Timberland Regional Library (TRL) is a public library system serving the residents of southwestern Washington state, USA including Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston counties. Timberland Regional Library has 27 community libraries, 5 cooperative library centers, and 2 library kiosks
The service area covers nearly 7,000 square miles and serves a population of approximately 459,100 (2007 est.) residents through 27 community libraries (or branches) with a collection of nearly 1.7 million items. The District is governed by a seven-member Board of Trustees appointed by county commissioners, with a trustee from each county and two additional trustees filling at-large positions.
Before TRL was created, Lewis County had no library service in the rural areas. In the rural areas of the other counties, service was provided by the South Puget Sound Regional Library, the Grays Harbor County Rural Library District and the Pacific County Rural Library District. During the 1964-68 Demonstration Project, grant funds enabled new library service through rented buildings in Tumwater and Lacey and bookmobiles in previously unserved rural areas.
Many cities within TRL provided their citizens with library service for years prior to the creation of the rural county library districts. Seven of these cities owned original Andrew Carnegie-funded buildings or other gifted facilities. Others provided service from space in city halls or other city buildings. After TRL was created, most of these cities began contracting with TRL for library service to take advantage of economies of scale and more services and resources. By 1975, seventeen cities with independent municipal libraries had contracted with TRL. The last city to bring its library into TRL was Shelton in 1988.
All eighteen cities continue to contract with TRL for service or have annexed to the District. Through the branches in these cities, TRL serves most of the population of the District—both city residents and rural residents. A key part of TRL’s model of service is to combine the revenue from both the rural areas and the cities and use it to provide enhanced services and resources through the city branches. In more remote rural areas far from cities, TRL has replaced bookmobiles with buildings using grant funds and timber revenue. Better library service has been established in the far corners of the District. Also in rural areas, TRL has created partnerships with schools and tribes to create service points called cooperative library centers which provide library services to the general public a few hours a week.
Besides the books, magazines, newspapers, tapes, videos, CDs, programs and other services available in community libraries and cooperative library centers, TRL also provides outreach services to groups and individuals District-wide. In recent years, TRL added access to information services via toll-free telephone 7 days a week as well as access to the library’s computer catalog and many other computerized resources 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Most customers use and enjoy the library as a physical place, but an increasing number of customers use the library as a virtual library. TRL continually seeks creative ways to meet the needs of the residents of the District.