Where can you find old photos of earthquake damage? Listen to Informania, Monday at 9am or Thursday at 5pm, on KRUA, 88.1FM to find out from Arlene Schmuland, Head of Archives and Special Collections.

During this week’s Informania interview, Arlene Schmuland, Head of Archives and Special Collections (ASC) at the Consortium Library talked about the Archives collection of photos, diaries, letters, film, artifacts, and University of Alaska Anchorage and Alaska Pacific University (APU) theses and dissertations housed at the Consortium Library.  Photographs, historic papers and film are preserved in special boxes to prevent light damage, and placed in a special vault to environmentally support the longevity of these items through constant, facilities-regulated temperature and humidity.

The UAA and APU theses and dissertations are browsable as a complete historic collection in Archives.  By next year, UAA theses and dissertations will only be submitted and available electronically.  UAA and APU students, staff and faculty can search dissertations/theses through Proquest Dissertations and Theses Full Text.

Where is the Archives and Special Collections Department, and how can you access their collection?

Archives and Special Collections is on the third floor of the Consortium Library, in Room 305, basically across the hall from the entrance to the elevators. Their hours are 10am-4pm, Monday through Friday, or by appointment.  You can reach Archives faculty by phone at 907-786-1849, or by email.  You can find their mailing address and other information at Location, Hours and Reference.

Can the community view Alaskan archival resources online?

Many historical images, texts and moving pictures are available online.  The Alaska Digital Archives, which includes more than 60,000 images (pictures, scans of texts (letters, diaries, etc.), maps, and moving images) from Alaskan history.  It originated with contributions from the Alaska State Library, University of Alaska Fairbanks, and the University of Alaska Anchorage scanning images and documents with a focus on Alaska Native History and Culture, and Alaska’s Movement to Statehood.  You can find images of the Alaskan Gold Rush and the development of the Alaskan Highway in this database as part of the movement to statehood.

What is the current project in Archives?  A 1964 Earthquake Portal!

Currently, Arlene is overseeing a special grant-funded project in the Archives and Special Collections Department that will benefit those interested in exploring Alaska’s 1964 earthquake.  As part of this project, a librarian in Archives is busy at work scanning and creating meta-data (identifying, searchable descriptions of what or who is included in the old photographs or documents being scanned) so that these images and documents can be found and accessed online.  This online earthquake portal is expected to “go live” in about a month (April 2013?).  The goal is to create this resource in time for the 50th anniversary of the 1964 earthquake in 2014.  Thank you to the Alaska State Library grant and to the Archives and Special Collections team for providing this access!

Alaskan historical donations, any one?

Arlene emphasized the fact that they are open to all historical collections of photos and papers from Alaskan history.  In addition to simply being old family photos or videos to you, they can be resources that capture important moments in Alaskan history.  For example, a woman who donated a film collection to Archives, realized that it included an image of the End of the Road sign on the Seward Highway that was posted by Girdwood.  That image hadn’t been available in the Archives and Special Collections before receiving this contribution.  Do you have an old box of photos that present a part of Alaskan history?

Who uses Archives?

The national and international community contact Archives regularly.  With the growing number of Alaskan reality TV shows, Archives is called upon more frequently for historic images, film footage, and information.  Also, researchers looking for pictures of ancestors sometimes find them in Archives.  Community members often discover items in the Archives collection while searching Google.  The Archive’s finding aids (descriptions) of the donated collections of historic pictures and documents are searchable using Google.  One man was able to find pictures of his grandfather from World War II thanks to the detail in the description of a photo collection donated to the Consortium Library’s Archives and Special Collections.

The Archives and Special Collections Department additionally serves students and other university researchers.  Arlene will check the schedule of upcoming course offerings, and contact appropriate professors to alert them of resources that may support their curriculum, or tell them about resources that may engage their students in primary source research.  One example of students using Archives for their assignment included students finding and comparing pictures of the Portage Glacier taken during many different years, to demonstrate how the glacier is receeding.

What about film and artifacts?

On occasion, Archives will receive donations that include artifacts (things).  For example, they have an old dog sled that they keep on display.  They also have a turning signal from a car that was crushed during the Alaska earthquake.  The majority of artifacts that they receive are referred to a museum, since that facility would more likely have the space and conditions for storing artifacts.

The Archives includes some historic film footage provided through donations, but a larger historic video collection is available at the Consortium Library thanks to their neighbor, the Alaska Moving Image Preservation Association (AMIPA).  AMIPA is located on the third floor, within the doors of the Archives and Special Collections Department.  Videos in their collection include, but are not limited to, historic Iditerod race footage, copies of Jay Hammond’s Alaska, and film footage from old UAA classes.

What songs were played on Informania?

Information by Dredg was played at the beginning of this radio show, and Photograph by Nickelback was played at the end.