Walla Walla County commissioners want the Rural Library District to put a hold on building a $3.6 million suburban Walla Walla branch until dialogue on forming a larger regional library has been exhausted.
In an Aug. 6 letter, commissioner Chairman Greg Tompkins, writing on behalf of all three commissioners, said, “…It is incumbent on us as the legislative authority of Walla Walla County to request that you the Rural Library Board please suspend your current time line on purchasing property and construction of a new rural library building until all avenues and options can be exhausted.”
The letter went on to state that county commissioners had met with Walla Walla City Manager Nabiel Shawa, who said the city was still interested in finding ways to work jointly to provide library services to county residents.
Tompkins also proposed including College Place, Waitsburg and Prescott in future discussions.
Even though commissioners have made it clear they want to halt the new branch and look at cooperation, the Rural Library District board is an independent legislative body that is not under the authority of commissioners and can still move forward with its plans.
Earlier this year, representatives from the city library and Rural Library District met to discuss various proposals for working together.
The result was that directors of both agencies felt each library should move forward independently.
The Rural Library District also stated recently that it would not consider annexation of the city of Walla Walla for at least three years.
For almost three decades, the Rural Library District and Walla Walla Library have worked together to provide library services to county residents, with the district paying the city to provide services to county residents.
Contentious and diminishing contract negotiations in recent years have led to a break in that working agreement.
Directors of both libraries said they expect this to be the last year the two agencies will enter into a contractual agreement.