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Bellingham Public Library 2023 Highlights

Reaching the end of the year is often bittersweet – it’s hard to believe the time has passed, but it’s wonderful to reflect on all of the year’s adventures and accomplishments. Please join us for a look back at Bellingham Public Library 2023 Highlights.

BPL Staff

2023 Library Service Highlights

Opening of the Bellis Fair Library Branch

Bellis Fair Library Branch Opening Day

In April of 2023 the Bellingham Public Library opened its newest library branch in the Bellis Fair Mall, serving Bellingham residents on the north side of town and mall shoppers!

The Bellis Fair Branch has a variety of collections for all ages, comfortable seating areas, an Early Learning Center for kids, public computers, and more. Click here for open hours at all library locations.

Community Outreach Events

In 2023, BPL staff could be found out and about at all sorts of local events including Library Card Night with the Bellingham Bells, Downtown Sounds, the Barkley Market, Bellingham Pride Parade, Bellingham Back to School Block Party, Library Parties in the Parks, and more. Library staff love connecting with the community and bringing library services directly to our friends and neighbors.

Interactive Wall Panels for Children Installed at Bellis Fair and Fairhaven Branches

Children playing with interactive wall at Bellingham Public Library
New Early Learning Center interactive wall panels at Bellis Fair Library Branch

Thank you to our 2023 Library Giving Day donors and the Friends of the Library for providing funds for hands-on play at the Bellis Fair and Fairhaven branches! Your generosity enabled us to purchase and install interactive wall panels for children at both locations.

Library service to children and families is a core service of the library. We acknowledge that lifelong learning begins at birth, and that parents/caregivers are a child’s first and best teacher. We want to help foster attachment, curiosity, delight and joy through spaces, books and programs. Additionally, children learn through play, and these interactive panels will help create a space for play and learning for families.

Library Programs Rock!

Children’s Craft Fair at the Bellis Fair Mall

The return of in-person programs brought back popular events such as the annual Children’s Craft Fair, Builders Club, regular Storytimes at the Library, author events, SkillShare programs for adults, and new events like Sunday Crafternoons for tweens and teens, and Cuentos y cantos, a bilingual storytime for children and families. In 2023, we also added a second Children’s Craft Fair, indoors at the Bellis Fair Mall! Check out our online calendar to find out what’s happening at the Library throughout the year.

Summer Reading 2023

Congratulations to all 2023 Library Summer Reading Superstars! Summer Reading participants of all ages enjoy reading challenges, special library events, prizes, and recognition of their reading achievements.

Collectively, 1,774 community members completed their summer reading challenge: 1,494 kids ages birth to 12 years, 97 teens, and 183 adults. An enormous thank you to our public services staff at all locations for keeping summer reading energy and congratulations high, and for matching readers with stories and information all summer long.

Additionally, thank you to our Summer Reading sponsors: The Friends of the Bellingham Public Library and Whatcom Educational Credit Union. And to our sixteen Summer Reading Prize Partners who provided unique community prizes for youth: The Bagelry, Boomer’s, Colophon Café, Great Harvest Bread Co., It’s the Sweet Things, Mallard Ice Cream, Menchie’s, Mindport Exhibits, Pizza Time, Playdate BLI, Pure Bliss, Robeks, Ruckus Room, SPARK Museum, Yeager’s Toyland and Life Force Ninja.

New Library Staff Welcomed

It takes a hard-working, friendly crew of folks to do all the work behind the scenes and at the Library’s public service desks. Many new staff members were welcomed in the last year. From Library Assistants to Librarians, everyone plays an important role in the work we at the Bellingham Public Library. See a new face at the Library? Take a moment to say hello!

Book Groups Celebrate 2023 Highlights

Suzanne reads Small World by Jonathan Evison in November

Bellingham is home to many book groups, including the library’s own Bellingham Reads group, led by Adult Services Librarian Suzanne Carlson-Prandini. Many local book groups utilize the library’s book club kits to ensure that each member of their group is able to read the same book within a month.

A BPL Book Club Kit contains 10 copies of the same book and a reading guide to facilitate book group discussion, and they check out for 32 days. Book groups can choose from among many fantastic titles. To search reservable kits, visit KitKeeper.

The top 5 most popular BPL kits in 2023 were:

Best of 2023 Staff Picks Lists!

Each year we ask our staff to share the titles of BPL materials that they’ve read, watched or listened to and loved the most. Here we present our 2023 Staff Picks Lists in a variety of genres and formats, for all ages. We hope you enjoy browsing the titles and reading our reviews!

Check out the list of BPL staff’s favorite adult fiction reads of 2023.

Adult Fiction Picks 2023 List

Do you like to read adult nonfiction, biographies, and memoirs? Browse our list of BPL staff’s favorite adult nonfiction reads in 2023.

Adult Biography and Nonfiction Picks 2023

These are the Bellingham Public Library staff’s favorite graphic novels of 2023. This list contains selections for readers of all ages.

Graphic Novel Picks 2023

Check out the list for BPL staff’s favorite movies, TV shows, and music of 2023.

Movie, TV, and Music Picks 2023

Here are the BPL staff’s favorite teen fiction titles of 2023:

Teen Fiction Picks 2023

Click this list for BPL Staff’s favorite Children’s chapter books and nonfiction titles of 2023.

Children’s Chapter Book and Nonfiction Book Picks 2023

These are the BPL Staff’s favorite picture books of 2023.

Children’s Picture Book Picks 2023

Circulation and Service Statistics

In 2023, BPL staff…

  • Circulated 1.6 million items to our community!
  • Acquired and processed 21,735 new holdings.
  • Answered more than 13,000 questions by phone.
  • Registered 8,756 new borrowers.
  • Loaned out 463 book club kits.
  • Partnered with the Whatcom Museum, SPARK Museum, and Mindport Exhibits to provide over 750 free family passes.
  • Hosted more than 950 library programs for patrons of all ages.

Author Events 2023 Highlights

Sam Quinones, Author of The Least of Us, speaking at Bellingham High School in August 2023

Whatcom READS 2023 featured the book The Cold Millions by Jess Walter. In early March of 2023 the author visited us in Bellingham for several in-person presentations and events, including a free lecture at the Mt. Baker Theatre on March 3.

Jess Walter graduated from Eastern Washington University. Before becoming an author, he worked as a journalist. His work has appeared in Newsweek, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the Boston Globe. He has written one nonfiction book and several novels. His works include Every Knee Shall Bow, Over Tumbled Graves, The Zero, and Beautiful Ruins. His novel, Citizen Vince, won the 2005 Edgar Allan Poe Award for best novel. He was the co-author of Christopher Darden’s 1996 bestseller In Contempt. (Bowker Author Biography)

Sam Quinones, author of The Least of Us: True Tales of America and Hope in the Time of Fentanyl and Meth, visited Bellingham for All Hands Whatcom: An Evening with Sam Quinones, on Tuesday, August 1.

“We all are affected by the growing fentanyl and meth use crisis. This event is an enormously helpful and timely opportunity for our community to gain greater understanding about the nature of the problem and how to address it,” Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood said. “We join hundreds of leaders in communities across the country who are impacted. Your City leaders are engaged, responsive and compassionate in our efforts to attend to the realities of this crisis and the damage it is doing in our community. We need everyone to learn more and contribute to solutions.”

Village Books and the Bellingham Public Library brought Laini Taylor and Jim Di Bartolo to the library in August 2023 to celebrate the release of their new middle grade graphic novel, Billie Blaster and the Robot Army from Outer Space. Laini and Jim talked about their book, what it’s like to be a famous author, how the art in the book was created, and more.

The Friends of the Bellingham Public Library 2023 Highlights

We are so grateful for the Friends of the Bellingham Public Library! The Friends are an all-volunteer nonprofit charitable organization which raises money to benefit the library each year through sales of donated books. Thank you to all of the patrons who also support the library through donating materials to the Friends. This year we saw the return of the Friends of the Library’s BIG book sales in May and September, as well as a special Books and Brews sale at Wander Brewing. A HUGE thank you to the Friends for all of their hard work!

BPL Staff at Work and Play!