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The Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center bookstore has new operators, and they’ve got changes in store.
A new ‘book’enning 040517 AE 1 Mackenzie Fisher, Capital City Weekly The Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center bookstore has new operators, and they’ve got changes in store.

The new bookstore space is under construction. Submitted photo.


Kids attending Discovery Southeast spring break camp walk out on Mendenhall Lake. Submitted photo.

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Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Story last updated at 4/3/2017 - 7:56 pm

A new ‘book’enning

The Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center bookstore has new operators, and they’ve got changes in store.

Starting in May, local nonprofit Discovery Southeast will begin operating the visitor center bookstore, taking over from Anchorage-based nonprofit Alaska Geographic. It’s a decision aimed at providing the Juneau community with a sense of ownership and with another way to support locals.

“The Forest Service is happy to partner with Discovery Southeast in the remodel and operation of the bookstore,” said John Neary, the director of the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, in an email.

Shawn Eisele, the executive director of Discovery Southeast, said the bookstore will now be open year-round, as the nonprofit hopes to use it as a platform to reach out to the community. Another big purpose is raising money for and expanding Discovery Southeast’s programs. They’ll provide educational materials for visitors and locals, displays and exhibits highlighting local artists, hikes, and a place for community talks, building on the visitor center’s Fireside Lecture series.

“That’s kind of our (Discovery Southeast’s) jam: nature education,” Eisele said.

The organization’s goal is to ensure all Juneau kids have a foundation in nature.

“In the last three years, our programs have more than doubled,” said Eisele. The bookstore will allow that growth to continue sustainably.

“It’s not enough alone. We’re still going to need tons of member support; we’re still going to need community business support. But having this source of stable revenue to really underwrite the programs I think is going to make us sustainable for the long term.”

Discovery Southeast is shooting to make 75 percent of the items the bookstore offers local in some way. Artists such as Mark Kelley and Patti Jouppi, and businesses like Alaska Robotics and Trickster Company will have goods on offer.

Paul Gardinier is the designer for the new space. He was the curator for the Alaska State Museum and is mostly volunteering his design work.

“What used to be this blocky, broken-up space now just really flows,” Eisele said.

He’s hoping that construction is done in mid-April so they can have enough time to set up before the summer starts and the tourists begin to arrive.

Discovery Southeast is sending out a call for volunteers and community donations, which they will use to buy some of the last things they need before they open.

For more information about the bookstore, and for links to donate and volunteer, visit www.discoverysoutheast.org/glacier bookstore.

Contact Capital City Weekly intern Mackenzie Fisher at mackenzie.fisher@juneauempire.com.