Friday, November 28, 2008

New library update

The campaign to build a new library has been in the news quite a lot lately, and we have received a few questions from people who are wondering where exactly the project stands and what still needs to be done.
Based on public comment and input from the ad-hoc library building committee, the City has designated the Edmonds Street hill (where the old Main School used to be located) as the site of a future library building. This site was selected because:
  • The City already owns the land, thus saving $500,00 - $1 million in land acquisition costs
  • It is equally accessible to borough residents living both north and south of town
  • It can be reached from the 3rd avenue bypass, which means that patrons can avoid Tongass Ave traffic in the busy summer months
  • It can be added to the borough bus route
  • It contributes greatly to the sense of Ketchikan's downtown community identity
  • There are fabulous views of the water and mountains that will be a huge asset to the library's Reading Room
Based on a recommendation from the Mayor-appointed Library Building Committee, both the City and Borough have agreed to a library size of 23,850 sq. ft. With our current collection size, number of computers and number of reading seats, national standards indicate the library building should be 20,378 sq. ft. The additional 3,500 sq ft. in the new library plans will accommodate more seating, space for library programs and community groups, and additional Internet access for the public. The architects (Bettisworth North [Fairbanks] and Welsh Whiteley [Ketchikan]) have begun creating conceptual floor plans and allocating collection and use areas.
As for funding, during the upcoming legislative session the Alaska State Legislature will be looking at funding a program which was established last year (Senate Bill 119) which provides matching funds for the construction of new public libraries. If this program receives full funding, Ketchikan would be eligible to 50% of the cost of our new library paid for by the state. We are already in communication with the Rasmuson Foundation about our project, and the Foraker Group is working with the City to help us accomplish our funding goals.

So What Can You Do to Help?

Talk, talk, talk! Write to your legislators and tell them how important it is to fund the matching grant program (A.S. 14.56.355 - Library Construction and Major Expansion Matching Grant Program). Call up your Borough Assembly members and your City Council members and let them know what you think. Talk to your friends and neighbors and convince them that this new library project will benefit every single person in this community, because the public library is a free service for all. If you need contact information for your representatives, just go to our website.

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