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Our Story

Mission Statement

Connecting our community with each other and the world.

About the Bellingham Public Library

The Bellingham Public Library serves the residents of Bellingham and Whatcom County, circulating over 1.6 million items annually to almost 60,000 active cardholders. Our library is known throughout the state and nation for its high use among community members. In state-wide data, Bellingham Public Library consistently ranks among the highest circulation per capita and among the most-visited.

Library operations are governed by the Library Board of Trustees, composed of five volunteer members appointed by the Mayor of Bellingham with the approval of the Bellingham City Council.

The library is a department of the City of Bellingham and receives the majority of its approximately $4.8 million in annual funding from the city’s general fund. Additional funding for materials, programs and special projects is provided by grants from the Friends of the Bellingham Public Library, in recent years totaling about $55,000 annually.

The Bellingham Public Library provides services throughout the community in four library locations: downtown’s Central Library, Fairhaven Branch Library, Barkley Branch Library and the Bellis Fair Branch Library pilot project. These locations also serve as community gathering places through our options for using meeting rooms. Additional services include holds pick-up and materials drop-off on three college campuses, and community drop boxes in several locations.

In addition to our many physical locations, our digital library services offer opportunities to download eBooks, eAudiobooks and eMagazines, conduct research, use our library catalog and much more.

We also provide programs, classes and special events for all ages, and we are particularly proud to offer 19 storytimes each week, fun and engaging early literacy classes taught by childhood education experts. We also are out in the community regularly, providing library services at some community events and care centers.

We share a library catalog and electronic management system with Whatcom County Library System, allowing patron access to the collections of both libraries which provides convenient, consistent services to all our communities. Bellingham Public Library also participates in a collaborative program that allows anyone who lives, works or attends school in Whatcom County to get a library card at area academic libraries.

History of the Bellingham Public Library

On A Typical Day

On a typical day:

  • We fill 1,699 hold requests.
  • Our patrons borrow 5,475 books, eBooks, DVDs, and other items.
  • We answer 399 questions.
  • Our patrons log in for 224 public computer sessions.
  • We welcome 2,218 visits to our three locations.
  • 25 new library cards are issued.
  • 94 people attend programs.
  • And much more! See our latest “Library at a Glance” below for more information.

Recent Annual Reports and Current Action Plans

Current Projects

Key Reports