Help from afar
UK residents help Cam Bay library

Arthur Milnes
Northern News Services

NNSL (Sep 21/98) - Now, who knows the value of a library more than a group of professors from England's August Cambridge University?

No one.

And, that's exactly who has weighed in to help Cambridge Bay rebuild the May Hakongak Community Library. It and its valuable volumes of Northern books were destroyed when the community's high school burnt down in a tragic fire last month.

It turns out a resident of Cambridge, England was in Cambridge Bay the day the fire took place, says Kim Crockatt, chair of the committee rebuilding the library. Howarth Penny returned home and immediately got to work helping replace the library.

"He was here as a tourist when the school burnt down," Crockatt says. "He figured with that sort of connection (both places are named after the Duke of Cambridge) maybe he could help (and) they formed a fundraising committee."

Penny contacted a group of Cambridge University professors and the efforts are now underway. The local paper, The Cambridge News, has written an article on the fund-raising.

Crockatt, who said the help from England is more than appreciated, says the value of the Northern books lost in the fire is somewhere between $7,000 and $10,000. A total of 17,000 books were lost.

"We lost a lot of Northern books that are going to be difficult to replace," she says. "We lost a lot of limited run volumes...We've asked them to specifically help with this."

The Cambridge, England group is also planning to contact Canadian alumni of the famous university in order to get their help.

And, a Toronto bookstore, Northern Books, has also said they are willing to assist in the rebuilding of the connection.

"After something so devastating, it's nice to see so many good things happens," Crockatt says. "People are feeling better now... It's making them forget the terrible tragedy that started it all."