Thursday, October 18, 2018

Guest post: Sara Bornstein on dispelling the mysteries of the Research Center

Today's guest post is from Sara Bornstein, Librarian I with the Alaska State Library Historical Collections. Thanks to Sara for introducing readers to the Research Center. - Claire


The Alaska State Archives and Historical Collections Research Center is open to everyone.
“Can I come in here?”
This is a question I got at the Historical Collections reference desk the other day, and unfortunately it’s not the first time. The answer is yes, please do! All we ask is that you leave your food and beverages at the door, stow your pens, and no you won’t be able to check out material to take home.

Perhaps the numerous rules are part of the reason patrons worry about stepping foot in a special collections library. Let me first explain some of the guidelines of the Research Center. A better understanding may make the library less daunting. Then I’ll tell you how you can start your research at home so you’ll be prepared when you walk in the door the first time.

The first thing you’ll notice when arriving at the Research Center is the lack of bookshelves and readily available research material. This is because our overall aim is to save the material you’d like to see for generations to come. In order to do this, we keep everything not currently being used stored in a cold, temperature-controlled environment. This slows the process of inevitable decomposition. Secondly, we ask you the patron to aid in these efforts by abiding by the strangely strict Research Center Guidelines. While you may believe yourself to be a careful person, accidents do happen and we’d rather prevent the possibility of food and drink spilling on irreplaceable material. And as for the no pens, ink can transfer or pens can slip. Believe me, I’ve done it- and I’m a librarian. And the last thing we ask, to prevent the accidental shuffle of rare material into your papers, is that bags and packs are put in the provided cabinets in the library.
Using Folder Out markers help keep collections in order and pencils prevent accidental ink transfer.

So what do you allow in the library then?
We definitely want you to be able to take notes and record your findings since you can’t take material home. You can take notes with a pencil and paper. You can take photographs with a camera or phone. Just leave the flash off- light can fade paper and photographs real quick. We even provide scanners in the Research Center so if you have a flash drive with you it’s no extra charge to make digital images for later reference.

Ok, but you said I could start research at home?
While we love when you come visit us in person, we also like to find ways to decrease the physical use of original material if we can. The less handling, the longer it will last. This has led us to make digital copies of some of the material held at the library and some of these surrogates are available online.

The Alaska Digital Archives: Photographs, Manuscripts & Maps
Photographs, documents, and maps that have been digitized are available on the Alaska Digital Archives (http://vilda.alaska.edu/). As a bonus, there are several repositories around the state that add material to the Digital Archives so you won’t be limited to just the State Library & Archives collections.

Chronicling America: Pre-1923 Newspapers
If you’re looking for information that might be in a pre-1923 newspaper, the National Digital Newspaper Program is making word-searchable newspapers available through the Library of Congress on a site called Chronicling America (https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/). To read more about the Alaska Digital Newspaper Program check out the website (https://library.alaska.gov/hist/newspaper/digital_home.html). For later papers you’ll still have to visit the library’s microfilm collection.

The Alaska State Library shares a catalog with other libraries from around the state.

The Alaska State Library Catalog: Books & Special Collections
If you don’t find what you’re looking for on the Alaska Digital Archives or Chronicling America, I suggest you next check the Alaska State Library Catalog (https://jlc-web.uaa.alaska.edu/client/en_US/asl/). This catalog is also made up of records from several libraries around the state so if your local library doesn’t have a book you’d like, you may be able to Inter-Library-Loan it from another library. The Historical Collections’ photograph and manuscript collections can also be searched through the catalog, however, because you can’t check them out, what you’ll find in the record is slightly different than that of a book. At the bottom of the record you’ll find a link that says “Finding Aid”. Open this and you’ll find an inventory list of what’s in the collection and a little more history about the material. These documents are also word searchable, so you may even be able to narrow down what you’re looking for to a specific box, folder, or item. Once you’ve determined there is something you’d like to see in the collection, either visit us in person so we can pull the material from storage for you, or contact us and find out if there’s another way for you to view the material.
These should be enough resources to get you started. If you’re looking for more, there are several good posts in the archives of this blog, or available on our websites (which can be found on the sidebar).

I hope I’ve dispelled some of the mysteries of the Research Center, and can’t wait for you to visit!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Exploring the Arts at the APK

The Exploring the Arts youth activity program is one of our most popular offerings here at the Alaska State Library, Archives, and Museum, and it is made possible by the Friends of the Alaska State Library, Archives, and Museum and a grant from the City and Borough of Juneau. This past year, we offered 13 workshops to 356 Juneau youth with Alaskan artists from around the state. We made books, sculpted clay, constructed collages, drew dog portraits, painted landscapes, decorated masks, made hats, and learned about Alaska.

In October, local author Susi Gregg Fowler and illustrator Jim Fowler led an Alaska book workshop. Participants learned about crafting a narrative and sketching from life. They saw how the Fowlers incorporate elements from their own lives into their stories and pictures and saw Alaska represented in their books. Then they created their own books, working in the Library and Archives' Research Center, surrounded by Alaska historical materials.
Jim and Susi Gregg Fowler signing books.
Jim and Susi signing their most recent book, Arctic Aesop's Fables. Photo courtesy of Susi Gregg Fowler.
Participants hard at work on their original stories and illustrations.

In November, two of the Alaska State Museum's 2017-2019 Solo Artist exhibitions opened at the Museum, and the artists each led a workshop for kids. Annette Bellamy, a large-scale sculptor from Halibut Cove, toured the kids through her exhibit Moving Mountains and then taught them clay sculpting techniques. Participants created their own clay sculptures, incorporating found objects they brought from home, and worked together to create a clay village that included a museum, a Walmart, houses, and a giant lizard (all the elements of a thriving village).
Annette and the kids circle her kinetic sculpture, the centerpiece of the Moving Mountains exhibit.
The collaborative village included a museum with natural history specimens, artwork, and a visitor contemplating the exhibits.
 
Daniel Papke of Skagway shared his exhibit, Lost Language, a series of oil paintings that told the story of a young woman on a journey to find her ancestral language. Then he led participants in creating layered artworks that incorporated collage and painting to introduce motifs and visual story elements. Each participant practiced storytelling techniques by sharing their painted collage and the accompanying story with the group.
Daniel shared some tips that he uses in his paintings when developing a visual story.
A participant shares his story about a man in a yellow hat who travels the world until he finds a new, purple hat.

Early January was winter break for Juneau kids, so we held a Fun with the Family Fair at the APK. Check out our previous post for a detailed report about the fair.

In February, local artist Nobu Koch led a dog portrait drawing activity. Kids loved looking at photos of dogs from our Historical Collections and each other's family dog photos, and then creating their own portraits. We even had live dog models who posed for some quick sketching exercises.
Debbie, our administrative officer, brought in her dog, Nikita, to model for the kids.
A participant shares her portrait of her dog, Pepper, playing outside in a field on a sunny day.

In March, Anchorage painter Linda Infante Lyons opened her exhibit, Ebb and Flow, and led kids in creating landscape paintings. They learned about creating distance using color and value and painted volcanoes and island scenes.
Touring Ebb and Flow with Linda.
Adding small trees to the island landscape.

In April, arts educator Daniel Todd taught kids about the history of masks in cultures around the world. They practiced artistic techniques of sketching and designing their masks and then implementing those designs on papier-mache mask bases using paint, feathers, beads, and other found objects.
Dan demonstrates a sketching technique. The kids around him have their mask bases ready for decoration.
Two participants show off their masks.
These masks incorporated feathers, beads, ears, and other interesting appendages.



In May, we hit the high seas and took the youth activity program to Maritime Fest. We made Alaska Steamship Company captain's hats, Unangan-inspired visors, and sugar cube lighthouses with our community partner, the Cape Decision Lighthouse Society.
A jaunty captain and his siblings making sugar cube lighthouses at Maritime Fest.
A boy wearing a completed captain's hat made out of paper plates, blue cardstock, and gold decorations.
The captain's hats were a big hit. One Coast Guard captain said that he saluted every young captain who went by.

We love the youth activity program here at the APK and are excited to announce that the Friends have received a grant for FY19 to continue the program. We look forward to bringing you more fun art opportunities for kids starting in October 2018! To get notifications about these workshops, visit Youth Art Activities at the APK and sign up to receive e-announcements.

These programs are partially funded by the citizens of the City and Borough of Juneau through sales tax revenues and are sponsored by the Friends of the Alaska State Library, Archives, and Museum.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Connecting Alaska through the Alaska Library Consortium

Last month, Fairbanks area libraries joined the Alaska Library Consortium, meaning that 92% of Alaskans can freely and easily share 3.2 million titles through one library catalog. For us, the addition of UAF Rasmuson Library is particularly exciting, since Rasmuson has an excellent Alaska collection, especially for materials about the interior and Arctic regions.

Each library in the Alaska Library Catalog has its own configuration. Although the materials are the same, using your home library's catalog has certain benefits. One is that your library will appear at the top of the locations list.
Alaska Library catalog record for Walter Harper: Alaska Native Son by Mary Ehrlander.
Many libraries in the catalog have this book, Walter Harper: Alaska Native Son. Although there's one at the State Library, it's in Historical, so it's only available for in-library use. To check it out, you need to request it from another library.

To request this book from another library, click on "Place Hold" on the right, enter your library card number and PIN, and designate your pickup library. Then one of the libraries will find it on their shelves, package it up, and mail it to your local library for you to pick up. When it arrives, you'll get a phone call or email depending on how your account is set up. If you don't know your PIN, you can ask your favorite librarian to look it up.

If you're impatient and don't want to wait for an item to be mailed, you can limit search results to local results only. The catalog knows that there are three systems in Juneau, the State Library, Juneau Public Libraries, and UAS Egan Library (Sealaska Heritage Institute is also included, but their books cannot be checked out). The Juneau area libraries use a courier to transport items between libraries and it usually takes just one or two days for a Juneau item to be delivered.
The collections dropdown menu on the Alaska State Library's catalog page.
Selecting Juneau area libraries means you can see what's available in your area. You can also limit the results to your library, or Alaska Digital Library for e-books and audiobooks.

Want a little help navigating the Alaska library catalog? Visit your library and ask for a quick tutorial. We're happy to help you borrow more books, DVDs, audiobooks, and music than ever! The joint catalog also means that if you're traveling, you can use your local library card at any of the libraries in the consortium, and you can return your books or DVDs to any of the 87 libraries.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

New hours for the Alaska State Library and Alaska State Archives

We're pleased to announce that the Richard Foster Reading Room of the Alaska State Library and the Research Center of the Historical Collections and Alaska State Archives will be open Mondays beginning on April 30, 2018. New hours are Monday through Friday from 10 am to 4 pm. The Library and Archives have been closed to the public on Mondays since September 2016, but recent additions to the staff have made it possible to restore Monday hours.
The Alaska State Library Reading Room.
Visitors can soon enjoy the Reading Room and access Library resources Monday through Friday. Photo by Lara Swimmer.

If you're working on a historical research project and even these increased hours do not work for you, or if you'll only be in Juneau on a Saturday this summer, the Library can offer a limited number of Saturday research appointments. Although we cannot guarantee that every request will be granted, we'll try our best to accommodate you. Find contact information in the LAM directory..

How does research at the Library and Archives work?

The materials in the Reading Room, including Alaska newspapers on microfilm, and in-library databases are readily available whenever the Library is open. Items from the Historical Collections and the Alaska State Archives are stored in climate-controlled secure storage and brought into the Research Center for viewing.
The interior of the Alaska State Library and Archives vault, showing tall rolling stacks with ledgers and records boxes.
Wayne pulls records boxes for researchers at the Alaska State Archives. Photo by Chris Arend.

You can search the Historical Collections through the Alaska Library Catalog or peruse a list of photograph and manuscript collections. A selection of photos, videos, and manuscripts are also available on Alaska's Digital Archives. The image below is a record from the Alaska Library Catalog for a VHS tape about the Treadwell Mine. In order to watch this video, write down the call number and come to the Research Center. A staff member will retrieve the item from the vault and wheel in a television and VCR for you to use. The same process is used for books, photograph collections, journals, and nearly all other materials.
Catalog record for video The Treadwell Mine.
Click on this image to see the record larger.

Records from the Archives are organized a little differently. Most of the records are arranged according to the agency that created them, like the Department of Fish & Game or the Office of the Governor, and then subdivided in various ways. Because each item is not individually described, researching at the Archives means flipping through a lot of folders and methodically going through boxes. Although it's less precise than searching the Library catalog, looking through records usually provides interesting context and research rabbit holes.

When you find something of interest, there are scanners and a photocopier for use in the Research Center. Copies are 10 cents a page and scans are free. You may bring your own USB drive or purchase one from the Library.

If you have a specific research topic or if there are many items that you'd like to look at, it's best to contact the Historical Collections or Archives in advance so that your requested materials can be retrieved and ready for you when you arrive. Working with a librarian or archivist before your visit usually results in a richer, more productive research session because he or she can help identify additional materials that may interest you.

What are the rules in the Research Center?

The Research Center has three main rules of which researchers should be aware. The first is that food and drinks, including water, are not allowed, to protect collections from pests and damage. The second is that bags need to be kept in lockers in the Reading Room or behind the Research Center desk. Third, pens are prohibited to minimize the risk of transferring inks to collections. Pencils are provided.

Research Center of the Alaska State Library Historical Collections and Alaska State Archives.
The Research Center is open to everyone and is staffed by experts from the Historical Collections and Archives.

If you'd like a more relaxed research experience, covered drinks and pens are allowed in the Reading Room, and the study tables have task lights and outlets to charge your devices. We look forward to assisting with your research!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

What's happening at the APK?

There's a lot going on here at the Father Andrew P. Kashevaroff (APK) State Library, Archives, and Museum, and it can be hard to keep up with events, exhibits, and special opportunities. Fortunately, you have a lot of options for how to stay informed and can select the one that works for you.

In Your Inbox
At the APK & SJM newsletter
A monthly e-mail newsletter that comes out around the middle of each month, so January's came out in mid-December and February's will come out in mid-January. If you just want a minimalist listing of events coming up, this is the one for you.

Exhibits and Events listserv
Receive digital postcards for events in your inbox. These usually go out a week or two before the event and include exhibit openings, youth art activities, and other LAM-sponsored events. I like these because they have images and information about individual events as they approach.

Press Releases
You can receive notifications when new press releases are posted by entering your email and subscribing on the press releases page. Press releases include upcoming events, hours changes, artist calls for entry, public meetings, and other announcements. They usually have more background information than other formats.

New at State Library listserv
A very low-frequency list aimed at state employees who want to know about training opportunities, events, and new resources to help them do their jobs. We usually limit event notices on this list to ones that are available statewide through videoconferencing.

On the Web or On the Air
KINY Capital Chat
We have a monthly slot on KINY's Capital Chat where we run down what's coming up at the APK. It's usually on the last Tuesday of the month, but the schedule may vary. If you miss it on the air, you can find it on demand at KINY's Capital Chat.

KTOO Juneau Afternoon
Our presenters are frequently guests on Juneau Afternoon shortly before an event. This may include solo artists before their exhibit openings, authors giving book lectures, or occasionally one of our staff.

APK Calendar
A basic calendar that lists upcoming events. There is not a way to receive notifications when new items are added, but it's a place to check if you want to see what's coming up.

Through Social Media
If social media is your method of choice, you've got options.

Facebook
The Library and Archives' Facebook account posts the most consistently and includes all events sponsored by the Library, Archives, and Museum as well as the Friends of the Alaska State Library, Archives, and Museum. The Museum's business account is usually limited to museum events.

Twitter
Library & Archives: @AKStateLibrary
Museum: @AlaskaStateMuse

Instagram
Although not usually used for event notifications, our Division has two Instagram accounts.
Museum: @alaskastatemuseum
Alaska Digital Newspaper Project: @alaskahistoricalnewspapers

Other
We also post to the JAHC's Community Calendar and often our events are picked up by the Juneau Empire or Capital City Weekly.

Not sure if an event is happening in our building? Sometimes other organizations host public events in our building that we're not associated with, so not everything gets listed or posted. But if you give us a call, we can often find the details. All of our contact info is available on the LAM website..