Ever since the advent of Web 2.0 people are finding creative ways to harness the power of the web to learn about and share their passions. Resources are shared and discovered; connections are made between people. Here at the Washington State Library we have a mission to collect, preserve and make accessible materials about the history and culture of Washington State. This task is accomplished in a variety of ways, from scanning newspapers, or entire books, to helping communities scan, organize and digitize their local historic collections. While the library has accomplished this mission by providing access to its digital collections this really is only the first step. When it gets interesting is when people start interacting with the collections.
Much to our delight, people are finding our collections and using them to enrich their lives. I wanted to share a few of the stories and comments which have resulted from the resources we’ve shared. A picture from the Garfield County Heritage collection titled “Denison children and goat cart, 1929” elicited this comment “My Great Aunt Mary, Great Uncle Roger, and my Lovely Grandmother Dorothy Denison Ruchert. I cherish this photo and hope to bring back the goat carts for use today!”
Or we received this comment on a photo of Nooksack Valley. “So grateful to have found these photos! We now live on this very property and are in the midst of returning the homestead to historic glory.”
Then there was the time that the Public Services desk received a call from someone who had heard that the Washington State Library had digitized her Great-Great-Great Grandfather’s journal. When asked who that person might be, they said, Daniel Bigelow. We were excited to let her know that the State Library Digital and Historical Collections team had indeed made the journal, along with other mementos kept in the Manuscripts Collection, digitally available. Thrilled, she explained that her family was unaware that the material was available and was eager to pass the word along to her kin. Needless to say, our Public Services team was delighted to help make these connections.
Finally, the other day on our Facebook page there was a wonderful piece of serendipity. Just for fun we posted pictures of a small library in Eastern Washington with a challenge to “Name that Library”. Someone who saw the post commented that her great grandparents had lived in that community and she was interested in genealogy. A librarian from that library, OK I’ll tell you, The Denny Ashby Library in Pomeroy, saw the post, and knew of a book that had been scanned and made available in Open Library. She went to the book and found an entry about the person’s great-grandparents and shared the link in the comments. Connection made, information shared. How cool is that? Keep reading, keep watching, you never know when something that links you to the past will turn up on your 21st Century device.