Have you stopped by the new Mendenhall Valley library? It’s so easy to have a full schedule and just drive by, but it’s well worth the stop.
I dropped in one morning and saw preschool children with their caregivers in a fun learning activity. After school, you’ll see students of all ages browsing books, meeting in study rooms and exploring new worlds. At other times you’ll see young families or individuals quietly using the computers, looking through the bookshelf stacks or checking out books. It’s twice the size of the former library and architecturally configured for this important use. It’s a library our entire Juneau community can feel good about and use to the fullest.
The new valley library is also a taxpayer’s friend. No longer does the city have to pay rent of more than $200,000 a year. It is estimated that the many years the library was in the Mendenhall Mall cost Juneau more than $6 million in rent (adjusted to 2014 dollars).
The new valley library is visible evidence of what can be accomplished when we all work together. It was a decades-old dream in the minds of many. The Friends of the Library Book Store (The Amazing Book Store) in the airport shopping mall, with all volunteer workers selling donated books, not only enriches this community but kept alive the hope that someday a new city-owned valley library might be a reality. Finally it came together: the Alaska legislature, realizing the importance of libraries, began a program funding new libraries statewide at 50 percent, or $7 million; Juneau voted for the new library to be one recipient of the 1 percent sales tax ($4.7 million); the Friends of the Library Board committed $1.6 million; the Rasmuson Foundation gave $495,000; and the Juneau Library Endowment Fund gave $300,000.
This Saturday, Nov. 7, the new valley library will have a formal open house from 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. There will be music and children dancing! Docents will conduct tours of the various areas and how they can best be used. Oh yes, there will be refreshments and Heritage coffee, and for the first 500 attendees ice cream from Coppa. Just stop by.
Because the whole community worked together, the entire community now benefits. Think what this means for today, and for generations yet unborn. Maybe this working together is an important lesson for all of us. Just stop by.
Paul D. Beran,
President, Friends of the Juneau Public Libraries