KODIAK — The first thing that struck Katie Baxter about the new Kodiak Public Library was that it was a community effort.
“I could tell immediately it’s a wonderful facility that has the support of the community,” she said. “It’s a very positive energy that seeps through every nook and cranny.”
Baxter is the new executive director of the Kodiak library. She arrived in Kodiak on Oct. 18, the day the library closed to prepare for the move to its new location.
Under her direction, and with the help of a moving company and a project facilitator, all the books from the old library were moved to the new location in preparation for its Dec. 10 reopening.
“Thanks to an incredible team of volunteers from the Coast Guard and St. Innocent’s (Academy), we got 70,000 volumes up here between Oct. 21 and Oct. 24,” Baxter said.
Baxter moved to Kodiak from Scituate, Mass., a small coastal fishing town similar to Kodiak.
In Scituate, she was the co-chairwoman of the capital campaign for the Scituate Library Foundation where she helped with fundraising and marketing. She also worked as library director for the Irish Cultural Centre of New England.
Baxter holds a master’s degree and doctoral coursework in American literature and linguistics. She has been in the library industry since 1981.
Baxter said the wonderful presentation of the job and the description of the community attracted her to Kodiak.
“I love new building programs,” she said. “I love being an administrator who has face-to-face interaction with the patrons, so just the scope of the community and this particular project and it’s juncture in the life of the community, I’m ready for being a part of this scene.”
Her experience with library building designs and moves allowed her to know which part of the process the Kodiak Library was in at the time she applied for the job. Baxter said she was excited to be able to jump in toward the end of the building phase.
“What’s nice is I’ve been on the other side of projects, helping communities understand the value of a library. I like that I’m on the other side of the project where the building is complete and we’re ready to take this building to the next step,” she said.
Baxter said she plans to continue tweaking the building so it meets the needs of the community. The library already has existing programs that Baxter wants to continue, but she also hopes to add new cultural, educational and technological elements.
“I think right now it’s important to be responsive to the community,” she said. “I do find that the community is expressing its interest in author series, creative writing series, craft making, historical lecture series, children’s programming, literacy initiatives, and technology training. There’s going to be tracks of programming by interest, by age group and by our community experts.”
Baxter said she sees the new library as a place for community gatherings and a classroom for the community.
“Kodiak has so much to offer and I can tell people take great care to watch out for each other,” she said. “I think that means that the library will play a really valuable role in being a hub for reading, literacy, culture and exchanges of ideas.”