Story last updated at 3:08 p.m. Thursday, June 27, 2002

Ninilchik library construction surges ahead
Sean Pearson
Special to the Homer News

photo: neighbors
  Photo by Sean Pearson, Homer News
The new Ninilchik Library will be almost threee times bigger than the old facility.  
If you've driven through Ninilchik any time within the last three years, you may have noticed a sign tracking the financial progress of the village's funding for a new library. If you've driven by anytime within the last few weeks, you may have noticed that, after the long wait, construction on the new library has finally gotten under way.

Then again, perspective is everything.

"It really didn't take as long as we thought it would to raise the money," said library Director Jackie Bear. "But we did receive quite a bit of help with a very generous $50,000 donation from a private individual."

The donor, Bertha Glud, made the donation in honor of her late husband, Robert, and put a considerable dent in the new building's $160,000 price tag.

"We had really anticipated the fund-raising taking a lot longer," Bear said. "That donation really enabled us to make some firm plans and get things moving a lot quicker."

Bear said the library raised a large part of the money needed for construction through private and corporate donations, but added that they also received some help from two matching grants from the state.

According to Bear, the new building, roughly 3,200 square feet, nearly triples the amount of space the old library offered.

"We definitely picked up a lot more room for books and for our patrons," Bear said. "We are planning to enlarge our children's area, and were finally able to make the library handicap accessible."

Bear is hoping that by increasing the library's size and its capacity to carry more books for patrons, the library will, in turn, be able to increase its services and offer more to the community.

"Right now I'd say we have an average circulation of about 15,000 items that we loan out every year," Bear said. "That is quite a bit for a small community already, and we're hoping to increase that."

The estimated completion date for the building itself is sometime toward the end of July. However, Bear is holding out a little longer until she opens the doors to the new facility for business.

"We are thinking we'll probably need at least a couple of months to move everything over from the old building and set things up in the new one," she said. "We're probably looking at having our grand opening sometime in September. At least that's what I'm aiming for anyway."

According to Bear, she is hoping to have the grand opening of the new facility in time to coincide with the library's 50th anniversary.

"This really is a very exciting time for us all around," she said.

Arctic General Contracting of Ninilchik is constructing the new facility, while two other area businesses kicked in a little help with donations. Covey Construction donated gravel for the project, while Inlet View Construction offered help with the excavation work.

Bear said the old library building will be sold and moved off the existing property in order to create parking for the new facility. However, for now, she said she is pleased with its current location.

"I can look out and see all the work that is being done on the new building every day," she said. "It's a great way to check on the progress and see how much closer we get to moving into the new building."