New chapter

Frank Gerjevic

People were borrowing books before elected officials and library patrons could cut the ribbon. That was a good sign for the new Chugiak-Eagle River Public Library, which officially opened Wednesday night at the new Eagle River Town Center.

Mary Williams, the branch director, offered some striking history. Back in 1968, separate Chugiak and Eagle River libraries merged to make a single library of 320 square feet -- about the size of many Anchorage living rooms, or a 16-by-20-foot cabin. Wednesday's crowd would have been hard-pressed to fit inside that facility.

Since 1968 the Chugiak-Eagle River library has moved six times and grown to 18,000 square feet.

Opening night featured chicken wings, nachos, pizza and cake. Imagine the traffic the library would get with a finger-food buffet every day. Like cracking a book open at the kitchen table.

No, this feast was one night only, especially now with the city cutting back, our libraries down to four days a week until late September and librarians taking unpaid furloughs. Good time to pay off old library fines. I wrote a check for six bucks. That cleared the way for the kids to check out "Animorphs" and "The Storyteller's Candle." Mayor Sullivan paid his overdues too.

Well worth it. As Jim Palmer of the Chugiak-Eagle River Foundation said, a library is a center of knowledge to treasure and share.

Sharing was well under way Wednesday in what used to be a Safeway store ... or was it the old Pay n' Save? Hard to recall. But now that we've got a new library, we could probably look it up.

-- Frank Gerjevic


Frank Gerjevic