The Past

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The Ketchikan Public Library is the oldest continually-operating library in the State of Alaska. Founded in 1901 as the Ladies’ Library Association, the subscription library became a true, ‘public’ library in 1943 when the City took on the management and financial responsibility for its operations.

Originally a bookcase that moved from store to store as space allowed, the library association constructed a building in 1903 in the space that is now the Wells Fargo Bank parking lot. The growing collection was eventually moved to City Hall, and then the pink Federal Building. The library shared the Centennial Building with the historical museum from 1967 to 2013. In January 2013 the Library moved into its current facility, a beautiful, award-winning building overlooking Bear Valley.

The Library gave up its card catalog drawers in 1992 when it installed its first online catalog, Dynix Classic. That was the library’s catalog system until March 2008, when the library switched to a Sirsi Symphony online catalog.

Public Library and Chamber of Commerce at Main and Dock Streets, circa 1915. Photographer: Harriet Hunt; Donor: Forest J. Hunt. Courtesy Tongass Historical Society 62.4.3.171

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