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LitSite Lives and Laura Bush Welcomes You (from the Anchorage Daily News)

Lead Editorial Aug. 16, 2003

Visitors to LitSite Alaska, the Web site founded and directed by University of Alaska Anchorage professor Ronald Spatz, are now greeted by First Lady Laura Bush.

"What a great place to meet you!" Mrs. Bush says in a letter reproduced on the site. "I am delighted that you and I are getting together on LitSite Alaska, an outstanding Web community for families, teachers and Alaskans of all ages."

Mrs. Bush, a school librarian before her marriage, uses her position to promote education, particularly reading among the young. She calls the site "fascinating reading" and urges young readers "to write and donate your own work to make LitSite Alaska even more interesting."

The site is worthy of Mrs. Bush's support. In operation for nearly three years now, it offers stories about family life, Native traditions and the place of reading and writing in the lives of Alaskans. Mrs. Bush's praise should be echoed by everyone concerned with the site's goal of "promoting literacy, cultural diversity and well-being throughout Alaska."

LitSite Alaska is just one of Professor Spatz's contributions to reading and writing in Alaska. In addition to his duties at the university, he is founder and editor of the Alaska Quarterly Review, a journal of national reputation, and the driving force behind the UAA-Anchorage Daily News Creative Writing Contest, which celebrated its 22nd birthday this year.

The site, which has been featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education and Education World, promises to get better. The university says Microsoft donated services to design an expansion of LitSite, which will add a new learning center, information on a wide range of cultural and artistic activities and a section on narrative as a healing tool.

Take a look at LitSite Alaska. All too often, the Internet is nothing more than a bazaar for the trashy and trivial. LitSite is evidence that it can be much more than that.

Reprinted with permission of the Anchorage Daily News.

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