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North Pole breaks ground for new library

Posted: June 22, 2013 - 11:08pm
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Attendees take pictures during the North Pole, Alaska, Branch Library groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday morning, June 18, 2013, at the construction site of the Fairbanks North Star Borough's new public library across from North Pole High School.  (AP Photo/Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Eric Engman)  Eric Engman
Eric Engman
Attendees take pictures during the North Pole, Alaska, Branch Library groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday morning, June 18, 2013, at the construction site of the Fairbanks North Star Borough's new public library across from North Pole High School. (AP Photo/Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Eric Engman)

FAIRBANKS — Officials donned hardhats and picked up golden shovels at a groundbreaking for North Pole’s new library on Tuesday, but the community was credited for the new building.

The roughly $12 million building will come to the city and borough debt-free, thanks to efforts, both big and small, to find a replacement for North Pole’s cramped and outdated library.

Located in a lot adjacent to the North Pole High School, the library is designed to serve the community well into the future. It’s scheduled to open in late 2014, in time for North Pole’s Christmas in Ice celebration.

“This has been a longtime dream of the community,” said Jeff Jacobsen, a former mayor of North Pole who serves as chief of staff for Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins.

Jacobsen recalled memories of the old library, which was built for a much smaller community, and how a single middle school class could easily fill the building.

The new building sports a spacious design with public use areas and plenty of room for books. The design of the building was influenced heavily by the community, which former borough libraries director Greg Hill said was extremely strong throughout the design process.

Community members helped decide the community’s needs and even helped design the library’s floor plans.

He also thanked people from throughout the borough, some of whom won’t regularly use the building.

“Thanks to everyone for helping,” he said. “A new library anywhere makes us all richer.”

Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins echoed the gratitude for the many members of the community who contributed to making the building a reality. The Friends of the North Pole Branch Library, fundraising efforts and major contributions, such as the millions from the Bentley Trust, all worked to create the new building.

“I just happened to be mayor at the right time,” he said of his involvement. “The community has realized the value of libraries.”

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