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 on the governor's website. 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 to Z listing of SLED databases. 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 (Constituent Services Request web form). 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 in the governor's news room. 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.
Proclaiming April 2015 as Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
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.
Alaska Statutes from 2014 on the Library shelf
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 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.

Update: The Library has discontinued the Table of Contents service. If you'd like to receive notifications when this or other journals publish new issues, visit our TOC guide. 4/27/2018 

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.

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.

Animal Stories
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.

So, How Long Have You Been Native?
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.

A Wolf Called Romeo
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.

Dreaming Bears
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.

In the Kingdom of Ice
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.