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Another option for new library structure not yet explored
by Patrick Jirschele


March 09, 2004

I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library. Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986)

We have library that is a kind of paradise. In the middle of the City there is a place on the creek where you can select a book, paper, or magazine and read while viewing the spectacular scenes of the historical creek area. Fish, seals, and occasionally a deer or bear can be seen from a chair in the most architecturally pleasing building that local government possesses.

I always include the library in local tours for friends when they visit. They never fail to express how lucky we are to have such a warm home for our books in a Walden like setting.

The building is a tribute to the architectural ability of Jennings Graham. Jinks used cedar and stone to blend into the natural tapestry of the hillside and creek below. The modified mansard roofline gives the look of a lower profile so it doesn't compete with the idyllic surroundings. John Stewart says it looks as if it grew there. That is the highest complement. Mission accomplished, Mr. Graham.

Now after more than thirty-five years and one addition, this magic building is too small to meet the community's needs. We are told that the building cannot be added onto, so the library must be moved to another new facility. The verdict is that the new library must be a quonset hut looking affair on top of a parking garage. I was told (in a keeping up with the Jones's tone) that Juneau has a library on top of a garage. Check it out here, it is worth the wait to load it. (Click here) Use your cursor, to spin the 360-degree picture around till you see a huge cold and soulless cement structure. See the block house structure on top? I believe that is the library. I can imagine the architect saying "Oh, we can soften the look by adding a native motif to the structure". Ours will be classier with a quonset hut on top. Makes me miss our library already.

There is another option that the library architect admitted had not been explored. We can expand the existing building, enhance the views of the creek, and provide the square footage the new library would provide. All this and probably save the taxpayers some money.

Here is how. Bridge the creek. That is right, extend the top floor of the existing library over the creek into the base of the hill at Married Mans Trail on the other side. Pre-stressed concrete beams with pre-cast decking, not unlike that used for the parking lot between the tunnel and Tongass Hardware will do the job. Then extend the lines of the existing building across to the hillside on the other side. Windows on both sides looking up and down the creek will provide spectacular views.

The new structure should be built separate and abut the existing structure. The windows on the existing structure would be opened to the floor and the existing headers will provide access to the new structure. This will reduce the work on the original structure and allow normal operation of the library during construction. The walls and deck should be designed to support a second floor so our children have the option to go up in thirty or so years if it becomes necessary.

I have it on pretty good authority that the permits are obtainable. Fish runs will regulate construction times and of course construction debris will have to be kept out of the creek. It has even been suggested that DNR may look at this as an enhancement to the creek as it will provide needed shade.

Well folks, do you really want to trade our unique and beautiful library for one that is just like a thousand others in a thousand cities? If you feel like I do that we should keep and enhance what we have, then act. Call or E-mail Assembly members and City Council members now and tell them how you

Patrick Jirschele
Ketchikan, AK - USA


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