NEWS_Sealaska Heritage’s library grows with donation of Northwest Coast art books

NEWS_Sealaska Heritage’s library grows with donation of Northwest Coast art books

Posted By:
Kathy Dye
Kathy Dye
Published On: December 22nd, 2020

Collection gifted to SHI by Washington state resident

July 21, 2020

(About SHI’s Library)

A Seattle resident has donated a collection of books on Northwest Coast (NWC) art to the Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) library.

Lesley Jacobs, who studied NWC art under the formline design scholar Bill Holm, gave more than 20 books to SHI for the benefit of art students.

Any duplicates of books already in SHI’s library will be stored at Gajaa Hít for carvers who take classes there with the institute’s Donald Gregory, a Tlingit art teacher.

The donor chose SHI because the books will be used by aspiring artists.

“What struck me about Sealaska Heritage is that the institute has so much passion for teaching and engaging with the community,” Jacobs said. “It seemed like a perfect fit to find a place that would allow the books to be used by many.”

The gift comes on the heels of another donation by a retired anthropologist who gave his entire collection of books and research materials on the Northwest Coast, Sub-Arctic and Arctic culture areas to SHI earlier this month.

“Our research library in a short period of time has evolved to include an important collection of works,” said SHI President Rosita Worl. “Our goal is to increase scholarship on Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures, and the Sealaska Heritage library, with the help of these donors, will certainly help to achieve that.”

Jacobs studied NWC art in the 1980s for a year under Holm, who was a family neighbor at the time and may be best known for his indispensable book Northwest Coast Indian Art: An Analysis of Form, which was first published in 1962 and continues to be a staple in NWC art classes today. Jacobs’ father, the late Frank Jacobs, was a woodworker who later studied NWC art and amassed a small library of books on the topic. After Frank Jacobs’ passed away, Lesley Jacobs decided to donate the books to an institution where they would be used.

Staff is currently cataloging both collections, which will be made available to the public. 

About SHI’s Library

The Sealaska Heritage library houses more than 4,000 historical and contemporary books and periodicals on Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian culture, history and language.  These books include the works of scientists and scholars in art, history, anthropology, ethnology, archaeology, and social and natural sciences, as well as historical and descriptive accounts and observations by explorers, missionaries, travelers and naturalists.  The collection includes historical and contemporary educational publications, curriculum materials and language texts and translations.  SHI houses many rare and out-of-print books, trade books and publications by university presses and museums.  While the collection focuses on the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian peoples of Southeast Alaska, historical and contemporary publications on other peoples of the Northwest Coast in Canada and the United States are also collected and maintained.  Furthermore, the institute gathers together important publications related to salient social and cultural issues facing Alaska’s Natives and Native Americans in the continental United States.

Patrons may search our library online. SHI’s books and archival collections are cataloged in OCLC WorldCat, the Capital Cities Library Information Center catalog, and the Anchorage Consortium library catalog.  Member libraries of the CCLIC include the Alaska State Library, University of Alaska Southeast’s Egan Library, and the three branches of the Juneau Public Libraries.  The Anchorage consortium library catalog showcases our library’s holdings to all libraries in the Anchorage area and those located outside of Anchorage via the University of Alaska Anchorage/Alaska Pacific University extension campus libraries in places like Kodiak, Kenai, and Eagle River. 

Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private nonprofit founded in 1980 to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska. Its goal is to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding through public services and events. SHI also conducts social scientific and public policy research that promotes Alaska Native arts, cultures, history and education statewide. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars, a Native Artist Committee and a Southeast Regional Language Committee.

CONTACT: Amy Fletcher, SHI Media and Publications Director,; 907.586.9116

Photo: SHI Media Intern and Northwest Coast art student Mikayla Mitchell perusing some of the books donated to the institute by Lesley Jacobs. Photo by Brian Wallace, courtesy of Sealaska Heritage Institute. For a high-resolution image, contact

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