Do we need a new Public Library?
By Judith L. Anglin
April 21, 2007
This question ought to be asked and answered by each citizen
of the community. Extensive public meetings were held in 2003
and 2004, and it was determined that yes, we do need a new public
library. Now that the Grant and Main St. site has been determined
to be too expensive to develop a new library, it is time to look
for a new location, because the need for more space and better
services is still there.
The last building that was designed to be a public library for
this community was built in 1903. It was where the Wells Fargo
Bank Building parking lot is currently located. From there,
the library was moved into what is now the City Council Chambers
and Conference Room. By the 60s, that space was woefully inadequate.
Luckily, or not, Ketchikan's Centennial Building was built to
celebrate the Alaska Purchase in 1967. After the Centennial
exhibit was over, the Tongass Historical Museum moved in and
then it was decided that the Library could go in the same building.
The Centennial Building was not designed to be a library. We've
done pretty well here for 40 years, adding the Children's Library
in 1976. However, we ve reached the limits of effectively using
Due to the original design, retrofitting the Centennial Building
into an efficient, handicapped-accessible library will not work.
Among other things, in 1967 an electric typewriter was state
of the art technology. Anyone who has visited the library in
the last 15 years knows technology continues to grow, and all
the traditional services of the library continue to be in demand.
We don't have space to add more computers or more books. People
are not happy to wait an hour to use a computer, and they are
not happy when we only have the latest novel by an author instead
of the complete series. When 300 people show up for a program
and we only have room for 80, they are not happy to be turned
away. Most importantly, people who are unable to climb stairs
are not happy to be told they cannot access the Children' s library
from inside the building.
The Space Needs Study that was done in 2003-2004 was not a wasted
effort. Ketchikan still needs a library with a lot more space.
National standards say Ketchikan ought to already have twice
the space that the public library currently occupies. Since
the library has been in the Centennial Building for 40 years,
wouldn't it be foolish to not plan ahead for the population growth
that is expected? Yes, we lost population when the KPC closed,
but our population has been growing again for the last 3 years.
We now have about 50 people a month sign up for new library
cards. We believe Ketchikan will continue to grow and prosper,
and that we should plan accordingly. The State Dept. of Labor,
Research & Analysis Section projects a population in Ketchikan
of between 18,365 - 22,045 by the year 2018. We want to plan
for 32 years past that, or about 50 years from now.
Everyone's input is encouraged
while we find the best location for a new library. There is
not a lot of open land available, and a lot of different factors
need to be considered, including development costs. There are
a lot of different ideas about what is "best". This
decision will shape Ketchikan's future for a long time. Please
be part of the process and help do something positive for all
Judith L. Anglin
Received April 20, 2007 - Published April 21, 2007
About: "Ketchikan Public
Library Director since 1990. Ketchikan resident since 1979."
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