The Bainbridge Island library is a unique public/private partnership. The library building and grounds are owned by the people of Bainbridge Island, managed by a volunteer Board of Directors of a non-profit organization (Bainbridge Public Library) and funded solely by private donations. Staff, books and other materials, and administration are provided by Kitsap Regional Library and funded by property tax dollars.
A small library above the Island’s Port Madison mill store in 1863 was the second community public library on Puget Sound. Ladies’ society “silver teas” supported small libraries on the Island during the first half of the twentieth century. Since 1947, Kitsap Regional Library has supplied books and other materials as well as staff and administrative support for the Bainbridge Library.
As the Island population grew, citizens realized that the community needed a larger library. The first Rotary Auction, a community-wide garage sale that is now an Island institution, was held to raise money for the new library. Many other civic groups including the Kiwanis Club, Island businesses and countless individuals contributed toward the library building. Island architect, John Rudolph drew up the plans for the building that was completed in 1962. Thanks to the generosity of Dr. and Mrs. James Hodges, a children’s library was created in 1968 on the lower floor of the library.
The library facility continues to be maintained by donations from generous Islanders. An addition completed in 1982 expanded the library’s capacity but this building did not meet the needs of a growing community by the 1990s. An enormous effort by the Board and Building Campaign Committee raised almost 2 million dollars to expand and totally remodel the facility. .
After the current library opened, Junkoh Harui and the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community donated a magnificent garden to the library. This Northwest-Japanese garden, “Haiku no Niwa” was dedicated to the Issei generation of Japanese Americans. A remarkable team of volunteers led by nationally recognized garden writer, Ann Lovejoy, maintains the Bainbridge Public Library gardens. In 2000, the American Library Association awarded the Bainbridge Library Gardens its Best Library Garden award.