SOLDOTNA — Large windows let in plenty of light to the children’s area where books and toddler-sized tables and chairs adorned with colorful animals wait patiently to be used by Soldotna’s youngest bibliophiles.
“It’s going to be a wonderful place for kids and families to meet and to study and have story time,” Joyce K. Carver Memorial Library Librarian Rachel Nash said. “It’s even better when I start looking at the future and the memories that are going to be made here.”
Nash said setting up the children’s area at the new building was one of the first things the staff and volunteers worked to get ready for Monday’s soft opening. Workers also separated baby board books, folklore stories and children’s Alaskan books into their own sections to make them easier for kids to find.
An Advanced Workstations in Education Early Literacy Station, a kid-friendly computer that teaches kids ages 2-8 early literacy skills as well as math and social studies, will be up and running on Monday, Nash said.
The first event scheduled at new building is a family holiday story time with a visit from Santa Claus from 6-7 p.m. on Thursday, she said.
Another feature in the new library Nash is looking forward to utilizing is the 1,100 square-foot community room with a drop down screen and kitchenette. She hopes to regularly book education talks and teen program events in the space.
Community volunteer John Mohorcich, who was busy shelving books on Tuesday, said he likes the community room.
“I think the pubic meeting room is a great idea,” he said “It was lacking in the community.”
But he said he hasn’t seen much of the new building because he’s been “keeping his nose to the grindstone.”
The library started moving on Dec. 2 and Nash said the department couldn’t have moved all the books without the city maintenance department and the Kenai River Brown Bears hockey team.
“(The team) helped move all of those very heavy book boxes. I mean it was hundreds of book boxes that they helped us move,” Nash said.
Nash said the community volunteers, who shelved books, were “phenomenal.”
“We could not have done this much work in this short amount of time without their help,” Nash said.
Melissa Mosk, who decided to volunteer because she had “time on her hands,” said her favorite feature of the library is the fireplace.
Debra Gustafson, who moved to Soldotna a few months ago, said she decided to help move the library to get out and meet people and because she’s a “huge library person.”
Tuesday was her first day volunteering and shelving books, and she liked how the many large windows made the new building “so bright.”
Volunteers and staff began to shelve the library’s collection of about 45,000 volumes on Dec. 5. And a “mountain” of new books that arrived Dec. 9, Nash said.
For the soft opening Monday, Nash said the library won’t have its information technology equipment and the shelves might not be in “perfect alphabetical order.”
She said the basement collection, which is about 70 percent of the total volumes, is being moved up, while filing the mall collection.
“So that takes a lot of time and a lot of effort,” she said. “And in order to open by Monday, we’re just really focused on getting them on the shelf in rough order.”
Nash said the goal was to get open this week to help patrons find and check out books during the holidays.
“Also it’s just a good place for families to come and relax,” she said.
The grand opening is scheduled for 2-4 p.m. on Jan. 18, 2014. Nash said the library is going to have community members help cut multiple ribbons.
“I think that’s very symbolic,” she said. “We can have children opening the stacks in the children’s area and teens in the teen section and adults in the adult section.”