Alternative Library seeks new home

Alternative Library - Logan Portteus web

by Logan Portteus

The Alternative Library, a cultural staple of the Bellingham community, recently received notice that they must move out of the historic Karate Church by Dec. 20. This news came as a shock to the volunteers and board members of the Alternative Library, and they are now in the process of seeking a new space to lease and reaching out to the community for support.

Since its founding 12 years ago, the Alt Lib has grown into a public space for a curated selection of books and graphic novels, while also serving as an important all-ages venue for music, workshops, book readings and other events.  The organization has operated out of the Karate Church, located on E Maple St., for the past three years.

Cullen Beckhorn, better known as Futureman, is the founder and director of the Alt Lib, and is currently on tour for two books released through their publishing company, Neoglyphic Media, while also working through the logistics of quickly finding a new space for the Alt Lib.

“We will be severely downsizing our book collection, and tightening it to further focus on our representation of art books, radical cultures, and independent publishing,” Futureman said.  “Right now our volunteers are in the midst of heavily curating our book collection to cut the collection by nearly half, and we will be hosting a huge book sale some time in December to help us fundraise and minimize the material that we have to carry with us to our next location.”

While the bulk of logistics and details regarding the end of the Alt Lib’s lease with the Karate Church is still private and in the works, landlord David Zhang made a public Facebook statement on the Karate Church Facebook page regarding the decision.

“I’ve shared some amazing memories with the community of patrons, artists, and volunteers,” the Facebook post reads.  “Unfortunately, after 11 years, I’ve just about burned myself out completely, partly due to creative differences with the director, partly due to overextending myself as a building owner.”

Futureman and the board of the Alternative Library have been in contact with several community organizations that they would like to partner with for the move, but all plans are tentative at the moment.

“The suddenness of this compelled change may prove to be a temporary setback, but it has also been a wakeup call for us to really tighten up our operation, and to do a better job at advocating for our needs moving forward,” Futureman said. “Many people have been shocked to hear that we’re needing to relocate again, as we had moved into this building under the verbal agreement that it would be the permanent home for the library.”

While the Alt Lib volunteers and board members are actively working to find their new home, the success of the transition is largely dependent on community support, as the move will require both a new lease that fits the needs of the unique venue and physical and financial support in making the move happen.

“More than anything, we need to identify a space that we can begin moving our operation to by the beginning of December,” Futureman said.  “We’re calling on our community to help us find a new home! We are also launching a fundraising campaign through our website, and with GoFundMe, which will help us to have some stability as we search for a space to call our permanent home.”

If you would like to support the Alternative Library’s search for a new lease, or would like to get involved in any capacity, you can get in touch by visiting altlib.org, or see https://facebook.com/BellinghamAlternativeLibrary/.