Sitka is the 6th largest port by value of seafood harvest in the United States. International trade is relatively minor, with total exports and imports valued at $474,000 and $146,000, respectively, in 2005 by the American Association of Port Authorities. The port has the largest harbor system in Alaska with 1,347 permanent slips.
During Russian rule, Sitka was a busy seaport on the west coast of North America, mentioned a number of times by Dana in his popular account of an 1834 sailing voyage Two Years Before the Mast. After transfer of Alaska to U.S. rule, the Pacific Coast Steamship Company began tourist cruises to Sitka in 1884. By 1890, Sitka was receiving 5,000 tourist passengers a year.
The Sitka School District runs several schools in Sitka, including Sitka High School and Pacific High School, as well as the town's only middle school, Blatchley Middle School. They also run a home school assistance program through Terry's Learning Center.
Mt. Edgecumbe High School, a State of Alaska-run boarding high school for rural, primarily Native, students, is located on Japonski Island adjacent to University of Alaska Southeast.
Two private schools are available in Sitka: Sitka Adventist School, and The SEER School.
Kettleson Memorial Library is the public library for Sitka. It receives about 100,000 guests annually and houses a collection of 75,000 books, audiobooks, music recordings, reference resources, videos (DVD and VHS) as well as an assortment of Alaskan and national periodicals. Its annual circulation is 133,000. The library is well known by visitors for its view. The large windows in front of the reading area look south across Eastern Channel towards the Pyramids.
Until its closing, Sitka was also home to Stratton Library, the academic library of Sheldon Jackson College.
Sitka is served by the Daily Sitka Sentinel, one of the remaining few independently-owned daily newspapers in the state. Sitka also receives circulation of the Capital City Weekly a weekly regional newspaper based out of Juneau.
Alaska's first newspaper following the Alaska purchase, the Sitka Times, was published by Barney O. Ragan on September 19, 1868. Only four issues were published that year, as Ragan cited a lack of resources available at the time. The paper resumed publishing the following year as the Alaska Times. In 1870, it moved to Seattle, where the year following it was renamed the Seattle Times (not to be confused with the modern-day newspaper of the same name).