Thursday, December 9, 2010

Building codes

Question: Where do I find the Alaska building codes?

Answer: Like many states, Alaska relies heavily on uniform building codes. The precise codes that the state uses, as well as any changes or sections not employed, are listed in the Alaska Administrative Code: 13 AAC 50. The Alaska State Library maintains the current and previous two editions of the International Building Code and some other codes. For details, search our catalog.

The specific codes you need may be available at a library near you, but they usually are not available to be checked out. If they aren't available locally for you, you can request specific pages through interlibrary loan, or you can purchase a copy (or, much less expensively, purchase portions that relate to your specific needs). Just check your favorite local or online bookstore.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Alaskan historical census data

Question: How many WWI veterans lived in Anchorage in 1970?

Answer: 82, according to "Table 102, Social Characteristics for Places of 10,000 - 50,000: 1970" found on page 3-135 of the US Census "General Social and Economic Characteristics: Alaska" from the 1970 Census.

The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development/Research and Analysis Division has scanned and posted PDFs of Alaska related census reports from 1880, 1910 and 1940 through 1990 at Alaska Census 1880-2010. For 1980, these reports include:

Number of Inhabitants
General Population Characteristics
Detailed Population Characteristics
General Social and Economic Characteristics

Alaska Census Data from 2000 and beyond can be located at Labor's Alaska Census Data and Information page.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Presidential speeches

Question: Where can I find the official version of the speech that President Ronald Reagan gave on the loss of the Space Shuttle Challenger and the official version of the speech that President George W. Bush gave on the loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia?

Answer: The official version of both speeches can be found in Public Papers of the Presidents as follows:

Address to the Nation on the Explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger, January 28, 1986 - page 94-95 of:

Reagan, Ronald. 1989. Public papers of the Presidents of the United States Ronald Reagan. 1986. Washington: United States Government Printing Office.

Address to the Nation on the Loss of Space Shuttle Columbia, February 1, 2003 - page 119-120 of:

Bush, George W. 2006. Public papers of the presidents of the United States, George W. Bush: 2003. Washington: U.S. G.P.O.

President Bush's speech is also available electronically through the FDSys system at

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Local Sales Taxes

Question: How many communities in Alaska do NOT have a sales tax?

Answer: Currently, 253. You can verify this for yourself by visiting the Alaska Community Database. Under Public Query System, go to Advanced Search Options, select all the communities in the left hand box and add them to the right hand box, then click Next. On the next screen, choose "sales tax" from the left hand box and add it to the right hand box, then click Next. Then run the report. Save the file and open it up in your favorite spreadsheet. When we checked, 253 was the number of communities that report "None".

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Alaska's African American Newspapers

Question: I would also be interested to know what black newspapers have been published in the state/territory of Alaska.

Answer: The Alaska State Library’s Guide to Alaska Newspapers on Microfilm identifies these titles as African American newspapers:

  • Anchorage Gazette
  • Anchorage Spotlight
  • Anchorage Town Crier
  • Crusader
  • Midnight Sun Reporter
  • New Horizon
  • North Star Reporter
  • Vox Populi

You can find more information about these titles in the Guide (linked above), under the "Anchorage" heading. The Alaska State Library’s collections include some issues of these newspapers on microfilm, but coverage is incomplete. Another post on this blog describes how to request our microfilm through interlibrary loan.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Girdwood's Glaciers

Question: What are the names of the seven glaciers surrounding Girdwood, Alaska?

Answer: There are a large number of glaciers in the general vicinity of Girdwood, but the seven glaciers reference points to Crow Glacier, Raven Glacier, Eagle Glacier, Clear Glacier, Goat Glacier, Milk Glacier and Alyeska Glacier. Alyeska Resort's flightseeing page mentions other glaciers that are also within a relative short distance of Girdwood.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Health Insurance Data

Question: Where can I find data on the cost for private sector employees to purchase health/medical insurance in Alaska?
Answer: The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services compiles data on private sector health insurance costs at the State level. You can access the data at Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. Here, you can find total premium costs by state per private sector employee, the average employee contribution, and many other data elements. Try clicking "Summary Data Tables" in the left navigation bar under "Data and Statistics," then scroll to the bottom of the page and choose "State and Metro Area Tables." You can limit the tables you’d like to retrieve by year, table “series,” table “subseries,” and keywords. Choosing the subseries "Premiums/Contributions/Enrollments" will retrieve tables identifying premium costs.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Auto and Small Engine Repair

Question: My car keeps breaking down, and I don’t want to keep taking it to the mechanic. Do you know where I can find information on automotive repair? Also, I could have sworn that my snowmobile was working last winter; do you have anything for that too?

Answer: Why yes, yes we do. If you're an Alaska resident, the Digital Pipeline has the resources you’re asking about. Under “Resources A-Z” are the Auto Repair Reference Center and the Small Engine Repair Reference Center.

From the main page of the Auto Repair Reference Center you can find problems with your specific car, including recalls. They also have guides for general car troubleshooting, care and repair, and auto IQ. The auto IQ section is especially helpful for those of us who don’t entirely know where everything is located, or what a part actually does.

The Small Engine Repair Reference Center works similarly. Select the type of small engine you need information on (snowmobile, snow thrower, tractor, etc), then narrow it down by make and model.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Redistributing Federal Documents

Question: There is a federal bill that I’m interested in, and I want to share it with my colleagues through email and a listserv. Where can I find a copy that I can send around without worrying about copyright issues?

Answer: We’ve already talked a bit about the wonderfulness of the Library of Congress’s THOMAS, where you can search for individual bills by bill number, text, or sponsor. But did you know they offered full-text of each available bill?

Once you've found the bill you need, THOMAS will send you on to the Government Printing Office, where you can download a pdf of the bill. Since these are published by the federal government, they fall under public domain and you can distribute them to your heart’s desire.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Alaskan songs

Question: Could you help me find the lyrics and a recording for Aleut Lullaby and O'er the Tundra?

Answer: It looks like these songs can be found in the book:

CACHE OF SONGS FOR ALASKA. Delaware, Ohio. Cooperative Recreation Service, Inc., 1959. 80 p. (Includes words and music for several Alaska songs: Alaska's Flag; Aleut Lullaby; Song of the North; Alaska, My Alaska; Home on the Snow; O'er the Tundra; Our Alaska; Kusehani; Spirit of Alaska.).

According to our finding aid, we have this songbook in our Historical Collections, MS075, but it cannot be checked out. You can contact our Historical Collections directly with any questions at or 907-465-2925. It looks like the book is also available through some used book dealers.

I haven't found any CDs with both of these songs. I have found An Aleut Lullaby as a CD or download, but I don't know if it's the same song as Aleut Lullaby. I didn't find any recordings of O'er the Tundra, but have found some of She'll Be Coming O'er the Tundra. Again, I don't know if this refers to the same song or not. For either of these titles, trying putting the song title in quotes in your favorite internet search engine to find purchasing options.

Good luck in learning about Alaska's musical heritage!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Earthquakes in Alaska

Question: I live in Alaska, and am worried about the ground exploding and things falling on my head. Where can I find information about fault lines and earthquakes in Alaska?

Answer: Not to worry! We have you covered.

The Alaska Earthquake Information Center has plenty of information about our earthquakes, including a list of notable earthquakes and a preparedness guide.

Inside the section titled “Earthquake Info” are maps showing the location Alaska’s fault lines, shown as red lines.
Fault lines are also shown in their FAQ page

If you’d like to see where the most recent earthquakes happened, they have an often updated map showing activity for the past few days.

For additional information about earthquakes, visit the U.S. Geological Survey’s earthquake page:

Friday, July 16, 2010

Language learning online

Question: Do you offer any foreign language courses that I can take on my own?

Answer: We offer foreign language resources in a variety of formats. Some are available to all, either through the State Library directly or through interlibrary loan:
  • Books
  • Tapes
  • CDs
  • Playaways (preloaded digital players)
We also have some online materials that are available to Alaska State Library patrons (including all employees of the State of Alaska) and those of our partner libraries. These include:
If you think that you should be eligible to use any of these materials, but are having difficulty finding, accessing, or using the resources, please contact us at the Alaska State Library.

Friday, July 9, 2010

US Fish & Fisheries Commission Annual Reports

Question: I am interested in researching the annual reports from the Commission of Fish and Fisheries from 1880 through the 1890's. According to the records of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, NARA has them in microfiche. How can I get the information for my research?

Answer: In this case, you will not need the microfiche because the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has posted the annual reports of the United States Fish and Fisheries Commission (AKA United States Fish Commission) online at These reports cover the date range of 1871 - 1979 with some gaps in between. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to open the PDF files.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Any green thumbs?

Question: I would like to know what causes the leaves to fall off the Oriental Lily. My plant is losing leaves every day and will have no more leaves to drop.

Answer: Generally speaking, the Cooperative Extension Service is a great resource for help caring for plants given your local conditions. In Alaska, they offer an Ask an Expert service covering a variety of subjects, including gardening. See:

However, I didn't find any information on this topic already published on their website. From what I've seen on other sites, Oriental Lilies normally die back once they've bloomed, so losing leaves may be a normal part of the plant cycle. There are many free sites available that provide a wealth of information on caring for Oriental Lilies. I recommend using your favorite internet search engine with the terms: <"oriental lily"> and and . For example, with Google type in:
"oriental lily" plants care

If you want to avoid commercial sites, with loads of advertising, try limiting the search to educational or governmental sites by adding either site:edu or site:gov or to your search.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Library services in Alaska

Question: I'll be moving to Alaska soon and the area I'm moving to doesn't have library services. Is there a way I can access library services through the state library, and if so, how?

Answer: Alaska has a mail services, or regional services, program for residents with no local public libraries. This program is administered through the Juneau Public Libraries. For more information about the program and to apply, see

Friday, May 28, 2010

Finding Congressional activity

Question: How do I find what occurred in the US Congress on September 11, 2001?

Answer: One method is to use Thomas from the Library of Congress. Click on:
  1. "Congressional Record", currently on the left hand side of the page, then
  2. "Browse Daily Issues", currently to the right of "Search the Congressional Record", then
  3. "107" for the daily listing of the 107th Congress. We know that this is the correct Congress because the years 2001-2002 are listed at the top.
You will find September 11, 2001, towards the bottom of the page with links to the floor activity in the House, extensions on remarks made in congress, and a digest summary of the day's activities. There doesn't seem to have been any floor activity in the Senate on that day, but if there were, that would have been listed too.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Question: What was the population of Aniak in 1950? What was the population of Juneau in 1960?

Answer: Alaska's Department of Labor and Workforce Development offers some U.S. Census reports and data for Alaska for 1900 through 1990 at Here is a direct link to the 1960 report, which includes some of the 1950 data as well: Table 8 lists cities and towns in alphabetical order, and there, you fill find 1950 and 1960 population data for Aniak and Juneau. More recent data is available from the U.S. Census Bureau's web site. Try using the population finder at

Friday, May 14, 2010

Finding Old Alaska USGS Reports

Question: Where would I find a copy of Marcus Baker's Geographic Dictionary of Alaska? I think it was published in the early 1900s by the US Geological Survey.

Answer: While this dictionary is available in paper at a number of libraries, including ours, thanks to the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys, you can also find this report online at This is one of many historic USGS reports that have been digitized by the Division. You can search or browse for more of this historic material at

Friday, May 7, 2010

Contacting Social Security

Question: How can I locate the nearest Social Security Office?

Answer: Visit the Social Security Administration website at and go to Contact Us, then Find an Office. Then type in your zip code. You will be given one or more offices near you. Each office entry has local and toll free phone numbers, along with the office address and a map showing the area near the office.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Fifty-Niners

Question: Could provide me with some information on the Alaska 59ers?

Answer: In March of 1959, two months after Alaska became a state, a group of about three dozen people, primarily from the Detroit area, left the lower-48 to homestead in Alaska. They settled along the Susitna River. In the articles that follow they are called the “Detroit 59ers” or simply just the “Fifty-Niners.”

Friday, February 26, 2010

Non-Newtonian Fluids

Question: I am teaching a high school class about non-Newtonian fluids. Could you direct me to some cool facts and experiments on the subject?

Answer: "Interesting Thing of the Day" at provides a background on the discovery and varieties of non-Newtonian fluids . At the bottom you will find a number of useful links. Perhaps the most fun are the YouTube experiment videos. The viscosity chart further clarifies the distinctions between the different types of fluids. Students may be interested in the links to geophysical diagrams and the MIT research group's page on man made and naturally occurring examples.

A step-by-step guide to an easy experiment is found on Instructables at The lesson is directed at elementary kids, but the concept applies to all ages. Non-Newtonian fluid is sometimes referred to as an Oobleck based on Dr. Seuss' book Bartholomew and the Oobleck. This lesson incorporates the book into the experiment.

In addition, videos of reproducible experiments can be found on "" at and "Wonder How To" at

Friday, February 19, 2010

List of Americans Who Have Renounced Citizenship

Question: I would like to see if someone has or has not renounced their US citizenship. I think there is a list published each year. Where are those lists?

Answer: The list is called "Quarterly Publication of Individuals, Who Have Chosen To Expatriate" and is published quarterly by the Internal Revenue Service in the Federal Register.

To view all lists published so far, visit and type in "Quarterly Publication of Individuals, Who Have Chosen To Expatriate" into the search box. The list appears to have been first produced in January 1997. As of this writing, the latest list of individuals was published in November 2009.

You may well wonder why this list of individuals who have sworn off allegiance to the United States is published by the Internal Revenue Service and not by the State Department, especially when it is the State Department that issues the "Certificate of Lost Nationality" that results when a person has gone through the difficult process of renouncing their US Citizenship.

The reason for the IRS handling the list is because the 1996 law (PL 104-191, Title V, Sec 512(a)) was passed in an atmosphere where it was assumed that tax evasion was the number one reason for renouncing one's US citizenship.

If you live in Alaska, you can get a flavor of this climate by visiting the Digital Pipeline at and typing in [renounce citizenship taxes].

Friday, February 12, 2010

Appointed Positions in the Federal Government

Question: Where can I locate information about appointed positions within the federal government, specifically whether or not a nominee for a position is confirmed by the U.S. Senate?

Answer: The Plum Book is freely available online at The November 2008 book is the most current issue and the next printing will be in 2012. The legend provides interpretation for the various appointment codes. The appointments are separated out by agency or other government organization. Within each section, you will find details on the position title, geographic location, name of the incumbent, type of appointment, pay information, tenure and appointment expiration date if there is one. A "PAS" code under type of appointment indicates that the position is nominated by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

To research current nominees and appointments under the President Obama’s administration, the White House posted a database at The “find inside” search box is on the top towards the right. The table lists the person's name, position title, federal agency, and the nomination/confirmation dates. You can change the way the table sorts, download the data or even email it to someone.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Marmot Day

Question: I heard that February 2nd is Marmot Day in Alaska. What's up with that? Don't you like groundhogs?

Answer: February 2, 2010 was the first official Marmot Day in Alaska. February 2nd of each year is designated Marmot Day by ch 57 Session Laws of Alaska 2009. The law states:

* Section 1. AS 44.12 is amended by adding a new section to article 2 to read:

Sec. 44.12.110. Marmot Day. Marmot Day is established on February 2 of each year. The day may be observed by suitable observances and exercises by school programs, the Alaska Zoo, civic groups, and the public.

* Sec. 2.
This Act takes effect immediately under AS 01.10.070(c).

Why the Marmot and not the groundhog? Here is the official sponsor statement by Senator Linda Menard taken from the official bill file:
Sponsor Statement for SB 58

Senate Bill 58, an act establishing February 2nd of each year as Marmot Day, will create a localized, Alaska version of Groundhog Day.

While many people in the Lower 48 spend every February 2nd honoring Punxsutawney Phil, or some other incarnation of the famous groundhog, Alaska residents don’t have the same representation.

The Marmot Day bill (SB 58) solves that, giving school children, public institutions and even adults the opportunity to use a local hire (the marmot) as their symbol.

Marmot Day can be celebrated in myriad ways, from special events at the Alaska Zoo to school celebrations with an educational angle so children can learn more about Alaska’s furry ground squirrel.

Already, the Marmot Day bill has received support from the Alaska Zoo and the Mat-Su Borough School District.

I hope you will also support the Marmot Day bill.

The official bill file also contains letters of support from children, school teachers and others interested in having a local alternative to Groundhog day.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Type 1 Diabetes

Question: I am an Alaskan and I was recently diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Could you send me a few online resources to familiarize me with the disease and the local resources available to me?

Answer: There are numerous resources to assist you in managing diabetes. Here are a few reliable starting points:

State of Alaska, Health and Social Services, Alaska Diabetes Resource Guide.
You will find an extensive list of health care organizations across the state that address various aspects of diabetes. In addition, the guide offers practical advice on nutrition, exercise and children with diabetes.

American Diabetes Association, Living with Diabetes.
This is a great starting page for someone recently diagnosed as it covers what to do first, treatment options and the complications that may arise.

American Diabetes Association, Type 1, Basics.
The web page links you to information on medication, blood glucose control, family care and more.

MedlinePlus, Information and Guides.
From this page you can learn the essentials of managing both Type1 and Type 2 Diabetes and where to find further information.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Alaska Corporate Formation Records

Question: I need a link to certificates of incorporation filed in Alaska.
Answer: It sounds like you are interested in finding the web page through which you can access information about certificates of incorporation or other formation documents filed for corporations or other business entities formed under the laws of the State of Alaska. You can begin your search by navigating to, which is a page on the Division of Corporations, Business, and Professional Licensing’s website. Then select “Search Corporations Database” under "Check Your Entity's Status". Your search results should include some details about matching entities, such as registered agents, dates of creation, and officers and directors. Once you retrieve the more detailed page for an entity, you can use the “Filed Documents” link to access some scanned images of the records the entity filed with the division, such as creation filings or Biennial Reports. Scanned images of these documents are not always available, particularly for earlier time periods.

To order copies of documents filed by an entity, go to There you will also find contact information for the Division of Corporations, Business, and Professional Licensing.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Elizabeth Peratrovich and Alaska's 1945 Anti-Discrimination Act

Question: I am researching Elizabeth Peratrovich and the battle for Civil Rights in Alaska. I am hoping to find information, including a transcript, about Mrs. Peratrovich’s testimony given to the Legislature during its consideration of this Act.

Answer: Transcripts of testimony before the Territorial Legislature generally do not exist. However, pages 536-541 of Haa Kusteeyi Our Culture: Tlingit Life Stories include a possible transcript of the Senate floor debate on what is often referred to as the 1945 Anti-Discrimination Act. The author states the transcript is from "the official Senate Record." We have been unable to verify the transcript text from other sources at the Alaska State Library, such as the Senate Journal, the House Journal and Records of the Alaskan Territorial Legislature (1913-1953). You will find a full description of this book in the list mentioned below.

Other sources about Ms. Peratrovich and her work include:
  • Newspapers that reported on Elizabeth Peratrovich’s testimony - Alaska's Digital Archives includes an image of one such article published in the February 6, 1945, Daily Alaska Empire on page 8, just before the Territorial Legislature passed the Anti-Discrimination Act. You can view the image at You might also try browsing Alaska newspapers published in early February of 1945. If your local library does not have the Alaska newspapers you wish to review, it is welcome to submit an interlibrary loan request for the Alaska State Library's newspapers on microfilm; we loan up to four reels of film to any single library at a time. To identify the newspapers you wish to review, use the Chronologies of Alaska Newspapers by city/town at You might start with the Anchorage Daily Times, Anchorage Daily News, and Daily Alaska Empire (published in Juneau).
  • Books about Ms. Peratrovich – The Alaska State Library holds resources relating to Elizabeth Peratrovich. Some of these publications are included in our list at With the exception of the manuscript collections described in the list, these publications are available online or through interlibrary loan.
  • The Statewide Library Electronic Doorway (SLED) and the Alaska Periodicals Index - Try entering “Elizabeth Peratrovich” in the search box in the upper left hand corner of the SLED home page at
  • The Alaska Periodicals Index - Search for “Elizabeth Peratrovich” as keywords in the Alaska Periodicals Index at Contact your local library for assistance in obtaining articles you identify through this index.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Maps of Alaska State Courts

Question: Where can I find a map that shows all of the State courts in Alaska?

Answer: You can find a PDF version at It is a large PDF file and may take up to a minute to load. It has boundaries of Alaska's judicial districts and lists all State of Alaska trial venues.

You can order your own paper copy of this 34"x24" map for $25 by contacting one of the Alaska Court System's customer service centers:

Customer Service Division
825 W. 4th Avenue
Anchorage, AK 99501

Customer Service Division
101 Lacey St.
Fairbanks, AK 99701