The sign at 34020 North Fork Road, just east of Coastal Realty at the corner of North Fork Road and the Sterling Highway, says it all: The Anchor Point Public Library is open for business at its new location.
Even better: the location is permanent, thanks to Bob Craig, the library board president, and his wife, Lora, the librarian.
The Craigs purchased the building — including two apartments, a 2,800-square-foot space formerly occupied by the New Image Salon and 29 storage units — in September.
“After we get our loan paid off, we can sell it to the library and they’ll get the rent money,” said Bob Craig.
The library doesn’t have to wait until the Craigs pay the loan, however. Since September, Craig and a crew of volunteers have spent long hours each day remodeling the salon space. Walls were removed. Fresh coats of paint were applied. Ceilings were updated. New flooring was installed.
Wiring to accommodate efficient lighting and computer hook-ups was added. Wifi was brought in. Shelves were arranged to hold the library’s 21,000 volumes.
A windowed room was created with youngsters in mind. It holds age-appropriate reading materials and two early literacy stations provided by the Alaska State Library and containing 70 programs for youngsters up to eight years of age.
Tables, desks, chairs and loveseats were arranged in reading areas so library patrons can relax with a book, take advantage of resource materials or work on a laptop.
“Bob would be over here every morning at 4:30, come home for breakfast around 8:30 and then come right back,” said Lora Craig. “He was usually home between 7-8 at night to eat dinner.”
Finally, on April 8, the library officially opened its doors at the new address through a lease-with-option-to-buy arrangement with the Craigs.
It was Catherine Lemmon, who arrived in the area in 1957 to teach grade school at the Anchor Point Territorial School, who originally raised the idea of a community library. The first fundraising activity was a raffle for a doll, with local women sewing clothes for the doll’s wardrobe. That effort raised $100. More fundraisers followed and on Jan. 14, 1959, the library opened in the 11-by-24-foot back room of the school.
In 1986, the library moved into a 1,600-square-foot space at one end of the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ building on Milo Fritz Avenue. Two years later, plans began taking shape to get the library into a space of its own. Fundraising efforts such as the annual Cabin Fever Variety Show have continued to fuel that dream.
“Now, we’re continuing with the building fund, but the building fund isn’t to build a new library,” said Craig of finally being able to focus on materials, equipment and furnishings.
An open house is scheduled for 11 a.m.-5 p.m. May 9, but the community already is staking its claim on the new space.
“On Friday, we had 150 items checked out,” said Lora Craig of a busy April 17. “That’s the most items ever. It usually runs between 40-60 a day.”
A new address doesn’t mean the work is over. On Saturday, in addition to answering patrons’ questions, the Craigs and board member Adriane Appelhanz were emptying and arranging boxes of books. Local artist Bill Cummings, whose paintings add splashes of color throughout the library, was finishing a mural on one reading area wall. Craig still has some plumbing to finish and a natural gas fireplace to install.
All that aside, however, a long-held goal has finally been reached.
“We are glad to be here,” the Craigs said in unison.
McKibben Jackinsky is a freelance writer who lives in Homer and Ninilchik. She can be reached at email@example.com.
34020 North Fork Road
Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday.
11 a.m.-5p.m. May 9