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Library Upgrades Depend on Prop 3

By | March 25, 2014

Photo by Mel Green, Flickr/CreativeCommons

Photo by Mel Green, Flickr/CreativeCommons

There are seven bond Propositions on the April 1 Municipal Ballot. Proposition 3, allots $2.75 million for renovation of Loussac Library, the main library in Anchorage, which was built in the 1980s.

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Most of the money would be used to reconstruct the front entrance and install an interior book drop, among other things.

Library worker Jacqi Ball fire up machine that pulls a cart outside to check the book drop behind Loussac Library in midtown.

She unlocks five metal book bins the size of dumpsters and grabs armloads of books and DVDs, dropping them into the cart.

Daysha: “So about how many times does this happen per day.”
Jacqi: “It happens at least five or so times per day, depending on our hours we’re open. It happens about every two hours starting at 8 a.m.”

Each bin holds up to 350 pounds. They are checked five times per day. Sometimes it takes two employees to do the job. That’s something that will change if Proposition 3, an area wide facilities capital improvement bond passes on April 1.

The bond would replace the bins with a book drop that delivers books inside the library. All materials will be checked in and sorted automatically thanks to small tags that will be installed in materials. The tags emit a frequency allowing them to be checked in and sorted by machine. The system would also streamline checkout.

“My name is Chris Clemens. I work here in circulation. We check things in and out um register people for library cards, that kind of thing.”

Right now workers like Clemons spend a lot of time checking books out to patrons.

A new automated system for check-in and check-out would allow workers like Ball and Clemons to concentrate their energies on more skilled activities such as customer service, shelving and outreach programs.

The bond is worth $5.55 million, about half of which go toward improvements at the library, which has not had many upgrades, since it was built in 1986. Besides the book drop, the bond is intended to help pay for reconstruction of the front entrance, which Mary Jo Torgeson, the Library Director, says has been problematic for a long time because it was put on the second floor with the intention of connecting it to a parking garage.

“The intent was the second floor was going to be a garage. That garage was never built. There was also supposed to be cables in the steps so that it would melt,” Torgeson said. “That never happened so the steps are at a slight slant. So when you’re going down it feels kind of odd.”

Odd and dangerous says Torgeson, who also notes the second floor entry is difficult.

“It’s awkward, people can’t find the library, figure out where the library is,” she said. “So we’ll be bringing the circulation desk from the second floor to the first floor.”

Making it easier for elders, mothers with children and people with disabilities who now must use stairs or an elevator to enter the library on the second floor.

The library has $4.5 million on hand from past legislative requests and they’re requesting $10 million more from the legislature to help with the entryway project. The entire project will cost between $14-16 million.

Passing the bond is proof to the legislature that local voters support the project, officials say. Proposition 3 also provides funding for renovations to the Anchorage Golf Course, Chester Creek Sports Complex and Mulcahy Stadium, City Hall Security and Safety improvements and miscellaneous public facility security upgrades.

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