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National Library Week Day 2 – Homework Help #nlw14

This is day 2 of National Library Week. Here in Juneau, the Juneau Public Libraries offer a number of online resources to help students with their homework, including:


Live Homework Help

Your first stop for when you get stumped.  In addition to live tutors, the Student Center, College Center, Adult Education Center and Career Center are full of reliable help resources.

  • Live Tutors available seven days a week from 12 PM (noon) to 2am Alaska Time, other resources available 24/7.
  • Covers math, science, social studies and English, all levels (K-12+ AP) and intro-level college.
  • Real time paper proof-reading/ editing. 
  • Requires Flash on your computer with pop-up blockers turned off.

BrainPop and BrainPopJr

  • The more you know, the more you know!
  • Short videos featuring animated characters help introduce new topics and illustrate complex concepts from Science and Technology to music and more!


Current Events and Special Reports

  • News articles, images, videos and other useful content grouped for convenience under specific topics and themes. From Newsbank.


In addition to these online resources, each of the branches of the Juneau Public Libraries offer study space including meeting rooms that can be reserved for study groups.

If you’ve liked this post or have a library story of your own, share it to your favorite social media site with #nlw14.

Happy National Library Week! Day 1 – Internet Access and Technology #nlw14

This week 4/13- 4/19 is National Library Week. I’m celebrating with daily blog posts about the Juneau Public Libraries (JPL), my local library system. I hope you’ll add your own library stories in comments or on your own blog.

Before I get started, here’s a message from Judy Blume, honorary chair of National Library Week:

One of things that Judy Blume mentioned was internet access. What kind of internet access does JPL have? Let’s check out their internet access page:

The Juneau Public Libraries offers dedicated Internet terminals and wireless networks at all three branches where the public may browse the Internet free of charge upon agreeing to our Internet Terms of Use.  Laptops are available for checkout for in-library use for 1 hour to adult cardholders in good standing.

In addition to the in-library internet terminals, wifi and laptops for checkout, the Juneau Public Libraries also offer these services:


The library provides a variety of audiovisual equipment and media services for library users. Some are available for checkout while others may be used only in the library.

Items available for use within the libraries include:

  • Laptop computers
  • Video conferencing equipment (see Video Conferencing Service below)
  • Document Cameras (COMING SOON)
  • Scanners (Downtown and Douglas).
  • Teleconferencer (Downtown)
  • Photo copiers
  • Typewriters

Items available for check-out to registered adult users include:

  • Photo Slide projectors (Juneau and Valley)
  • Nook (ebook readers)
  • Mp3 players (available upon request)
  • Kill-a-Watt Energy Monitors

There is a $5 per item, per day charge for the use photo slide projectors and teleconferencer. We suggest that you reserve equipment in advance. Call the library nearest you for information.

If you live in Juneau and did not know about these resources, I hope you’ll stop by a branch and check them out. If you’ve liked this post or have a library story of your own, share it to your favorite social media site with #nlw14.


Review: American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon

American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon
American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon by Stephen R. Prothero
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A well researched book on the concept of Jesus in American culture. Starts off with the surprising but documented claim that Colonial America was an unchurched place outside of New England. The various culture reinventions of Jesus were for the purpose of getting more people to believe in Him. This seemed to occur, but at the cost of more and more theology and doctrine.

The first part of the book, called resurrections, focuses on how US Christians reinvented and reinterpreted Jesus within the context of Christianity. Part two, reincarnations, focuses on how American Mormons, some black churches, Jews and Hindus gave the United States Jesus figures entirely divorced from Christianity.

Stephen Prothero is careful not to endorse any particular version of Jesus. He claims throughout the book that he only intends to lay out the various claims made for Jesus by Americans throughout our nation’s history and I think he does a good job of staying even handed.

I think Prothero’s book really explains how the United States can be both a nation where Jesus is an unavoidable national object of veneration and where our national elites have little discernible conduct that can be traced back to the Christ of the Bible. The book also uses historical context to explain why the loudest Christians in our country are far more likely to quote and venerate the Ten Commandments then the Sermon on the Mount.

But enough editorializing, I guess. In addition to a generous bibliography, American Jesus features a six page timeline of Jesus related events in America, over two pages of notes and an index. This book seems like it would be useful for cultural scholars while still being interesting for a general audience.

View all my reviews

Review: The Frozen Toe Guide to Real Alaskan Livin’: Learn How to Survive Moose Attacks, Endless Winters & Life Without Indoor Plumbing

The Frozen Toe Guide to Real Alaskan Livin': Learn How to Survive Moose Attacks, Endless Winters & Life Without Indoor Plumbing
The Frozen Toe Guide to Real Alaskan Livin’: Learn How to Survive Moose Attacks, Endless Winters & Life Without Indoor Plumbing by Brookelyn Bellinger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve lived in Alaska since 1998 and think this was an excellent book. Should be required reading for people thinking about moving hear or who want to take an extended vacation. Great mix of authentic, actionable information along with humorous asides. Interesting stories from the author along with interesting interviews with offbeat characters. When you put it down, you’ll have a feel for why we like it here in Alaska. And you won’t take your partner canoeing. Or be a winter caretaker for an Aleutian cabin. Bonus – book is indexed!

View all my reviews

In Praise of the Juneau Public Libraries

Disclosure: I am a librarian and chair of my local chapter of the Alaska Library Association. But everything below is true.

Attention Juneau People!

I just wanted to put in a plug for our great library system. Last night my wife and I spent several hours at the downtown branch. She was studying for work and I was using the library’s wifi to take an astronomy course from Australia National University. A few weeks ago we both got books. About a month ago, I used the library’s website to download some legal music that helped me get through the day at work. The Juneau Public Libraries have a lot to offer and a lot going on. I find them more of a need than a want. I hope that the CBJ Assembly understand this as they face difficult budget choices ahead.

Why I believe more bad news is coming from Ukraine

Note: This post was drafted on Saturday, 3/22/2014. 

The above map convinces me the Ukraine crisis isn’t over. Russia has now annexed the Crimea. You’ll notice from the map above that Crimea is not directly connected to Russia. If Crimea were an island rather than a peninsula I think its annexation would be the end of the story.

But since it is a peninsula surrounded by Ukraine, it is pretty exposed from the Russian point of view. At some point, they will want a hard link to their new territory. Think if Canada was hostile to the United States and actively seeking support elsewhere. Do you think we’d refrain from seizing British Columbia if we felt that was the only way to hold onto Alaska? Not if we felt Canada was working against our Alaskan interests.

So, in my view the Russians will want a land link to Crimea to consolidate their hold. Ideally they would want to take territory with a natural barrier just in case NATO or other parties were to actually ever come to the defense of Ukraine, something I really doubt will happen. However, looking at the map above, it seems like the only real natural barrier is a series of lakes and rivers that ultimately run straight through Kiev. So it looks like Russia couldn’t have their natural barrier to defending Crimea without taking out the capital of Ukraine. That’s what worries me.

On the other hand, I’ve made any number of dire predictions to my friends that have not come to pass. So I hope I’m wrong. Perhaps Russia will settle for supporting Crimea by sea. Or Ukraine will approve a supply route. Or at worst, the Russians will simply seize the minimum territory needed to assure a road link from Crimea to Russia proper. But I’m doubtful.

Attn Anchorage! Cool stuff at your library this week

Because I know people in the Anchorage area who read this blog, I wanted to share this e-mail I got on a mailing list I belong to. I can’t use it, but you probably can!

Sunday, March 23
Anchorage Board Gamers Group – 1pm – Innovation Lab
Come out and meet Anchorage board game enthusiasts and have some fun!
This is the group in Anchorage for people interested in playing contemporary/modern board games, from people who are new and interested in the hobby to those that don’t mind burning hours on an epic game of Twilight Imperium. As far as we know this is the largest and most established public group in Anchorage meeting up for this purpose and has been going on in some form since November 2011. We play a mix of the modern classics and hot things right off the gaming press.
 Free Movie – 2pm – Wilda Marston Theatre
Listen up Marshmallows!
The most anticipated movie of 2014 (according to MTV Movie Brawl 2014) and it’s not playing in Alaska!?!  I call shenanigans!  Show your Pirate Pride and join us for the Alaska premiere!
Due to copyright restrictions, I am not able to name the title of the film.  I CAN give out a description!  Please remember that this movie is rated PG-13 and may not be appropriate for children. 
Film Description: With her graduation from law school imminent, Veronica is interviewing with prestigious New York law firms when she gets a call from ex-boyfriend, Logan, who has been accused of murder. Veronica returns to Neptune to help Logan find a good defense attorney, but when she becomes suspicious of the way Logan’s case is being handled, she finds herself being pulled back into a life she thought she had left behind: that of an amateur sleuth.
Please e-mail mcgourtysa@muni.org for the title. 
Monday, March 24
       25th Anniversary of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill – 6pm – Wilda Marston Theatre
       Join the Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill.  This presentation will focus on the improvements in oil spill prevention and response in the Prince William Sound since 1989.
Tuesday, March 25
        Maker Night – 6pm – Innovation Lab
Maker Nights are nights where the 4th floor of the library becomes an invention lab.  You will have the opportunity to collaborate with makers with all backgrounds!  All skill levels are welcome. 
Sponsored by: Anchorage Maker Space and Anchorage Public Library
Wednesday, March 26
        Let’s Talk Anchorage: Doing Democracy – 6pm – Ann Stevens Room
Doing Democracy is a collaboration between Let’s Talk Anchorage, the Anchorage Public Library and Alaska Common Ground. Please join the community conversation about how we do democracy. What are the responsibilities of citizens, and what information do we need to make decisions?
Join facilitators from Let’s Talk Anchorage as we engage in a deliberative dialog and democratic process around important issues facing Alaskans. 
Friday, March 28
        Lunch and Learn with the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra 12pm Public Conference Room Also Available Via OWL
        Please join Maestro Randy Fleischer for an informal noontime discussion of Anchorage Symphony’s Classic Concert “Electric Nights”.  This concert features Tracy Silverman on the electric violin. 
Saturday, March 29
        TEDxAnchorage – 2pm – Wilda Marston Theatre
Intermission: 4-5pm in the Innovation Lab on Level 4
Grand finale: Loussac Luminescence – A Dragon’s Tale (performance light show)
More info at: https://www.facebook.com/TEDxAnchorage
TEDxAnchorage is the local spinoff of the nationally-acclaimed TED talks: Ideas worth spreading. The event features a series of talks and videos by inspiring individuals who will share BIG ideas on the theme of “Community Reimagined: Harnessing the Power of Fun!” This year’s speakers have stories about overcoming difficult problems, using non-traditional and fun methods.
TEDxAnchorage speakers are some of Anchorage’s leading thinkers and innovators. This year we are fortunate to have two out-of-state guests Stella Grizont and Drew Dudley. Stella is the founder of WOOPAAH, a company that creates immersive play experiences for people at work to feel happier, more creative, and connected. Some of her clients include Google, Columbia University, and New York City’s Department of Transportation. Drew’s TEDxToronto talk featured on TED.com has received over a million views. The live talks will be mixed with videos of popular TED talks on our theme from around the world.
Here’s hoping you can make one or more of these events this week.

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