For years, at the annual Cabin Fever Variety Show songs have been sung, guitars and ukuleles strummed, pianos played, jokes told and stories recited. Local cooks have offered up cakes and cookies, pies and breads. Raffle tickets have been sold and prizes won.
All of that has been done with one goal: raising enough funds to get the Anchor Point Public Library a home of its own. It is currently located in 1,600-square-feet of space at one end of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10221 building.
Saturday’s production of the 2015 Cabin Fever Variety Show was more of the same: local entertainers giving it their best for the sake of the library. Zoya Fefelov’s sweet, young voice filled the gym with “The Star Spangled Banner.” Two Chapman students gave a recitation, the Homer Ukulele Group got the audience to sing along, as did Jack Will and Sue Biggs. The Firth family awed friends and neighbors with their musical performance. Reuben Sherwood and Betty Jo Goddard drew laughs — his for “William Shakespeare’s Three Little Pigs;” hers for a humorous reading of an attempt at mushing. A table was spread with tempting desserts for the silent auction. A drawing for a pair of snowshoes boosted raffle ticket sales.
What was different this year, however, was the library update given by Bob Craig, president of the library’s board of directors. Craig announced some eagerly awaited news. This summer, the library will move from the VFW and to a building at 34020 North Fork Road, near the Sterling Highway intersection.
In September, Bob and Laura Craig bought the building from Marquis Enterprises. The purchase includes space that formerly housed the New Image Salon, operated by Destiny Kelly, two apartments and 29 storage units.
An attorney has helped prepare an arrangement that will allow the Craigs to lease the building to the library, with an option to buy. The apartments and storage units will give the library something the annual variety shows have been unable to provide: a consistent income.
“And after we get our loan paid off, then we can sell it to the library and they’ll have their own space,” Laura Craig told the Homer News.
The library has been guests of the VFW since the mid 1980s.
“They are the ones who have been able to keep us going, us being in their building and them paying the electricity and gas and everything,” said Mary Perry, the library board treasurer.
“We haven’t had to worry about utilities, so it’s been wonderful. … But they want to use that space and so we’ve been looking and looking and raising funds for years.”
Since the purchase was final, Bob Craig has led a crew of volunteers transforming the 2,800-square-foot area that will become the library. Every day, from about 4:30 a.m. until his wife calls him home for breakfast, Craig has repaired insulation and sheetrock, painted, torn up old and installed new flooring, torn down walls, put in doors and added windows.
One large area is being remodeled for the library’s youngest patrons, and will be outfitted with two early literacy stations appropriate for children up to eight years of age. The stations were given to the library by the Alaska State Library and are loaded with 70 programs.
“We have two of these the Alaska State Library gave us. One is still in the box because we didn’t have room to put it up,” said Laura Craig, who, in addition to being the library director, serves as the board secretary.
A seven-foot window in the children’s library room makes it easy to monitor by the librarian, as well as parents working on a nearby computer stations.
The increase in space means there is ample room for books. One area also is being set aside for quiet, comfortable reading and will be furnished with couches and outfitted with a fireplace-like stove.
“It’s propane right now, but can be converted to natural gas,” said Laura Craig.
The Anchor Point Public Library has a collection of 21,758 items. It offers four desktop computers and three laptop computers with Internet access. Printing, copying and faxing is available for a fee. The library has a total of 1,380 patrons and operates on a budget that includes $6,500 from the Alaska State Library, which the Anchor Point library matches with $7,000.
The library is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Saturdays, 11 a.m-5 p.m. Library volunteers include Merrietta Beymer, Mary Griffith and Adriane Appelhanz. In January, Gary Tysowski was hired through MASST, Mature Alaskans Seeking Skills Training.
In addition to the Craigs and Perry, board members include Griffith and Appelhanz, and Joy McMahill as vice president. The library board meets on the first Monday of each month at the library at 7 p.m.
“Without a tax base in Anchor Point, we have a couple of grants and then everything else is donations,” said Perry.
“It’s really hard in a town the size of Anchor Point to get enough donations to continue, but with those storage units and apartments, we’ll be bringing in some revenue and hopefully will be a little more self-sufficient.”
McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.