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An earlier library was in Pelican

Posted: September 18, 2013 - 12:06am

I much enjoyed the article on Betty Clauson and its recollections of the early days of Pelican, where I spent my own early days, from 1939 to 1944.

There was in fact an earlier library in Pelican, started in the very early 1940s by my late mother, Dale DeArmond. (I bring this up as a matter of interest and by no means to detract from Ms. (Katie) Moritz’ article or from Betty Clauson’s many

services to Pelican.)

My late father, Bob DeArmond, was one of the party from Sitka that went to the shore of Lisianski Inlet in the spring of 1938 to establish what became Pelican. My mother and I (then a year old) followed him the following spring. Among my father’s many duties were those of postmaster and of managing the store, both, then as now, in a wing of the Pelican Cold Storage building. My mother worked in the store and, being a librarian by nature. set up a small lending library in a corner. I can remember seeing it; perhaps a few dozen books, probably most of them my parents’ own, supplemented by donations, perhaps from my paternal grandparents and others in Sitka.

I recall my mother saying many years later that the fishermen were particularly avid readers and were mostly very good about returning books — although, she said, it was sometimes obvious to her nose that book and fish had been in close proximity.

We left Pelican in late 1944, and I don’t know what became of her library after that; perhaps some of those books wound up in Betty Clauson’s first library.

However, my mother was not through with the library business; she went on to become Juneau’s librarian for many years, from 1954 to 1979, when she retired as head librarian at Juneau Memorial Library, in the building which now

of course houses the Juneau-Douglas City Museum.

She pursued a parallel career as an artist, and achieved some local and regional note as a printmaker, working primarily in woodcut and wood engraving. As it happens, an exhibition of some of her late work in wood engraving is to open in the Museum, her old library, on October 4; a nice historical cycle!

William De Armond

Auke Bay

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