By Susan Fisher
September 15, 2007
More than $100,000 is in the Friends of the Ketchikan Public Library Building Fund - with really big thanks to Norman Ream and the Southeast Alaska Sea Pilots, plus the many untold volunteer hours in book sales, craft sales, raffle sales, membership sales and on and on! (Marjorie Ann Voss's wonderful estate donation is to the City, not the Friends.) FOTL members are people who love our community library and want to keep it going and growing.
Toward that end, spirited public discussion on a future site is a good thing. Whatever is decided, we can rest assured we'll be in that location for years to come, so it behooves us to do careful thinking and analysis.
There's more to this decision than location and price. Today's libraries are more than quaint places to curl up with a book. They are information centers. Librarians are research experts. Technology has exploded, and the new equipment that goes with that is a necessary part of the library. Libraries need meeting rooms and study carrels. Families want places safe and user friendly for kids, including suitable for group activities. The staff needs work space for all the behind the scenes tasks. Ample parking is vital, and access is important, but space is the big deal.
The Centennial Building is a Ketchikan treasure, no doubt about it. But the reason it's more suited for a museum than a library is that the museum benefits from the hundreds of thousands of visitors in the downtown core. They pay admission to the museum. Meanwhile, those same visitors use library services and don't pay, and they tie up the resources meant for our community. That's not to say we don't welcome visitors, but to make a point about the location of that building.
The Friends continue to encourage city officials to keep moving on the planning phase for the library. There's still a lot of information to sift through. We're confident that if we keep the planning wheels turning, eventually we'll come up with a long-term solution. Sure, we won't have a cute nook to read a book by the brook, but we probably will have a terrific modern library to better serve our citizens. Get involved - learn more about this project, and join the Friends.
Received September 15, 2007 - Published September 15, 2007
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