ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Go to the Loussac Library on any given day and you’ll find the young and the old benefiting from recent renovations.
The $17 million project is near completion with just the indoor staircase and outside wall panels both waiting on pieces to arrive.
During the two-year construction phase, library officials say they took a hit with the number of people heading to the Loussac with only about 1,000 visits a day.
“Right before we opened, the construction really wore people down and it was kind of dark and dirty in here so our numbers had dropped,” said Clare Ross, with economic and community development for the Municipality of Anchorage.
But those numbers are back up, nearly doubling what the library saw, at about 2,000 visits a day.
“The community has really embraced the new building and so we’re packed with kids coming to story time and teens doing their homework and people who just want to sit and quietly read and enjoy the new space,” said Ross.
Another new program that’s proven to be successful is the library’s in-house social work intern from the University of Alaska Anchorage. Currently, the library has two interns that come in during the semester to help the homeless connect to resources, assist people in finding jobs and in some cases have even helped domestic abuse survivors find housing and counseling.
Adult services librarian, Sarah Preskitt, says more than 100 people have already benefited from the program since it was implemented last year.
“We have these social work interns and it’s really great because librarians can’t always determine what the best first step is for some of these complex needs,” said Preskitt.
Since the need has proven to be there, Preskitt says they are expanding the program. The Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority just awarded funding for a full-time social worker to be on hand year-round.
Although the construction phase of the renovations is nearly over, the library has set its sights on the future. Ross said with phase two, hopefully new elevators will be installed and there will be an update to the buildings H-VAC system. But she says that’s still a couple of years down the road. Right now, the library just hopes to build that community support and encourage folks to use the vast amount of resources it offers.