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Story Last modified at 5:09 p.m. on Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Eagle River's library celebrates donors' generosity
May kicks off busy month of summerlong programs

A low-key Saturday turned into a celebration of sorts April 30, as patrons ate cake and were shown some recent changes to the Chugiak-Eagle River library. Donors were invited to the 3 p.m. event for the unveiling of a series of plaques, next to the front door, designed to recognize foundations, corporations and individuals that helped fund the building of the new library.

One change that was immediately noticeable is that the reference collection is no longer in the front corner of the library. It is being moved to the long wall at the back of the library. Instead, low shelves have been moved into the former reference area, effectively adding about 500 square feet to the children's area of the library.

"There was no floor space in the children's area," said Zane Treesh, the manager of the Chugiak-Eagle River Library. "We actually have less room here than we did at the old location."

With the additional space, Youth Services librarian Wendy Sparkman plans to create play, reading and education areas among the shelves to entice young imaginations and creativity.

Also in the works is an expansion to the outdoor book drop, Treesh said. Right now, the book bin is often overflowing, especially after holiday weekends when it is not emptied for three days. Not a big deal for patrons perhaps, but for staff, the extra bins will be a timesaver – as well as reducing damage to books and media crammed into one bin.

"I feel like we are really settling into this space now," Treesh said, pointing out a new set of shelves that has been added to the adult fiction area. "We been here long enough to have identified areas, that with small improvements, can make a big difference both to the staff and to our patrons."

May, in fact, is a month of transition for Anchorage's public libraries. Generally there are no regular children's programs scheduled. Staff is ramping up for the Summer Reading Celebration, which encourages kids to read all summer long. Summer reading is important to maintaining the reading skills of students when school is out. Studies have shown that kids who read during the summer increase reading skills, putting them ahead of their non-reading peers when school begins.

Summer Reading kicks off May 14, with the Reading Rendezvous on the lawn at Loussac Library. This free event is great fun for kids, with dozens of booths, each with a hands-on, literary project for attendees. The whole family can sign up for summer reading too. Adults who read a book and submit a brief online review are entered into a drawing for prizes.

This weekend, May 7 and 8, is the Friends of the Library Spring Book Sale. What's not to like? Thousands of nearly new books, CDs, DVDs, Alaskana and antique books for great prices. Stock up with books for your kids' summer reading – only $1 for hardbacks and 50 cents for paperbacks. Even better – on Sunday everything is half price.

Toni Massari McPherson is the Community Relations Coordinator for Anchorage Public Library. For more information about the library and upcoming events, go to www.anchoragelibrary.org.



This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, May 4, 2011.