Libraries are known for collecting books -- and fines. However, the Soldotna Public Library goes a step further.
It provides a showcase for anyone in the area to display collectibles. Over the years, the rotating displays have been a delightful project for all involved.
"It is funny what people collect and save," said assistant librarian Terri Burdick. "It seems like everyone collects stuff."
Items have ranged from serious to silly, from whimsical to wowee. The library has hosted antique letters, stamps, toy turtles and semiprecious gems, to name a few.
Burdick, who oversees the project these days, said it is impossible for her to single out favorites.
"Oh, I like all of them," she said. "It fascinates me to see what people collect."
Patrons of all ages have participated, even children. They have exhibited Barbies, Beanies, Bauer horses, Legos and "Star Wars" memorabilia.
When holidays roll around, the library strives for seasonal themes. For example, displays have included jeweled eggs for Easter and crystal bells for Christmas.
A few of the elephant items in the collection of Terri Burdick, which are currently on display at the Soldotna Public Library.
Photo by Jay Barrett
Several collectors in Soldotna have become regulars, contributing their diverse treasures on numerous occasions.
Burdick cited Soldotna mailman Rick Huddleston as one. He has brought in model cars, license plates and belt buckles.
"He collects some interesting things," she said.
Another is attorney Dale Dolifka.
"He collects antique toys," Burdick said.
Librarians also have brought in their own items, such as Dorothy Bishop's souvenirs from the British Isles.
The type of collectible can be almost anything, but the size of the case imposes limits.
"They kind of have to be smallish," Burdick said.
Some items have caused problems with the case's felt lining. Once a Christmas creche featured real hay in the baby Jesus's manger.
"When we went to take it out, we found hay on felt is horrendous," she said.
The librarians never were able to get it off and put a second liner over the original to hide the damage. The synthetic spider webs used in Halloween decor also proved a sticky cleanup project, she said.
The displays date back at least a decade.
"When the library was revamped back in 1990, one of the items they looked at was a nice display case," she said.
Prior to the remodeling, there were smaller cases, and the staff wanted the new, locked case specifically to display collections. Almost from the beginning, it had a little note in the corner soliciting people to bring in their goodies.
"We are always looking for people," Burdick said.
She keeps a list of names, numbers and collections and tries to rotate the display every month. Lately the list has gotten short.
The elephants now on display are her own, a collection she began when her parents lived in Thailand. Working with the collection displays has inspired her, and she is now starting to collect antique hat pins as well.
Burdick said she is in a recruiting mode, looking to get a lot of new names on her list.
"We hate to have it empty," she said. "It looks so barren."
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