The mission of the Haines Borough Public Library (HBPL) is to be responsive to community needs by assembling, preserving, and providing access to materials, information, and technology. Therefore, the Library will offer an environment conducive to providing programs, sharing information, and stimulating ideas. The library will be a community gathering place where all ages are welcome.
Libraries are many things to their communities. Serving our remote Alaskan community, which encompasses more than 2,620 square miles, the Haines Borough Public Library is a vibrant community center that acts as a strong community anchor. We provide leadership in assessing and meeting community needs, collaborating to leverage local resources, and creating an environment conducive to learning, sharing, and connecting.
Organized by the Women’s Club in 1927, the Library was originally housed in a 12×12 coal shack at the foot of Main Street on the harbor. Sometime in the 1930s, the Library moved into a somewhat larger shack on Main Street. In 1957, volunteers built a new facility on 3rd Avenue which was extended in 1980 and 1987, a building that now serves as the Borough Administration Building. Thanks to enthusiastic grassroots fundraising efforts, a beautiful new facility, christened “The Library Haines Built” by Library Journal, opened in 2003.
Who We Are
The Haines Borough Public Library holds a unique place as an anchor in our community, offering a mix of public and private space. What services libraries offer, how they offer those services, how they change, and how they grow must reflect their communities. Our staff and volunteers are a dedicated group of community servants, with diverse professional backgrounds such as Fashion Designer, Doctor, Mountain Guide, Nuclear Physicist, Kayak Instructor, NASA Engineer, Opera Singer and Teacher – a unique alchemy of skills and passion that mirrors the intellectual diversity of Haines. We all love our community and library, and will continue to do what is most important to us — assess the varied needs of our users and design our services, collections, access, and programs to meet those needs, improving the quality of community life. Life-long learning is a priority. High-quality, innovative, inclusive programs are developed and offered. Multi-generational programs and workshops, first-rate children’s programming, book clubs, arts and cultural exchanges, Senior programs, and Native programming all support the library as a community gathering place where all ages are welcome.
In 2005, HBPL received The Best Small Library in America award from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Library Journal.
Recognition continued in 2009 up to the present day with Library Journal recognizing HBPL as a Star Library every year since the award’s inception.
In 2012 The Tlingit Tribes as Part of America’s Past display won second place in the History® Channel contest connected with the 12-part series AMERICA: THE STORY OF US.
In 2015, HBPL was named a finalist for the National Medal for Museum and Library Service.
What We Do
The Library is seen as a leader in the community, especially in regard to forming partnerships and leveraging expertise, technology, and space to enhance the use of available resources and assets. In 1996, through a National Telecommunications and Information Administration grant awarded to the Alaska State Library, University of Alaska, and rural communities, the library locally oversaw the formation of SEAKnet (Southeast Alaska Network) providing free Internet access at the library and Internet access to homes/businesses. For years, the Library was Haines’ ISP, before commercial providers served our community. To this day, the legacy of SEAKNet continues: assets left at the end of the SEAKNet service were invested in a trust by the Friends of the Library, and they subsidize the Library’s Internet service.
Since 2001, the Library’s partnership with the Chilkoot Indian Association has provided award-winning life skills, technology, and cultural programs such as The Dragonfly Project, Fingerprints, and Crossing Boundaries through Communications. Staff is frequently invited to mentor other libraries in offering similar programs.
We at the Library empower the future of our community by providing all of our patrons access to knowledge, enrichment, and services that change lives. Our community has historically been committed to providing our residents with all the advantages that a public library offers. Free computers with Internet access and free wireless service make it easy for all to tap into the broader world. A collection of over 40,000 books, CDs, DVDs, and audio books provide information and enriching content to our remote community. We continue to provide our physical materials, story hours, summer reading programs, and book discussion groups – in-person as conditions allow, and online as well – while always keeping the human element primary. Our library is a popular place to come for a quiet moment, and we provide comfortable reading and gathering spaces, designed to offer views of our beautiful mountains. We are here for the people of Haines to enjoy.
The Haines Borough Public Library encourages the strength of cultural and community unity in the form of programs that allow us to explore both our Native traditions and a world outside of our own. Meet and talk to a best-selling author or enjoy a performance of music, dance, or poetry. For those of you who are parents, our library offers free events for kids after school and over the summer holiday. We offer Story Time for all our little non-readers which include stories and songs. Older kids can enjoy after-school programs that include crafts, nature walks, games or other fun activities.
At the Haines Borough Public Library, books are only the beginning!