Anyone who has been to the Loussac Library knows the decades-old midtown facility is getting rough around the edges.
During winter the steps leading to the main entrance are usually ice-slicked, and all along the building’s exterior there are missing chunks of concrete, a busted brick façade and no clear path inside for people who rely on elevators.
The library moved from its original downtown home to its current location in 1986 and has not been significantly renovated since then. But it remains among the most used public buildings in Alaska’s largest city.
On a recent weekend, there was a political rally on the lawn, a conference attended by more than 500 and a steady flow of people taking advantage of in-person absentee voting ahead of the April 1 citywide elections. The building is also home to the Assembly Chambers, and of course there are the books, computers and conference rooms.
“The community loves this place, and we need to make it more accessible to reflect how great our community is,” said Clare Ross, spokesperson for Anchorage Public Libraries.
If voters and lawmakers decide the building is worth the money, a series of renovations could soon begin: a new entrance that features an atrium would be installed, there would be a single elevator leading from the front door to the fourth floor and the steps would be removed.
Proposition 3 on the citywide ballot, among other capital developments, would provide $2.75 million for the effort. Mayor Dan Sullivan in a city request to the Alaska Legislature described Loussac renovations as the top priority and said the city needs $10 million from the state to break ground on the project.
According to city leaders, all of those funds are needed for the renovations to take place, and a yes vote would signal to lawmakers that the Loussac Library is a priority for Anchorage residents.
“To provide a match, the Legislature needs to understand we've got skin in the game for that particular project, and we're willing as voters to provide some of the money,” said city manager George Vakalis.
Proposition 3 would allow the city to issue a total of $5.5 million worth of bonds: it also provides funding to relocate Mulcahy Stadium to make room for parking at the Sullivan Arena, to upgrade the Anchorage Golf Course and to improve security measures at City Hall.