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Time to pick your favorite WTBBL ‘Jewel’

by Brian Zylstra | October 6th, 2015 4:02 pm | No Comments

One of the most beloved services of our Washington State Library is the Washington Talking Book & Braille Library in Seattle. We’ve featured three interesting WTBBL-related items for our September “Library Jewels” blog series, and now it’s time for you, our dear blog reader, to choose your favorite.

Just go to the online poll below to vote. You have until this Friday at 5 p.m. to select your fave.

WTBBL’s “turntable” room

WTBBL’s “turntable” room

WTBBL’s Pratt sculpture


WTBBL’s Ray Charles connection


What is your favorite September Library Jewel?

  • WTBBL's Ray Charles connection (48%)
  • WTBBL's "turntable" room (37%)
  • WTBBL's Pratt sculpture (15%)

Total Voters: 67

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Library Jewel #3: WTBBL’s Ray Charles connection


(Photo courtesy of Washington Talking Book & Braille Library)

During its long history, the Washington Talking Book & Braille Library in Seattle has had thousands of patrons. In fact, a handwritten ledger kept track of WTBBL patrons registered from 1919 to 1984.

One name will grab your attention once you know his stage name. On page 54 (above) is a 1949 entry for a braille borrower who would go on to stardom. Ray C. Robinson, later known as the famous singer Ray Charles, lived in Seattle’s Central District from 1949 to 1950 while performing at the Old Rocking Chair Club at 14th and Yesler.

The ledger with Robinson’s name is the third and final September Library Jewel that features WTBBL, part of the Washington State Library, which is a division of the Office of Secretary of State. We’ll soon launch an online poll allowing you to choose your favorite.

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2015 Archives Month celebrates WA bridges


When you’re a state that has as many rivers, lakes and other waterways as Washington, you need a lot of bridges.

In fact, according to the state Department of Transportation, WA has nearly 10,000 state and local bridges. Some of Washington’s earlier bridges are famous (or infamous): “Galloping Gertie,” which collapsed into the Tacoma Narrows in 1940, just months after opening; the replacement Narrows Bridge that still stands tall today; and the Lacey V. Murrow Floating Bridge across Lake Washington, the first concrete floating bridge in the world. Unfortunately, the Murrow Bridge sank in a storm during Thanksgiving weekend in 1990.

Our State Archives is celebrating its annual Archives Month in October by making Washington’s historic bridges this year’s theme.

“Bridges have played a crucial role in Washington history,” said State Archivist Steve Excell. “They helped settle different parts of our state and connect these parts so that we can travel quickly and easily over rivers that once would have required a boat ride. People take bridges for granted, but without them, we wouldn’t be able to move people and goods from place to place so quickly.

“Our State Archives has a great collection of photos of historic bridges, so it’s natural to make bridges this year’s Archives Month theme.”

Archives Month runs throughout October. The main State Archives in Olympia and the regional branches will feature open houses and special workshops on Saturday, Oct. 24:

State Archives/Southwest Regional Branch (Olympia):
• Open house, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., 1129 Washington St. SE. Learn how to organize and maintain your personal electronic records, discover what sorts of records can help with your family history research, and see some amazing collections in the State Archives. State Archivist Steve Excell will be available to help visitors with family history research questions. Guided tours of the facility also will be given. For more information, call (360) 586-1492 or e-mail research@sos.wa.gov.

Northwest Regional Branch (Bellingham):
• Basics of historical research workshop, 9 a.m. to noon, Goltz-Murray Building, 808 – 25th St. The regional branch and Western Libraries Heritage Resources are offering a workshop for researchers, history aficionados and anyone else interested in exploring the past. You’ll get practical advice and learn basic steps for how to investigate a historical topic, whether it’s for a class assignment, community event, publication or article, or other personal research project. The program will outline a general approach to historical research, including how to get the most out of the library system, how to find and use archival collections, how to locate reliable online resources, and how to interpret information from unique and diverse research materials. The workshop is free, but registration is required. To register, e-mail Heritage.Resources@wwu.edu or call (360) 650-6621.

Puget Sound Regional Branch (Bellevue):
• Basics of Historical Research workshop, 9 a.m. to noon, Pritchard-Fleming Building, 3000 Landerholm Circle SE. The workshop is for teachers, students, beginning genealogists and others interested in exploring the past. It covers what primary sources are – and aren’t, historical sources and how to use them, how to use the library system, how to use archival collections, how to find and use reliable online resources, how to properly cite your sources and how to use information from different sources. Seating is limited, so people are asked to register soon at http://1.usa.gov/1K9SMD6. For more information, contact Mike Saunders at Puget Sound Regional Archives at mike.saunders@sos.wa.gov or (425) 564-3950.

Eastern Regional Branch/Digital Archives (Cheney):
• Open house, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., 960 Washington St. Staff will host tours of the facility, document exhibits, give presentations on new records in the branch and show how to navigate the Digital Archives website. (509) 235-7500, ext. 100 or EABranchArchives@sos.wa.gov.

Central Regional Branch (Ellensburg):
• Open house, 9 a.m. to noon. Bledsoe and Washington Archives Building, 215 E 14th Ave. Visitors can acquire tips on using the State Archives for historical research and receive assistance in starting a research project and learn where to find information. Archives staff will later provide a “behind the scenes” tour of the branch’s collection areas not normally open for access.  cebranchaarchives@sos.wa.gov or (509) 963-2136.

On Oct. 10 from 9 a.m. to noon in Stanwood, the Northwest Regional Branch is hosting a Basics of Historical Research workshop at the Floyd Norgaard Cultural Center, 27130 – 102nd Ave. NW. Seating is limited, so people are asked to register soon here. For more information, contact Janette Gomes at the Northwest Regional Archives at janette.gomes@sos.wa.gov or (360) 650-2813.

The State Archives has a great-looking free poster to commemorate Archives Month. It features several notable Washington bridges, including The poster (shown above) is available in the State Archives headquarters in Olympia, the front desk of our Executive Office at the Capitol and at all regional Archives branches in Bellevue, Bellingham, Cheney and Ellensburg, as well as several local historical societies, universities with archives/library collections, museums and heritage centers. Get your poster while supplies last! If you want to see the digital version of the new poster, just go here.

The poster was designed by Benjamin Helle, an employee at the State Archives.

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Mack Strong says register and then vote strong!


As Washington bears down on a Monday, Oct. 5, voter deadline to register online or by mail, Secretary Wyman enlisted a little Seahawks star power to help spread the message.  Two-time Pro Bowler Mack Strong, the Hawks’ popular and talented fullback for many years, graciously taped a 30-second video urging all eligible Washingtonians to get registered and then to vote.



Ballots will be coming out in just a few weeks, Secretary Wyman noted, and every vote matters. Registration is a snap. The easy portal for registering and other information is here.



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Library Jewel #2: WTBBL’s Pratt sculpture


As you approach the front entrance of the Washington Talking Book & Braille Library in Seattle, you notice a beautiful, unique wooden sculpture. The wooden art was created by artist Dudley Pratt, commissioned in memory of University District bookseller Harry Hartman, who was blind and a WTBBL patron for more than 20 years.

After Hartman’s death in 1945, fellow members of the publishing industry raised funds to be used toward a reading room in his name. The sculpture served as a tactile guide in the entry of the Library for the Blind at the Susan Henry Branch of the Seattle Public Library from 1954 to 1973.

The photo of the sculpture is the second of our special Library Jewels series featuring WTBBL, which is part of the Washington State Library. The third and final post is coming soon.

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Letters About Literature contest has begun!


One of our office’s favorite contests for schoolkids is under way.

The Letters About Literature competition encourages students to write letters to their favorite authors, living or dead, and explain how a particular book by the author changed their view of the world or themselves. The contest, co-sponsored by the Washington State Library, is for schoolchildren and homeschooled students in grades 4-12.

Secretary of State Kim Wyman:

“Books inspire kids of all ages. A good book can make them think and look at the world in a different way.  Letters About Literature allows students to consider how a favorite book touches them and then put their thoughts into words. I’m impressed with the number of incredible, heartwarming letters produced over the years, and I look forward to reading students’ letters in this year’s contest.

“I encourage all kids to read because it’s so fundamental to learning and it gives them a strong foundation to succeed in school and life.”

Students enter by writing a personal letter to an author, explaining how his or her work shaped the students’ perspective on the world or themselves. Students can write about works of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. They cannot write about music lyrics. Entries in Spanish are welcome and will be translated for the Washington state judges.

Letter writers compete at three levels: Level 1 for grades 4-6; Level 2 for grades 7-8; and Level 3 for grades 9-12. Entrants must be at least 9 years old. One letter from each level from each state is entered into the national competition. Entries will be accepted starting Nov. 2. There are two deadlines for this year’s contest: All Level 3 entries must be postmarked by Dec. 4. All entries for Levels 1 and 2 must be postmarked by Jan. 11, 2016.

An entry coupon must accompany each letter. Entry coupons and guidelines can be found here. Completed forms should be stapled to the last page of the letter.

Entries should be mailed to:
Letters About Literature Contest
Competition Level (Indicate Level 1, 2 or 3)
c/o C. Gourley, Project Manager
81 Oliver St.
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18705

For more information about the contest, contact the State Library’s Crystal Lentz at (360) 704-5275 or crystal.lentz@sos.wa.gov.

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September Library Jewel #1: WTBBL’s “turntable” room


(Photos courtesy Washington Talking Book & Braille Library)

This month, we’re devoting all three of September’s Library Jewels to the amazing Washington Talking Book & Braille Library in downtown Seattle.

WTBBL (pronounced Wuh-tah’-bull) an important and beloved part of our Washington State Library. It provides audiobooks in various formats, as well as large print and braille books, to about 9,000 patrons throughout Washington.

The first of our three “WTBBL Jewels” is a pair of photos showing what is now the library’s children’s room in the front of the building. You can’t tell now because of the carpet hiding it, but there is a 14-foot-wide automobile display turntable on the room’s floor. Yes, the WTBBL building at the corner of 9th and Lenora once housed an auto dealership! From 1948 to 1980, it was home to the S.L. Savidge Co., which sold Dodge and Plymouth vehicles. WTBBL moved into the building in 1983.


The top photo shows members of the Automotive Machinists union striking outside the building in 1978 (the union was striking several Seattle dealerships at the time). The bottom photo shows the same space today.


WA Elections Division contacting 218k potential voters


Washington election officials are sending out postcards this week to about 218,000 state residents who appear eligible to vote, but haven’t registered.

The mailing has a simple message that online registration is easy: “3 minutes. Click. Done.”

The postcard notes that the recipients aren’t on the voter rolls and that they are invited to register online or by mail by Oct. 5 in order to take part in the General Election. First-time Washington voters may also register in person at their county elections office by Oct. 26.

Washington residents are eligible to vote if they are at least 18, a U.S. citizen and not under custody of the Department of Corrections for a Washington felony.

“We hope these postcards will provide just the nudge for people to go online and get registered,” said Secretary of State Kim Wyman, the state’s chief elections officer.

The mailing list was generated by information from the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), a non-profit organization of member states that helps improve the accuracy of voter continue reading

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Tenino Oregon Trail marker photo tops Sept. Archives poll

1906 Feb. 19. Setting historical marker in Tenino, WA w/ pioneers.

September’s Archives Treasures could have been renamed the battle of Tenino Treasures, as a photo of the Tenino Oregon Trail marker squared off against a Tenino wooden money photo in this month’s online poll.

The Oregon Trail marker photo won this month’s poll with 48 percent, while the wooden money photo took second with 38 percent. Coming in a distant third with 14 percent was the collection of Kingdome documents.

We’ll start this month’s Library Jewels blog series later this week, so watch for it.

It’s National Voter Registration Day!


Need a reason to register to vote in time for this fall’s General Election? How about this: It’s National Voter Registration Day!

The National Association of Secretaries of State, in which Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman is involved as an executive board member, has declared September 22 as National Voter Registration Day. NASS also has chosen September as National Voter Registration Month.

If you’re a Washington citizen who isn’t registered to vote and you want to vote in this year’s General Election, you have until October 5 to register online or make an address change or other updates. October 26 is the deadline for new voter registrations prior to the General Election, but you have to register in person at your county elections department.

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Wyman helps open Chinese braille exhibit


Secretary Wyman (center) takes part at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Chinese braille exhibit at WTBBL this week. The ribbon cutting ceremony was led by Guo Weimin (right), deputy minister of State Council Information Office, People’s Republic of China, Wyman, and President Zhang Wei (left) of the China Braille Press.

Secretary of State Kim Wyman joined Chinese officials in formally opening a free exhibit on Chinese braille at the Washington Talking Book & Braille Library in Seattle Monday morning.

Wyman, Deputy Secretary of State Greg Lane,  and  WTBBL Manager Danielle Miller took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony following addresses by Wyman and Zhang Wei, president of the China Braille Press. Ceremony moderator was Zhang Hongbin, deputy director-general of International Affairs Bureau of State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China.

Part of Wyman’s speech during the ceremony:

“WTBBL has been recognized nationally as a leader for library services for the blind. You will find them always innovating, always actively building partnerships.

“It is equally clear from this amazing exhibit and the braille you have donated to the library, that China Braille press and the China Library for the Blind are also great leaders and innovators. What a wonderful new partnership! This is a great beginning and I know Danielle and her staff are excited to continue finding ways to work together in the future.”

The weeklong event coincides with a visit by Chinese President Xi to Seattle, Everett, Tacoma and Redmond.

The exhibit is available for viewing from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, with extended hours until 9 p.m. on Wednesday. Saturday’s exhibit hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Staff from the China Braille Press and China Library for the Blind will be on hand to share the exhibit and discuss their programs. Tours of the library also will be available.

The WTBBL display is part of a series of Chinese and American Braille Publications Exchange exhibitions that allow attendees to explore through touch, sound and sight.

The library is located at 2021 – 9th Ave. in downtown Seattle. WTBBL is part of the Washington State Library, a division of the Office of Secretary of State. Some parking is available in the WTBBL garage.

For more information about the exhibition or WTBBL, contact Miller at (206) 615-0400 or danielle.miller@soswa.gov. Or visit WTBBL online at www.wtbbl.org.

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