New Building Move Underway

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.”






  1. Stupid question I know but why does it take 4 big trucks to move stuff 100 yards and how is this being paid for????

    • Have you ever carried a box of books?

      It’s heavy.

      • The word Dolly comes to mind-just saying………..

        • that would be a heck of a lot of 100 yard trips with a dolly over ice, snow and rocks, in the cold and a stiff wind.

          I suppose if we were more civic minded, we could have saved a bundle by forming a human chain between the two buildings and passed the books one by one; but I think we would have all been frozen solid before all the books were moved.

          • I had this idea too!

            I wish that someone had thought about it in advance so it could have been done. We could have gotten the gangway from the cruise ship dock and set up a human chain like a bucket brigade in the old days!

            It would have made national news and maybe even the Guinness Book—-But however it happens I can’t wait to see the building and use the new digs! Congratulations Seward – we’re getting a great new Christmas Present (even if it’s not paid off yet – after all, how many of us have all of our presents paid for already)

    • ls: the only time I’ve ever damaged any of my belongings is by moving them from one place to another. Its easy to just want to finish the job and be done with it. But each time an object gets handled, there is risk of damage. No big deal if its an Ikea bookshelf, but the contents of the Seward Museum are irreplaceable and almost all of it priceless. Each item tells a small story of life before we set foot here. Here’s a few of the priceless items I came across as a volunteer during the move:

      Bank ledger books from local banks from the 30’s;
      Telephone rate list placard for calls between Moose Pass and Seward in the 30’s;
      A very rare and unusual massive stone Eskimo oil lamp collected by a Seward resident/ Alaska Steamship captain;
      Many photographs belonging to Nellie Lawing;
      Nearly all the furnishings from the Peel House, one of the first luxuriously outfitted homes in Seward (previously located on IMS property).

      The Resurrection Bay Historical Society, the Seward Historical Commission, the City of Seward and the Seward Library/ Museum have an obligation to preserve the material culture of our community. They have done so. There are about 5,000 objects in the collection. All were meticulously assessed and packaged. I’m sure it was not cheap; we didn’t cut any corners.

  2. So-someone has to load the truck and then unload the truck, which takes time? Help me but I am with LS on this. Seems to be more work to load and unload a truck for 100 yards.

  3. In response to ls and ks…
    Would the manual moving of the library and museum items be accomplished by volunteers or paid city staff?

  4. I hear the cost was about $28,000. and It went out for bid but I never saw one. Maybe a couple U Hauls and hire local labor for the job could have been considered.

  5. I do like your idea ‘none’.
    As for local labor, the hoops would include:
    Self contractors…1099’s
    Individuals…temporary city hires such as unemployed park and rec employees.
    Insurance, both property and comp.
    I don’t like my dollars used for this either, but hiring a professional mover with insurance may be the wisest way to go.
    Either way, folks are working!

  6. Don’t forget all the heavy display cases and objects from the museum that had to be hauled to the new facility. That would have hard to transport safely. Volunteers are amazing and essential and can do/have done a lot, but there are limits.The movers did an excellent job and I’m glad they were in charge of the move. Safely, quickly, efficiently, and insured, in cold, windy conditions.

    Carol Griswold