Friday, June 10, 2016

Public Art in the Andrew P. Kashevaroff State Library, Archives, and Museum

There's a lot to see at the Andrew P. Kashevaroff State Library, Archives, and Museum, including both familiar and brand new public art. Nimbus, newly repainted and brilliant green against the dark purple of the building, is glorious and unapologetic in the courtyard. Just inside the doors, the giant map of Alaska, Canada, and Russia inlaid into the terrazzo floor immediately grabs your attention, as does the towering eagle tree exhibit.
Nimbus, the sculpture people love to hate, returns to its place of honor in front of the building.

Walter Gordinier's cast glass pieces are interspersed throughout the interior of the building and outside on the grounds, which is just the way Gordinier likes it. "The art needs to move in concert with the structure, from out to in, from floor to wall, from seating to glass and back again," he writes in his artist statement. He created three interior pieces, Trilogy, the large glass columns in the front of the Library's Reading Room, Glacial Pond in the atrium, and Story Bars, which adorn the glass banisters along the second floor and the mezzanine. Outside, Gordinier's work is visible in Pivot Plaza and near the walkways. They accent the plaza and provide a backdrop for the outdoor venue, which will kick things off with dance parties every Friday this summer.
The center pillar of Trilogy, back lit by the sun coming in the windows.
Glacial Pond floats between the first and second floors.
A close-up of Glacial Pond shows the different colors, textures, and layers.
Each of the Story Bars is unique. Some let in lots of light and others are nearly opaque.
A section of Pivot Plaza including Scrims, Passages, and one of the Axis Discs.

Many visitors have already enjoyed woodworker and former Juneauite Martin Shelton's contribution to the building, possibly without even realizing it. His Inside Passage benches are all different, just like the trees out of which they are made. "One of the things I strive for as an artist is to make my furniture both approachable and functional, this includes making it inviting both to the eye and the body," Shelton stated.
Shelton's benches line the atrium, providing visitors with a place to enjoy the view and rest their legs.
The benches incorporate the natural features of the wood, like this split that goes straight through the bench.

In the library area on the second floor, Ketchikan artist Evon Zerbetz's massive glass mural, We Are Written in the Layers of the Earth, provides a stunning dividing wall between the Richard Foster Reading Room and the Research Center. The mural features three human "mark makers" along with numerous Alaskan plants and animals. Zerbetz created the design using one-fifth sized linocuts, then worked with German company Derix Glasstudio to fabricate the piece and add the colors and textures.
From the Research Center, daylight from the windows along the front of the building makes the mural glow.
On the Reading Room side, the images continue down onto the wood panels below.
All of the public art in the APK State Library, Archives, and Museum is meant to make our new space welcoming, comfortable, and enjoyable for our visitors. We are constantly finding new things to love about our building and we hope you will too.

The three installations featured in this post were selected by the the SLAM project Percent for Art advisory committee. Since the Percent for Art law was passed in 1975, Alaska has employed artists and benefited from the cultural, social, and economic value of public art. The program is overseen by the Alaska State Council on the Arts.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Make summer plans with SLAM

Summer is just around the corner and that means fishing, camping, hiking, and traveling, but we've also got 10 ideas for great things to do with SLAM this summer.

10. Join us for the Grand Opening of the Father Andrew P. Kashevaroff State Library, Archives, and Museum on June 6, 2016. This community celebration is an opportunity for us to welcome Juneauites and visitors to the new facility, and we can't wait to share it with you.

9. If you just can't wait for June 6 or are looking for some VIP treatment, then get your tickets for the Friends of the State Library, Archives, and Museum special preview on Saturday, June 4, 5:30-8:30. There will be live music, delicious hors d'ouevres, and a no host bar, and a rare opportunity to go behind the scenes. Tickets are $75 for Friends members and $100 for non-members. For more information, visit http://foslam.org/events. Tickets are on sale now from JAHC and both locations of Hearthside Books.
The construction fence came down this week, so people can enjoy walking through the grounds. The Friends special preview will be the first chance to get inside.

8. Participate in summer reading at your local library. If you have young children, help prevent summer slide by reading, learning, and creating with free activities at the library. If you're child-free, many public libraries are now offering adult summer reading programs, where you can win great prizes, join book groups, and expand your reading interests.

7. Take a tour of the new permanent exhibits in the Alaska State Museum, on your own or guided by one of the Museum's volunteer docents. All the exhibits have been completely re-imagined, updated, and expanded with the help of community curators from around the state. You'll find artifacts that you've never seen before, as well as familiar favorites, and make new connections across cultures.

6. Come dance your heart out at a Rock Around the Block Party! Every Friday from June 10 through August 26, there will be live music and dancing on our Pivot Plaza next to Nimbus, and delicious eats at the food trucks on the JACC lawn from 5:00 to 7:30 pm.
Image courtesy of the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council

5. Enjoy the summer's temporary show, "Living Alaska," a 10-year retrospective of contemporary artwork by Alaskan artists purchased by museums with funds from Rasmuson Foundation, on tour from the Anchorage Museum. Read the rave review in Alaska Dispatch News.

4. Research Alaskan history in the new, combined Historical Collections and Archives Research Center. For the first time, researchers can visit one location to delve into territorial records, historical photos, maps, and manuscripts.
Looking for information about the Iditarod? You can read telegrams from the Archives, look at photos from the Historical Collections, or browse a 1925 newspaper on microfilm.

3. Relax in the new Richard Foster Reading Room, where you can enjoy an unbeatable view, read an Alaskan newspaper or magazine, or study on your own. We'll have wi-fi, public computers, and plenty of outlets, where you can plug in, recharge, and relax.
One of the views from the Reading Room looks back on our old home in the State Office Building, but others look down the Channel, toward Mount Juneau, or over the Willoughby district.

2. Eat lunch in our atrium while observing the eagles in the new Eagle Tree exhibit, getting lost in Walter Gordinier's Glacial Ponding glasswork, or sitting on Martin Shelton's exquisite wood benches.

1. Brush up your Shakespeare during First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare, on tour from the Folger Shakespeare Library. We are Alaska's host site for this national traveling exhibit, which will be on display from July 26 through August 24, and we'll have tons of great lectures, activities, and events for Shakespeare fans of all ages.
An original First Folio of Shakespeare's works, printed in 1623, will be on display for four weeks in our new building.

It's going to be a great summer! Hope to see you at SLAM.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

How to move a library: Books

The Alaska State Library is one of many Alaskan libraries that have moved to new digs in the past few years. To name a few, Sitka Public Library (formerly Kettleson), Cordova Library, Seward Community Library & Museum, Nome's Kegoayah Kozga Library, Talkeetna Library, and Juneau Public Library's Valley location all have new buildings.

We're fortunate that we're not moving very far. Our old and new locations are only a few blocks apart, but it's still too far to hand carry all the books or even for a book brigade, like this one used in Cordova. Video posted by Cordova Telephone Cooperative.


Every library move has different requirements and should use a moving method best suited to the collections, staff, and equipment of that library. Our collections move team, led by Public Services Librarian Katie Fearer, decided to move our book, periodical, and media collections on book carts. We already had more than 30 carts and were able to borrow six more from Juneau Public Libraries. The cart system allowed us to keep our materials on the shelves until the move actually started, which was important since we closed our doors on Friday, April 15, and started moving Monday, April 18.
Full, wrapped carts waiting to be loaded onto the truck for transport to the new building. Photo by Ginny Jacobs.

Our staff and volunteers were split into three teams, one unshelving in the old building, one shelving in the new building, and one managing the traffic flow, which meant directing movers, operating the freight elevators, and communicating between the teams. This arrangement allowed staff to do all of the handling of books and other collections. Two movers wrapped the carts with pallet wrap, pushed the full carts from the old library into the truck and from the truck to the new Reading Room.
State Librarian Linda Thibodeau and Library Assistant Ginny Jacobs unshelve books in the old building. Photo by Amy Carney.

We did have a few mishaps, which informed us how to fine-tune our systems. A couple of times the books fell off a cart in transit, which meant that they had to be carefully reordered before going on the shelf. One small cart had a catastrophic caster failure where the wheel cracked in half. Two brand new carts ended up with bent casters, which will need to be replaced before they can be safely used again. But overall, we were thrilled with how well the process worked and were able to move our collections in half the time we originally scheduled.
According to the manufacturer, casters may be damaged, like this one, when moved over door thresholds with under heavy loads. These casters will be replaced before being used in the Library.

We can't wait to show off our beautiful new Reading Room after the Father Andrew P. Kashevaroff State Library, Archives, and Museum opens on June 6. We hope to see you there, browsing an Alaskan newspaper, doing research from our microfilm, or just enjoying the view.
The view from our new home to our old one through one of many large windows in the Richard Foster Reading Room.

Finally, a huge thanks to Juneau Public Libraries for sharing their expertise, staff, and book carts with us! We're so lucky to have such a fantastic library community here in Juneau.

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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