MVPL Frequently Asked Questions

Mendenhall Valley Public Library FAQs

Mall Closes: 8/31, 8 PM
New Library Opens: October 5th  
New Library Grand opening celebration: November 7th

When will the new Mendenhall Valley Public Library in Dimond Park open?
As soon as we’re moved!  We’ll be moving in September and we plan on opening October 5th - or a couple of days before that, if we can manage it.

Will there be a grand opening celebration / ribbon cutting / other ceremonial event?
Yes, on November 7th.  We’ll announce the time on www.juneau.org/library, through PSAs, on local media, and on our Facebook page – www.facebook.com/libraryevents once it is final.

Can I return books between 8/31 and when you open the new Library?
We’d love for you to hang on to them until we open, but you’re welcome to return them to the Mall Library until September 25th and then to the new Library thereafter through the Book Drops. 

Where do I pick up my holds while the Library is closed?
Holds can be picked up at UAS, the Downtown Public Library, the State Library in the State Office Building, or at the Douglas Library.  You can modify your pickup location online or by calling 586-5249.  You can also modify holds in person at any of the above libraries.

We’ll be reaching out to patrons by phone or email who have active holds at the mall library when that facility closes on 8/31.

What happened with the Friends of the Library Engraved Brick project?
All of the engraved bricks (about 850) are up and installed on the entry walls.  They look great!  Everyone who bought bricks is welcome to come try and find theirs as soon as the construction workers are done and off of the site.

Will there be bus service to the new Library?
It seems likely.  The current Capital Transit proposal includes service on Riverside Dr.  There are four public meetings coming up to discuss the proposed changes.  They are:
·       August 18th, 5-7p, UAS
·       August 19th, 7-9p, TMHS
·       August 20th, 7-9p, DZ
·       August 24th, 7-8p, Douglas Library

Will the new library continue selling bus passes & tokens?
            Yes; however, bus passes and tokens will not be available in September while we are moving.  Please visit Fred Meyer or City Hall (Treasurer's Office) for your September purchases.

How big is the new building?
About 20,000 sq ft, or approximately double the amount of space that was available in the Mendenhall Mall location.

How was the extra space allocated?
Through many design iterations, public meetings, and research into library trends nationwide, we increased space allocations for:
·       Public meeting and study rooms
·       Children’s room
·       Space for teens
·       Space for book and audiovisual collections
·       Casual reading/studying spaces
·       Public computing resources (including study/meeting room technology)

Will the collection be bigger?
Yes!  The library has been saving for just this purpose for many years (primarily from small donations and lost item charges) and we plan to spend about an extra $100,000 over the next 4-5 years to grow the collection in the new Valley Library.

Why not spend it all at once?
Like most things, books age and eventually need to be repaired or replaced.  By spreading the money out, we’re ensuring that we don’t have a bunch that need to be replaced at the same time later down the road.

How is the building heated (and cooled)?
Via a geothermal heat pump and radiant floor system.  A water/glycol solution is pumped through a closed-loop series of wells underneath the library’s parking lot.  At the bottom of these wells there is ground water that is at a near constant temperature (~44 degrees).  That solution, at 44 degrees, is brought up to the mechanical room where a few degrees of heat is leached off and compressed into the radiant floor system, which pumps a much hotter (around 110 degrees, varying depending on how cold it is outside) solution through the slab to heat the building. 

Will staff be able to control the temperature in the building better than in the Mall Library?
Yes.  There are 14 different temperature control zones in the new library.  In the mall, we (kind of) had 1.

What is the ceiling made out of?
The linear wood ceiling is made out of clear hemlock wood and is perhaps the prime architectural feature of the building.  The slats themselves have a soft black felt backing between them which is intended to capture sound and prevent it from rebounding down into the space.

There’s a lot of wood in the building – is it all hemlock?  Is that very smart (don’t you know your Shakespeare)?
Just the ceiling, and we promise it isn’t poisonous (but please don’t try to get up there).  All of the other wood in the building is maple.

How was the building paid for?
·       $7M – Alaska State DCED/DCRA Library Construction and Major Expansion Grant Program
·       $4.7M – CBJ Voter Approved 1% Temporary Sales Tax Allocation
·       $1.18M – Friends of the Juneau Public Libraries
·       $495K – Rasmuson Foundation Grant for Fixtures, Furniture, and Equipment
·       $300K – Juneau Public Library’s Endowment Fund

Will the new Valley Library cause my property taxes to increase?
No.  None of the construction was funded with property taxes.  The Library does use property taxes to operate, but operating this building (despite the increase in space and services) will cost the same or slightly less than it cost to operate the Mall Library.  The cost of rent in the mall space is projected to conservatively cover new utilities, maintenance, and staffing. 
For perspective, the total CBJ expense for General Government and Schools in FY16 is budgeted at about 151.1M.  The Library Department (which includes the three public libraries plus the Juneau-Douglas City Museum) has a FY16 budget of 2.66M, or about 1.8% of total CBJ expenses.  Approximately 10% of the Library’s budget (about an additional 300K) is covered by grants.

How long did construction take?  Who built & designed the building?
Construction began in April of 2014 and is scheduled to conclude in September of 2015.  The General Contractor is Dawson Construction (offices in Bellingham, Ketchikan, Juneau) and the architects are Northwind Architects out of Juneau and THA Architects out of Portland.

What’s with the fireplace?
The fireplace, which burns propane, was part of the original design process by THA Architects and it is intended to create a living room / hearth-like environment for reading, study, and occasional programs.  The entire library has a continuum of “loud” to “quiet” spaces, and the fireplace is at the end of the “quiet” area.  The fireplace was not funded in the bidding process of this project; it only exists now because the Friends of the Library Board agreed to fund it. 

Do you have bike racks?
We heard loud and clear that bike racks were a necessity during public meetings.  There are not only two large bike racks, but also a cyclist aid station next to them that has an air pump and some commonly used tools for easy bike fixes.

How’s the parking?
We have 34 parking spaces in an asphalt paved lot.  Two of those are reserved for ADA use, while another two have Electric Vehicle charging stations in front of them.

Tell me about the 1% for Art Projects
Each public construction project in Juneau allocates 1% of its construction budget to artwork per CBJ ordinance.  Members of the art selection committee are appointed by the Assembly, and the committee then reviews and proposes selected artwork to the Assembly.

For this project, two works submitted by artist Dan DeRoux were selected.  They’re titled “Wisdom” (the two Bronzed Raven & Eagle sculptures, standing atop a stack of books) and “Flight of Imagination” (the seven swans with book covers/pages for wings).


Construction Progress Photos and Updates

This will be the second to one of the last posts on this blog as construction for the new Mendenhall Valley Library is nearly complete!  We'll have one more post when we have some dates finalized with one more set of pictures.  For information in the future on this project and other library related news and services, please refer to http://www.juneau.org/library.

The Valley Library in the Mendenhall Mall will close on August 31st, and Library staff will move into the new facility in September.  Construction progress is coming along well and is on track to be complete in September as well.  We aim to open in early October, and have tentatively set a grand opening celebration for November 7th, although still tentative at this point.

For those who purchased an engraved brick, all 840+ bricks are installed on the exterior of the building near the front entryway - you'll get to see them soon!

Recent photos of the project:

Entryway on the right, install of linear wood ceiling (hemlock wood) in progress

Exterior shot from across Riverside Dr

Reading nooks (carpet pad currently installed, carpet coming soon) in the Children's area of the library

Glass partition between the large meeting room and foyer, which is operable and stores in a side room for large meetings/events

Looking down what will be the main stack area

Another shot of the main stack area, featuring the courtyard windows and Friends of the Library fireplace (background, right)

From inside one of the study rooms.  Each study room has a glass markerboard on one wall with a screen on the other.

Another study room shot - each room is separated from the main library with glass.


Construction Progress Photos

Thanks to CBJ Engineering, Robert Barr-Library Director and Jonas Lamb Friends of JPL Board Member for these great photos of the rapid progress happening on site as of October 13, 2014. 


We're Breaking Ground!

Well the project contractor Dawson actually broke ground about a week ago but today we're having a Groundbreaking Ceremony!

Yes it's short notice here on the project site but please drop everything and join us at 12:15 at the Dimond Park site. In addition to short speeches and digging in the dirt, we'll have hard hats and stories on the path for the kids.


Design Development slides and renderings posted

If you missed the last public meeting, the presentation slides used have been posted on the blog's documents page.  In addition to the slides, you'll find three very well done artistic renderings that the architecture team produced to help conceptualize what the building will look like.  Take a look! 

In a couple of weeks we'll be receiving the 65% cost estimate on this project and entering the last phase of architectural design.  This phase is mostly about finishing up all of the details - fixtures, finishes, small tweaks to design, interior work, and furniture.  We'll continue to update this blog with news as things develop.  As always, if you have any questions, feel free to ask.

Here's one of the renderings that shows the exterior entry of the building, as seen from the parking lot:


Design Development Review - November 6th

Hello everyone,

The third and final public meeting for the Mendenhall Valley Library project is set for November 6th, 6:30 PM, in the current Valley Library inside Mendenhall Mall.  The design team will be sharing a near-final site and floor plan, along with sharing details on interior design, furniture, and a number of 3D images depicting various spaces in and out of the library.

This public meeting coincides with the wrap up of the last major stage of development.  Between the end of this meeting and February of next year, the architects will be hard at work consolidating all of the work they've done so far, in combination with staff and public feedback, to produce a set of construction documents that will be used to solicit bids for the project.  The plan remains to advertise for bids in early March of next year, and award a contract in April.

If you're unable to make this meeting, you still have a couple of ways to participate in the process.  A display is in place at the Valley library where you can review the floor plan and submit comments.  We'll be updating the display after this last public meeting.  I'll also update this website with the presentation materials shown at the public meeting.  These, along with other documents posted in the past, can be found on the documents page of this website. Another option is to simply shoot me an email.

This continues to be an exciting, well managed, and on budget project.  We've significantly benefited from the large amount of public interest and participation we've had to date and I'm very much looking forward to this last meeting. 

I hope to see you there,

Robert Barr
Library Director
Juneau Public Libraries


Call For Artists!

Hello everyone,

The Call For Artists (CFA) has been posted today for design, production, and installation of art in the new Mendenhall Valley Public Library.  If you are, or know of, an interested artist, please refer them to this CBJ webpage to register and submit a proposal.  This link is also on our documents page, which may be helpful for interested artists who want to learn more about the project.  Initial proposals are due on or before October 4th. 

All the best,

Robert Barr
Library Director, member of MVPL Art Committee
Juneau Public Libraries