Tuesday, December 29, 2015

What we did in 2015

The Library's State Office Building location will be open through the spring. We will move the collection after we get occupancy in A.P. Kashevaroff State Library, Archives, and Museum.

Despite unfounded rumors that the Alaska State Library is closed, 2015 has been a very busy year for us. Here's a look at our year in review.

We answered 34,000 requests for information. These requests came from near and far: legislators looking for information to shape their decisions, authors wanting historic photos for their books, and children needing Alaska facts for their school reports. We also provided 15,000 full-text journal articles to state employees, helped people from around the world find genealogical information about their Alaskan ancestors, and showed people how to use their smartphones.

We hosted 58 programs and events that encourage lifelong learning for Alaskans. These included webinars on using e-books, leading effective meetings, and copyright, First Friday art openings, French language practice groups, lunchtime lectures, and opportunities to explore resources like Ancestry and Listen Alaska+. Although we've suspended most programs to prepare for our impending move, we're cooking up ideas for fun events in the Andrew P. Kashevaroff State Library, Archives, and Museum.
We exhibited artwork from the children's book Mary's Wild Winter Feast by local author Hannah Lindoff and illustrators Clarissa Rizal and Nobu Koch in February and March.

Through our interlibrary loan program, we provided library patrons with nearly 1,000 articles, books, and other materials not held by our consortium from libraries in all 50 states, Canada, and Europe. We shared our unique materials with libraries around the world, fulfilling nearly 500 requests. We also bid farewell to a longtime friend, Becky Orford, who retired in April. She had been the queen of interlibrary loan for many years and was a master at fulfilling even the most obscure requests.
Interlibrary Loan maven Becky, shown with one of her favorite books, The Complete Works of Shakespeare, retired in April of this year.

We provided 5,500 internet sessions to Juneau patrons, tourists, and researchers, many of whom have no personal internet service and rely on the library to access government information, news, email, and social networks.

We celebrated milestones with our community partners, including the opening of the Walter Soboleff Center, the opening of the Mendenhall Valley Public Library, and the 25th birthday of the Egan Library at University of Alaska Southeast. We also cheered for Craig Public Library's National Medal win, as well as the many other honors received by Alaskan libraries this year.
The spectacular grand opening of the Walter Soboleff Center inspired and excited us about our own opening next spring.

We prepared to move to our new home. The building we've affectionately called SLAM received an official and apropos name, the Father Andrew P. Kashevaroff State Library, Archives, and Museum, and at the library, we've been weeding, measuring, and packing our collections to prepare for the move.
Governor Walker signs SB 63, which officially named our new building the Father Andrew P. Kashevaroff State Library, Archives, and Museum, with the Richard Foster Reading Room.
Library staff admire the progress on the Richard Foster Reading Room during a site tour in November.

Thanks to all of our patrons and friends for making this a great year! Happy New Year from all of us at the Alaska State Library.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

New resource for Juneau genealogists

Recently, I posted about the Evergreen Cemetery map, a great tool for genealogists and local researchers. Today I'm highlighting another newly digitized resource: the Vital Records, an index to births, deaths, and marriages listed in the Alaska Daily Empire (predecessor to the Juneau Empire) and the Weekly Douglas Island Newspaper from 1898 to 1936. You can find the digital version online at http://library.alaska.gov/vitalRecords/vitalrecordsADE.html.

The six volumes of the Vital Records are the result of fifteen years of work by local historian Betty Miller. Each volume consists of two parts - the first is an alphabetical list of all the names referenced in the volume and the second is a chronological list of the events with the page and column where the article was printed.
The paper volumes of Vital Records from Alaska Daily Empire are well-used items in our genealogy section. The ability to search them digitally will speed up our research.

Although the digitized Vital Records are a valuable resource on their own, they work best in conjunction with the Alaska State Library's newspaper microfilm collection. Now you can search for a name, find the date, page, and column number for an article about that person, and then read the article in the Alaska Daily Empire or the Weekly Douglas Island Newspaper. We have four microfilm scanners that allow you to print, email, or scan to a flash drive or the cloud, making microfilm research easier than ever.
The Alaska Daily Empire is one of hundreds of Alaskan newspapers available in our microfilm collection.

Some Alaska newspaper microfilm is available for lending through interlibrary loan, so even if you can't make it to an Alaska library, you can find historic articles about your Alaskan ancestors. Ask your local library for more information.

Learn more:
  • Betty Miller wrote a short biography about her life and her work on the Vital Records. A longer bio about her family was published in Gastineau Channel Memories, Volume I.
  • The Alaska Newspaper Project microfilmed all the known Alaskan newspapers and created microfilm repositories at the Alaska State Library, University of Alaska Fairbanks Rasmuson Library, and University of Alaska Anchorage Consortium Library.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Sneak peek inside the Kashevaroff SLAM

In June, we shared some photos from inside the Kashevaroff State Library, Archives, and Museum. There have been a ton of changes since then, so we're pleased to share the progress with you!

The boards have been removed and the copper panels on the front are being installed. The exterior of SLAM is nearly complete and most of the work is happening inside.
The main entrance off Whittier Street leads into the atrium. The Museum galleries are on the left.
A very large map of Alaska will be laid into the floor of the atrium. The latitude and longitude lines for the map are being set now.
The outlines of the map are drawn onto the floor. This is a segment of southeast Alaska.

Inside the museum, exhibit pieces and large objects from the Alaska State Museum collections are being installed.
The Clan House will be home to the exhibits about southeast Alaska Native cultures. It's wrapped in plastic to protect it from construction dust and damage.
All of the boards on the Clan House were adzed by hand. It's such hard work that three people dropped out of the adzing team, leaving one woman to complete most of the project herself.

Alaska's other Native cultures will be represented but are not installed yet. Around the corner, we entered the history galleries, which will include sections on the period of Russian colonization of Alaska in the late 18th- and early 19th-centuries, World War II in Alaska, Alaskan industries, and political history.

This is the base for the Fresnel lighthouse lens from Cape Spencer. Behind it is a photo mural of Alaska's first territorial legislature in 1913. It is a reproduction of a photograph from Alaska State Library Historical Collections, PCA 461-26.
This large photo mural is part of the mining section. It is a large reproduction of a photograph of the Chilkoot Trail from the Alaska State Library Historical Collections, PCA 87-707.
This big case is in the World War II section, where several of the mannequins I've been working on will live.
The sphere for the Science On A Sphere system looks like Humpty-Dumpty, waiting to be installed in its very own gallery, seen below.
The new Science On A Sphere gallery will accommodate Sphere-related programming and allow visitors to play with datasets.
This window looks from the atrium by the Eagle Tree into the conservation lab, where the conservator will repair and stabilize objects, so that visitors can observe the process in action.

The second level of the Kashevaroff SLAM will house the Alaska State Library, Historical Collections, and Alaska State Archives, as well as the administrative offices.
The wood panels in the ceiling of the Alaska State Library's Richard Foster Reading Room are being installed now.
Looking into the Reading Room from across the bridge, Walter Gordinier's glass pillars provide splashes of color in the walls.
Our office windows look down Gastineau Channel and at our neighbors in the Willoughby District, KTOO and the Prospector Hotel.
A window from the staff area looks out into the Historical Collections and Archives Research Room.
This very important space is the restroom. We're eagerly awaiting these because everyone working on the SLAM site is currently using port-a-potties.
The balcony area on the second floor allows visitors to look down into the atrium and view Gordinier's glass artwork and the Alaska map from a distance.
Back downstairs in the atrium, looking toward the main entrance from the Eagle Tree.

We're so excited to open the Kashevaroff State Library, Archives, and Museum. A big thanks to our project team at the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities and to PCL, who are busy making SLAM into a reality. We hope to see you all the grand opening next year!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Exploring Juneau's Evergreen Cemetery

We help people from around the world find information about their Alaskan ancestors, so we're always looking for tools for genealogy searches. One new resource that we're really excited about is the Evergreen Cemetery digital map.
A frosty morning at Evergreen Cemetery. Many of the headstones have sunk into the ground and are difficult to decipher.

Evergreen Cemetery is the final resting place of 8,000 Juneau residents, including notables like founders Richard Harris and Joe Juneau, civil rights activist Elizabeth Peratrovich, baker China Joe, and photographers Lloyd Winter and Percy Pond. Until now, finding a grave in Evergreen Cemetery meant wandering around the grassy hillside, hoping that the grave you were looking for actually had a headstone. I recently spent the better part of an hour squinting at the old 1986 cemetery survey, trying to help a patron find the grave of one of Juneau's first pharmacists, William Britt, and wishing for a resource like the Evergreen Cemetery digital map.

The new map allows you to type in a name and view the grave's location, as well as surrounding graves and other landmarks to help you find it in the cemetery. Although some of the names are still being reviewed, the majority are easily searchable by first or last name. The software includes a feature to show photos of the grave, the person, and the funeral record. Although these images are not currently available, they may be added in the future. Some images are available on findagrave.com, a crowd-sourced headstone photo website.
The site of Elizabeth Peratrovich's grave in Evergreen Cemetery. The colored zones show the different sections of the cemetery.

We're happy to add this resource to our genealogy toolkit and hope it helps genealogists fill in pieces of their family trees!

Read more:

Friday, November 6, 2015

Women Veterans Day in Alaska

Although November 11 is the Veterans Day that many Alaskans will have off next week, November 9 is Women Veterans Day in Alaska, by order of Alaska Statute 44.12.078. Established in 2000, Women Veterans Day was created to "acknowledge and commemorate the sacrifices endured and valor displayed by American women veterans and to recognize their increasing role in the military."

Even before Alaska was a state, women were serving in the United States military. From 1942 to 1944, more than a thousand women served as Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs), playing an important role testing aircraft and ferrying planes and supplies to bases around the country, including in Alaska. When the WASPs were recognized for their service with a Congressional Gold Medal in 2010, three Alaska women veterans were among them: Ellen Campbell of Juneau and Virginia Wood and Nancy Baker of Fairbanks.
Congressional Gold Medal ceremony in honor of the Women Airforce Service Pilots, March 10, 2010. Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony by Nancy Pelosi, CC BY

Today, Alaska is the U.S. state with the highest concentration of women veterans in its population (Source: U.S. Department of Labor). There are more than 11,000 women veterans living in Alaska (Source: U.S. Department of Labor). Nearly half of Alaskan vets of both genders served in the Gulf War era and 17% of Alaska's veterans are 20-34 years old (Source: Washington Post). Young women in the military are changing the face of Alaska's veteran population.
Pictured from left to right: Brig. Gen. Deborah McManus, Capt. Allison Snow, Staff Sgt. Christina Cordes, Capt. Laura Grossman, and Maj. Krista Staff. Alaska Guard forms first all-female aircrew by The National Guard.

This Women Veterans Day, we thank Alaska's women veterans for their service and recognize their essential contributions to Alaskan and U.S. military history.

Learn more:

Friday, October 30, 2015

Resources for the 3rd special session of the 29th Alaska Legislature

The Alaska State Legislature's third special session this year is on the Alaska gasline.  Both the Governor's Office and the State Legislature provide some helpful resources that can bring you up to speed and help you keep track of developments during the special session.

From the Governor's Office

Information on the special session has been gathered in one location: http://gov.alaska.gov/Walker/priorities/gasline-special-session.html. This page includes links to press conferences on the topic, the original and amended proclamations, SB3001 and HB3001, reports, and more.

From the Legislature

The State Legislature has some great tools available for accessing current and archived information and for tracking legislation.  These are available during any session, but it's a little easier to track bills now, since there are only two: HB3001 and SB3001.

Alaska News

Did you know that all Alaska residents with internet access have tools for tracking and accessing the full text of new articles on just about any subject?  Most of the SLED Databases include options for tracking your searches.  To track news about the special session, I did a simple search on the gasline and the special session in Newspaper Source Plus.  You can do your own by going to the A-Z listing of SLED Databases at http://lam.alaska.gov/databases/a_z. Select Newspaper Source Plus (or, if you're not looking specifically for news, select another), and do the search you want.  Apply any limiters.  When you get your results, click on the Share icon, and choose your preferred option for updates.


Unfortunately, many Alaskan newspapers are not included in this resource, but all is not lost!  If you're an employee of the State of Alaska, contact us here at the Alaska State Library.  We have access to additional databases and would be happy to set up an alert for you.  If you're not a State of Alaska employee, or if you want more immediate gratification, try setting up a Google Alert.  Do your search on Google.  When you get your results, scroll down to the bottom of the page, and select the Create alert button.
Then, click on Show options.
Make sure that the options reflect your interests and that the correct email is listed.  The results usually include full text, but sometimes access to is may be limited by a paywall.  You can usually get these articles for free, though, through interlibrary loan, so check with your local library.

Do you have any other tips for tracking Alaska legislative information?  If they're free to Alaskans, please share them in the comments.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Incorporating a museum reference collection

Before the Alaska State Museum was demolished in 2014, its reference collection of over 2000 books, periodicals, videos, and other resources was boxed up and stored at the Alaska State Library. The Museum has not had a dedicated librarian for many years, so management of the reference library had been neglected for some time.
Seventy-four boxes contained the Museum reference collection, which has been stored in the Alaska State Library for nearly two years.

As part of the integration of the State Library, Archives, and Museum, the Museum's reference collection will be managed by the Alaska State Library in the new Kashevaroff SLAM. In order to integrate this collection, we've been inventorying it, updating records, and repairing, re-covering, or applying Mylar jackets to make them shelf-ready.

Although this capsule collection will not circulate, anyone will be able to look at it in the library, and many of the books are also available in the Library's circulating collection. SLAM visitors will be able to delve further into topics that they encounter in the Museum's exhibits, and this collection will be a first stop for resources about Alaska's history, art, and cultures.
A word cloud of the titles and authors of the Museum reference collection.
What kind of books are in this collection? As you can see from the word cloud above, "Alaska" is the common theme, but books about museums, exhibitions, Alaska Native people, and history are well represented. Although it doesn't show up in the word cloud, there is also a significant natural history section with books about the plants, animals, and geology of Alaska, Canada, and the Arctic.

Preparing this collection has broadened my perspective about what's covered by the Alaska State Museum's exhibits and artifact collections. Many of the books in this reference collection were donated by staff or volunteers who felt that they were particularly valuable or interesting, so in many ways it is a user-curated collection. We look forward to making it available in the Kashevaroff State Library, Archives, and Museum when we move next year.

Friday, October 16, 2015

What's the difference between a proclamation, a resolution, and an act?

On Monday, Governor Walker issued a proclamation recognizing October 12, 2015 as Indigenous Peoples Day. There was much fanfare in the press about Alaska being the first state to reclaim Columbus Day for Native people. And then Anne Hillman of Alaska Public Media pointed this out:
So what is a proclamation? The governor can issue proclamations to recognize days, weeks, or months for a single year, often at the request of his constituents (http://gov.alaska.gov/Walker/contact/constituent-relations/proclamations.html). Governor Walker has issued nearly 100 of these, including Bear Awareness Month (March 2015), Auctioneers Day (April 18, 2015), and Archives Month (October 2015). You can see them all at http://gov.alaska.gov/Walker/press-room/proclamation-archive.html. Some of the proclamations are required by Alaska statute, like Alaska Territorial Guard Day (October 18) or Dutch Harbor Remembrance Day (June 3). Proclamations can also be used to call special legislative sessions, like Governor Walker did on April 27.
The executive proclamation declaring that October 2015 is Archives Month.

Similarly, the Alaska state legislature can create awareness days, weeks, or months for the current or upcoming year through concurrent resolutions, which "reflect the will, wish, view or decision of both houses speaking concurrently," according to the Uniform Rules. In 2015, the legislature passed resolutions like Sexual Assault Awareness Month (April 2015), Alaska School Choice Week (January 24-30, 2016), and Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia Action Day (April 19, 2015). Concurrent resolutions are easier to pass than bills. They don't require three readings, committee referrals, or the governor's signature; they only need to pass with a majority in each house.
Resolutions like these are the legislature's way of recognizing a special day, week, or month for a single year.

In order to make one of these special designations stick, the legislature has to pass a bill that becomes part of the Alaska Statutes. These bills are subject to legislative procedures outlined in the Alaska Constitution, which is a more rigorous process than passing a concurrent resolution. In 2015, the legislature passed four of these acts: Alaska Law Enforcement Officers' Day (January 9), Great Alaska Good Friday Earthquake Remembrance Day (March 27), Alaska Firefighters' Day (the Sunday before October 9), and Children's Day (second Sunday in June). These will get added to the previously created special days in the Alaska Statutes, Title 44, Section 12.
New observances get added to the Alaska Statutes once they pass the legislature and are recognized forever (or until the legislature votes to repeal them).

Friday, October 9, 2015

Resource Recommendation: Quick work tips

The Library offers a Table of Contents (TOC) service for state employees, which allows you to select journals you're interested in and receive an email whenever new articles are published. Around 200 titles are available, so it can be a little daunting to know which ones will really help you in your work.

One of my favorites is Administrative Professional Today. Even though I'm not technically an administrator, I find lots of useful tidbits about communicating, interacting with coworkers, and using technology more effectively. It's published monthly and each issue has 20-25 short articles, most around 100-200 words, with a couple of longer feature articles.

An example of the email for Administrative Professional Today, with links that take you to the full articles (but not in this image - it's just a screenshot of the email).
As you can see from the sample, the articles have a wide appeal. Many of us could improve our networking skills, learn how to handle a bad boss or coworker, and wonder how to have a great career. The articles are short, readable, and provide concrete tips, like ways to deal with a frustrating situation you might encounter at work.


If these are things that would help you, sign up to receive the TOC. If you're a state employee, go to http://library.alaska.gov/forms/tocrequest.aspx and create a TOC subscription or add Administrative Professional Today to your current subscription. If you're not a state employee but are an Alaska resident, you can set up your own TOC emails by following these instructions.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Celebrating Alaska Book Week!

It's Alaska Book Week, a celebration of Alaskan authors and their books, created by 49 Writers. Libraries, bookstores, and schools hold book signings, author talks, writing workshops, and other special events that highlight writing in Alaska. To find an event in your area, visit www.alaskabookweek.com.

We're big fans of Alaska books at the Alaska State Library. Our collections and our research have a strong Alaskan focus, so we live and breathe Alaska books and documents. Here are a few recent titles that we've enjoyed this year.

Published by University of Nebraska Press, 2014.
Fu-Go: The Curious History of Japan's Balloon Bomb Attack on America by Ross Coen
The fu-go campaign was a little-known episode from World War II in the Pacific. The Japanese military launched thousands of paper balloons rigged with incendiary devices that were meant to drift across the ocean to start wildfires and wreck havoc in the western United States and Canada. Although hundreds of these balloons were found, including many in Alaska, only one resulted in casualties, killing a minister's wife and several teens in Oregon. Ross visited the library in June and gave us a behind-the-scenes look at Fu-Go, including dozens of previously classified images. Although Fu-Go is a riveting read on its own, Ross' lecture added another dimension to my enjoyment of this book. If you missed it, you can watch the video here. We apologize for some technical difficulties with the screen-sharing at the beginning of the recording.

Published by Alaska Northwest Books, 2014.
Animal Stories: Encounters with Alaska's Wildlife by Bill Sherwonit
I'm not the only library staffer who's been recommending Bill Sherwonit's collection of nature stories. Sherwonit, a former outdoors writer for the Anchorage Times, writes about his extraordinary and everyday animal encounters in a friendly, thoughtful style. The surreal feeling of meeting a wild animal on the street will resonate with many urban Alaskans, and Sherwonit includes not just bears and moose but other less common critters like wood frogs, sandhill cranes, and lynx.

Published by University of Nebraska Press, 2015.
So, How Long Have You Been Native? by Alexis Bunten
This anthropological exploration of cultural tourism is based on Bunten's experience working as a tour guide for a tribally owned tourism business in Sitka. Bunten addresses the struggle that Alaska Native communities face when trying to decide if they should embrace or denounce cultural tourism, which brings economic benefits but can also be viewed as selling out Native culture. Working in tourism is a rite of passage for many Alaskans, but this insider look at working in cultural tourism is unique.

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014.
 A Wolf Called Romeo by Nick Jans
For several years, Juneau was home to a friendly, solitary black wolf, who loved to frolic and play with local dogs around Mendenhall Glacier. He appeared in late 2004 and soon became a regular winter fixture. Nick Jans, a well-known Alaska nature writer and photographer, was among the first to encounter the wolf who was soon nicknamed Romeo by everyone in town. A Wolf Called Romeo is a great choice for dog lovers, nature enthusiasts, and anyone who had the brief opportunity to be adopted as a member of Romeo's pack. Nick Jans will be speaking about this book at University of Alaska Southeast's Egan Library for Evening at Egan on October 16.

Published by Epicenter Press, 2014.
Dreaming Bears by J. Michael Holloway
After Mike Holloway's first year of medical school, he was determined to have the most remote Alaskan adventure possible, so he caught a bush plane from Fairbanks to Venetie, then hiked to Gold Camp, the tiny home of Johnny and Sarah Franks. Johnny showed Mike traditional ways of hunting, fishing, and boat-building, and constantly told stories of his people. This began a lifelong friendship between a young doctor and the Gwich’in elder who became his mentor. Dreaming Bears is a quiet book about finding unlikely kindred spirits and learning from others’ extraordinary lives. I read this shortly after Karsten Heuer’s Being Caribou, and enjoyed the different perspective on the region and the people who have lived among caribou for thousands of years.

Published by Doubleday, 2014.
In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette by Hampton Sides
Although not written by an Alaskan author, In the Kingdom of Ice will appeal to Alaska history buffs for its grim but fascinating retelling of the doomed polar voyage of the USS Jeannette, which set sail for the Arctic in 1879 and was locked in the ice off Siberia for two years before wrecking. Based on Captain George De Long's diaries, rescued from the ice by engineer George Melville, this book tells a largely forgotten story of polar exploration in the Gilded Age. The library has several other titles on this subject, including two volumes of De Long's journals.

What Alaska books have you enjoyed this year? If you're looking for your next Alaska book, check out Amy Fletcher's list of new and upcoming releases in Capital City Weekly.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Getting ready for our move

 The Alaska State Library will join the Archives, Historical Collections, and Museum in the Kashevaroff State Library, Archives, and Museum next spring. Although our move is months away, it's never too early to start planning.
The exterior of SLAM is mostly complete. Crews are working on the interiors and on landscaping the courtyard now.

One of the first decisions we made was to split our staff into two main teams, one in charge of the collections, including the books, periodicals, microfilm, and maps, and one responsible for the offices, like the files, furniture, supplies, and other paraphernalia that make an office run smoothly. This division allows our small staff to focus on more manageable pieces of the move rather than needing to be involved in everything. It's a lesson we learned from the Alaska State Museum's move last summer.

We've also been working on de-cluttering our lives. That means going through old files, sending reams of paper to recycling, dumping broken equipment, and surplussing unnecessary furniture. Much of the furniture will move with us to the new building, but not everything. Since the work spaces in SLAM will conform to the Alaska space standards, we all need to consolidate our work areas. We're having a contest to find the oldest unnecessary paperwork in our files.
Although not the oldest we've found, this triplicate form for ILL statistics from 1992 did not make the cut to come over to SLAM with us.

The downsizing effort extends to our collections, which we've weeded extensively. For non-library folks, that means removing outdated or little-used materials from the library collection to make room for new stuff. We had held onto VHS and cassette collections but finally decided it was time to get rid of the non-Alaskan ones.

Since Murphy's Law is always in effect, we've had two big influxes to our library recently. The first is a large collection from the Department of Transportation library in Fairbanks. The DOT library consists of 22,500 items and was previously housed at Mather Library at University of Alaska Fairbanks. Although not everything will come here to the Alaska State Library, it is still a significant collection that will get integrated. The second is a reference collection from the Alaska State Museum. When the Museum closed last year, its reference collection was boxed up and put into storage. This collection consists of museology and Alaska history materials that will be particularly relevant to patrons of SLAM. We're excited to introduce both these collections in our new space.
Seventy-two boxes of books from the Alaska State Museum will get added to our collection prior to the move.
We'll keep you posted about the lessons we learn related to the move as it progresses. We're busy researching moving plans, picking supplies, and measuring our collections now.