so in October 2019, the library was able to complete a $1.3 million renovation. Many people and groups contributed funds. One of the largest was the Rotary Club, which gave $100,000 to renovate the community meeting room.

Why I Always Visit the Bainbridge Public Library?

I come to the Bainbridge library as often as possible when I visit Bainbridge Island. The library has so much to offer that I cannot resist spending as much time here as possible.

Bainbridge Friends of the Library Book Sale

The Bainbridge Friends of the Library holds a book sale about three times a month. I love stocking up on my reading supply during these sales, usually held on Sundays. I also love the fact that my purchases support the library. Everyone is sure to find a book or ten that they need at this sale in Bainbridge Island town. This large sale in Bainbridge Washington attracts buyers from throughout the Pacific Northwest.

First Friday Art Walk

I love attending the First Friday Art Walks at the library in Bainbridge Island town. These monthly exhibitions allow me to see the artwork of artists I may not be familiar with and reconnect with friends I do not see during the rest of the month. It is the perfect time to unwind and relax, surrounded by art often created by Puget Sound artists.

Bainbridge Library from Inside

Library Art

You can see many art pieces as you wander through the library with its beautiful, light-filled space. Donors gifted most of these pieces to the library between 1997 and 1999. A favorite of mine is “Glass-A-Bet,” which was created by Darcy Herrett’s eighth-grade class. While it is best to come to the library when it is open, you can see art outside the garden, including “The Memory of the World“, a series of bronze plaques embedded into the library’s front sidewalk.

Art Group

Another reason that I always feel so connected to Bainbridge Washington is the Art Group. While members have moved all over the United States, the main group meets at the library weekly. They receive a word prompt and create a postcard each week. Then, they mail or give the postcards to each other.

Children’s Story Hour

I love hearing about the latest children’s story hour adventures from my niece and nephew. They also love participating in the summer reading program.

There are so many reasons to explore the library in Bainbridge Town. Plan a trip to explore this space for yourself very soon.