Library’s new history hub speaks volumes about community spirit – The Conner Weekly News

Master Swinomish sculptor Kevin Paul’s latest work, a sculpted and painted themed totem pole, was installed near the new entrance to the La Conner Swinomish Library on July 7.

“It really is a landmark,” said La Conner Regional Library Board Secretary Robert Hancock, who attended the hour-long installation and brief ceremony that followed. . “It’s something that people who come to town will want to have their picture taken with.”

The tall and graceful flagpole symbolizes unity and respect for lifelong learning and personal growth. Camas Logue’s son-in-law was Paul’s assistant.

The post bears images – a welcoming host, two salmon hunting and an eagle – that convey the library’s mission, Paul, a member of the library’s board of trustees, told the Weekly News.

The figure at the bottom, with her arms raised and her hands placed at chest level, represents inclusion, Paul said.

“It means everyone is welcome at the library,” said Paul, a 1979 La Conner High School graduate whose work received worldwide acclaim before the pole was installed.

“The salmon is for sharing and the eagle is for advice,” he added.

Paul drummed and sang his “Eagle Blessing Song” once the pole was in place.

Moments earlier, La Conner Mayor Ramon Hayes had stopped his car and crossed the street to shake Paul’s hand and thank him for his work on the pole.

Hayes wasn’t the only one to express his admiration.

Library project architect Matt Aalfs said the mast is so striking in its distinct imagery and color palette that it forced changes to the design of the building.

“We wanted to incorporate both,” Aalfs explained. “We wanted something complementary so that the story pole wouldn’t be seen as just an addition to the building.”

Aalfs said a section of the cedar log from which Paul and Logue fashioned the story post is used for interior shelving and the library’s lending desk.

Inside the library, cultural integration and local history are showcased. The children’s area will feature a replica tugboat honoring the Dunlap Towing Co. and recognizing La Conner’s long maritime heritage, said library board chairman Jean Markert.

Aalfs said the blending of the hub and library building designs reflected the spirit of collaboration that marked the entire project.

“It was great,” Aalfs said, “to work with a master carver like Kevin and the Swinomish Indian tribal community.

“This,” he added, “is an example of communities coming together to create something for everyone.”

Building signage is in four languages, Braille, English, Lushootseed and Spanish, for example, he said.

Paul’s wife Pat, La Conner’s attorney and editor of Weekly News, said Logue’s work on the post also deserved praise.

“I told Camus that made him a master sculptor too,” she said.

Logue said he was grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in a project that will help define La Conner and Swinomish for decades to come.

“We started about two years ago,” he said, “and it’s great to see it finished. It was a great experience.

Kevin Paul, in remarks after the post placement, said the construction of the library fulfilled his vision of La Conner and Swinomish coalescing around a major common priority.

Swinomish Senator Brian Wilbur, who was instrumental in gaining tribal support for the new library, echoed Paul.

“I’m proud that the Swinomish Tribe was able to provide financial support to help with something that will connect our communities,” Wilbur said. “We share a lot of things together. We want to strengthen this relationship. Our thinking was that the library is a way to bring our communities together. I’m super proud to be part of it.

It took 10 years to build the new library, La Conner Library Foundation board treasurer Jim Airy reminded those gathered.

“It wouldn’t happen,” Airy pointed out, “without the support of the Swinomish tribe.”

Foundation director Susan Macek said the new library, while requiring years of tireless planning and fundraising, will yield community-wide dividends for a long time to come.

“This library will be here for another 100 years,” she said, “for people to enjoy for generations to come.”

Macek said October was the likely date for the grand opening.

James C. Tibbs