Friends of the Haines Borough Public Library
Program Area: Arts, Culture and Humanities Libraries
Grants Received:2000: $250,000
Nestled deep within Southeast Alaska is a solitary library serving an area of mountains, glaciers, and forests larger than the State of Delaware. The Haines Borough encompasses 2,620 square miles of wilderness and includes one of the fastest-growing communities in Alaska. For the 1,800 residents living in the remote community of Haines, the library is much more than a place to check out books. The library is a vital resource used for education, recreation, meetings, slide shows, and other activities for residents of all ages.
Built in 1957, the existing library facility had been extended twice, but remained nearly 1,000 square feet too small to accommodate the increasing number of programs and activities offered. Neither restroom was compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. A wheelchair ramp installed to the children's area reduced the amount of usable space for Headstart, preschool, and elementary school children. Clearly, the library was operating in a facility that was no longer able to meet the needs of a growing community.
In 1995, the Board of Directors for the Library made the decision to raise money for a new building, rather than continuing to add to the existing building. After seven years of writing grants, sponsoring local fundraisers, and passing a voter-approved bond issue, the Friends of the Haines Public Library celebrated the groundbreaking for the new facility in April 2002. Through the generous support and participation of local individuals, volunteers, contractors, and several major donors, the new Haines Borough Public Library celebrated the Grand Opening in January 2003, several months ahead of schedule. The Friends of the Haines Borough Library successfully leveraged funding from eleven different major donors to help complete the new 8,400 square foot library.
"The new library is so beautiful, so comfortable, and well appointed," commented Nancy Schnabel, a library patron. "A trip to the library is a lot more than just checking out a book… The library has become a destination in Haines."
Ann Myren, Library Director, reports that the impact of the new facility has far exceeded the original vision:
"The library is a symbol of what our community can do when the residents come together and work on a shared vision. Since this project succeeded, a new playground has been built using similar fundraising techniques and volunteer efforts - another huge success for the community."