Friends of the Juneau Public Libraries is a 501(c)3 nonprofit committed to supporting the work of the Juneau Public Libraries.
A Short History of the Friends:
In the fall of 1979, Juneau had only two small public libraries - one downtown and one in
Douglas- and neither had a designated children’s area. City Borough of Juneau Librarian, Dale DeArmond, felt something had to be done to improve library access and services, so she convened a group of interested library users, school librarians, librarians from the Alaska State Library, and others. Their purpose was to explore organizing a group to advocate for increased support for the libraries from the City Borough of Juneau Assembly and to promote support for the libraries among the people of Juneau. By early 1980 this group had organized and incorporated to become the Friends of the Juneau Public Libraries.
Fund Raising with Book Sales:
In the spring of 1980 the Friends were gifted with books discarded by the Alaska State Library and the Seattle Public Library. A vacant space in the newly built Nugget Mall was donated for the Friends to use for a weekend long book sale. By the end of the weekend the sale had earned over $1,000 from the sale of used books priced at 10 or 25 cents per book. The weekend sales events continued on an annual or semi-annual basis for some years. One of the volunteers at that sale was Donna Denton who played a very large role in establishing the Amazing Bookstore.
The Amazing Bookstore:
In 1988 an opportunity became available to open a year round bookstore in a commercial
space. The Friends Board, along with Donna and her ever-growing contingent of volunteers, seized on that opportunity to expand their operations. The store was run by volunteers and sold books that were donated by members of the public and public organizations. The store, currently at the Airport Mall, has moved and expanded twice. The store is still run by volunteers and has become much loved in the community as a place to buy books and to place to drop off used books.
Gifts From the Friends to the Juneau Public Libraries:
In addition to providing one million dollars toward the construction of the new Mendenhall Valley Public Library, the Friends provide annual funding for youth and adult library programs, furnishings, and pilot programs for new collections and services. The Summer Reading Program, author visits and speaker stipends, the annual bookmark contest, film showing, games nights, family nights are all funded by the Friends. The Friends funded the first collections of DVDs, video games, and graphic novels. As furnishings wear out or are damaged, the Friends fund repair or replacement. The Friends also provide advocacy and public information about libraries. The work begun over 40 years ago by people who support the public libraries continues to bear fruit in Juneau.
*Based on information in an unpublished paper titled “Celebrating Us!” written by Barbara Berg, retired CBJ Library Director in 2018.
Board of Directors
Sandy Harris (2018-2024) - President
Lauryn Framke (2023-2025) - Vice President
Eva Varadi (2022-2024) - Treasurer
Betsy Longenbaugh (2022-2024) - Secretary
John Thill (2021) - Director Juneau Public Libraries
Tom Wagner (2022-2024) - Amazing Book Store Liaison
Anne Fuller (2019-2023) - At Large
Karlene Kuhn (2021-2023) - At Large