Palmer library starts next chapter with public services
The temporary location of the Palmer Public Library opened its new doors to the public last week
PALMER, Alaska (KTUU) - The Palmer Public Library is finally open to the public again after its building suffered a roof collapse over three months ago. Last week the city held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of the library’s new — albeit temporary — doors off Arctic Avenue.
The library found the interim location back in late March, signing a one-year lease on the building formally occupied by Great Northern Engineering.
The library’s director Beth Skow said it’s a relief to finally be able to serve the public again.
“What we mean to people and how we touch them is amazing,” Skow said. “We’re so happy that we’re able to come to a new place. Yes, it’s not big, it’s not new and sparkly — but we’re able to provide the community what libraries do.”
Skow said not as many patrons have been coming in and out the new doors quite yet, but she expects traffic to pick up once people learn that they are operating again.
During the recent legislative session, Alaska state legislators did pass a capital budget that includes a $5 million allocation towards the reconstruction of the original building. It’s still unclear whether or not the building can be reconstructed or if it needs to be torn down and rebuilt entirely, but Skow said an evaluation committee is in the process of requesting proposals from architectural firms to identify a long-term solution.
Regardless, Skow says the Palmer Public Library will remain at the main downtown location.
Palmer’s state representative DeLena Johnson was in Juneau for the legislative session when the collapse occurred and was pleased that lawmakers were able to include the money to reconstruct in the final budget.
“It was clear that this was an unforeseen event, a disaster that needed to get taken care of,” Johnson said. “I wasn’t surprised — I surely was grateful it was in there.”
The library is not operating at full capacity while in the temporary location — at 9,000 square feet, this building is smaller and not designed to carry the weight of the full collection, according to Skow. A large majority of the collection is being kept in a commercial storage facility that the staff visits once a day to pull items requested by users.
The library’s online catalog has been updated so that users will not be able to check out any items that are currently unreachable in the storage facility.
The Palmer Public Library is currently operating on a Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. schedule until it can fill vacant job openings.
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