Thursday, December 24, 2009

How Wealthy We Are

Update: URLs checked and updated. 8/1/11

Question: Where does Alaska rank nationally in terms of wealth?

Answer: Wealth can have a number of meanings. Two common measures used by the federal government for wealth are “Gross Domestic Product by State” and “Personal Income per Capita” by state.

According to the Statistical Abstract of the United States 2009, Alaska ranks 45th in Gross Domestic Product by state in current (2007) dollars. See table at

In terms of Personal Income Per Capita, Alaska ranked 15th in 2007, the latest year available. Please see the table Personal Income Per Capita in Current and Constant (2000) Dollars by State at

More wealth tables from the Statistical Abstract can be found at

Friday, December 18, 2009

Libraries in the 21st Century

Update: The Mystery Photo blog linked below has ceased. Most of the other resources mentioned below, including much of this blog, are sporadically active at most. The School Librarian Handbook and the Alaska State Library twitter feed are both active. 8/1/11

Question: I'm doing some research on State Library activities. Could you provide a list of state library agencies in the US? Also, what is the Alaska State Library doing with social networking or Web 2.0 technologies?

Answer: To answer your questions in reverse: Some of the web 2.0 or social networking activities by the State Library include:
  • This blog.
  • Hidden Gems Mined by the Alaska State Library, a blog that highlights some of the paper and online resources we make available.
  • A Mystery Photo blog which gives the general public an opportunity to help us identify people and locations in our historical photographs.
  • An education wiki that pulls together materials from the classes we offer.
  • The Alaska School Librarian Handbook, made available via a wiki.
  • A Twitter feed, which has some live posts but mostly incorporates several automated feeds, including new book listings, Alaska-related articles, class offerings, and more.

In addition, several of our staff use other Web 2.0 services informally but related to our library work. These include flickr (photo sharing), Facebook, Twitter, blogging using various platforms, wikis, and more. We are still working on our delicious account (social bookmarking), and haven’t publicized it yet.

We use some additional social networking platforms for internal communications.

For information about other state library agencies, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction has compiled a listing of state library websites at also has a listing at (please note that this listing includes two links for some states, which may have divided library services between agencies).

One extra note: This question came from outside of the US, and in the process, I found that I needed to translate an Asian language into English. I found that Google language was quite helpful for this. I just clicked on "Language Tools" to the right of the search box on the main Google page, the cut and pasted the text into the provided box and chose the appropriate languages. Handy!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Terrorism Statistics By Country

Question: I've heard that the US government publishes annual statistics on terrorism by country. Where can I find these statistics?

Answer: The State Department publishes an annual report called Country Reports on Terrorism which is available at As of this writing, the latest version is 2013. The country reports consist of a narrative about the environment for terrorist groups in each country. There are worldwide and Iraq/Afghanistan statistics contained in each year's Annex of Statistical Information. The Annex for 2013 can be found at

Another source of terrorism statistics is the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) at The GTD is a project of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism and is located at the University of Maryland. According to the GTD website, this database is: "an open-source database including information on terrorist events around the world from 1970 through 2007 (with annual updates planned for the future). Unlike many other event databases, the GTD includes systematic data on domestic as well as transnational and international terrorist incidents that have occurred during this time period and now includes more than 80,000 cases. For each GTD incident, information is available on the date and location of the incident, the weapons used and nature of the target, the number of casualties, and—when identifiable—the group or individual responsible."

Updated 4/10/15

Friday, December 4, 2009

Retirement Age for Social Security

Question: When can I start drawing my full Social Security benefit? When I'm 65?

Answer: It depends. Assuming you otherwise qualify for Social Security, they pay full benefits when you reach "Full Retirement Age." "Full Retirement Age" varies by when you were born. Below is a Q&A that was taken from the Social Security FAQ website at


What age can I begin receiving full retirement benefits?


Full-retirement age has been 65 for many years. However, beginning with people born in 1938 or later, that age will gradually increase until it reaches 67 for people born after 1959.

The following chart shows the steps in which the age will

Year of Birth / Full Retirement Age
1937 or earlier / 65
1938 / 65 and 2 months
1939 / 65 and 4 months
1940 / 65 and 6 months
1941 / 65 and 8 months
1942 / 65 and 10 months
1943--1954 / 66
1955 / 66 and 2 months
1956 / 66 and 4 months
1957 / 66 and 6 months
1958 / 66 and 8 months
1959 / 66 and 10 months
1960 and later / 67

Note: Persons born on January 1 of any year should refer to the full
retirement age for the previous year.

Specific questions about your Social Security benefits may be directed to your local Social Security office. Find your local office by visiting

Friday, November 27, 2009

Got a book?

Question: Is it common practice for authors to donate books in order to gain exposure?

Answer: I’m not aware of studies or official figures on this topic, but in my experience, some sort of donation is fairly common. Sometimes books are donated directly to libraries. Sometimes they are donated to reviewers, or library or subject area publications for review. These copies often make their way into libraries as well. We do get some donated books from authors or publishers here at the Alaska State Library. We sometimes add donated titles to our own collection. However, we have limited space and a fairly strict collection development policy, so often we are unable to keep donated titles. We also sometimes pass donations onto to other libraries, when we determine that they might be of better use there.

I have worked in other libraries, too, and I’ve noticed that libraries are often unable to add donated books to their collections because they don’t fit within the libraries’ collection development practices. This practice may be somewhat more lax in public libraries, as compared to research libraries. If you are considering donating a book to libraries, I encourage you to start by sending an email or letter, and only send actual copies when the library indicates that they can add the title.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The staff at the Alaska State Library would like to take this opportunity to wish all of our readers a safe and pleasant holiday. We are thankful for so much, including you!

We'll be open regular hours on Friday, November 27th. Stop by and say hi!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Alaska Pipeline Oil Spill Data

Question: Where can I find oil spill data for Alaska online?

Answer: The best place online for this information is the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Spill Response at This agency is required by federal law to log spills and responses. The following are several links to their data:
1. Spills Database Online Query at
Complete information back to 1995. Prior to that the data may be incomplete and/or inaccurate. Direct contact information for the agency is listed on the page in case you need older data. If you choose to search the database, the “Spill Specific Search” will allow you to limit by location, type of incident, type of substance and more. In addition, you can use two other buttons search by facility or affiliate (company) if you have the information.
2. Oil and Hazardous Substance Spill Data Summaries at
These reports are general, but the larger reports will indicate major pipeline spills. You can then take that information and go back to the online database’s “Spill Specific Search” for details.
3. Response Updates back to FY04 (July 2003 – June 2004)
This is a browse portal without searching capabilities. You can find basic information on the active responses and read detailed situation reports.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Reading about Alaska's history

Question: Can you suggest books about the history of Alaska and its major cities?

Answer: Before I go into some specific recommendations, I wanted to suggest this book of recommended Alaska titles:

Alaska Historical Society. (2006). The Alaska 67: a guide to Alaska's best history books. Walnut Creek, CA: Hardscratch Press. See holding libraries at This has annotations on 67 books related to specific aspects of Alaska history.

Another good source of recommendations for nonfiction and fiction about Alaska is our library's "Some Books About Alaska" guide, which was published from 1994-2000. You can find those issues at

Now for some recommendations about specific books:

State History:

Naske, C.-M., & Slotnick, H. E. (1979). Alaska, a history of the 49th State. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. See holding libraries at This is considered one of the standard works on Alaska.

Haycox, S. W. (2002). Alaska: an American colony. Seattle: University of Washington Press. See holding libraries at This work links Alaska history under Russia and the United States to colonialism.

Whitehead, J. S. (2004). Completing the union: Alaska, Hawai'i, and the battle for statehood. Histories of the American frontier. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. See holding libraries at This is the most painless and fun read of the story of how Alaska became the 49th State of the Union.

City Histories:

By 2000 population, our largest five cities are: Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan (Source: American Factfinder

Tower, E. A. (1999). Anchorage: from its humble origins as a railroad construction camp. Fairbanks: Epicenter Press. See library holdings at I've read this book myself and offer an enthusiastic recommendation.

Cole, D. (1999). Fairbanks: a gold rush town that beat the odds. Fairbanks, [Alaska]: Epicenter Press. See library holdings at

De Armond, R. N. (1967). The founding of Juneau. Juneau, Alaska: Gastineau Channel Centennial Association. See library holdings at Considered the major work on Juneau history.

Stone, D., Stone, B., & Bradley, P. R. (1980). Hard rock gold: the story of the great mines that were the heartbeat of Juneau. Juneau, Alaska (155 S. Seward St., Juneau, Alaska 99801): Juneau Centennial Committee, City & Borough of Juneau. See library holdings at


Andrews, C. L. (1922). The story of Sitka; the historic outpost of the northwest coast, the chief factory of the Russian American company. Seattle: Press of Lowman and Henford. See list of holding libraries at

Roppel, P. (1982). Sitka, and its ocean/island world. Alaska geographic, v. 9, no. 2. Anchorage, Alaska: Alaska Geographic Society. See library holdings at

Allen, J., & Charles, P. (1992). Spirit!: historic Ketchikan, Alaska. Ketchikan, Alaska: Published by Lind Printing for Historic Ketchikan. See library holdings at

Harrington, L. B., & Smith, M. C. (1999). Clams on the beach and deer in the woods: a collection of oral histories from southern Southeast Alaska. Ketchikan, Alaska: Friends of the Public Library. See library holdings at If you like personal stories, then this is the book to read about Ketchikan.

Friday, November 6, 2009

History of Alcohol in Alaska

Question: I'm interested in learning more about the history of alcohol use in Alaska. Can you suggest some resources for me?

Answer: There are a number of resources that may be helpful in studying the historic use of alcohol in Alaska:


Andersen, Thayne I. 1988. Alaska hooch: the history of alcohol in early Alaska. [Fairbanks, Alaska] (Box 80384, Fairbanks 99708): [Hoo-Che Noo. -

Conn, S., & Moras, A. (1986). No need of gold: Alcohol control laws and the Alaska native population : from the Russians through the early years of statehood. Anchorage: School of Justice, University of Alaska. -

Clicking on the links above will give you a list of libraries that hold these books. If you don't live near one those libraries, request the book at your nearest library through Interlibrary Loan.


Norris, Frank Blaine. Alaskans and the prohibition experiment. Politics and government in Alaska's past, (1995), pp. 81-91.

Watson, Angela. Revenue stamp examples and the history of alcohol control in Alaska. Alaskan philatelist, v. 43, no. 3 (3rd quarter, 2007) p. 65-66.

Web Resources

History of Alcohol Control in Alaska (From Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, Dept of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development) - This page gives a brief timeline of alcohol control.

Alcohol Control by Referendum in Northern Native Communities: the Alaska Local Option Law
By Matthew Berman and Teresa Hull
Institute of Social and Economic Research
University of Alaska Anchorage - This 21 page article has a section on the history of alcohol regulation in Alaska starting on page three.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Female Homesteaders and Pioneers

Question: Where can I learn more about Judy Ferguson and other pioneering women of Alaska?

Answer: There are at least two books on Judy Ferguson about her and other women's struggle to live a homesteading life in Alaska:

Clicking on the links above will give you a list of libraries that hold these books. You should also be able to get these books from your local library through Interlibrary Loan.
You can find a list of biographies about more of Alaska's pioneering/homesteading women at:

Friday, October 23, 2009

Court Records

Question: I would like to examine some Alaskan criminal trial records. Is this possible and how would I go about it?

Answer: With limited exceptions such as juvenile cases, court records in Alaska are available for public inspection. Here is information on requesting a court record from the Alaska Court System page at

Requests for copies of case files should be submitted in writing to the records department or clerk of court where the case was filed. A complete list of Alaska Court System contact information is available on our website. Email requests for copies are not accepted.
Your written request for copies should include:
  • the names of the parties
  • the case number
  • the case type (for example: civil, criminal, probate, small claims)
  • your name
  • your address
  • your phone number

Most court records are available for public inspection. Copies are 25¢ per page. A certified copy of a document is $5.00. There is a $15.00 per hour research fee. A deposit may be required on some copy requests.
Records in some proceedings, such as juvenile matters, are confidential and only parties to the case are allowed access to the file.
If you are not sure what court has the case file you are interested, visit the Alaska Trial Courts search page at

Friday, October 16, 2009

Life in Fairbanks during the Korean War

Question: How can I find out how life in Fairbanks was during the Korean War?

Answer: From our searches it doesn't seem like there are many books specifically about Fairbanks during the period of the Korean War (1950-1953). However the books below are general histories of Fairbanks and should have something to say about the 1950s:
by Dermot Cole
Publisher: Fairbanks, [Alaska] : Epicenter Press, ©1999.

by Dermot Cole
Publisher: San Antonio, Tex. : Historical Pub. Network, ©2002.

by Charles H Parr
Publisher: [Fairbanks], Alaska : Inkworks, ©2000.
You should be able to borrow the above books through your local library using Interlibrary Loan.
Another option for learning about Fairbanks life in the early 1950s would be to examine some of the newspapers of the time. Fairbanks newspapers covering the period 1950-1953 include:

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
Region: Interior Publication dates:
Frequency: daily

Farthest-North Collegian
Region: Interior
Publication dates: 1923-1958
Frequency: frequency varies

History: Began in Feb 1923 and was published at least through the Jul 1958 issue. Was the official campus newspaper of Alaskan Agricultural College and School of Mines which became the University of Alaska.

Jessen’s Weekly
Region: Interior
Publication dates: 1942-1968
Frequency: weekly
Editors: E.F. Jessen,

Midnight Sun (Ladd Field)
Region: Interior
Publication dates: 1946-?
Frequency: biweekly
History: Began with the Mar 22, 1946 issue. Date when publication ceased is unknown. It continued the LADD FIELD MIDNIGHT SUN (1942-1946). It was published in the interest of the military personnel of Ladd Field, Alaska. Microfilm holdings: 1951-1952

The above newspapers are available in microfilm at a number of Alaskan librarians and are available for interlibrary loan.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Resources for People with Disabilities

Question: After decades in the work force, I recently became ill. Due to my disability, I am no longer able to work. I am having difficulty connecting with the available services and am having trouble navigating the Medicaid and Medicare system. Can you help me?

Answer: I am sorry to hear about your circumstances and hope that the following will be useful to you. at is a portal to resources available on both a national and state specific level. The search box allows you to search thousands of resources on their website. On the main page, you will find links to topics such as technology, health, civil rights, education and more. You can connect with's information via their email updates, newsletter, RSS feeds, blog and Twitter account by using the links on the right side of the page.

To assist with your questions about Medicare and Medicaid you might want to visit the health insurance section at^^Health+Insurance^^%22. You will discover a great amount of information separated into topics such as agency contacts, prescription drug program, health plans that are available in your location, insurance eligibility, and much more.

The amount of information on this site is tremendous but it is well organized by category, topic or location. Best wishes to you as you seek the appropriate services to meet your needs.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Charter of the United Nations

Question: Where I can find a copy of the United Nations Charter?

Answer: The Charter of the United Nations is available through the United Nations website at

The Charter has also been published a number of times since its creation in 1945. To see libraries that hold the 1945 edition of the UN Charter, please visit

Friday, August 14, 2009

Alaska State Flag colors

Question: What are Pantone colors, and what do they have to do with the Alaska State Flag?

“Pantone” is a trademark of Pantone, Inc., and refers to the Pantone Matching System used in commercial color printing and has now expanding out to web design, textiles, paint, and plastics. Pantone colors help maintain standardization of color schemes, keeping colors consistent print after print.

The Pantone colors for the Alaska State Flag are OG blue pms 2768 and Spanish yellow pms 1235. Alaska State Statute Sec. 44.09.020 describes the colors as “The stars shall be the color of natural yellow gold and the field of blue shall be of the same shade of blue used in the official manufacture of the national emblem of the United States.”

Below is the exact layout of our flag, as specified by Alaska Statute.

Finding Historical Fiction

Question: Can you recommend some good historical fiction based in Alaska?

Answer: We have created a list on WorldCat called Alaska Historical Fiction at Click on any title for a list of libraries holding that item, or to explore other works by the same author or subject. This list was created by reviewing books listed on the former Alaska State Library Historical Collection publication Some books about Alaska, which was web posted from 1994 to 2000. Some books about Alaska listed both fiction and non-fiction books and all were reviewed by at least one librarian.

If you are interested in historical fiction, but don't want to be limited to Alaska, check out the other historical fiction lists on WorldCat. The State Library is not endorsing these lists, just offering links for information.

Another great source for finding Alaskana is NoveList, a database that allows you to search for novels based on various criteria, including location. Entering "Alaska historical fiction" in the search box brings up over 100 results. NoveList is available through the Alaska State Library for all Alaskans or through local libraries around the world.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Need to Mend a Fishing Net?

Question: I am looking for fishnet mending techniques. Is there a source on the internet for this type of information?

Answer: The National Sea Grant Library’s searchable database of Sea Grant-funded documents includes resources on fishing net repair. Information about the database is available at You can search the database at A search for the terms "net mending" retrieves three documents. Two are available in PDF format. These include: (1) Hillier, A. J., & Recksiek, C. W. (1982). Introduction to net mending. [Kingston, R.I.]: University of Rhode Island (described in at; and (2) Lorimer, P. D., & Sea Grant. (1976). Net mending and patching. Pacific Sea Grant Advisory Program, PASGAP 9. [Corvallis]: Oregon State University Extension Service, Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program (described in at See for ordering information for the third document, which is a 1989 revision of Lorimer's 1976 document titled "Net Mending and Patching" (described in at

Thursday, July 30, 2009

End of Term Palin/Parnell Web Snapshot

Questions and Answers about the Alaska State’s Library web snapshot of the Palin/Parnell Administration
Prepared By
Daniel Cornwall and Sheri Somerville, Alaska State Library
July 30, 2009

Q: Where can I find the end-of-term Palin/Parnell web snapshot collected by the Alaska State Library?

A: The Palin/Parnell end-of-term website snapshot is hosted by and is available at

Q: What can I find on the end-of-term Palin/Parnell web snapshot?

A: You should be able to find every web page, photo, video and audio file hosted on the web servers of either Governor Palin or then Lt. Governor Sean Parnell. Because no web spidering software is perfect, there may have been some inadvertent omissions. Some links of interest include:

Q: Why do you have so many URLs on your start page at

A: On our start page we offer a browseable version of the following URLs:


The and URLs are there because our initial efforts to retrieve then Lt. Governor Parnell’s web presence failed to collect his speeches or newsletters. We are still analyzing why this happened. We added the specific URLs for his speeches and newsletters in hopes that this would succeed in retrieving these materials. We were successful.

We have both and www.ltgov/ltgov because our initial retrieval efforts indicated that each address had unique content. That is, some material that was available at was NOT available on and vice versa. In an effort to be comprehensive in collecting content, we retrieved documents from both of the addresses given for the Governor and Lt. Governor.

Q: Why did the Alaska State Library collect an end-of-term web snapshot for the Palin/Parnell administration?

A: Under AS 14.56.090-180, the Alaska State Publications Program, known in statute as the “State library distribution and data access center”, has a responsibility to acquire, describe and provide permanent public access to state government information. It was in compliance with these responsibilities that we produced an end-of-term web snapshot for the Palin/Parnell administration.

Q: Is this the first time that the Alaska State Library collected an end of term web snapshot for an outgoing Governor/Lt. Governor?

A: No. We also produced a web snapshot for the Knowles/Ulmer administration and for the Murkowski/Leman administration. Due to technological and resource constraints, these were put onto optical discs:


Alaska State Publications Program. (2003). Knowles-Ulmer web site as of November 26, 2002. [Juneau, Alaska]: Alaska State Library, Alaska State Publications Program.

See libraries holding this disc at


Alaska State Publications Program. (2007). Alaska Governor/Lt. Governor web sites as of November 30, 2006 Governor Frank H. Murkowski (12/5/2002 - 12/4/2006), Lt. Governor Loren (12/5/2002 - 12/4/2006). [Juneau, Alaska]: Alaska State Publications Program.

See libraries holding this disc at

Q: How much is the subscription to Archive-It cost each year?

A: We paid $5,000 to subscribe to Archive-It. The subscription provides the Alaska State Library the ability to manage our archived collections and preserve selected data for long-term public access. Anyone with Internet access can keyword search all web content found on Archive-It.

Q: What makes Archive-It different from the Wayback Machine at

A: The Wayback Machine was established in 1996 as a mechanism to create an Internet Library. In past years, the Wayback Machine has successfully archived State of Alaska web sites. Archive-It allows the Alaska State Library to fulfill its statutory mandate to preserve publications for long-term public access through periodic captures of select web sites. In this way, we are better able to manage the materials that are archived.

Q: What else is the State Library doing/planning to do with Archive-It?

A: We are exploring our use of Archive-It, not only for preservation of state documents for library purposes, but also in support of the individual needs of State agencies. The plan is to continue capturing material for our current collections and adding new collections based on single events or topics of particular interest. If you would like to discuss Archive-It or make collection suggestions, please contact Sheri Somerville at

Q: Who is Archive-It?

A: From the Archive-It “about us” page at (Retrieved 7/30/09):

“Archive-It is a subscription service developed in 2005 by the Internet Archive. The Internet Archive ( is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that was founded in 1996 to build an 'Internet library,' with the purpose of offering permanent access for researchers, historians, and scholars to historical collections that exist in digital format.”

Q: Do other state libraries and state archives work with Archive-It?

A: Yes. The folks at archive-it work with a number of state libraries and state archives. They have worked with most of them longer than they have with us. Current state library and state archive users of Archive-It include:

State Libraries

  • Alaska State Library
  • Idaho Commission for Libraries
  • Montana State Library
  • State Library of Ohio
  • South Dakota State Archives and South Dakota State Library
  • Tennessee State Library and Archives
  • Texas State Library and Archives Commission

State Archives

  • State Archives of Alabama
  • Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records
  • Commonwealth of Massachusetts
  • Delaware Government Information Center
  • Michigan Department of History, Arts and Libraries
  • Nebraska State Historical Society
  • State Archives of North Carolina and State Library of North Carolina
  • South Carolina Department of Archives and History
  • Utah State Library/Utah State Archives and Records Service

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The 49 stars flag

Question: On January 3, 1959, Alaska became the 49th state of America. Why did we wait until July 4, 1959 to fly the 49 stars flag?

Answer: We waited to fly our new flag because of the laws in place. A joint resolution of Congress, made on April 4, 1818, states that we will add a new star for every additional state included into the union, and the new flag will fly on the following Fourth of July.

The 49 stars flag flew for only a year. Hawaii received statehood on August 21 of 1959, and the 50 stars flag flew on July 4, 1960.

Friday, June 26, 2009

RVing by ferry?

Question: Since there is no road into Juneau, are there any RV parks there?

Answer: Although you cannot drive into Juneau, you can bring your RV with you on the Alaska Marine Highway System. To serve these folks, as well as local campers, Juneau boasts both public and commercial RV parks:

Auke Bay RV Park
11930 Glacier Hwy
Juneau AK 99801
907) 789-9467

Spruce Meadow RV Park
10200 Mendenhall Loop Rd.
(907) 789-1990

Mendenhall Lake Campground (9 full service hookup sites)
8510 Mendenhall Loop Rd.
(907) 586-8800 (This link covers additional public campgrounds in Juneau as well.)

For more information about visiting Juneau, whether or not you intend to camp, see also the Juneau Convention and Visitors Bureau at

Monday, June 1, 2009

A SLEDing Summer

Question: Can SLED help me find stuff to keep my children entertained and maybe educated during summer vacation?

Answer: The librarian-selected resources on SLED cover a wide range of subjects. While we can't guarantee results for any specific child or adult, we think SLED has something for nearly everybody:

Is there a general topic you're interested in? Let us know in comments and we'll check to see if SLED has something for you.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

To SLED, Or Not To SLED?

Question: Can SLED help me find a copy of Richard III by Shakespeare? I also could use some commentary on the play.

Answer: Yes, SLED can help you with Richard III or any other Shakespeare play. The fastest way would be to use the SLED search box in the upper left hand corner of the SLED home page. Type in [richard III shakespeare] for your search and you'll find:

Add the word "criticism" and you'll get:

If you're needing information on more than just one play or perhaps a different writer, it would be helpful to click on SLED's category of Arts, Literature & History. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and check out some of the following sites:

Coming back to the title of this post, I hope you'll choose to SLED when thinking about literature in or out of Alaska.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Let SLED Help Your Garden Grow

Question: What is SLED and can it help me with my gardening?

Answer: SLED is a public service providing easy and equitable access to electronic information. SLED was developed by the Alaska State Library and the Elmer E. Rasmuson Library, University of Alaska Fairbanks. It stands for Statewide Library Electronic Doorway, but everyone who knows about SLED calls it SLED. The sites on SLED are picked by an advisory committee that includes librarians from around the state and a member of the general public.

SLED can help you with many things, including your gardening. If you go to SLED at and click on Daily Living, Recreation & Sports, you'll find an entries for the Alaska Master Gardener Association and for Cooperative Extension Service Publications from the University of Alaska. Both of these sites have a wealth of Alaska-related gardening information.

If you use the search box that appears in the upper left hand corner of SLED, you can ask it gardening questions. Try searches using these terms:

best time plant anchorage
growing tomatoes
growing fruit fairbanks

Good luck and good growing!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

State Library Twitter Account Explained

Question: Is your Twitter account at real? What kinds of things do you post? How do you decide whom to follow?

Answer: The akstatelibrary account is ours.


Most of our tweets are automatically posted from our RSS feeds. You can tell these tweets apart from any spontaneous comments we make because they have a prefix. Here are the types of automated tweets you will see on our account:

Bookmark: - The Alaska State Library Information Services Section has a delicious account where we put our reference bookmarks. Tweets with this preface denote items we've bookmarked. Bookmarking does not mean we endorse the site, only that we have found it useful in answering reference questions.

For Alaskans Only: - Thanks to the Digital Pipeline, we have been able to set up an alert in a database with thousands of journals for articles whose main topic is Alaska. Tweets with this prefix link to an Alaska-themed journal article. With our vendor license, these articles may be viewed by any Alaskan, but not by people from outside the state.

Have you seen?: The Alaska State Library Historical Collections maintains a blog of Mystery Photos that they have requested help in identifying. The link in these tweets will take you to the photo. - UPDATE 5/25/2011. This blog has ceased.

New@ASL: - This indicates a new item added to our catalog. The link will take to you the catalog record for the title. If you don't live in Juneau, most of these items will be available to you through Interlibrary Loan. Just ask at your local library.

We Answered: - This is posted from the blog you are reading - Since You Asked. The hyperlink in the tweet takes you to the full answered question.

We Liked: - These Tweets come from our Staff Picks list on These are books that at least one of the library staff members found interesting.

In addition to these automated ways of feeding our Twitter account, we will occasionally post bits of news about the Division of Libraries, Archives and Museums like upcoming trainings. We may also post informational items about hot topics, like Mt. Redoubt or the recent H1N1 influenza outbreak.

We monitor direct messages (DM's) daily and look for @akstatelibrary a few times a week.


We follow people and institutions we become aware of who meet one of these criteria:

  • An Alaska State Agency (for example: Public Health Nursing)

  • An Alaskan elected official (for example: Governor Parnell, Senator Murkowski)

  • Alaskan libraries, archives & museums (for example: Egan Library)

  • Traditional media outlets (i.e. radio, TV, newspaper outlets)

  • Other state libraries and cultural institutions of national interest
If you've got questions our comments about our twitter feed, please either leave a comment here, or e-mail

Friday, April 10, 2009

Status of Women in Alaska

Question: Where can I find a comprehensive report on the status of women in Alaska?

Answer: The Institute for Women’s Policy Research published a 79-page report in 2004 titled The Status of Women in Alaska. The report is available at The next most recent comprehensive report that we have found was published in 1984 by the Alaska Women’s Commission, an organization which no longer exists. The 1984 report, titled Alaska Women: A Databook, can be ordered from the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Institute for Social and Economic Research and may also be available through your local library.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Historic List of Alaska Legislators

Question: I heard about a list of Alaska State Legislators through history but cannot find it online. Can you help me?

Answer: The list is called the Roster of Members and is found on the Alaska State Legislature's publications page. You will find the link for the publication about halfway down on the righthand side. It includes information on the participants in the Alaska Constitutional Convention and Legislative member details from the first Territorial Legislature in 1913 through the 28th State Legislature for the 2013 and 2014 sessions.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Aviation Accidents and Incidents

Question: A relative of mine was involved in a plane crash near Juneau in the summer of 1987. Where can I find more information about the crash?
Answer: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) publish information about aviation accidents and incidents. You can search NTSB’s Accident Database and Synopses, which covers aviation accidents and some incidents occurring after 1962, at Available data includes type of aircraft, date and location, airline, type of air carrier operation, severity of any injuries, NTSB’s report status, and preliminary or final report. The full reports are generally not available for events occurring before 1993. Selected major accidents occurring more than ten years ago are also listed at NTSB retains detailed records and files relating to its accident investigations. For information about reviewing and ordering these documents, see
If the “crash” you are researching was not investigated by NTSB, you may find it in the FAA’s Accident/Incident Data System (AIDS), at At this page, select the Data & Information tab, then the link for the Accident/Incident Data System. This database covers general aviation and commercial air carrier incidents since 1978. FAA defines “incidents” as “events that do not meet the aircraft damage or personal injury thresholds contained in the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) definition of an accident.”
In addition, you may find articles about the crash in the Juneau Empire or other Alaska newspapers. We have an extensive collection of Alaska newspapers on microfilm. More information about our newspaper collection, including information about ordering microfilm through interlibrary loan, is available on this blog at

Friday, February 20, 2009

Green building funding

Question: I want to find funding for my personal green building project. Where should I look?

Answer: Depending on the intended use of the building and the status of the builder, there may be different types of funds available.

The EPA has a fairly comprehensive database of funding opportunities. They list websites that would be useful to consumers, government, non-profit organizations, and other industry. The site is organized by general, national, state, and local funding programs.

The U.S. Small Business Administration has additional resources for small business funding, as well as information on the different types of financial assistance available.

If you’re looking for non-profit funding, the Foundation Center has resources and online training available. If you happen to be in Juneau, our downtown Juneau Public Library is a participating library and has access to additional resources. You can find a list of other participating libraries at

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Finding Mineral Maps

Question: Where can I find statewide maps of Alaska's oil and mineral resources?

Answer: The best place to go for this kind of map is Alaska's Division of Geology and Geophysical Resources. They have a page for statewide maps at The maps available here include:

  • Generalized Geologic Map of Alaska
  • Oil and Gas Basins Map of Alaska
  • Map of Alaska's Coal Resources
  • Map of selected mines, coalfields, and significant mineral resources of Alaska
  • Map of prospective mineral areas and significant mineral resources of Alaska
  • Geothermal resources of Alaska
  • Volcanoes of Alaska
  • Map of industrial minerals occurrences in Alaska
The Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys publishes many maps and reports related to Alaska mineral resources. Most are available online and also in paper format at the Alaska State Library.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Castner's Cutthroats

Update: We are no longer able to access the KTUU story online. 8/1/11

Question: Where can I learn more about the WWII Alaska Scouts also known as Castner's Cutthroats?

Answer: Castner's Cutthroats were officially known as the 1st Combat Intelligence Platoon (Provisional). The unit was active at Fort Richardson from 1941 to 1946 and members were recruited from Alaska Natives and sourdough prospectors.

The Alaska State Library has a number of items with information about Castner's Cutthroats, including:

Rearden, Jim. 1990. Castner's Cutthroats: saga of the Alaska Scouts. Prescott, Ariz: Wolfe Pub.
For list of holding libraries see:

Rearden, Jim. 2005. Forgotten warriors of the Aleutian campaign. Missoula, Mont: Pictorial Histories Pub. Co.
For list of holding libraries see:

Reiss, Marguerite. Alaska miners at war -- part 01. Alaska miner 1993, v. 21, no. 12 (Dec. 1993) pp. 7+.

Rearden, Jim. Castner's cutthroats. Alaska magazine 1991, v. 57, no. 12 (Dec. 1991) . p. 34

If these books and articles aren't available in your local library, please ask your library to get them by Interlibrary Loan.

To find websites and other internet based resources, We suggest that you visit SLED at and type Castner's Cutthroats into the search box. That yields a number of results including the KTUU story, "Castner's Cutthroats: defenders of the Last Frontier". There is also a decent looking Wikipedia article at's_Cutthroats.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Classification Codes

Update: Links have been checked and updated. 4/6/15

QUESTION: How does the state of Alaska assign classification codes to state government documents?

ANSWER: At this time, the State of Alaska does not have a standardized classification scheme for state publications. At the Alaska State Library, we use the Library of Congress system to catalog most of our materials, including our state documents. For more detailed information on Library of Congress, visit

If a state agency implements a classification system, it will sometimes refer to a report series, the date of publication, the publication sequence, an assigned agency code and other internal filing or coding systems. At times, state agency newsletters and journals will include standard periodical classification such as volume number, issue number, and publication date.

Here are a few examples:

1.) State of Alaska, Dept. of Fish & Game, Technical Fishery Reports at

2.) State of Alaska, Legislative Audit, Audit Report Lists at

3.) State of Alaska. Dept. of Natural Resources, Div. of Geological & Geophysical Surveys’ Publication Series at

4.) State of Alaska, Dept. of Labor & Workforce Development’s “Alaska Economic Trends” journal at

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Death Certificates

Question: I’m looking for the death certificate and burial information of a relative who died in Alaska. Where can I find this information?

Answer: You can request a copy of Alaskan death certificates from the Bureau of Vital Statistics. For more information on the process, instructions and forms please go to:

Additionally, if you would like a copy of an Alaskan obituary let us know the date and newspaper that it was published in and we can see if it’s available to make a copy of for you. You can find a list of what Alaskan newspapers we have access to here:

Even if you don't have the all of the information we need to look up an obituary for you, we may be able to help. Try looking at our genealogy resource guide, online at, for additional sources.

Friday, January 2, 2009

January 3, 1959

Question: What was the most popular search on Since You Asked in 2008?

Answer: Last year, about half of the traffic to this blog came to us a result of searches on Google and other search engines. By far the most popular search was for "When did Alaska become a state?" The answer to that question is January 3, 1959, when President Eisenhower signed Alaska into the Union in this Internet Archive video 49th Star.

For more information about how Alaska became a state and other related materials, please see:

On this first workday of 2009, the Alaska State Library wishes you a safe, healthy and well-informed New Year.