For years, Kodiak residents have dreamed of a new public library. A new public library is recognized as an important investment for the future of Kodiak. The community is committed to the value that the new public library be one that everyone supports and believes in.
Early discussions and planning began for a new public library in the late 1990s. In 2004, the City contracted with USKH, Inc. for professional planning services for a new Municipal Building, which would meet needs of a new city hall, new public library and new
police and ﬁre facilities. One of the study’s four phases was to look at sites. In September 2004, USKH published “Space Needs Assessment and Site Investigations,” reporting on 17 possible locations both within and outside of City limits.
By 2006 the police and ﬁre facilities had been prioritized. Further planning efforts became contentious. A joint police/ﬁre facility to be located at the existing city jail, ﬁre station and public library complex gained the nickname, “The Taj Mahal,” and was rejected by the community. The next plan was for a stand-alone police station on Near Island which was met with public outcry. A new combined police station and jail facility was eventually built and put into service in 2010.
Strong community commitment for a new public library facility endeavored throughout these early planning attempts. It became clear to a group of local citizens that creating a grassroots movement was the key to the project being successful. In 2007, this citizen’s group reached out to the Alaska Library Association (AkLA) and inquired about forming a group to advocate for a new public library. AkLA members provided history on the KPLA, which had been minimally active in recent years. In 2008, this group held a ﬁrst organizational meeting for the revitalization of the KPLA and expanded its purpose to include assisting in planning and developing a capital project and related capital campaign for a new Kodiak public library.
In 2008, the KPLA adopted Articles of Incorporation. At the same time, the City included $10,000 for pre-development planning in the FY09 budget. The KPLA and the City jointly developed and entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to establish the relationship and duties of the parties with regards to the pursuit of a new Kodiak public library, including: programmatic needs and building design, fundraising efforts, and public participation and information dissemination during the planning process.
As a ﬁrst step of the pre-development process, the KPLA, in partnership with the City, initiated and funded a series of workshops led by library consultants Ann Myren and Cecily Stern to identify needs and establish service goals to support current and future library programs and services. These sessions were attended by a variety of interested community residents, the library staff, members of the KPLA, the Kodiak College Library Director, the City Manager, and a member of the Borough Assembly. After identifying service goals and needs, the KPLA published a Library Service Plan and Space Needs Analysis for a new public library facility in 2010.
Site selection for the new public library facility was determined as a critical next step. In May 2009, the KPLA ofﬁcially initiated a site selection process. A public meeting was held at Fishermen’s Hall, where the community reviewed the sites studied by USKH, Inc. ﬁve
years prior. The KPLA also solicited the public to recommend any other possible locations that might be suitable for the new library.
Over the next several months, the KPLA Board of Directors researched and evaluated a total of 22 potential sites and worked with City, Borough, and private landowners to develop detailed information on high interest sites identiﬁed. As a result of additional outreach to the community via radio, meetings with interest groups and an additional
community meeting and public comment period, the KPLA Board of Directors voted to recommend the “Barn Site” to the City Council as the preferred location for a new public library on October 12, 2009.
On April 22nd, 2010, the City Council passed Resolution No. 2010- 11, “Supporting the City-owned “Barn Site” as the preferred location for a new public library.”
Encouraged by the KPLA, the City applied to and was sponsored by the Rasmuson Foundation to participate in The Foraker Group Pre-Development Program in May 2010. Facilitated by Martha Schoenthal, The Foraker Group Pre-Development Project Manager,
and MRV Architects, the KPLA and the City began to work through deliberative processes to document current library needs, determine a space program, conﬁrm the “Barn Site” would accommodate the proposed building footprint, and develop a preliminary project cost estimate.
This work has resulted in plans for a new public library that is affordable to operate, requires minimal future maintenance needs, and creates a warm, bright, and attractive community center for decades into the future.
Currently, the new public library project is planned to begin construction as early as 2012.