Did you know that the city is paying $17,000 per month for the space in the Mendenhall Mall for the Valley library? On July 1, that monthly rent is increasing by $700. Not only that, but that money leaves Juneau to the out-of-state landlord. By the end of 2014, with inflation, we will have paid across the years a total of $6.2 million. To encourage Alaskans to better prepare for the future, our state passed a limited time bill to fund 50 percent of new public libraries. Juneau’s plan was approved amidst other community competition. That means the state will pay $7 million toward our new Valley library. Less than a month ago on March 17, Friends of the Juneau Public Libraries completed their $1 million commitment to the new library with a $775,000 check made possible by the almost 70 volunteers who give 3-20 hours weekly to the Amazing Book Store. The building site, near Thunder Mountain High School, is already owned by the city. The remaining $300,000 will come from endowment and the balance of $4.7 million will come from the voter approved 1 percent sales tax.
Juneau will benefit from the well-paying construction jobs. The monthly utilities are estimated to be under $6,000 with a ground source heat pump. The operational costs of the new library will not increase and those dollars will be staying in Juneau.
This functional library will have many uses: traditional books, electronic and audio-visual media, and meeting rooms — all available to the public without charge. This will be a valuable addition to Juneau since the Valley has our youngest families, the most children and largest population.
Oh yes, no longer will there be rent-to-pay, for the city will own the new valley library and rent won’t keep going up.
Paul D. Beran
Board president, Friends of the Juneau Public Libraries