For us, like many Hainesites, the center our community is our local library. It’s not just a great library, it’s a gathering place, cultural hub, and, for us, a haven from the storm. It even has its own totem pole.
The library received Library Journal’s Best Small Town Library award in 2005, and many other honors that are well deserved. The building itself is gorgeous, especially its meeting space, featuring a high ceiling and large windows that look out on the Chilkat Range. Every year at Christmas a live Christmas tree fills much of that space. The light of it, shining through the windows on a dark evening across the snow is an inviting sight.
The staff, both paid and volunteer, is the heart of the library. Welcoming, caring, and attentive, they reflect the best our small town has to offer.
Aly serves on the library’s Teen Advisory Board, and attends weekly creative writing classes. These gatherings provide her much needed peer interaction.
The library’s periodic teen nights, during which they show movies, dance, or play video games like Rock Band and Dance Dance Revolution also offer Aly a chance to mingle with her friends, but they create a dilemma for us. Michelle and I feel it’s important to allow her this space and time away from us, but since she relies on us for transportation, we face the question of what to do in the interim. At that time of night, there’s little open in town except the bars, which doesn’t appeal quite like they did when we were younger.
In summer, if we don’t use the time to fish the river, pick berries, or hike in the late evening daylight, we sometimes carry a computer with us, check out a movie from the library, and watch it in the car. In the winter, that can be very uncomfortable.
Luckily, the library staff takes care of us here as well. All we need do is ask, and we have a safe, warm place to wait out the party. We find a nice quiet corner in the stacks, where we won’t inhibit the teenagers’ activities, and read.
Sometimes, we do join the party. The night that the last Harry Potter novel was released, the library threw a Harry Potter sleep over, which Aly and I attended. They had food and trivia games until midnight, then everyone trooped over to our local bookstore, The Babbling Book, to buy copies of the book. We read aloud until everyone fell asleep. Of all the pleasant moments I’ve spent in the library, that evening may be the best.
Whenever we go to town, we end up at the library. It’s a safe haven for people like us who have no place of our own in town. That’s not true—we do have a place of our own in town, after all.