LAMP not just about building, but services

Posted: Friday, December 24, 2010

The Library Archives Museum Project isn't just about moving out of an ailing building that threatens the artifacts - it's also about making services more effective.

The project will consolidate three state functions, the two state library sections - archives and museums - into one location.

"The primary goal is to create efficiency so they can improve statewide outreach services," said Brian Meissner, one of the project's architects.

The state library, archives and museum support smaller museums throughout the state, and with the combined facility they will be able to do it more efficiently and essentially offer more services.

"A primary goal of the project is to increase their ability to provide service across the state," he said. "How that's related to the building project is by bringing all of the collections together and in one place, they will have a better way of managing and dealing with those."

Meissner said the same amount of staff would be used, but more collaboration will take place and free up staff time for other details.

So part of LAMP has nothing to do with construction. Meissner said the three departments are working on a project together to start demonstrating that collaboration before they even move.

They also will be creating new standards for how they input data into the digital system. Meissner expects more data to be available to the public anywhere in the state since more will be digitalized.

The three departments will have shared state-of-the-art vaults, which have proper humidity and temperature settings. There also will be expanded exhibit space and the three departments will rotate their collections together.

The new building will also feature an auditorium for lectures, forums and possibly family art projects. There also will be a generic classroom, Meissner said.

Other features include conservation labs. Meissner said there will be one dedicated entirely to paper conservation.

"It's very unique and has its own set of challenges and equipment," he said. "I think it will be the first and only of its kind in Alaska when it's done. One other really cool thing is the digitization lab - micrographics. They have some of this ability in the state office building. But this is the heart where things are digitized in the state for long-term storage. In the long-term, this means less paper needs to be stored and it also means more information is going to be accessible to the public."

Meissner believes the project will anchor Juneau as the heart of Alaska.

"It's a major state project and it's a project of major statewide significance," he said. "Its location in the Willoughby District is going to set the tone for the whole district to develop and redevelop. It's going to become the heart of what's already becoming the cultural district down there."

He said the project is important because the museum's historical objects remind us of who we are, and the documents allow us to remember that and can influence decisions of today.

"This is going to protect them in a way they deserve to be protected," he said.

LAMP is holding a three-day workshop in January in Juneau about the project. The first two meetings will be geared toward library, archive, museum employees and another city officials. A public meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 12 at the Silverbow Inn.

Meissner said they are going to be showing detailed interior floor plans and mock-ups of how the building will look on the exterior. They will be seeking feedback from participants.

Meissner said they're also interested in hearing from people about the fate of the existing state museum building, which is slated for demolition in the project. The State Historical Preservation Office has proposed to put it on the Register of National Historic Places. The Assembly addressed the issue and the options for mitigation during their meeting on Monday.

The public comment period to the state Department of Education and Early Development and SHPO ends in January and various departments will release their initial findings shortly thereafter. There will be some further discussion, Meissner said, but what form that takes won't be known until after the public comment period.

In a press release from DEED, they state the Legislature appropriated $1.5 million in 2002 to buy a 1.58-acre vacant lot in Juneau next to the Alaska State Museum. In 2006, the Legislature granted $1.4 million for pre-planning and a needs assessment. In 2008, the Legislature appropriated $7.5 million for architectural design of the LAM project.

The total cost of the project is currently estimated at $126.5 million.

• Contact reporter Sarah Day at 523-2279 or at

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