"You'd almost need a library that had outside entrances so you wouldn't have people wandering through the building," Smith said.
Anchorage School Superintendent Carol Comeau says some of the district's school libraries are located in accessible areas that could be cordoned off from the rest of the school.
The idea of allowing the general public to use school libraries as a resource first came up a few years ago, when a pilot program to do just that was started at Clark Middle School.
"It just didn’t work," Comeau said. "They found there were more challenges, and no cost savings at all. There was a lot of frustration for the patrons. They couldn't find the materials they wanted, that they thought they could find in the library."
Comeau says school libraries are stocked based on the district's specific educational mission.
"There are a lot of materials you'd find in a public library for high school age students and adults, that we don't buy for our libraries," Comeau said. "They're fine for public libraries, but they’re not appropriate for school libraries."
Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan says the idea to open up school libraries may be worth another look, because other cities in the U.S. already open up to the public.
"We have examples of other cities where that does happen," Sullivan said. "In Arizona, I know there are at least a couple cities where the school library serves as a public library. I think it can be done, I don't think there's been the will to do it before."
Sullivan says one idea that might work in schools wouldn't be focused directly on books, called an express library.
"It's more computer-centric, and you can order books and they'd be delivered from the rest of the library system," Sullivan said.
There would also be the issue of technology in the school libraries to deal with. To qualify for special funding, the school computers have to install internet filters.
"That is one impediment to people who want to come to the library," Comeau said. "They don't want a filtered library."
Comeau says for members of the general public to use computers in school libraries, schools would likely have to group separate non-filtered computers in libraries, and keep students off of them.
School district money could not be used to pay for those computers, Comeau says.
Comeau says she's heard from a lot more people in the last two years advocating the change to open up the school libraries, and she says she's willing to continue to listen to how it might work.
This is the second part of a three-part series on the Anchorage School District's budget, and proposed ideas to cut costs between the school district and the Municipality of Anchorage. The final part in the series will examine the proposal of sharing snow plows and other maintenance equipment between the school district and the city.