Saturday, October 1, 2016

Alaska Book Week is October 1-8, 2016

We love Alaska books, so naturally, we love Alaska Book Week, a statewide celebration of Alaska's authors and books, created in 2011 by 49 Writers. Here are a few Alaska books that I enjoyed this year. (Note: Image links will take you to publishers' websites. Text links will take you to the book's record in Alaska's Joint Library Catalog. Other formats may be available.)

Published by University of Alaska Press, 2016.
Wealth Woman: Kate Carmack and the Klondike Race for Gold, by Deb Vanasse, is a biography of Kate Carmack, once the richest woman in the Klondike. Kate, born Shaaw Tlàa, was a Tagish woman and wife of George Carmack, who may or may not have discovered the gold at Bonanza Creek, but certainly reaped its riches. Although much of Kate Carmack's life is a mystery, Vanasse's extensive research about the lives of women and Natives who have largely been excluded from the historical record provide a new perspective on the Klondike gold rush. I run through Klondike country every year, and this book made me think about the land and its history in a new way.

Published by Alfred A. Knopf, 2016.
Heroes of the Frontier, Dave Eggers' newest novel, is the blockbuster Alaska book of the year, due to Eggers' considerable star power. It tells the story of Josie, a down-on-her-luck dentist from Ohio who is running from her demons with her two young children in tow. Setting out in a dilapidated RV with a vague plan to visit her "sister" Sam in Homer, Josie, Paul, and Ana encounter wildfires, wild animals, and genuine Alaskan characters while looking for meaning in their own lives.

Published by Mountaineers Books, 2015.
I may have been the last person in Alaska to read Ordinary Wolves by Seth Kantner, but I finally picked it up this year, then went on to read his newest nonfiction work, Swallowed by the Great Land. Ordinary Wolves is a much-recommended novel that follows the childhood and young adulthood of Cutuk, a white boy growing up in a sod house in remote Alaska, desperately wishing to be a great Inupiaq hunter. I find Kantner's nonfiction work to be equally if not more compelling than his fiction, but any of his books will give you a sense of life in the far north, further off the grid than most people can even imagine.

Published by Island Press, 2015.
I picked up Future Arctic: Field Notes from a World on the Edge by Edward Struzik last fall, and found it accessible and informative. Drawing from 30 years studying the Arctic in Alaska and Canada, Struzik explores the Arctic from natural, political, and cultural perspectives. At a slim 199 pages, Future Arctic is a great introduction to the current state of the top of the world and the way that climate change has affected this vulnerable region.

Published by Little, Brown and Company, 2016.
I just started To the Bright Edge of the World, Eowyn Ivey's long awaited second book. Her debut novel Snow Child was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for fiction and book club staple since it was published in 2012, so I know I'm not alone in eagerly awaiting this next one. Last year I enjoyed Hampton Sides' In the Kingdom of Ice, so I'm liking the expedition diary format of Bright Edge so far.

What's your favorite Alaska book of the year?

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

How many people lived in Juneau during the peak of the gold rush?

This information is pulled together for easy access in Census Alaska: Number of Inhabitants, 1792-1970, compiled by Alden Rollins in 1978.

Assuming that the height of the gold rush in Juneau was about 1915, I’ve provided figures from the 1910 and 1920 censuses.

  • State: 64,356 (this was the largest number between 1880 and 1930) 
    • First Judicial District (Southeast Alaska): 15,216 
      • Juneau District: 5,854 
        • Auke village: 218 
        • Douglas town (incorporated): 1,722 
        • Juneau town (incorporated): 1,644 
        • Killisnoo village: 351 
        • Treadwell town (incorporated): 1,222 
Juneau town was a little bigger in 1900 (1,864), but all of the other locations in the Juneau District were quite a bit smaller.

  • State: 55,036 
    • First Judicial District: 17,402 
        • Juneau District: 5,893 This was broken out a little differently, and may possibly include more area, as I didn’t notice Angoon or Thane on the 1910 census. 
          • Angoon village: 114 
          • Auke village: not listed 
          • Douglas town: 919 
          • Juneau town: 3,058 
          • Killisnoo village: 256 
          • Treadwell village: 325 
          • Thane village: 421 
Although the source book cannot be checked out, feel free to contact us for a lookup if you're interested in a different date or area of Alaska.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

First Folio at the APK

We were so honored to be Alaska's host site for the national traveling exhibition First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare, on tour from the Folger Shakespeare Library. The exhibit opened on July 26 and closed on August 24.
The exhibition featured an original First Folio, the first edition of Shakespeare's collected works, printed in 1623. Photo by MaryLou Gerbi.

The First Folio exhibit was different from our usual fare of Alaska history, and some visitors were surprised to find the nearly 400-year old treasure here in Juneau. One visitor remarked, "Last summer we were in London and didn't see a First Folio. This year we're in Alaska and we find one here!" It's been fun to hear about peoples' encounters with Shakespeare, from those who remember memorizing the To Be Or Not To Be speech in high school to people who have acted in Shakespeare's plays. One fifth-grade Shakespeare fan showed up wearing The Tragedie of Hamlet printed on her pants!
Enrique Bravo performs the To Be Or Not To Be speech from Hamlet with Theatre in the Rough on August 12, 2016.

The First Folio exhibit has been a wonderful way for us to connect with our community in our new facility. We had four weeks of diverse programming, including art and theater workshops for kids, performances in our beautiful atrium, and school visits by several brave teachers, who brought their classes during the first week of school! We shared lectures via the Online With Libraries videoconferencing system, thanks to a little bit of ingenuity from our IT wizard and the OWL support team at UAF.
Participants in Shakespeare's costumes & crafts youth activity, led by guest artist Valerie Snyder of BrownBoots Costume Co., show off their creations.

If you read a part in the Theatre in the Rough dramatic readings, led a workshop or gave a lecture, or came by to enjoy the exhibit, thank you for making this incredible opportunity so fantastic. And thank you to the generosity of the project sponsors and the fearlessness of the Folger Shakespeare Library in sending their intrepid First Folios out into the world.  

First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare, on tour from the Folger Shakespeare Library, is made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and by the support of, Vinton and Sigrid Cerf, the British Council, Stuart and Mimi Rose, and other generous donors. It is produced in association with the American Library Association and the Cincinnati Museum Center.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Book Cart Repairs (Or, The Aftermath of a Library Move)

During our move, we damaged several of our brand new book carts. We purchased a style that our cataloger specially requested for use after the move, so we were disappointed that the carts had held up so poorly to the wear of moving.
Bent casters on the carts made them unstable and unsafe for use.

Fortunately, since they were new, the vendor was very helpful in providing us with the tools to repair them. They sent us new casters and new caster sleeves (the plastic inserts that go into the legs of the carts), and a caster sleeve removal tool.
The handle on the caster sleeve removal tool slides up and down, giving you some leverage for extracting broken caster sleeves.

When I removed the casters using a pry bar, I discovered that the stems were severely bent and needed to be replaced. On the most damaged casters, the plastic sleeves were also cracked, so I removed them using the caster sleeve removal tool. It wasn't clear to me exactly how to use it, but our Deputy Director came by and gave a demonstration. I wish I'd been quick enough to record a video of it. You screw it into the sleeve just like a corkscrew and then the handle slides up and down, allowing you to work out the broken sleeve. It made an enormous racket in our work room, so I recommend it for working out some aggression.
One of the bent caster stems.

We had one older cart with square legs that needed some re-shaping. It had been overloaded previously and collapsed, causing the metal to stretch. My colleague used the side of the pry bar and a mallet to coax it back into shape. Then I hammered in the new caster sleeves with a rubber mallet, and pounded in the new casters using the mallet and a screwdriver to get the right angle without hammering on the wheel. The manufacturer said that it's important to make sure that the casters are fully seated in the legs before using the cart.
The new caster sleeve wouldn't fit into this socket, so it needed to be hammered back into a square shape.

Although they're not as good as new, all the carts that were damaged during the move are back in service in the new Library. The manufacturer noted that fully loaded carts should be moved with care over door thresholds and uneven ground to prevent this kind of damage. If your library is planning a move, care for your book carts by making the terrain they need to travel as smooth as possible.

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.