Joy Community Center hosts Fairbanks library activities during Noel Wien renovation

For 60 years, children passed through Joy Elementary School on their way to higher education. Now, the building still serves kids in the Fairbanks community.
Published: Jun. 28, 2023 at 9:06 AM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - For 60 years, children passed through Joy Elementary School on their way to higher education. Now, the building still serves kids in the Fairbanks community, but in a different way.

Now Joy Community Center, the facility functions as the temporary location for library services while Noel Wien Public Library undergoes a nearly year-long renovation. “Joy is knocking it out of the park in regards to children and teen services,” said Library Director Melissa Harter.

At the location, a room for teens and children carries books to browse through, and provides an opportunity for children’s programming. According to Harter, “It’s an environment that they’re familiar with, and so now they’ve come into this lovely, warm space and oh, there’s Winston the turtle, or there’s the chair that used to be in the Berry Room.”

Circulation and reference desks both continue to operate as well.

Old classrooms are filled to the brim with boxes full of hibernating materials, waiting for the library to reopen at Noel Wien.

Originally, some staff were meant to stay behind at Noel Wien during the renovation work, but asbestos put a stop to those plans. “The construction crew found some asbestos in the building, and are taking care of the situation. We need to make sure that it’s completely safe for everyone to return, and we’re not going to do it until it is,” explained Harter.

Now, all departments have temporarily found a home in the new location. “Luckily, the pandemic taught us how to be quite mobile and agile, and we have laptops, we’ve moved around, and so we were able to come over here, take care of business,” she said.

However, once the toxic material is cleared, library staff is expected to return to the building soon.

In the meanwhile, holds pickup is only happening at the Joy Community Center.

For the time being, the only place to drop off books during closed hours is still outside Noel Wien, but according to Harter, Joy is expected to have a drop-off place of its own soon.