New library construction
By David Dossett
September 10, 2007
To the Editor, Sitnews
In response to recent letters
addressing the actions of the City Council in seeking land for
a new library building, I would like to present some information
regarding the need for a new building.
This country has long recognized that a well educated populous
is essential to a successful democracy. That was certainly true
in the early 1900's when Andrew Carnegie's enlightened philanthropy
was providing funding for free libraries across the country.
That era coincides with the formation of the Library Society
in Ketchikan in 1903. From those 104 year old roots, our present
day library, in a community of just over 13,000 residents, has
a registered user base of 10,000 people. In addition, this past
year there were 150,000 individual visits to the library, not
counting telephone and internet contact and use. 170,000 items
were checked out, in addition to in-house use of the internet,
housed media and research materials. Due to evening and weekend
hours, the library is a major place for students to do school
research at times when school libraries are closed. Demand for
highly popular library programs have outstripped the available
space to the point that staff have gone to a ticket admission
system that limits the number who can attend. The current limited
space means that as new books and media are acquired, other books
and media that are still relevant must be removed to make room
for the new. There are no available meeting rooms for groups
using the library. There are many safety and federal compliance
questions with the current building.
The Centennial Building is 50 years old, was not originally built
for modern library uses and houses both the library and the museum.
A previous study for the library indicates that a modern library
capable of handling all meetings, activities and relevant media
for present needs as well as projected long term growth (30-50
years) would need to be larger than the current building even
if the museum were moved. For that reason alone, remodeling
is not a viable option. In addition, the problems of disruption
to services and unanticipated problems and costs are strong negatives
to remodel. (need I say Schoenbar or White Cliff?). We don't
need a patched library for another 20 years. It's time for a
library for the next 50 years.
The Friends of the Library applaud the City Manager, the Mayor,
and the Council for their initiative in seeking a site for a
new library building. We thank the staff for their dedication
and determination in providing a successful library program in
spite of limiting surroundings. We thank the community for their
continued use of the library and their already generous support
for funding a new library. Already, almost 1.5 million dollars
have been given for library construction through a significant
bequest by Marjorie Voss, a $50,000 gift by the Ream Foundation,
and several small fundraisers by the Friends of the Library.
The Friends stand ready to launch a major fundraiser for another
$1.5 million as soon as land is secured and dedicated as a library
site. We encourage the 10,000 registered users of the library
to lend their support to this worthy project to make Ketchikan
a better place for all of us to live.
Capital Development Committee
Friends of the Library
Received September 08, 2007 - Published September 10, 2007
About: "A 30 year resident
of Ketchikan and a retired school administrator, I am currently
a member of the Capital Development Committee for the Friends
of the Library."
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