If the first rule of management is to hire well, then the Public Services group of Washington State Library got off to a good start when reference librarian Kim Smeenk was invited to join the staff over half a decade ago.
Kim, who is a specialist in genealogical research and a fine reference librarian as well, is amazingly prolific in answering online queries. This is an especially desirable trait in light of significant loss of librarians the Public Services unit has experienced in the last few years.
Kim, who has been in the field for 16 years, originally became a genealogical librarian by circumstance. While part of the public library staff in Michigan City, Indiana, she realized she enjoyed the critical thinking and detective work involved in answering the queries, and the other librarians were more than happy to let her have this subject area exclusively. As fate would have it, she learned on the front lines how to use the online tools while those resources were in an embryonic state. Kim’s research skills have grown as the Web-based content has evolved.
She has also been active in promoting WSL’s genealogical resources (online and in person) to Washington State genealogical and historical societies, helping our citizens learn about and celebrate their cultural heritage and the role of their families in the development of The Evergreen State. Kim says, “Educating the library patron to the myriad of resources available to them just within the digital world of WSL/Archives alone can be a major eye-opener for them.”
Kim enjoys discovering new areas of the Pacific Northwest, connecting geographic names she has researched in the course of her work with a real place. And she likes to read, a lot.
One of the most surprising facts about her? Interestingly, Kim, whose North American roots trace to very recent Dutch ancestors, has little interest in researching her own family history. For Kim her work is the biblio version of Ars gratia artis.
Thanks you, Kim, for showing leadership in genealogy research at the Washington State Library.