Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Beautiful Far Away Libraries in Alaska

An amazing view from the stacks of Ketchikan Public Library in Alaska.
I fulfilled my long time dream of visiting Alaska this past summer and even had a chance to visit a few public libraries along the way.  I wanted to use the library's WI-FI to check my email on my tablet and even catch a glimpse of what it might be like to be a librarian in Alaska.

My favorite of all my stops was Ketchikan, Alaska.  Ketchikan seems to have it all for a Alaskan community.  It has a vibrant downtown area, beautiful waterways with sea-planes taking off every few minutes, and even a wonderful public library perched above a river.  There is a great Salvation Army store with all kinds of winter clothes that you just don't find in the lower 48 and a well-known outdoors outfitter where you can find every kind of gear called the Tongass Trading Company (be sure to go to the 2nd floor to see the foul weather gear and outdoor stuff- the 1st floor is primarily tourist souvenirs).

Though there were other libraries to stop and see along the way, the Ketchikan Public Library seemed to have the best vibe and ambiance (and according to the website, it is the oldest public library in operation in Alaska).

When I was in graduate school I dreamt of moving to Alaska and finding that dream librarian job.  I'm sure my Alaskan fantasy was influenced to some degree from the TV series Northern Exposure, which was popular around my teenage years.  

I am not sure I have completely "kicked" my Alaska dream, but I think my visit there either satisfied my curiosity for awhile or sparked a greater fire to someday make the plunge and move up there ("Alaska or Bust!" my sign would have to say).  Either way, Alaska is a majestic and enchanted place that just draws you in.    

I guess I have always been drawn to Alaska and the magnetic force that willed me there predated the popular Discovery shows like Deadliest Catch and Gold Rush.  Well, it was nice to finally have my feet on Alaska's terra firma and drink-in the places and people that I had imagined for so many years.  The Ketchikan Public library was really what I had imagined what a library in Alaska would be like.

While I am sure the library has it's share of everyday library problems, it was nice to visit such a warm and cozy library and experience it as a local patron.  I admit to imagining for a minute what it would be like working in such a beautiful environment.  Shelving books at KPL must be a highly sought after task by librarians and staff. I know I wouldn't be able to stop myself from pausing for long periods of time near the windows to gaze down at the water rushing by.

                              *Information contained within these pages do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of Schreiner University.

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