Book Bonanza

Book Bonanza has been discontinued due to lack of funding.

bk bonanza logo

AkASL Book Bonanza

How will new books help

your library?

Tell your story and WIN!

Entry Form PDF RTF

Book Bonanza Flyer PDF DOC

See guidelines and criteria below.

Supported by Alaska library associations and

Barnes and Noble.


“How new books will make a difference to kids in my library…”

Deadline April 1, 2014


Enter the 2014 competition to build your book collection!

Purpose: AKASL believes this valuable collection development program provides an excellent way to empower librarians and schools to choose the books they need for their libraries.AkASL, with donations from generous people/organizations, will offer book credits for new books to the libraries that demonstrate the greatest need through an essay entitled “How new books will make a difference to kids in my library.”Applicants should address why new books for children and/or young adults are needed in their institution and their community and how the new titles will better help them serve young people.


Each application will be judged by a committee from AkASL. The judges will be looking for the degree of need in the library and in the community, the characteristics of the library population, the average age of the existing library collection, the clarity and effectiveness of the statement and the potential for improvement of service to library users.


  1. Applicants or their institution must be a member of the Alaska Association of School Librarians (AkASL) and/or the Alaska Library Association (AkLA).
  2. Essays must be no more than three double-spaced typed pages and accompanied by an entry form (available at the AkASL website). Entry form PDF  RTF
  3. All applications must be postmarked by April 1, 2014. Send the typed the essay with an entry form to:Jacque E. Peterson, Alaska State Library
    344 West Third Avenue, Suite 125
    Anchorage, AK 99501   (907) 269-6580 (fax)
  4. The winner will be announced in late fall of 2014.
  5. Prizes will be credits or books from Alaska bookstores.
  6. Questions? Call or e-mail Jacque at
    (907) 269-6571
    (907) 269-6580 (fax)
    (800) 776-6566

“Win new books for kids!”


The Book Bonanza was the brainchild of Charlotte Glover, former AkLA President. As her term was ending in the fall of 1998, she asked the AkLA Board for some seed money to start an essay contest intended to help purchase new children’s books for school and public libraries. Having talked to librarians around the state, Charlotte knew that very few libraries in Alaska had any significant money for children’s books and she wanted to find a way to help.

In fall 2006, upon Charlotte’s request, AkASL voted to take over the management of the Book Bonanza Award program.


Award Amounts:
Award amounts for the Book Bonanza vary each year depending on donations.

  • 2012 Winners:  Turnagain Elementary School Library (1st place/$1500), Howard Valentine School Library (2nd place/$1000), and Esther Greenwald Library (3rd place/$750).
  • 2011 Winners:  Koliganek School (1st place) and Craig Elementary/Middle School (2nd place).
  • 2010 Trudy McMullen from Airport Heights Elementary
  • 2009 1st place
    Barnes and Noble gift card to McLaughlin School Library – Susan Kucera school librarian. 2nd place $1250 Barnes and Noble gift card Tok School Library – Candice Jacobs school librarian
  • In 2008 a total of $3500 was awarded to Book Bonanza winners. Winners were presented with Barnes and Noble gift cards that allowed them to maximize their buying with the addition of a 20% educator’s discount.
  • Due to the sudden closure of Cook Inlet Books the Book Bonanza awards process changed in 2007. Winners received a total of $3000 in books and/or book cards. Some books were pre-selected from Cook Inlet Books the day before they closed their doors, and the remainder of the awards came from Barnes & Noble and other generous donations.
  • For 2005 and 2006 the award amounts were $1200, $800, and $400.
  • In 2002 the AkLA Board voted to donate $600 to the contest and the chapters contributed a very generous $800, giving the fund a prize worth $1800 in retail books when you factor in the Cook Inlet Book Company discount of 25%.
  • In 2000, $1000 was raised and a partnership formed with Cook Inlet Book Company.
  • In 1999 , $800 was raised and books were purchased through Baker & Taylor.
  • In 1998, The AkLA Board gave $200 for the award and that amount was doubled with help from the AkLA chapters and Sue Engen of Follet, the award’s first sponsor.

Previous Recipients

THANKS TO 2008 CONTRIBUTORS: AKASL, AKLA, AkLA-Anchorage Chapter, AkLA-Kenai Chapter, Sue Sherif. The 2008 Book Bonanza could not have survived without the very generous support of Barnes & Noble and their Anchorage store.

  • 2008- First Place Pitkas Point, $1500; Second Prize (tie) Craig Elementary School: East Elementary School (Kodiak) $1000.
  • 2007- First PlaceKlukwan Community Library, $2700; Second Prize (Tie) Trapper Creek School: Kaleidoscope School of the Arts Library (Kenai), $1800.
  • 2006- Darla Grediagin, White Mountain School, Bering Strait School District $1200Laura Beck, Seward Middle School and Seward High School $800
    Paula Bowlby and Holly Selle, Airport Heights Elementary School Libary $400
  • 2005- LouAnn Gagne, YaaKoosge’ Daakahidi Alternative HS, Juneau $1200
    Susan Kucera, McLaughlin Secondary School, Anchorage $800
    Linda Maurer, Craig Elementary School Library in Craig, Alaska $400
  • 2004-Christine O’Connor, Dillingham Public Library $1000Janie Young, Klatt Elementary School, Anchorage $800
  • 2003- Heidi Titus, Copper Valley Community Library, Glennallen, Ak $1000
    Debi Rubera, Anthony A. Andrews School, St. Michael Alaska $800
  • 2002- Sharon Van Valin, Portage Creek School, Portage $1000
    Jon Clouse, Chief Ivan Blunka School, New Stuyahok, Ak $800
  • 2001- Jerri Nagaruk, Elim Community Library, Elim
  • 2000- Tiki Levinson, South Naknek School Library, Naknek
  • 1999- Savannah Lewis, Susan B. English School Library, Seldovia
  • Sample Essay:

by LouAnn Gagne of YaaKoosge’ Daakahidi Alternative High School in Juneau, Alaska:

How New Books For Kids Will Make a Difference in My Library

In the Juneau public school system, there are six elementary schools, two middle schools, one high school and the alternative high school Yakoosge’ Daakahidi (hereafter, “YaKoos”) with a total school population of approximately 1800 students for grades 9-12.

A bright well lit multi-storied facility with a beautiful stained glass window, the main library is a welcoming place for the onsite students at JDHS. A vital part of school life, the facility is full of students from early in the morning until the librarian closes it at the end of her day. The facility has a print collection of 27,000 volumes, with a reference section of 450 volumes, 56 computers and a student use rate of 800 daily. . One librarian and two library aides serve the 1800 students in the main campus JDHS library, but have little opportunity for contact with the at risk population of YaKoos.


YaKoos is in a separate facility three blocks from the main school building. The name is a Tlingit Indian name which means “House of Knowledge.” It is a cobbled-together school on the second story of a commercial building. There are four classrooms, ten computers, and no type of central library or reference section available for use. The reference materials are provided by the individual teachers and are woefully inadequate and outdated.


The population of YaKoos is 80-95 “at risk” students. The program is designed to help young adults meet the requirements of high school graduation in a small supportive setting separate from the main high school. The mission is successful academic progress toward graduation, work readiness, and social skills. Students between ages 16 and 21 who have dropped out or are risk of dropping out make up the population. These students are not allowed on the main JDHS campus during school hours or at lunch.


There is an extremely high drop out rate in Juneau, especially among the Native kids. About a third of Juneau’s freshmen eventually leave school without a diploma, according to district statistics. About half of JDHS graduates don’t go on to further education, surveys have shown. “It’s likely that an even greater percentage of YaKoos kids don’t,” says Laurie Scandling, YaKoos’ new principal.” Many of them move into independence and parenthood rather quickly after high school.”


YaKoos is one of the last stopping spots before kids receive a GED or drop out entirely. Students come to YaKoos for a variety of reasons, including hating large schools, needing quick credits, wanting a schedule that lets them work or care for their children, and requiring personal attention from teachers. Some students don’t live with their families anymore; some have their own families. A few don’t really have a home except friends’ couches. Many of these children will not go onto college. One can project that they will be more likely to live on the edge of poverty. Having the confidence to use library materials is a very much needed quality in order to use some of the resources of our society.


However, YaKoos’ classrooms aren’t hooked up for cable television. Computers are old and unreliable. Textbooks in some subjects are lacking. Few calculators are capable of advanced work. There are no science labs, vocational shops or art rooms, or an on-site reference section. The kids are being harmed by the lack of training in the necessary skill of using a library and the sources within that. The quality of their school work suffers because they do not have access to recent information and in-depth reference materials that could help them with projects and reports.


This lack of information literacy can harm a person’s opportunities for life, too, not just during schooling. “Within America’s information society, there also exists the potential of addressing many long-standing social and economic inequities. To reap such benefits, people—as individuals and as a nation—must be information literate. To be information literate, a person must be able to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information….. Ultimately, information literate people are those who have learned how to learn. They know how to learn because they know how knowledge is organized, how to find information and how to use information in such a way that others can learn from them. They are people prepared for lifelong learning, because they can always find the information needed for any task or decision at hand.”


While the library at the main campus serves the main student body well, the students at YaKoos need to have either a pass or a teacher or volunteer escort to use the on-campus library. For a quick reference question this is often considered to be an inappropriate use of teacher/staff or volunteer time, and so such requests must often be denied. The kids also resent the fact that they have to be escorted so they are less than eager to ask to go over to the library because they are resent being “babysat.” When asked about using the library in the main building, a common response was,” They hate me there.” Whether true or not, whether the child is actually even known, the perception of hate and rejection is enough to deter the child from seeking library aid.


Here’s a description in a Yakoos kid’s own voice: “My school is lacking in supplies such as math books, the computers are slow and there really is no reason to work on them if they just break down or jam up. I am also outraged at the fact that nobody knows anything about my school. All they know is that a bunch of ‘slacker’ kids go to that school or only the ‘druggies.’ I don’t think people understand this is the last resort for kids to get their diplomas! They could always go get their GEDs, but which do you think is better?”


To be limited to books which are often outdated and to not have a ready access to the library hurts the children because “school libraries are actively engaged as learning instructional centers to develop intellectual scaffolds for students and to help them engage with information meaningfully to construct their own understanding of the topic they’re [studying.]”


“A substantial body of research since 1990 shows a positive relationship between school libraries and student achievement. The research shows that school libraries can have a positive impact on student achievement—whether such achievement is measured in terms of reading scores, literacy, or learning more generally. A school library that is adequately staffed, resourced, and funded can lead to higher student achievement regardless of the socio-economic or educational levels of the community.” There needs to be a place where the unaffiliated person can get the same quality of information as do large wealthy corporations or the university scholar.


Yakoos is a wonderful place where the kids are enabled to finish their education in a supportive atmosphere. YaKoos creates a learning environment which honors the child for staying in the school system and gives each a chance to regain self esteem and to be a productive and successful student. If these kids learn how to find information that is pertinent to their lives they will continue the empowerment that YaKoos has begun. But their inability to use the main campus facilities – to drop into the library to do a quick reference check or to do a longer more intensive research job on any projects – is a major drawback. It needs to be fixed. My plan is simple: build a small reference section at the YaKoos site. I see this being a bookshelf (donated) in the computer corner with a small selection of essential reference books. Attached is a wish list of reference books that would be considered for inclusion should YaKoos receive the award.


There is a lot of talk these days about no child being left behind. Yet daily, the YaKoos kids in Juneau are being left behind. They are dealing with real life problems—up to a third of them are either pregnant or have children, some are homeless, many are angry. They have trouble reading, they have trouble writing, and they have trouble with math. They get in trouble with the law. Sometimes they kill themselves.


It seems, in the face of all of this, a small gesture to focus on reference books for these kids, but change has to start somewhere. We can’t let the intractability of many of their problems get in the way of addressing their discrete concrete needs. They want to learn or they wouldn’t still be in school. They just need the basic tools to work with.


In the case of the kids at YaKoos, one discrete concrete need is for an onsite reference library. Libraries are in the broadest sense the backbone of student activities, and information literacy is the backbone of a person’s ability to negotiate the challenges and opportunities of life.


The reference section I propose to add to the alternative high school will do more than allow a better report to be written. It will show the kids at YaKoos that they are important enough that society is willing to give them the information literacy tools they need in order to succeed throughout their lives.



  • Juneau Empire
  • King, Geraldine (1985) Reference Service in the Small Library
  • Administration and Management Association American Library Association
  • Whelan, Debra Lau(2004) 13,000 kids can’t be wrong School Library (2) 1-6
  • Research Foundation Paper Scholastic Library Publishing, School Libraries Do Work (2004)