Saturday, October 1, 2016

Alaska Book Week is October 1-8, 2016

Pages of an open book curled into the spine to make a heart
We love Alaska books, so naturally, we love Alaska Book Week, a statewide celebration of Alaska's authors and books, created in 2011 by 49 Writers. Here are a few Alaska books that I enjoyed this year. (Note: Image links will take you to publishers' websites. Text links will take you to the book's record in Alaska's Joint Library Catalog. Other formats may be available.)

Wealth Woman
Published by University of Alaska Press, 2016.
Wealth Woman: Kate Carmack and the Klondike Race for Gold, by Deb Vanasse, is a biography of Kate Carmack, once the richest woman in the Klondike. Kate, born Shaaw Tlàa, was a Tagish woman and wife of George Carmack, who may or may not have discovered the gold at Bonanza Creek, but certainly reaped its riches. Although much of Kate Carmack's life is a mystery, Vanasse's extensive research about the lives of women and Natives who have largely been excluded from the historical record provide a new perspective on the Klondike gold rush. I run through Klondike country every year, and this book made me think about the land and its history in a new way.

Heroes of the Frontier
Published by Alfred A. Knopf, 2016.
Heroes of the Frontier, Dave Eggers' newest novel, is the blockbuster Alaska book of the year, due to Eggers' considerable star power. It tells the story of Josie, a down-on-her-luck dentist from Ohio who is running from her demons with her two young children in tow. Setting out in a dilapidated RV with a vague plan to visit her "sister" Sam in Homer, Josie, Paul, and Ana encounter wildfires, wild animals, and genuine Alaskan characters while looking for meaning in their own lives.

Swallowed by the great land
Published by Mountaineers Books, 2015.
I may have been the last person in Alaska to read Ordinary Wolves by Seth Kantner, but I finally picked it up this year, then went on to read his newest nonfiction work, Swallowed by the Great Land. Ordinary Wolves is a much-recommended novel that follows the childhood and young adulthood of Cutuk, a white boy growing up in a sod house in remote Alaska, desperately wishing to be a great Inupiaq hunter. I find Kantner's nonfiction work to be equally if not more compelling than his fiction, but any of his books will give you a sense of life in the far north, further off the grid than most people can even imagine.

Future Arctic
Published by Island Press, 2015.
I picked up Future Arctic: Field Notes from a World on the Edge by Edward Struzik last fall, and found it accessible and informative. Drawing from 30 years studying the Arctic in Alaska and Canada, Struzik explores the Arctic from natural, political, and cultural perspectives. At a slim 199 pages, Future Arctic is a great introduction to the current state of the top of the world and the way that climate change has affected this vulnerable region.

To the bright edge of the world
Published by Little, Brown and Company, 2016.
I just started To the Bright Edge of the World, Eowyn Ivey's long awaited second book. Her debut novel Snow Child was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for fiction and book club staple since it was published in 2012, so I know I'm not alone in eagerly awaiting this next one. Last year I enjoyed Hampton Sides' In the Kingdom of Ice, so I'm liking the expedition diary format of Bright Edge so far.

What's your favorite Alaska book of the year?
Alaska Book Week, october 1-8, 2016,

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

How many people lived in Juneau during the peak of the gold rush?

This information is pulled together for easy access in Census Alaska: Number of Inhabitants, 1792-1970, compiled by Alden Rollins in 1978.

Assuming that the height of the gold rush in Juneau was about 1915, I’ve provided figures from the 1910 and 1920 censuses.

  • State: 64,356 (this was the largest number between 1880 and 1930) 
    • First Judicial District (Southeast Alaska): 15,216 
      • Juneau District: 5,854 
        • Auke village: 218 
        • Douglas town (incorporated): 1,722 
        • Juneau town (incorporated): 1,644 
        • Killisnoo village: 351 
        • Treadwell town (incorporated): 1,222 
Juneau town was a little bigger in 1900 (1,864), but all of the other locations in the Juneau District were quite a bit smaller.

  • State: 55,036 
    • First Judicial District: 17,402 
        • Juneau District: 5,893 This was broken out a little differently, and may possibly include more area, as I didn’t notice Angoon or Thane on the 1910 census. 
          • Angoon village: 114 
          • Auke village: not listed 
          • Douglas town: 919 
          • Juneau town: 3,058 
          • Killisnoo village: 256 
          • Treadwell village: 325 
          • Thane village: 421 
Although the source book cannot be checked out, feel free to contact us for a lookup if you're interested in a different date or area of Alaska.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

First Folio at the APK

We were so honored to be Alaska's host site for the national traveling exhibition First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare, on tour from the Folger Shakespeare Library. The exhibit opened on July 26 and closed on August 24.
The exhibition featured an original First Folio, the first edition of Shakespeare's collected works, printed in 1623. Photo by MaryLou Gerbi.

The First Folio exhibit was different from our usual fare of Alaska history, and some visitors were surprised to find the nearly 400-year old treasure here in Juneau. One visitor remarked, "Last summer we were in London and didn't see a First Folio. This year we're in Alaska and we find one here!" It's been fun to hear about peoples' encounters with Shakespeare, from those who remember memorizing the To Be Or Not To Be speech in high school to people who have acted in Shakespeare's plays. One fifth-grade Shakespeare fan showed up wearing The Tragedie of Hamlet printed on her pants!
Enrique Bravo performs the To Be Or Not To Be speech from Hamlet with Theatre in the Rough on August 12, 2016.

The First Folio exhibit has been a wonderful way for us to connect with our community in our new facility. We had four weeks of diverse programming, including art and theater workshops for kids, performances in our beautiful atrium, and school visits by several brave teachers, who brought their classes during the first week of school! We shared lectures via the Online With Libraries videoconferencing system, thanks to a little bit of ingenuity from our IT wizard and the OWL support team at UAF.
Participants in Shakespeare's costumes & crafts youth activity, led by guest artist Valerie Snyder of BrownBoots Costume Co., show off their creations.

If you read a part in the Theatre in the Rough dramatic readings, led a workshop or gave a lecture, or came by to enjoy the exhibit, thank you for making this incredible opportunity so fantastic. And thank you to the generosity of the project sponsors and the fearlessness of the Folger Shakespeare Library in sending their intrepid First Folios out into the world.  

First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare, on tour from the Folger Shakespeare Library, is made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and by the support of, Vinton and Sigrid Cerf, the British Council, Stuart and Mimi Rose, and other generous donors. It is produced in association with the American Library Association and the Cincinnati Museum Center.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Book Cart Repairs (Or, The Aftermath of a Library Move)

During our move, we damaged several of our brand new book carts. We purchased a style that our cataloger specially requested for use after the move, so we were disappointed that the carts had held up so poorly to the wear of moving.
Bent casters on the carts made them unstable and unsafe for use.

Fortunately, since they were new, the vendor was very helpful in providing us with the tools to repair them. They sent us new casters and new caster sleeves (the plastic inserts that go into the legs of the carts), and a caster sleeve removal tool.
Round and square caster sleeves and a caster sleeve removal tool
The handle on the caster sleeve removal tool slides up and down, giving you some leverage for extracting broken caster sleeves.

When I removed the casters using a pry bar, I discovered that the stems were severely bent and needed to be replaced. On the most damaged casters, the plastic sleeves were also cracked, so I removed them using the caster sleeve removal tool. It wasn't clear to me exactly how to use it, but our Deputy Director came by and gave a demonstration. I wish I'd been quick enough to record a video of it. You screw it into the sleeve just like a corkscrew and then the handle slides up and down, allowing you to work out the broken sleeve. It made an enormous racket in our work room, so I recommend it for working out some aggression.
One of the bent caster stems.

We had one older cart with square legs that needed some re-shaping. It had been overloaded previously and collapsed, causing the metal to stretch. My colleague used the side of the pry bar and a mallet to coax it back into shape. Then I hammered in the new caster sleeves with a rubber mallet, and pounded in the new casters using the mallet and a screwdriver to get the right angle without hammering on the wheel. The manufacturer said that it's important to make sure that the casters are fully seated in the legs before using the cart.
The leg of a damaged cart was stretched out of shape.
The new caster sleeve wouldn't fit into this socket, so it needed to be hammered back into a square shape.

Although they're not as good as new, all the carts that were damaged during the move are back in service in the new Library. The manufacturer noted that fully loaded carts should be moved with care over door thresholds and uneven ground to prevent this kind of damage. If your library is planning a move, care for your book carts by making the terrain they need to travel as smooth as possible.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Public Art in the Andrew P. Kashevaroff State Library, Archives, and Museum

There's a lot to see at the Andrew P. Kashevaroff State Library, Archives, and Museum, including both familiar and brand new public art. Nimbus, newly repainted and brilliant green against the dark purple of the building, is glorious and unapologetic in the courtyard. Just inside the doors, the giant map of Alaska, Canada, and Russia inlaid into the terrazzo floor immediately grabs your attention, as does the towering eagle tree exhibit.
Nimbus, the sculpture people love to hate, returns to its place of honor in front of the building.

Walter Gordinier's cast glass pieces are interspersed throughout the interior of the building and outside on the grounds, which is just the way Gordinier likes it. "The art needs to move in concert with the structure, from out to in, from floor to wall, from seating to glass and back again," he writes in his artist statement. He created three interior pieces, Trilogy, the large glass columns in the front of the Library's Reading Room, Glacial Pond in the atrium, and Story Bars, which adorn the glass banisters along the second floor and the mezzanine. Outside, Gordinier's work is visible in Pivot Plaza and near the walkways. They accent the plaza and provide a backdrop for the outdoor venue, which will kick things off with dance parties every Friday this summer.
The center pillar of Trilogy, back lit by the sun coming in the windows.
Glacial Pond floats between the first and second floors.
A close-up of Glacial Pond shows the different colors, textures, and layers.
Each of the Story Bars is unique. Some let in lots of light and others are nearly opaque.
A section of Pivot Plaza including Scrims, Passages, and one of the Axis Discs.

Many visitors have already enjoyed woodworker and former Juneauite Martin Shelton's contribution to the building, possibly without even realizing it. His Inside Passage benches are all different, just like the trees out of which they are made. "One of the things I strive for as an artist is to make my furniture both approachable and functional, this includes making it inviting both to the eye and the body," Shelton stated.
Shelton's benches line the atrium, providing visitors with a place to enjoy the view and rest their legs.
The benches incorporate the natural features of the wood, like this split that goes straight through the bench.

In the library area on the second floor, Ketchikan artist Evon Zerbetz's massive glass mural, We Are Written in the Layers of the Earth, provides a stunning dividing wall between the Richard Foster Reading Room and the Research Center. The mural features three human "mark makers" along with numerous Alaskan plants and animals. Zerbetz created the design using one-fifth sized linocuts, then worked with German company Derix Glasstudio to fabricate the piece and add the colors and textures.
From the Research Center, daylight from the windows along the front of the building makes the mural glow.
On the Reading Room side, the images continue down onto the wood panels below.
All of the public art in the APK State Library, Archives, and Museum is meant to make our new space welcoming, comfortable, and enjoyable for our visitors. We are constantly finding new things to love about our building and we hope you will too.

The three installations featured in this post were selected by the the SLAM project Percent for Art advisory committee. Since the Percent for Art law was passed in 1975, Alaska has employed artists and benefited from the cultural, social, and economic value of public art. The program is overseen by the Alaska State Council on the Arts.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Make summer plans with SLAM

Summer is just around the corner and that means fishing, camping, hiking, and traveling, but we've also got 10 ideas for great things to do with SLAM this summer.

10. Join us for the Grand Opening of the Father Andrew P. Kashevaroff State Library, Archives, and Museum on June 6, 2016. This community celebration is an opportunity for us to welcome Juneauites and visitors to the new facility, and we can't wait to share it with you.
Father Andrew P. Kashevaroff State Library, Archives, and Museum Dedication and Ribbon Cutting. June 6, 2016, Juneau, Alaska. An Alaskan project 116 years in the making.

9. If you just can't wait for June 6 or are looking for some VIP treatment, then get your tickets for the Friends of the State Library, Archives, and Museum special preview on Saturday, June 4, 5:30-8:30. There will be live music, delicious hors d'ouevres, and a no host bar, and a rare opportunity to go behind the scenes. Tickets are $75 for Friends members and $100 for non-members. For more information, visit the Friends website. Tickets are on sale now from JAHC and both locations of Hearthside Books.
Front of the Father Andrew P. Kashevaroff State Library, Archives, and Museum surrounded by a construction fence.
The construction fence came down this week, so people can enjoy walking through the grounds. The Friends special preview will be the first chance to get inside.

8. Participate in summer reading at your local library. If you have young children, help prevent summer slide by reading, learning, and creating with free activities at the library. If you're child-free, many public libraries are now offering adult summer reading programs, where you can win great prizes, join book groups, and expand your reading interests.

7. Take a tour of the new permanent exhibits in the Alaska State Museum, on your own or guided by one of the Museum's volunteer docents. All the exhibits have been completely re-imagined, updated, and expanded with the help of community curators from around the state. You'll find artifacts that you've never seen before, as well as familiar favorites, and make new connections across cultures.

6. Come dance your heart out at a Rock Around the Block Party! Every Friday from June 10 through August 26, there will be live music and dancing on our Pivot Plaza next to Nimbus, and delicious eats at the food trucks on the JACC lawn from 5:00 to 7:30 pm.
Rock Around the Block Party, APK Plaza/JACC
Image courtesy of the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council

5. Enjoy the summer's temporary show, "Living Alaska," a 10-year retrospective of contemporary artwork by Alaskan artists purchased by museums with funds from Rasmuson Foundation, on tour from the Anchorage Museum. Read the rave review in Alaska Dispatch News.

4. Research Alaskan history in the new, combined Historical Collections and Archives Research Center. For the first time, researchers can visit one location to delve into territorial records, historical photos, maps, and manuscripts.
Looking for information about the Iditarod? You can read telegrams from the Archives, look at photos from the Historical Collections, or browse a 1925 newspaper on microfilm.

3. Relax in the new Richard Foster Reading Room, where you can enjoy an unbeatable view, read an Alaskan newspaper or magazine, or study on your own. We'll have wi-fi, public computers, and plenty of outlets, where you can plug in, recharge, and relax.
One of the views from the Reading Room looks back on our old home in the State Office Building, but others look down the Channel, toward Mount Juneau, or over the Willoughby district.

2. Eat lunch in our atrium while observing the eagles in the new Eagle Tree exhibit, getting lost in Walter Gordinier's Glacial Ponding glasswork, or sitting on Martin Shelton's exquisite wood benches.

1. Brush up your Shakespeare during First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare, on tour from the Folger Shakespeare Library. We are Alaska's host site for this national traveling exhibit, which will be on display from July 26 through August 24, and we'll have tons of great lectures, activities, and events for Shakespeare fans of all ages.
An original First Folio of Shakespeare's works, printed in 1623, will be on display for four weeks in our new building.

It's going to be a great summer! Hope to see you at SLAM.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

How to move a library: Books

The Alaska State Library is one of many Alaskan libraries that have moved to new digs in the past few years. To name a few, Sitka Public Library (formerly Kettleson), Cordova Library, Seward Community Library & Museum, Nome's Kegoayah Kozga Library, Talkeetna Library, and Juneau Public Library's Valley location all have new buildings.

We're fortunate that we're not moving very far. Our old and new locations are only a few blocks apart, but it's still too far to hand carry all the books or even for a book brigade, like this one used in Cordova. Video posted by Cordova Telephone Cooperative.

Every library move has different requirements and should use a moving method best suited to the collections, staff, and equipment of that library. Our collections move team, led by Public Services Librarian Katie Fearer, decided to move our book, periodical, and media collections on book carts. We already had more than 30 carts and were able to borrow six more from Juneau Public Libraries. The cart system allowed us to keep our materials on the shelves until the move actually started, which was important since we closed our doors on Friday, April 15, and started moving Monday, April 18.
Full, wrapped carts waiting to be loaded onto the truck for transport to the new building. Photo by Ginny Jacobs.

Our staff and volunteers were split into three teams, one unshelving in the old building, one shelving in the new building, and one managing the traffic flow, which meant directing movers, operating the freight elevators, and communicating between the teams. This arrangement allowed staff to do all of the handling of books and other collections. Two movers wrapped the carts with pallet wrap, pushed the full carts from the old library into the truck and from the truck to the new Reading Room.
State Librarian Linda Thibodeau and Library Assistant Ginny Jacobs unshelve books in the old building. Photo by Amy Carney.

We did have a few mishaps, which informed us how to fine-tune our systems. A couple of times the books fell off a cart in transit, which meant that they had to be carefully reordered before going on the shelf. One small cart had a catastrophic caster failure where the wheel cracked in half. Two brand new carts ended up with bent casters, which will need to be replaced before they can be safely used again. But overall, we were thrilled with how well the process worked and were able to move our collections in half the time we originally scheduled.
According to the manufacturer, casters may be damaged, like this one, when moved over door thresholds with under heavy loads. These casters will be replaced before being used in the Library.

We can't wait to show off our beautiful new Reading Room after the Father Andrew P. Kashevaroff State Library, Archives, and Museum opens on June 6. We hope to see you there, browsing an Alaskan newspaper, doing research from our microfilm, or just enjoying the view.
The view from our new home to our old one through one of many large windows in the Richard Foster Reading Room.

Finally, a huge thanks to Juneau Public Libraries for sharing their expertise, staff, and book carts with us! We're so lucky to have such a fantastic library community here in Juneau.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Save the date for our grand opening, June 6, 2016!

The Father Andrew P. Kashevaroff State Library, Archives, and Museum will celebrate its grand opening on June 6, 2016. After years of planning, developing, and moving, we are so excited to reopen as an integrated facility in our beautiful new building.
SLAM pictured on April 7, 2016. Just two more months until we're open to the public!

June 6 is a significant day for us and for Alaska. On June 6, 1900, U.S. Congress passed the Alaska Bill or Alaska Civil Code, a massive piece of legislation that created a civil government for Alaska. The Alaska Bill became Chapter 786 of Session 1 of the 56th Congress. It created three judicial districts, based in Juneau, Saint Michaels, and Eagle City. It outlined the powers of the governor, which included everything from appointing the notary public to managing the sealing industry to leading the militia. It set taxes, moved the capital from Sitka to Juneau, and established the district historical library and museum.
ALASKA BILL HAS PASSED. Daily Alaska Dispatch, June 12, 1900.

The original district historical library and museum was funded by fees paid by lawyers admitted to the bar and by commission fees for notaries, which were both ten dollars. The library and museum was charged with collecting and maintaining "copies of all laws relating to the district, and all papers and periodicals published within the district, and such other matter of historical interest...The collection shall also embrace such curios relating to aborigines and the settlers as may be by the governor deemed of historical importance."

Father Andrew P. Kashevaroff in front of the Alaska Historical Museum.
Father Andrew P. Kashevaroff was the first dedicated curator and librarian of the Alaska Historical Library and Museum. He was appointed by Governor Thomas Riggs and led the institution from 1919 until his death in 1940. Alaska State Library Historical Collections, PCA 243-3-007.
When Alaska became a territory in 1912, the district historical library and museum became the territorial library and museum, and eventually the Alaska State Historical Library and Alaska State Museum. The Information Services section of the Alaska State Library was added in 1955 to support research in the territory and the Alaska State Archives was created in 1970. All the entities joined together as the Division of Libraries, Archives, and Museums in 1991, and 2016 will be the first time that we will be together in one facility.

Please join us in celebrating the beginning of the next chapter for the Alaska State Library, Archives, and Museum. We look forward to seeing you on our 116th birthday, June 6, 2016!
Save the Date June 6, 2016

Monday, March 7, 2016

Alaska State Archives releases Iditarod collection

The Alaska State Archives recently posted a collection of records of Territorial Governor Scott C. Bone relating to the 1925 serum run to Nome, which served as the inspiration for today's Iditarod sled dog race.
Governor Scott C. Bone, 10th Governor of the Territory of Alaska, 1921-1925. Alaska State Library Historical Collections, PCA 274-3-1.

The story of the serum run is well-known throughout Alaska. Diphtheria hit the isolated town of Nome during the coldest part of winter, sparking an epidemic that killed five people and had the potential to infect the region. The area's lone doctor, Curtis Welch, sent out telegrams pleading for fresh supplies of the diphtheria antitoxin. Bad winter weather discouraged the use of planes, so the serum was delivered by sled dog relay, running the 674 miles from Nenana to Nome in a record 5 days, 7 hours. Gunnar Kaasen and his lead dog, Balto, ran the last leg, bringing the serum into Nome on February 2, 1925.
Gunnar Kasson [Kaasen] & Balto in their race to Nome. Alaska State Library Historical Collections Portrait File.

Archivist Zach Jones writes, "These records consist of the original correspondence files of Territorial Gov. Scott C. Bone, whose telegrams and correspondence provide day-by-day documentation of the 1925 Serum Run and those who participated." The urgency of the correspondence is palpable in the terse telegrams and one can only imagine the helplessness that Gov. Bone must have felt trying to aid his constituents from far-away Juneau.
Telegram from Nome, January 27, 1925, requesting that the dog team continue beyond Ruby until meeting the next team. "OUR TEAM LEAVING NOME TODAY WITH LEONARD [Leonhard] SEPPALA SWEEPSTAKES RACE WINNER DRIVING LIGHT." Alaska State Archives SR726-VS243

Primary source records like these add a rich dimension to the story of the Iditarod. Although improvements in transportation and information technology have made Alaska seem like a smaller place, the challenges of providing access to health care, resources, and information to its far corners persist today.

Learn more:

Friday, February 26, 2016

How to move a library: Microforms

Now that it's 2016, our move is just around the corner. The Alaska State Library's Information Services section will be the last of our Division to move into the Father Andrew P. Kashevaroff State Library, Archives, and Museum. The latest word is that we will start moving in mid-April, and the facility should be ready to open by mid-May.
The APK building looking great on February 24, 2016. The only things missing from the front of the building are the doors, which are plywood.

Right now, we're preparing all of our microfilm and microfiche cabinets for refurbishing. We'll use them in the new building, but they need to be emptied so they can get cleaned, touched up, and painted. We will pack all the film and fiche in boxes and store them on pallets until moving time, so some of our microforms will be inaccessible for a few months. The Alaska newspaper microfilm, our most-used microform collection, will be the last packed and the first unpacked.
Library assistant Ginny Jacobs transfers a row of microfiche from drawer to box.

If the microfiche got out of order, it would be a major headache. To minimize the risk of a fiche-catastrophe, we ordered specially-sized boxes that fit one row of fiche. An additional benefit to this method is that one of these boxes is about as heavy as our staff would want to heft around. Each box is 6 inches tall and 6 inches wide, in three different lengths (16, 22, and 28 inches) to accommodate our varying cabinet sizes. Since fiche is about 5x6 inches, there's an inch of space at the top. That inch of air causes some concern that the boxes might crush during transport. We've arranged them like Lincoln Logs on the pallet for maximum stability, and will report back when we find out how it goes.
This pallet of microfiche is stacked, wrapped, labeled, and ready for moving. Although it looks like a small pallet-load, it is surprisingly heavy!

For microfilm, we are less concerned with interfiling, since the reels are in boxes. All of our cabinets are approximately the same length, so we ordered 28x12x6 inch boxes to accommodate three rows of microfilm. Although the drawers are five rows across, boxes for five rows would have been unwieldy and expensive. We've packed all of our federal and national newspaper microfilm, and it worked like a dream.

We purchased these boxes from ULINE, which has an impressive selection of sizes and shapes. All of the boxes we picked are top-loading, to make packing and unpacking easy. We considered modifying regular file boxes, like the AAA ones frequently used for moving offices, but found that it wouldn't save us money and would greatly slow down the packing process.

In other move news, we've selected locations for some of the notable features from our State Office Building location. The large relief map of Alaska that is hanging behind the Library's reference desk will be relocated to the OWL room in the new facility. The Rie Muñoz mural above the microfilm readers will move to the second floor atrium, near the Division's administration offices. Visitors will still be able to enjoy these favorites in their new home.
This relief map has been popular with Library visitors for years. It will be on view in the new Library and will make a great backdrop for OWL videoconferences.

Friday, January 22, 2016

New resource for Alaska territorial vital records

After three years, thousands of hours, and millions of images, the Alaska territorial vital records are now available online through a partnership between the Alaska State Archives and

The Alaska, Vital Records, 1816-1959 collection includes birth, marriage, death, and probate records from Alaska's territorial days. If you've ever used, then you'll be comfortable searching for your Alaskan ancestor, limiting the type of records you want, and viewing images of the original records.

To try it out, I searched for Andrew Kashevaroff, first curator and librarian of the Alaska Territorial Museum and Library. I found his death certificate from April 3, 1940. The search tool is user-friendly, and I can find this result even if I search for variants on his name like "Kashevarof" or "Kashevarov".
A portion of Andrew Petrovich Kashevaroff's death certificate.
This record alone would be a huge find for a genealogist. It includes a wealth of information, including his birthplace, his parents' names and birthplaces, his occupation, place and cause of death, place and date of burial, and names of his living children and other relatives.

I noticed that Kashevaroff was buried in Juneau, which took me to the Evergreen Cemetery map. Searching it showed where Kashevaroff is buried in the cemetery, but there was a discrepancy between the death record and the cemetery record. The death record says he died on April 3, and the cemetery website says he died on April 6.
Screenshot from the Evergreen Cemetery online map
Using the Evergreen Cemetery map, I could easily find Kashevaroff's grave to see what's actually printed on the headstone.

The headstone of Kashevaroff's grave shows that he died on April 3, 1940, not April 6. One possible explanation is that the cemetery recorded the burial date, since that would have been when his body came to the cemetery. This slight discrepancy highlights the importance of primary source material like the vital records from the Alaska State Archives.
Next, I looked for Kashevaroff's obituary in the Daily Alaska Empire newspaper microfilm for early April 1940. This was published in the April 3 issue.
Kashevaroff passes after 76 years as resident of Alaska
Clicking on this image will open a larger image.
As any genealogist or researcher knows, the research process can be long and winding, branching out in many directions and doubling back. I'm thrilled that in the past three months, we've gained three incredible tools, including the Evergreen Cemetery map and Betty Miller's Vital Records that make Juneau history research easier. If you'd like guidance on using any of these resources, we're happy to help.

Read more:

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Reading resolutions for 2016

If your New Year's resolutions include reading more books in 2016, your library can help make that happen. Whether you want to fill your nightstand with cozy mysteries, heart-pounding thrillers, scholarly biographies, or business manifestos, there are great free tools out there for you.
Dog wearing glasses reading a book
Resolved to read more this year? Get recommendations, read reviews, and download e-books from your library.

NoveList: All Alaskans have access to NoveList, a popular database for finding books based on genre, mood, setting, and many more options. I like to use NoveList before I travel to find books that take place in that locale. Last summer I visited Newfoundland, and enjoyed reading The Shipping News by Annie Proulx and Sweetland by Michael Crummey, which I discovered on NoveList. As the database's name suggests, its focus is on fiction.

Goodreads: Last week, people were chatting about how they did on their 2015 Goodreads Challenge, where users set reading goals for the year, ranging from reading a handful of books to hundreds. This year's challenge is off and running. With a free Goodreads account, you can track the books you read, connect with friends, and find new books based on your reading preferences. It's like a social network for readers. And it'll help you keep track of which Jack Reacher novels you've already read.

E-books and audiobooks: I'll be honest - I was a late convert to e-books and audiobooks, but having books with me wherever I go has increased my reading. Waiting in line at the DMV? Read an e-book. Washing dishes? Listen to an audiobook. If you have a library card from one of the dozens of participating libraries on Alaska Digital Library (formerly ListenAlaska Plus), you can get e-books and audiobooks on your computer or device. If you live in a community with no public library, you can access Alaska Digital Library with a card from statewide mail services.
A busy DMV lobby filled with people waiting.
E-books and audiobooks can make a long wait at the DMV go faster. Photo: Gabriel White via Flickr, CC-BY-SA.

Review alerts: Since I work at the Alaska State Library, staying up-to-date with Alaskana helps me do my job. One tool I find really handy is an information alert that sends me an email whenever a book review that references Alaska or the Arctic is added to the EBSCO databases. If you'd like to create an alert like this on any topic, you can contact us for assistance.

Ask us! When people find out I'm a librarian, they assume that I spend all day reading books, usually while sipping tea and petting a cat. In reality, my professional life is filled with research requests, databases, and programming planning. But I enjoy reading and talking about books, and most of my colleagues do too. So ask your favorite librarian to recommend some titles for you!
Artwork of a woman with two cats drinking tea and reading a book.
Contrary to popular belief, this is not my job. But I can recommend a book for you to enjoy while drinking tea and petting your cats! Image by Valeriane Duvivier.