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.