Heidi Zemach for SCN
Volunteers from throughout the community have kept busy packing things up in anticipation of three major moving days next week into the new Community Library Museum building. On Monday, December 17th, WorldWide Movers Inc. will move the 1,000 boxes filled with books into the new library. On Tuesday, December 18th, they will move the museum’s collection of about 4000-5000 historical artifacts into the new museum building. The following day, they will move everything remaining to be moved.
Many volunteers had contributed hours every day since the library building closed last Saturday, said Seward librarian Rachel James, who has been supervising the library move. They were soon able to fill up all of their boxes, each of which had to be carefully labeled so that they can be correctly unloaded once they reach their new location. Volunteers will reuse the used boxes for the remaining books. James was very thankful for the volunteers, adding that their help will be needed again in the upcoming weeks.
A group of carpenters have been working at Hertz Rentals meanwhile, building wooden platforms to go beneath the old display cases that will be moved into the new museum. They will steady the exhibit’s existing cases, and make it more difficult for people to lean on and topple, James said. All is going smoothly and according to plan, said longtime library supporter Keith Campbell. They were still awaiting the arrival of the memorial tiles, engraved with the names of building’s supporters and contributors, which will be on display at the grand opening in mid- January.
In the old museum building meanwhile, Museum/Library staffer Amy Carney, who is supervising the packing process there, carefully took a photograph of a small model prior to packing it. Yet another dedicated volunteer arrived to take up from where she had left off earlier, carving niches into a piece of archival foam so that each delicate object could be placed inside a niche perfectly sized just for it.
Volunteer Donna Wottlin was carefully stuffing a basket with acid-free tissue paper. Then she bubble-wrapped it, labeled it again, and boxed it up. The trick, she said, was never to let an artifact be touched by plastic, only acid-free paper. The plastic covering is to insure that no moisture gets in.
Some 10-15 regular volunteers have been involved in the museum packing process, some since last March. They wore gloves to protect the artifacts from sweat or grease from their hands. Prior to packing, each item was numbered, labeled, photographed, described, and its condition carefully evaluated and entered into the museum’s data base, making for a painstaking process—but one that will be appreciated by the museum staff for years to come. Items also had also been carefully cleaned or vacuumed, and the furs and skins were frozen to get rid of any living mites.
Everyone cheered with relief when they finally saw the huge roll of bubble-wrap arrive at the museum, knowing the wait was over. “That stuff is crucial!” they said.
Two interesting items were from the Alaska Steamship Company Alaska Line. The first was an unused match book wherein all the matches looked like totem poles. The second was an unused little bar of soap, with “Oh to go again in Seward 4th of July, to Seward Alaska, 1945” written in pen on the wrapper. Each item holds its own intruiging story- but not all are shared.
“I’d say it’s going well,” said Carney. ”We were a little worried for a time, but you can see the end now. About a month ago you couldn’t.”