The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Tommy Wells
Seward Phoenix Log 

Moose Pass to open new library on June 17

Volunteers pour almost 1,000 hours into refurbishing peninsula's oldest library

 

MOOSE PASS - When the Moose Pass Volunteer Fire Company got the opportunity to move into a new location a few years ago, it meant another page could be turned for the oldest public library on the Kenai Peninsula.

That page will officially get flipped on Saturday when the Moose Pass Public Library board stages its official grand opening of a newer - and larger - facility. The grand opening will be held during this weekend's Moose Pass Summer Solstice Festival.

Library officials, who held a "soft opening" on May 27, said the new facility will offer a welcoming environment for readers and internet browsers.

"Our hope is the facility will draw more use from local residents and traveling adults and especially young folks," said Bruce Jaffa, a member of the MPPL board who also served as the volunteer project manager.

Previously located in the Moose Pass Sportsman's Club building, the library had been "pigeonholed" in a small and claustrophobic corner of the building since the 1950s. When the MPVFC decided to relocate to an abandoned Alaska Department of Transportation facility, it didn't take local residents long to decide to improve the library.

"Several of us speculated what projects would help Moose Pass," said Jaffa. "Jeff Hetrick asked me for a plan and budget, which I provided. Jeff, through the Moose Pass Sportsman's Club requested and gained a SOA grant in 2015 for a five-year project. Two years later, thanks to almost 1,000 hours of donated time by skilled Moose Pass residents, Phase I of the new library is complete.

Jaffa said volunteers will begin work on Phase II - the remodeling of the former library space into a public meeting area - after the summer festival.

Jaffa said the project has come in on budget and, more importantly, given the community something to be proud of.

"So far so good," he said. "Working with my neighbors, doing something for ourselves and accomplishing something of value for our community continues my faith in what I consider the real Alaskan character."

There are still items to be dealt with, he said. Namely coming up with enough volunteers to make the library a "community center."

"One of the biggest immediate challenges the library faces is attracting enough volunteers to keep the facility open enough hours," he said.

At this point, the new library hours will be: 4-8 p.m. on Monday; 3-7 p.m. on Wednesday; and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturday.

"Although we need more volunteers for Saturday. We'd like to have the new library open six days a week, if enough people volunteer to help," said Jaffa, a local construction professional.

Jaffa said the MPPL obtained a small grant from Seward Community Foundation to purchase new electronic tablets for downloading e-books and accessing other internet resources. The grant also provides for the acquisition of an electronic projector (presentations and winter movies), wireless printer/scanner/fax and ttraining for volunteers in the use of the tablets and guidance on how to navigate and access internet resources.

The MPPL also is reaching out to nearby libraries (Seward, Cooper Landing and Hope) to share in events such as book signings and public speakers.

Jaffa said getting the community behind the library is paramount.

"The involvement of the community is vital," he said. We, like a lot of communities, need to fight to support our school's existence. The library can help."

The MPPL was established in 1938 with the assistance of L.V. Ray, a two-term Seward mayor and president of the first territorial senate. Ray also served as Assistant U.S. Attorney and was a prominent private attorney.

 

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