Library honors three dedicated women
Three women who poured countless hours into creating and sustaining a library in Chugiak-Eagle River were recognized with a dedication ceremony Thursday, Oct. 20.
What’s known today as the Chugiak-Eagle River Branch Library named the children’s section for Billie Moore, the northern collection for Polly Kallenberg and the volunteer program for Kathryn Cotten.
A plaque for each woman was unveiled during the ceremony. Among the roughly 25 friends and family in attendance were Rep. Bill Stoltze, Rep. Anna Fairclough and Anchorage Assemblywoman Debbie Ossiander.
Here’s a look at each woman honored:
Before opening the Eagle River Library in 1965 — one week after Kallenberg opened the Chugiak Library — Moore was instrumental in opening libraries in the elementary schools in Chugiak and Eagle River in 1961. Those two schools were the first in the state to have in-house libraries, according to a press release.
The newly established Eagle River Elementary had no books. After the Parent-Teacher Association put an electronic scoreboard as its top fundraising priority, Moore launched a campaign to establish a library.
Moore wrote letters to state officials and held weekly cookie sales to gain support. In just one year, each elementary school in Chugiak and Eagle River had libraries, according to the release.
Three years after the establishment of the Eagle River and Chugiak public libraries, the two were combined to form the Chugiak-Eagle River Library. What started out as a 320-square-foot facility has grown into 18,000 square feet today, according to the municipality’s website.
Moore teamed up with Kallenberg to run the public library.
“Billie was an ideal librarian, combining a passion for books with a delightful, vibrant personality that made the library a welcoming center for the community,” according to a press release.
The children’s section was named after Moore because of her fondness for young readers.
“She especially loved children in the library and knew them by name,” the press release says. “Her lively children’s programs inspired generations of readers.”
After her involvement with a small library — which the Chugiak Ladies Club established — ended due to lack of funding, Kallenberg opened the Chugiak Library in April 1965. Nineteen library cards were issued and 56 books checked out the first day, according to Marjorie Cochrane’s history of Chugiak-Eagle River “Between Two Rivers.”
Forty-six people were issued library cards and 107 books were checked out when the Eagle River Library opened just over a week later.
Kallenberg managed the Chugiak-Eagle River Library with Moore for 13 years until retiring in 1981. When she retired, the Chugiak-Eagle River Library was the largest in the Anchorage area, according to a press release.
Kallenberg and Moore’s efforts made today’s library what it is.
“It was their efforts that gave it life and nurtured it to maturity,” according to a press release. “Their contributions deserve lasting recognition.”
Cotten volunteered at the Chugiak-Eagle River Library soon after it was opened for nearly two decades every Monday for eight hours.
Cotten was “a firm believer in the value of books and reading,” according to a press release.
Cotten always had a smile on her face.
“She shelved books and was happy to do any other task needed,” the release reads. “Her children remember that she told them never to buy a book because they could always get books at the library.”
The newly named Kathryn Cotten Volunteer Program is in recognition of her longtime efforts.
“Kathryn’s early volunteering was vital to the establishment and successful growth of the library program,” the release says.
Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or firstname.lastname@example.org