The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development program is lending $1.355 million to the Borough of Haines for construction of a new public library. The remainder of the $2.5 million needed to complete the project comes from matching state grants, foundations and local sources, a news release from Rural Development's Palmer office said.
The existing 2,730-square-foot library is more than 40 years old and too small to provide the services needed by the community, said Tom Rainey, director of public affairs at Rural Development. The borough provides library services to more than 2,500 residents.
At 7,650 square feet, the new library will be almost three times as large. It is being designed by Minch-Ritter-Voelckers Architects of Juneau, and is in the final construction drawing phase. Funds will build and equip the structure, which will house books, periodicals and audio-visual collections. The facility will also be outfitted with computer equipment, work areas and meeting rooms to create a social and technological center for the community.
"Currently our shelving is pretty packed, so it will increase our room," said Ann Myren, Haines librarian since 1985. The new library will be built on Third Avenue South, adjacent to the current library.
"Haines is considered one of the fastest growing communities in Southeast," Myren said. "We are thrilled to have this grant loan package."
In addition to building and equipping the new library, the loan will allow the old library building to be renovated so borough and school district offices can move in. They are now housed in rented space, Myren said.
"This is a project that was long in the making and shows years of hard work by the Haines community," said Renee Johnson, loan technician with Rural Development. "They worked very hard to make this happen."
Ann Chandonnet can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.