- Associated Press - Saturday, June 25, 2016

KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) - The newest library on Revillagigedo Island doesn’t have late fees or strict operating hours, and patrons don’t necessarily have to return the books they check out.

What the library does have, however, is an open door for anyone who wants to read and, possibly, see a punk aesthetic. A steampunk aesthetic, that is, the Ketchikan Daily News reported (https://bit.ly/28Jh7yv).

Jake and Serene Schreckhise opened their Little Free Library in front of their Roosevelt Drive residence in mid-June after more than two years spent working on it on and off. Books are kept in two repurposed tanks, and the tanks sit inside a small shed on a platform in the yard alongside the road.

Serene Schreckhise got the idea for the library after reading about the Little Free Library project, which had an initial goal of opening more libraries than the 2,509 free community libraries that Andrew Carnegie supported more than 100 years ago.

There are now more than 40,000 registered Little Free Libraries in the U.S. and other countries, according to the organization’s website.

“I wanted to do it because the (Ketchikan) Public Library is great, but I read a lot and the fines, I think, sometimes get in the way of especially kids being able to read,” Serene Schreckhise said.

“That’s mainly why I wanted to do it,” she said. “I love books.”

A few people had been by to check out books as of a recent afternoon. However, no one had signed the guest book.

While other Little Free Libraries typically are painted wooden boxes, the Schreckhises went with a unique, steampunk-inspired look. Steampunk is a genre of science fiction that typically portrays an alternate history - usually in the Victorian Era - where steam-powered contraptions are commonplace, airships and dirigibles rule the sky, and anyone who is anyone is never without a nice pair of goggles.

The Schreckhises started becoming interested in steampunk partially because that’s what kind of costumes their two daughters wanted for Halloween last year.

“This was my idea, because I like to dream things up and get in way over my head,” Jake Schreckhise said about the design. “It was supposed to originally be a two-week project, and it turned into two and a half years off and on.”

Serene Schreckhise added: “When I told him about it, I knew he could do it because he does carpentry. I thought, ‘Oh, a cute little box,’ you know, a little house. … It turned out way bigger than I expected.”

The initial plan was for one tank - an old water heater that had sprung a leak - to hold books but, due to the several feet of rain Ketchikan receives each year, Jake Schreckhise had to make sure the books didn’t get wet.

“Then it ended up having another tank on it, and then I was like, ‘I have all this stuff in the basement of our house in town,’” Jake Schreckhise said.

Most of the parts that went into the library were upcycled and found in locations ranging from the Schreckhise’s old house to the side of the road.

“I kept a lot of copper and just tried to figure out where it would fit on here,” Jake Schreckhise said. “I found this on the side of the road; this is a vacuum cleaner hose; this came off a Chevy; this is an old compressor I found at the second hand store. … Just a lot of bits and pieces that probably would have went to the dump. I would say about 95 percent of this stuff was on its way to the dump.”

While there is a small community library - Barbara May’s Neighborhood Library - just south of Fawn Mountain Elementary School, the Schreckhise’s library is the first chartered Little Free Library on Revillagigedo Island. It should be listed on the organization’s website and map soon, according to Serene and Jake Schreckhise.

The Schreckhise’s Little Free Library is located next to the road at 5943 Roosevelt Drive. Additional information on Little Free Libraries is available online at www.littlefreelibrary.org.


Information from: Ketchikan (Alaska) Daily News, https://www.ketchikandailynews.com



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