Monday, April 11, 2016

Save the date for our grand opening, June 6, 2016!

The Father Andrew P. Kashevaroff State Library, Archives, and Museum will celebrate its grand opening on June 6, 2016. After years of planning, developing, and moving, we are so excited to reopen as an integrated facility in our beautiful new building.
SLAM pictured on April 7, 2016. Just two more months until we're open to the public!

June 6 is a significant day for us and for Alaska. On June 6, 1900, U.S. Congress passed the Alaska Bill or Alaska Civil Code, a massive piece of legislation that created a civil government for Alaska. The Alaska Bill became Chapter 786 of Session 1 of the 56th Congress. It created three judicial districts, based in Juneau, Saint Michaels, and Eagle City. It outlined the powers of the governor, which included everything from appointing the notary public to managing the sealing industry to leading the militia. It set taxes, moved the capital from Sitka to Juneau, and established the district historical library and museum.
ALASKA BILL HAS PASSED. Daily Alaska Dispatch, June 12, 1900.

The original district historical library and museum was funded by fees paid by lawyers admitted to the bar and by commission fees for notaries, which were both ten dollars. The library and museum was charged with collecting and maintaining "copies of all laws relating to the district, and all papers and periodicals published within the district, and such other matter of historical interest...The collection shall also embrace such curios relating to aborigines and the settlers as may be by the governor deemed of historical importance."

Father Andrew P. Kashevaroff was the first dedicated curator and librarian of the Alaska Historical Library and Museum. He was appointed by Governor Thomas Riggs and led the institution from 1919 until his death in 1940. Alaska State Library Historical Collections, PCA 243-3-007.
When Alaska became a territory in 1912, the district historical library and museum became the territorial library and museum, and eventually the Alaska State Historical Library and Alaska State Museum. The Information Services section of the Alaska State Library was added in 1955 to support research in the territory and the Alaska State Archives was created in 1970. All the entities joined together as the Division of Libraries, Archives, and Museums in 1991, and 2016 will be the first time that we will be together in one facility.

Please join us in celebrating the beginning of the next chapter for the Alaska State Library, Archives, and Museum. We look forward to seeing you on our 116th birthday, June 6, 2016!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Alaska State Archives releases Iditarod collection

The Alaska State Archives recently posted a collection of records of Territorial Governor Scott C. Bone relating to the 1925 serum run to Nome, which served as the inspiration for today's Iditarod sled dog race.
Governor Scott C. Bone, 10th Governor of the Territory of Alaska, 1921-1925. Alaska State Library Historical Collections, PCA 274-3-1.

The story of the serum run is well-known throughout Alaska. Diphtheria hit the isolated town of Nome during the coldest part of winter, sparking an epidemic that killed five people and had the potential to infect the region. The area's lone doctor, Curtis Welch, sent out telegrams pleading for fresh supplies of the diphtheria antitoxin. Bad winter weather discouraged the use of planes, so the serum was delivered by sled dog relay, running the 674 miles from Nenana to Nome in a record 5 days, 7 hours. Gunnar Kaasen and his lead dog, Balto, ran the last leg, bringing the serum into Nome on February 2, 1925.
Gunnar Kasson [Kaasen] & Balto in their race to Nome. Alaska State Library Historical Collections Portrait File.

Archivist Zach Jones writes, "These records consist of the original correspondence files of Territorial Gov. Scott C. Bone, whose telegrams and correspondence provide day-by-day documentation of the 1925 Serum Run and those who participated." The urgency of the correspondence is palpable in the terse telegrams and one can only imagine the helplessness that Gov. Bone must have felt trying to aid his constituents from far-away Juneau.
Telegram from Nome, January 27, 1925, requesting that the dog team continue beyond Ruby until meeting the next team. "OUR TEAM LEAVING NOME TODAY WITH LEONARD [Leonhard] SEPPALA SWEEPSTAKES RACE WINNER DRIVING LIGHT." Alaska State Archives SR726-VS243

Primary source records like these add a rich dimension to the story of the Iditarod. Although improvements in transportation and information technology have made Alaska seem like a smaller place, the challenges of providing access to health care, resources, and information to its far corners persist today.

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Friday, February 26, 2016

How to move a library: Microforms

Now that it's 2016, our move is just around the corner. The Alaska State Library's Information Services section will be the last of our Division to move into the Father Andrew P. Kashevaroff State Library, Archives, and Museum. The latest word is that we will start moving in mid-April, and the facility should be ready to open by mid-May.
The APK building looking great on February 24, 2016. The only things missing from the front of the building are the doors, which are plywood.

Right now, we're preparing all of our microfilm and microfiche cabinets for refurbishing. We'll use them in the new building, but they need to be emptied so they can get cleaned, touched up, and painted. We will pack all the film and fiche in boxes and store them on pallets until moving time, so some of our microforms will be inaccessible for a few months. The Alaska newspaper microfilm, our most-used microform collection, will be the last packed and the first unpacked.
Library assistant Ginny Jacobs transfers a row of microfiche from drawer to box.

If the microfiche got out of order, it would be a major headache. To minimize the risk of a fiche-catastrophe, we ordered specially-sized boxes that fit one row of fiche. An additional benefit to this method is that one of these boxes is about as heavy as our staff would want to heft around. Each box is 6 inches tall and 6 inches wide, in three different lengths (16, 22, and 28 inches) to accommodate our varying cabinet sizes. Since fiche is about 5x6 inches, there's an inch of space at the top. That inch of air causes some concern that the boxes might crush during transport. We've arranged them like Lincoln Logs on the pallet for maximum stability, and will report back when we find out how it goes.
This pallet of microfiche is stacked, wrapped, labeled, and ready for moving. Although it looks like a small pallet-load, it is surprisingly heavy!

For microfilm, we are less concerned with interfiling, since the reels are in boxes. All of our cabinets are approximately the same length, so we ordered 28x12x6 inch boxes to accommodate three rows of microfilm. Although the drawers are five rows across, boxes for five rows would have been unwieldy and expensive. We've packed all of our federal and national newspaper microfilm, and it worked like a dream.

We purchased these boxes from ULINE, which has an impressive selection of sizes and shapes. All of the boxes we picked are top-loading, to make packing and unpacking easy. We considered modifying regular file boxes, like the AAA ones frequently used for moving offices, but found that it wouldn't save us money and would greatly slow down the packing process.

In other move news, we've selected locations for some of the notable features from our State Office Building location. The large relief map of Alaska that is hanging behind the Library's reference desk will be relocated to the OWL room in the new facility. The Rie Muñoz mural above the microfilm readers will move to the second floor atrium, near the Division's administration offices. Visitors will still be able to enjoy these favorites in their new home.
This relief map has been popular with Library visitors for years. It will be on view in the new Library and will make a great backdrop for OWL videoconferences.

Friday, January 22, 2016

New resource for Alaska territorial vital records

After three years, thousands of hours, and millions of images, the Alaska territorial vital records are now available online through a partnership between the Alaska State Archives and FamilySearch.org.

The Alaska, Vital Records, 1816-1959 collection includes birth, marriage, death, and probate records from Alaska's territorial days. If you've ever used Ancestry.com, then you'll be comfortable searching for your Alaskan ancestor, limiting the type of records you want, and viewing images of the original records.

To try it out, I searched for Andrew Kashevaroff, first curator and librarian of the Alaska Territorial Museum and Library. I found his death certificate from April 3, 1940. The search tool is user-friendly, and I can find this result even if I search for variants on his name like "Kashevarof" or "Kashevarov".
A portion of Andrew Petrovich Kashevaroff's death certificate.
This record alone would be a huge find for a genealogist. It includes a wealth of information, including his birthplace, his parents' names and birthplaces, his occupation, place and cause of death, place and date of burial, and names of his living children and other relatives.

I noticed that Kashevaroff was buried in Juneau, which took me to the Evergreen Cemetery map. Searching it showed where Kashevaroff is buried in the cemetery, but there was a discrepancy between the death record and the cemetery record. The death record says he died on April 3, and the cemetery website says he died on April 6.
Using the Evergreen Cemetery map, I could easily find Kashevaroff's grave to see what's actually printed on the headstone.

The headstone of Kashevaroff's grave shows that he died on April 3, 1940, not April 6. One possible explanation is that the cemetery recorded the burial date, since that would have been when his body came to the cemetery. This slight discrepancy highlights the importance of primary source material like the vital records from the Alaska State Archives.
Next, I looked for Kashevaroff's obituary in the Daily Alaska Empire newspaper microfilm for early April 1940. This was published in the April 3 issue.
Clicking on this image will open a larger image.
As any genealogist or researcher knows, the research process can be long and winding, branching out in many directions and doubling back. I'm thrilled that in the past three months, we've gained three incredible tools, including the Evergreen Cemetery map and Betty Miller's Vital Records that make Juneau history research easier. If you'd like guidance on using any of these resources, we're happy to help.

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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Reading resolutions for 2016

If your New Year's resolutions include reading more books in 2016, your library can help make that happen. Whether you want to fill your nightstand with cozy mysteries, heart-pounding thrillers, scholarly biographies, or business manifestos, there are great free tools out there for you.
Resolved to read more this year? Get recommendations, read reviews, and download e-books from your library.

NoveList: All Alaskans have access to NoveList, a popular database for finding books based on genre, mood, setting, and many more options. I like to use NoveList before I travel to find books that take place in that locale. Last summer I visited Newfoundland, and enjoyed reading The Shipping News by Annie Proulx and Sweetland by Michael Crummey, which I discovered on NoveList. As the database's name suggests, its focus is on fiction.

Goodreads: Last week, people were chatting about how they did on their 2015 Goodreads Challenge, where users set reading goals for the year, ranging from reading a handful of books to hundreds. This year's challenge is off and running. With a free Goodreads account, you can track the books you read, connect with friends, and find new books based on your reading preferences. It's like a social network for readers. And it'll help you keep track of which Jack Reacher novels you've already read.

E-books and audiobooks: I'll be honest - I was a late convert to e-books and audiobooks, but having books with me wherever I go has increased my reading. Waiting in line at the DMV? Read an e-book. Washing dishes? Listen to an audiobook. If you have a library card from one of the dozens of participating libraries on Alaska Digital Library (formerly ListenAlaska Plus), you can get e-books and audiobooks on your computer or device. If you live in a community with no public library, you can access Alaska Digital Library with a card from statewide mail services.
E-books and audiobooks can make a long wait at the DMV go faster. Photo: Gabriel White via Flickr, CC-BY-SA.

Review alerts: Since I work at the Alaska State Library, staying up-to-date with Alaskana helps me do my job. One tool I find really handy is an information alert that sends me an email whenever a book review that references Alaska or the Arctic is added to the EBSCO databases. If you'd like to create an alert like this on any topic, you can contact us for assistance.

Ask us! When people find out I'm a librarian, they assume that I spend all day reading books, usually while sipping tea and petting a cat. In reality, my professional life is filled with research requests, databases, and programming planning. But I enjoy reading and talking about books, and most of my colleagues do too. So ask your favorite librarian to recommend some titles for you!
Contrary to popular belief, this is not my job. But I can recommend a book for you to enjoy while drinking tea and petting your cats!