What we do:
The Alternative Library was founded as an open forum; a cooperatively-run lending library and community space open to everyone. In the years since, it has consistently grown, with more members joining and more books being added almost every day. With each new person who gets involved, the space becomes both more dynamic and resilient with their input.
Our book collection has grown to include over 7000 titles, featuring many unique art books and work from some of the most exciting independent publishers of today.
Check out our resources list to connect with some of our small-press allies and other awesome literary organizations that have supported us over the years.
Where we’ve been:
Since it was created, the Alternative Library has operated from many different locations. Those who have been following it from the beginning have seen it transform to fit each of those spaces before quickly outgrowing them. Starting out, it was run from the founders’ living room. From there we moved into a studio space in Bellingham’s Arts District, and in 2013 into our own storefront on Railroad Avenue. With each move, the library has transformed, adapted and grown into more than any of us expected.
Now, we’ve found our dream location, and finally a permanent home for the Alternative Library!
We’re already well underway, but we need your help to complete the remodel of this amazing historical building and move the Alternative Library into it.
Here’s the breakdown of the costs of this project:
- $12,000: Construction Materials
- $10,000: Fire Sprinkler System
- $7,500: Labor
- $3,000: Permits
- $800: Electrical
- $700: Misc
- $1,000: First Month Rent
Grand Total: $35,000
What our new space will mean:
This building was purchased by a member of our board with the express intention of becoming the new space for the Alternative Library! Thus, the entire remodel is being done with that end in mind. With so much more space than we’ve had in the last few years, we will be able to grow the Alternative Library into a truly unique space.
The “Karate Church” at 519 E Maple Street was originally built as the First Presbyterian Church in the town of Sehome in 1889. It is one of Bellingham’s oldest surviving churches. Most of its original features are intact, despite decades of being used as a church and later on as a karate studio. We’re hoping to preserve this wonderful piece of Bellingham’s history and continue the tradition of repurposing the building for a new generation.
Over the years, we’ve become well known for transforming our space to host a diverse array of performances in the midst of the library! With our move into the church, we’re making the Alternative Library a space that performers will dream of coming to visit! We’ve already begun installing sound insulation board into the walls and have built a balcony for our sound engineer to work from. We’ve also been in touch with some amazing performers who will be gracing us with performances once we are ready to reopen.
In our previous locations we have offered classes, workshops, and been host to group meetings, but attendance has had to be very limited, due to space restriction.
In the church we have put up a dividing wall to create a dedicated room for large group meetings and classes that need to have a contained space without distraction.
This will also restore the building to a more historic floor plan.
We have created a whole separate space for our community consignment store that will give it more room to develop as we carry even more creative work from our members. We want to use this store to support the small-press literary community and the entrepreneurs in our area.