Monday, February 11, 2013

Joan Braddock: An open letter to writers and readers of Alaska

We face a critical time at the University of Alaska Press.

An essential portion of our financial support in the past six years has been year-to-year money from a foundation account at the university. This funding is no longer available. A permanent allocation of funds would provide sustainable funding for UA Press. UA President Gamble is very supportive of the Press and he chose, for the first time ever, to include a $200k request for UA Press in this year's operating request to the legislature.

I cannot emphasize enough that this funding is critical to the survival of the Press. It is typical for small university presses to receive up to 50% of their income as institutional support. Book sales typically do not support scholarly presses since we publish many books that are not primarily for the mass market. Funding this request will bring our institutional support to 40% and allow us to plan for a sustainable future.

We face a significant challenge in getting this request through the approval process. As a start, it is not necessarily clear to many people exactly what the value of the Press is. I believe that as one of the few publishing options in the state, we are critical to preserving the literature, history and cultures of Alaska and the North.

UA Press:

·        Preserves the distinctiveness of northern cultures.
·        Provides a venue for Alaska authors.
·        Gives a voice to minority cultures and perspectives. (In the past five years, nearly 20 percent of our books included an Alaska Native author.)
·        Enriches undergraduate and graduate education.
·        Extends the reach of the University of Alaska.
·        Connects to the community by publishing books of local interest.
·        Provides opportunities for students interested in publishing careers.
Although this FY14 operating budget request was included in the UA Board of Regents request to the Governor, it was not put into the Governor’s budget. Right now, the House Finance Committee is focusing only on what was included in the Governor’s budget. However, because the UA Press increment was included in the Regents’ request, it is ‘fair game’ to advocate for support, and I strongly encourage you to do so now. 

If legislators, and particularly the House and Senate Finance Committee members, do not hear from constituents, it is highly unlikely this operating budget request will be funded. You can make a difference in the outcome here by participating as an advocate and supporter and submitting a letter to your own legislators as well as all members of the House and Senate Finance Committees. (Members listed at the end of this post.)

The first hurdle in the legislative process is the House Finance Committee. This would be an opportune time to begin sending letters of support to the members. They are meeting between now and late February.

You can also help by contacting any legislators you know personally, and by testifying before the House Finance Committee later this month (

Thank you so much for your active support of this very important budget request.

Joan Braddock
Director, University of Alaska Press

House Finance Committee members: 
Representatives Alan Austerman and Bill Stoltze (co-chairs), Mia Costello, Bryce Edgmon, Lindsey Holmes, Cathy Munoz, Mark Neuman, Steve Thompson, Tammie Wilson, David Guttenberg and Les Gara.

Senate Finance Committee members:
Senators Pete Kelly and Kevin Meyer (co-chairs), Anna Fairclough, Mike Dunleavy, Donny Olson, Click Bishop and Lyman Hoffman

Email addresses follow the formula: 
Representative (or Senator).First Name.Last


Anonymous said...


Thank you for reaching out to the Alaska writers and reader community with such an important and critical call to action. The University of Alaska Press has stood firmly through the ups and downs of university press publishing and given voice to authors from across Alaska (and other northern regions.)

It is time us Alaskans make our voices heard on behalf of the University of Alaska Press.

Andromeda Romano-Lax said...

Thanks for informing us about this. I was very excited to see that U of AK Press was moving steadily into publishing fiction this year and am excited by so many forthcoming titles. As readers of this blog know, AK writers keep emerging and growing as a diverse and talented group, with some real breakouts in the last decade, despite downturns in publishing generally. We need a press to support lit about and by Alaskans.