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By DANELLE LANDIS
Daily News Staff Writer
University of Alaska Southeast Ketchikan campus librarians have a simple message they want to send to the community: “Welcome!”
Library Staffing Manager Kathy Bolling and Library Assistant Shellie Tabb gave the Daily News a tour of the library on Nov. 7. Not in the library that morning was Kathleen Wiechelman, a retired UAS Ketchikan librarian who works as an adjunct and is responsible for collection development.
In a glass case at the library’s entrance was a display of historic telegrams, crockery, news articles and photos.
Bolling said she’d created the display in preparation for an “Ask UAS” talk by Assistant Professor of History John Radzilowski, about the Japanese Alaskans who were sent to internment camps during World War II.
Bolling said she created the display to show how Ketchikan residents were affected by the internment of its Japanese residents.
“The interesting thing about the historical documents is that it was really clear how people were treated depending on if you were a Japanese woman married to a white man or it was different than if you were a Japanese man married to a Native woman, or whether you lived in a city or a village, or if you had ‘half-breed’ children,” Bolling said. “It wasn’t that long ago,” she added.
She said that the library offers free access to State Library Electronic Doorway, or SLED, which offers a broad research database for visitors to access documents like those in the display, which are held by the Alaska State Library and Historical Collections.
“One thing we’re happy to do, is help Ketchikan residents find these sources online,” Bolling said.
According to library information, the campus library staff also provides assistance in locating facts, refining research strategies, focusing topics and selecting appropriate databases or other resources. The staff also offers library tours and course-specific library instruction sessions.
“So, we encourage people to come in,” Bolling added. “There’s coffee, you can get a cup. We have public access computers. The public is welcome to come up and use them for an hour at a time.”
There also is a TV with a VCR tape player in the bottom, if people want to watch movies or programs in an older format.
Another useful feature about the Ketchikan library system, Bolling said, is that the public — not just UAS students — can check out materials from the UAS library with their Ketchikan library card.
It’s worth the trip up the hill to the 7th Avenue UAS library, according to Bolling, because its collection is different than the Ketchikan Public Library’s.
“Our areas of history, literature, Alaska Native cultures are really strong,” she said.
Tabb added, “Our art collection is pretty strong too, and also biology and plant identification guides — we’ve got a good collection of those as well.”
The library also offers a variety of newspapers and other periodicals that varies from the city’s library, including the Chronicle of Higher Education and The Claremont Review of Books.
Bolling said that when community members use the public access computers, they are signed in as though they were UAS students.
“And that gives the huge advantage of having access to databases that the university pays for, so it’s really helpful,” Bolling said.
She explained that the beauty of academic databases is that they’ve been “refereed,” and peer reviewed, so people can feel confident that the articles and documents they research are scholarly and accurate.
Another advantage to using the UAS databases, Tabb said, is that many articles which would only be accessible by paying a fee are free through the University’s system.
“Members of the public are welcome to come up and take advantage of that,” Bolling said.
Bolling showed off their magazines displayed on the walls near the reading corner where soft couches face tall, bright windows that overlook the Tongass Narrows. A broad coffee table invites readers to rest a cup of coffee.
“We also have a selections of periodicals that don’t overlap too much with the public library,” Bolling said. “The Economist, a number of academic journals — that frankly are expensive — and really belong in an academic library.”
She pointed out the breadth of the selections, from Macleans — a Canadian News magazine — to poetry journals and political magazines such as The National Review.
According to the library’s brochure, the facility offers nearly more than 30,000 print volumes, 60 journals, as well at about 100,000 electronics resources, mostly in e-books.
“We do have people who come up here just — it’s not their work, they don’t have to answer their phone — there’s no distractions,” Bolling said.
Bolling explained an advantage the UAS library has over the public library for such users.
“It’s quieter than the public library, because the public library handles hundreds of people a day,” Bolling said.
Tabb said visitors also can bring their own computers or electronic devices, and with no codes or fees, “sit down, connect to the WiFi and they’re good to go.”
Bolling also mentioned the benefits of the “Ask UAS” talks — such as Radzilowski’s presentation — that the library regularly hosts, or a recent Ask UAS talk by UAF Marine Advisory Faculty Gary Freitag about seaweed farming.
“People can come up and have access to these professors who are talking about fields that they are passionate about,” Bolling said.
Displayed on the far walls behind the main book stacks are enlarged, framed photos from the Tongass Historical Museum, depicting Ketchikan in its early days. Tucked against the wall under the photos are sturdy wooden desktops.
“Those are actually made out of the spruce out of the old Waterfront Storage,” Bolling said, adding that they are popular spots for students to study.
Bolling said that although the stacks where the books are shelved are posted with a directory of where topics can be found, visitors can even more easily find things by asking one of the librarians. The campus library uses the Library of Congress shelving system, which can be a little confusing to patrons who are not familiar with it.
“We pretty much know where to find anything,” Bolling said.
“There’s not too much overlap with what is in the collection at the public library,” Bolling added, “so people come up and say, ‘Oh my gosh, I wish I had known! This is like a hidden gem.’”