I am aware that on Monday, the city will consider buying a much-needed permanent site for the CBJ public library valley branch. It is my understanding that the city considered more than one site and was offered the opportunity to acquire a suitable site at the southeast corner of the intersection of Egan Drive and Riverside Drive. Let me encourage the Assembly to move quickly on this chance to locate a very popular and valuable facility on what could be considered the ideal location.
We in Juneau and in "the Valley" should consider ourselves very, very lucky to have the opportunity to acquire such a wonderfully convenient, visible and suitable site. We shall plan and build a facility that does not have limited and restricted space. The new library will be considered not only a social hub but is and will be the information center of the community; a pleasant extension of our home libraries.
Yes, I am married to a librarian but I had been a lover of libraries since "Paddle to the Sea" was read to me in a public library at age 4.
The public library is a treasured resource that has had a long history of providing services even with limited facilities. Remember walking to the back door when the Floyd Dryden School Library was also the valley branch library and the hours were limited because of the shared facility. The move to the Mendenhall Mall was a great improvement as to access and availability. The circulation tripled in the first month and the conference room provided space for library programs and activities.
The current costs for renting the 7,000 square feet at the Mendenhall Mall is $13,339 a month, and $160,068 for the year. The library hours are limited to the hours of the mall and the library space needs continue to grow. Monies earmarked for the public library at the Dimond Park area are now part of funding for the new high school development.
This is an opportunity to acquire land as the first step for a valley library branch that will have: 1) visibility on the main highway in the center of the valley with a spectacular view of the glacier; 2) accessibility for the community with time constraints and use determined by the library and the community; 3) cost effective by owning the building and eliminating $160,000 plus annual rental fees. Such an outstanding and rare site will be almost impossible to duplicate. I request that the Assembly take this action, which will not only serve the total community well but will also create a legacy.
Earl D. Clark