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Unalaska Honors Former Librarian Dan Masoni

Courtesy Dan Masoni

Former Unalaska librarian Dan Masoni is being honored this week.  On Thursday, the Unalaska Public Library named a conference room for him in recognition of his contributions and leadership.

For 18 years, Masoni worked as a librarian and said he saw many changes along the way. KUCB spoke to Masoni from his home in Denver, Colorado. 

He said the school used to hire an employee to keep the school library open after the students went home, so people from the community could check out books, too.

“And they knew that it’s a grassroots effort," Masoni said. "If you improve the quality of information in the homes, it will improve the quality of information for the kids. So they felt it was their duty to help out.”

Over the years there were volunteer library efforts including paperback exchanges. He says one enterprising individual discovered a Catholic school in Portland, Oregon was closing and arranged for the entire book collection to be donated to Unalaska.

Starting in January 1996, the original city library got it’s own space in the Burma Road Chapel.  

“The foundation was such that we couldn’t -- we couldn’t stack books any deeper than three shelves high," Masoni said.

He says the city council was committed to having a well-staffed library open seven days a week to serve the community. And that includes the fishing sector and other people who pass through town, too.

“The Unalaska Public Library is probably the easiest library to get a library card from in the entire state of Alaska," Masoni said. "All you have to do is prove who you are, you know, an ID card, mariner's papers -- anything that can give you who you are and a permanent address."

He adds, if your boat left town and you forgot to return your library books, you could even mail them back.

In August of 1999, the library moved into its current building. Masoni says he feels like he stumbled upon the best job in the world.

“I had to pinch myself all over every time I got a pay check because, golly, they were paying me for doing what I love," Masoni said. "It was never ever work there. It was just the best experience I had in my professional life.”

The library held an open house and conference room dedication Thursday. Although Masoni couldn't make an in-person appearance, he paid a visit over Skype.

Zoë Sobel reported for KUCB from 2016 until 2019. She returned to KUCB after a year living in Nepal and Malaysia as a Luce Scholar. She then returned to KUCB as a ProPublica reporter August of 2020 through August of 2021.