May 22, 2024: ‘Palaces for the People’: Today’s Libraries


Note:  the City Club thanks the volunteers who helped record and edited this video.

Carnegie’s vision of libraries has expanded. Yes, still a crucial provider of books, but now also a citadel for information  in every format.  America’s libraries are the inclusive defenders of the democracy our founders  envisioned as well as sources of social and information services.

Come with us as we explore our local “Palaces for the People.”

Our area is home to not one but two great public library systems: Bellingham Public Library and Whatcom County Library System. Library Directors Rebecca Judd and Christine Perkins will talk about the services, programs and collections available at today’s modern libraries, focusing on the many ways your libraries add value to your life. They’ll take a look at library building projects on the horizon in our community and the ways we’re designing libraries to meet the changing needs of local residents. They’ll also examine some of the pressures facing modern libraries and ways that you can advocate for these uniquely democratic institutions. You are guaranteed to come away with a renewed appreciation for libraries, and a few tips and tricks on being a savvy library user.

Christine Perkins, Director, Whatcom County Library SystemChristine Perkins has been Whatcom County Library System’s Executive Director and chief cheerleader for the past decade and counting. She reviews books for Cascadia Daily News and Library Journal, serves as the Treasurer for Whatcom READS and is the President of Public Libraries of Washington. She’s interested in all the ways that public libraries connect information, ideas and community.

Perkins received her undergraduate degree from Cornell University where she majored in Communications. After a stint plugging Kellogg’s cereal, Eggo waffles and Mrs. Smith’s pies at Leo Burnett Company in Chicago, Perkins decided to use her marketing skills for the forces of good. She completed her Master’s in Library and Information Science at the University of Washington and started her library career as a reference and teen services librarian in southern Oregon. Since moving to Washington, she was the Director of the Burlington Public Library (spearheading a capital project to build a 22,000 s.f. library) before serving as Assistant Director at Bellingham Public Library. She’s proud to have played an active role in Whatcom READS since its first season.

At WCLS, Perkins leads approximately 170 staff members who provide awesome library services across 11 locations and the bookmobile.

Rebecca Judd is honored to serve as Library Director for the Bellingham Public Library and is thrilled to be part of the Bellingham community. As Library Director, she is a member of the City’s Department Head team and enjoys working with City colleagues, Whatcom County Library System, and many others to build connection, community, and opportunity. She believes that ‘Open to All’ is one of the most beautiful phrases in the English language.

Judd received her undergraduate degree from Northwestern University where she majored in Classics and spent many hours at the University library avoiding the sub-zero winds whistling off Lake Michigan. She completed her Master’s in Library and Information Science at the University of Indiana and moved to the Boston area to run the reference department for the Bedford Free Public Library. After serving as the Library Director for the Pelham Free Public Library in western Massachusetts she jumped coasts to manage the Bainbridge Island branch of Kitsap Regional Library. She has been Director of the Bellingham Public Library for 6 years.

Rebecca is proud to work with an incredible staff of 80. The Bellingham Public Library has four locations: Central, Fairhaven, Barkley – and most recently the Bellis Fair Mall.