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“We are open.”
Happier words could scarcely have been seen Wednesday morning than those on a colorful piece of paper on the door, as the brand-spanking-new Ketchikan Public Library opened to the public for the first time.
The excitement was palpable. Retired Library Director Judith McQuerry strode first through the door, welcomed by her successor, Linda Gens.
Readers and pre-readers alike gaped, open-mouthed, as they walked through the well-lighted, airy building. In spite of the predictable January weather, regular library users were warm and happy wandering about after their weeks-long borrowing exile, while the library moved from Dock Street to Copper Ridge. (An official grand opening is slated for Jan. 19, with speeches to be made and ribbons to be cut and food to be eaten. But the library is open for business now.)
All ages appreciate that each bookshelf is well lighted, making browsing a special and much easier pleasure. It was especially fun to see kids snuggle into the floor pillows and touch the Library Tree (a magnificent piece of fiber art that is a centerpiece to the Children’s Library) absent-mindedly, as if they’d never been gone, making themselves at home.
Generations of library users have made themselves at home there over the years, no matter the building, and no matter the reason for going to a library in the first place. For many, it’s all about books. For others, it’s a video or some music. Or the reference books or the magazines. Or just being someplace warm while walking around on a sideways-rainy day.
For many, especially kids over the years, it’s been about the people: Those knowledgeable librarians and other library staffers who go out of their way to make sure it’s a place where people know they belong and know they can find answers. They can get help; they can get knowledge. They can learn ways to learn.
The learning tree (“Ketchikan branch”) has quotations in many languages, written on fabric by Ketchikan folks who shared their knowledge of other tongues in the fiber art sculpture. One of them, in Irish, has it just so for the feeling at the library on this long-awaited Wednesday morning: Welcome home.