Bethel’s only library will be closing for renovations this Saturday for at least three months. The Kuskokwim University Campus runs the library, but it’s used more as a public space more than as a university resource. Members of that public who rely on the library for computers and entertainment will have to go elsewhere this summer.
“We have one person that comes in on a very regular basis, multiple times a week. He’s trying to fill out scholarship applications to go to college. He’s currently homeless, and he’s trying to find a way to improve his situation,” Teresa Quiner, Bethel’s library technician, said.
Quiner says that she and the other library staff provide assistance to individuals that would otherwise be unavailable in Bethel.
“People do all of their business related things on the public computers. They apply for jobs. They check their email. A lot of people stay in touch with their family through Facebook. People fill out their PFD applications here. They do their taxes here,” Quiner said.
The YK Delta Job Center in Bethel will be taking some of the burden of the library closure. The center says that people can use their computers to apply for jobs or fill out PFD forms but not for nonbusiness purposes.
The closure is for deferred maintenance, which Quiner explains as much needed upgrades. These include aesthetic changes like a new paint job and security projects like building a wall to separate the library from the rest of the Cultural Center.
“It’s a big space to monitor when there’s only one or two people on staff. So when there have been incidents in the back hallway or in the bathroom, it’s not super safe for staff to be monitoring that and also trying to keep and eye on what’s going on down at the library,” Quiner said.
The library will also be getting new carpet and installing a new bathroom that it doesn’t share with the rest of the building.
One patron, working on his laptop using the free wifi said, “It’s going to be a long summer.” But just how long the library will be closed is not yet known.