Stevens to visit Soldotna library

Posted: Friday, July 06, 2007

Retired schoolteacher Jan Hanrahan spends her Tuesdays and Thursdays reading to youngsters at Cook Inlet Academy.

"I go through the library just to find a book that looks good, and I'll read it and like it, and take it to the children," she said.

Hanrahan's material runs the gamut from Dr. Seuss to Robert McCloskey's "Blueberries for Sal," but she'll bring in anything she thinks would make a good read.

"When Safeway has their children's books sales from time to time, I'll go in there, and these are pretty good books," she said.

Hanrahan will introduce U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens today at the Joyce Carver Memorial Public Library, where he will address the important role reading plays in helping children decide what they want to be when they grow up.

The senator also will commend the library's role as Soldotna's provider of education access via books, periodicals and the Internet.

"I'm working on how to introduce him, what kind of title to give him," Hanrahan said, adding Soldotna Mayor David Carey will introduce her before she introduces the senator.

"I've wanted to introduce him as senator for so many years. Wouldn't that be a nice way of introducing him?"

Carey and members of the library board will greet Stevens outside the newly painted walls of the library at 2 p.m., presenting him with a parchment of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The library board also will present the senator with a copy of the state's library standards and the city's own vision for the library's future before taking him on a tour.

Stevens' visit will culminate with a 10- to 15-minute speech.

"The audience (will be) those people who use the library," Carey said. "His audience will be for our community and particularly for the library users."

Carey said Stevens' visit also will benefit the library as the city discusses the facility's expansion.

"(We'll) let him be aware we're looking to expand," he said. "We don't have nearly enough space."

Aaron Saunders, Stevens' communications director, said statistics have been showing that reading is increasingly difficult for students nationwide. He said he expects the senator will aim his message at young people in particular, citing the importance of learning how to read as a child moves through the school system. "They do have a reading program in Soldotna," Saunders said. "The senator's very impressed."

Hanrahan applauds Stevens' attitude when it comes to education.

"I've heard that he really supports reading," she said. "That's where they got me because I really promote reading and the love of reading in children."

Carey said although the library's role as a source of education is to stress the importance of being able to read, more patrons today are getting their information from sources other than books.

"Library patrons today do a huge amount of work on computer screens," he said. "In my generation, you went to the library to get a book. Books aren't what (patrons) come to the library for, it's for access to education."

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