SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Open Letter: Public Library Location
By Robert D. Warner


September 05, 2007
Wednesday AM

Ms Marty West
Ketchikan City Council

Dear Ms West:

In a recent SITNEWS letter, you requested citizen comments on the future location of the Ketchikan Public Library. Several years ago, before the pulp mill closed, there was a study of this issue and a recommended plan was developed. I am surprised that there has been no apparent mention of this plan in recent discussions. This plan included an architectural sketch of a proposed new museum building.

The following are some of the findings that I remember from that study:

(1) It was a surprise to learn how pleased citizens were with the location of the library in the Centennial Building. Many spoke about the central location, and close proximity to public bus service. The environment of the site near Ketchikan Creek was considered a priceless setting. Many spoke about relaxing in the reading area and watching fish jump. What other library in the world could offer this attraction? The flat space of the library site was mention as an asset for folks who like to walk to the library. It was very clear that most library patrons wanted the library to stay in the current location.

(2) The coordinator of the study said that the construction and design of the Centennial Building was a good fit and conformed to the needs of a library much better than the needs of a museum. In other words, the building could be remodeled at moderate cost for a library, but would likely have to be completely rebuilt to meet museum needs. The total cost estimate at that time was significantally less if the museum moved and the library stayed in the Centennial Building.

I believe that a walk through the building today would indicate a similar conclusion. One might notice that the right wing of the building on the top floor, now occupied by the museum, would be a good fit for expanded shelving and increased reading space. Some space downstairs could be converted into a public meeting area and warehouse storage for little used materials. A elevator would be needed for ADA conformity and the wiring updated for computers.

Before any decision is made, I would recommend that the public be informed of current cost estimates be provided for the following:

(1) the cost estimates for moving the museum and keeping the library at the Centennial Building.
(2) the cost estimates for moving the library and keeping the museum at the Centennial Building.

Please note that current museum plans show that an entirely new building would be needed.

I would like to know who made this decision to move the library rather than the museum? For additional information, please read my SITNEWS letter of August 26, 2007:

Please feel free to share my views with other members of the City Council.


Robert D. Warner
Ketchikan, AK

PS: I do believe folks can also watch fish jump at the Renton(Washington) Public Library as that library is actually built over the Cedar River.

cc: Sitnews Editor

Received September 03, 2007 - Published September 05, 2007


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