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Washington State Library promotes technology

March 20th, 2015 Rand Simmons Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Uncategorized No Comments »

Picture4The good ol’ card catalog. How we miss it?

The card catalog was a dominant technology for several centuries harkening back to the French Revolution when after raiding religious houses of their books and manuscripts the revolutionaries established a system of public libraries and the French Cataloging Code of 1791. The bibliographic information for each book was recorded on the blank back of playing cards, hence the card in card catalog.

In the 1960s with the development of machine readable automated cataloging – the MARC record – and the rise of OCLC, a bibliographic utility that stores library information electronically, libraries abandoned their card catalogs seduced by computer catalogs otherwise known as online public access catalogs.

Along came Bill and Melinda Gates and Bill Gates, Sr. with their vision of placing PC’s in every public library in the United States. Thus the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s U.S. Libraries program was born around 1997.

At that time only about 25% of public libraries offered access for the public to the Internet.

The nation’s state libraries partnered with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and by 2004 the Foundation had invested $240 million in placing computers in libraries and had connected 99 percent of U.S. public libraries to the Internet.

However, as wonderful and as crucial as the U.S. Libraries Program was, it was just the beginning of libraries adapting new technologies.

Over a period of time, roughly 1998 to 2014, the Washington State Library through its administration of federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funds invested $4.2 million in technology-related grants to libraries.

These grants have helped bring connectivity to libraries; have provided laptop and tablet training labs; and we helped libraries dip their toes into the pool of digital imaging.

Later we taught local libraries how to digitize their historical treasures, how to make the images find-able through metadata, and hosted these digital collections for libraries who retained the originals.

In the early 2000s the State Library helped create a “virtual reference network.” The concept was to create a network of participating libraries across the state that would, by collaborating with and linking to a national network, share responsibility for providing customers with information 24/7/365 – that is, to anyone, anywhere they might be, and at any time. Customers are served even when the library is not open. That program lives on as Ask-WA.

Perhaps the most ambitious project we have undertaken was joining a loose-knit collaborative of anchor institutions (schools, hospitals and libraries), non-profits, state and local government agencies and others to apply for Broadband Technology Opportunity Program grants. Two successful applications, one in summer 2009 and the other in Spring 2010 netted $138 million awarded to the Northwest Open Access Network to bring higher bandwidth connectivity to rural Washington communities. When in the second round application the federal government added a matching fund requirement to the application our friends the Gates Foundation stepped up and provided the match for several state libraries including Washington.

We have also provided professional development grants to individuals to take technology courses and have provided technology-related training.

Lately we have engaged in the provision of free online technology training by partnering with Microsoft. With funding from the Washington legislature and large discounts from Microsoft the Washington State Library is able to offer the Microsoft IT Academy free to any resident of Washington through public, two-year, and tribal libraries. Schools also offer the Academy and it is administered by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

We are taking the Academy to a deeper level by pairing with Workforce Development and supporting training among the tribes using the Academy to address digital literacy needs on the reservations.

So while the card catalog remains an object of fond memories, one which many of us lovingly display in our homes, if we were lucky enough to snag one, I doubt any of us would go back.

Technology will change libraries. The Washington State Library, as a change agent, is committed to lead the charge.

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Washington State has a new library branch

March 19th, 2015 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public 1 Comment »

ritzvill2Washington State’s newest public library branch can be found inside the Lind-Ritzville Middle School located in Lind (Adams County). Guy Strot, Lind-Ritzville Middle School Principal, reached out to Ritzville Public Library Director Kylie Fullmer. He wanted the community to have access to the 25 computers and faster internet in the middle school library and for students and community members to have access to more library materials. He proposed a trade. The Ritzville Public Library could operate free of charge in the middle school library if the Ritzville Public Library would provide materials for adults and students. For the last few months the middle school library has been open to the public one evening a week. On the day library development consultants, Carolyn Petersen and Shirley Lewis visited, Mr. Strot proudly shared that the last week’s program had seen every one of the town’s 50 elementary aged children as well as many adults using the library’s computers and resources brought there from Ritzville Public Library.

ritzvilleMs. Fullmer  also reports that a part of their success is owed to an 8-week afterschool Crazy 8’s Math Club for kids in grades K-5. All supplies for this club are donated by the non-profit: Bedtime Math. Lego Club, craft-ernoons, and family story time are all popular too.  The library provides one-on-one computer help, device and eBook tech nights, and signs people up for the IT Academy. Three hours a week for all this, this new library branch must be humming!

This is the kind of library/community partnership success story we all love hearing. Three cheers and a BIG welcome to the Lind-Ritzville Middle School branch.

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In search of the Eatonville Dispatch

March 18th, 2015 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public No Comments »

From the desk of Shawn Schollmeyer & Washington Digital Newspapers.

EatonvilleDispatch_Msthd_09011916Though the Eatonville Dispatch began as a weekly newspaper in 1893, known available issues begin in 1916, stored on microfilm and carefully protected print copies in archival boxes located at the Eatonville Public Library. It’s still a weekly publication, now known as the Dispatch, printed and available online by the Pacific Publishing Company . We first became aware of the interest in digitizing older issues of this paper when one of the long time publishing families contacted us through Cindy Dargan, managing librarian of the Eatonville Library, to ask how to go about this digitization project. Floyd Albert and Georgina Larkin ran the paper from 1950-1962 and then brought in their son, Floyd Ames, who ran it with his mom until the early 1970s. Last year in 2014, the family decided that the best use of remaining estate money from those publishing years would be best spent converting the full run of the paper to a digital collection and displayed to the public.

It’s a great idea and Floyd Ames’ brother, Bob Larkin, initiated the move to make it happen. Now, the first challenge begins. After 1922 all public works fall under copyright protection and all the publishers and descendants of the publishing families will need to be contacted for permission to scan and display the newspaper pages they published over certain dates. There were 12 different publishers between 1893 and 2010. Where are they now? Who can still be contacted if they have passed away? Where do we start?

Eatonville Public Library

Eatonville Public Library

The process of “discovery” began with a few trips to Pierce County libraries to determine the condition, format and completeness of the collection. My first stop at the South Hill Library branch revealed a beautiful, neat and clean building, but with the construction dust and disruption of the re-model, they decided to store the microfilm at the Lakewood branch, the largest branch in the Pierce County system which had more room to hold the film. Since I had just come from that area a visit would have to wait till the next day. So, a further excursion down Hwy 161 to meet Cindy at the Eatonville Library would reveal the carefully saved issues of the original print. As I gingerly handled the crumbling pages of the earliest issues in a nearby room, I could hear the library staff connect with their patrons. “Aren’t you supposed to be in school today? Oh, it’s in-service day.” Two grade school boys giggled from the nearby computers where they were engaged in a game. “I saw your Mom in the grocery store last week. I haven’t seen her in a while, glad she’s doing better” was directed to another patron. It was a busy day at the library in Eatonville and the staff is obviously an important part of that community.

SendThemRightUp_20150129While checking for condition, missing issues and pages I found some other interesting artifacts of a bygone newspaper era. A princess from the Middle East came to visit Eatonville in 1917. An early pioneer, born in the 1880s and a well known citizen in town had just passed away in the early ‘20s. And what is this in the bottom of the box? Thick, pulpy printing mats embossed with text and ads from the Tacoma Daily Ledger, February 2, 1913, which were originally used on rotary printers for fast production of the daily paper. An early Bell Telephone ad, pictured here, states “Will You Send Them Right Up?” as the man pictured makes a quick call for shirts before he leaves on the evening train. A few of these old print mats from the rotary printing days had been stashed in the archival boxes as a nod to a by-gone era.

But there are also missing artifacts…. Where are some of the issues from the WWI and WWII? More sleuthing will be needed to track down pages that were filled with draft notices, war news and return heroes. More attempts to track down missing pages leads to yet another trip. A short visit to the busy Lakewood library, a two story, urban branch filled with computer users, parents and children. The helpful staff had not unboxed all the South Hill microfilm yet, but made and extra effort to search for the Eatonville film, but they didn’t have the missing issues we were seeking. Off to the University of Washington (UW) to see what they might have in their collection to fill in the gaps.

A visit to the UW campus on a sunny day is always a treat. Even in February there are camellias and hellebore blooming outside the stately Suzzallo Library. Inside the MicNews department, filled with six-foot-plus tall horizontal sliding walls of microfilm and many rows of newspaper racks I grabbed a few film reels for more review. Yep, I found a few of the missing date ranges that we will need and UW has a large collection of master film negatives, our preferred format for scanning. We partnered with UW and made use of their great collection during our participation in the National Digital Newspaper Program. It’s great news for us that we can work with them again on our new project.

shawnThere are still a few challenges yet to solve to make sure that we have the most complete, fully searchable, and clean digital collection. Choosing the best scanning vendors for a reasonable price; pursuing a few more elusive issues; finding the descendants of the early publishers. All are important details that will need to be addressed before scanning and generating files and sharing them with the world.

Over the next few months, Bob Larkin will be helping us to track down permissions to digitize from fellow publishers; we’ll be working with imaging vendors to scan as many pages this year as we can; and then we’ll be partnering with University of California, Riverside to add page numbers, dates, OCR and essential metadata, using the latest newspaper digitization software to make the collection compatible with national standards.

As you can see, there are many steps to wrangling a detailed project such as this, but also a satisfying job to bring this treasure to the world of the internet. Take a look at our online newspaper collection to-date from across the state: .

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Ask WA- Washington’s Virtual Reference Cooperative

March 2nd, 2015 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Technology and Resources No Comments »

aubriImagine you are out and about and have a burning question.  Or maybe you have a big paper due tomorrow and there is something you need to cite that defies all logic.  What do you do?   Pull out your smartphone or tablet, or log on to the internet and Ask a Librarian of course.  Ask WA is the statewide virtual reference cooperative coordinated by Washington State Library.  Nearly 60 public and academic libraries around the state take part in the program.  Ask WA is also part of a global network of libraries that are available to answer questions 24/7.  Yes that’s right, 24/7.

Now imagine you are a teenager and the idea of actually visiting a library or talking to a librarian is either too scary or soooo uncool. But honestly you still need their help.  Ask WA is the perfect solution.  With the thought in mind that teenagers have their phones practically glued to them and love text as a form of communication, Whatcom County Library’s Ask WA Administrator, Aubri Keleman decided to do something about pairing the two.  Working with school librarians in her service area Aubri arranged a day where she could visit eleven classes of middle schoolers to demonstrate the service.   Just that statement sounds a little overwhelming but the preparation involved was so much more.  While the service has librarians available around the clock, having 30 students login at one time is more than it can handle, particularly all day long.  But it’s a cooperative right?  Whatcom County librarians as well as librarians from all over the state and even country volunteered to take on extra shifts.  Aubri created a great list of Q&A’s for the kids to use so that the librarians would be prepared with good answers.  The big day arrived and we were off to the races!

Over the course of the school day Aubri visited the classes, demoed the chat service and then had the kids login and try it.  315 questions were asked and answered in that one school day.  They wouldn’t be Middle Schoolers if there weren’t a few “Yo dog” type of questions but on the whole the kids were polite and asked good questions.  (An aside, the school librarian explained that “yo dog” is a sign of respect!)  Aubri reported that they were excited to be chatting with a real person, and wanted to know about them.   They were really excited when they got someone from out of state and of course, they loved having permission in school to pull out their phones.

Comments from the kids:

“Thanks that was awesome!”

“That was very helpful”

“Thank you that is exactly what I was looking for.”

“They were very helpful! Thank You!”

It sounds like the day was a big success and that the 7th and 8th graders of Mount Baker Middle School have discovered a new way to get help with their homework.

Currently almost 60 libraries and library systems in Washington participate in Ask WA. Are you interested in learning how your library can participate? Just contact Ask WA Coordinator Nono Burling.

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Got CDs?

February 17th, 2015 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Institutional Library Services, Uncategorized No Comments »

photo by Eelke de Blouw https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

photo by Eelke de Blouw https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

CDs… do people still use CDs or is all music “consumed” digitally these days?  Across the state, people are cleaning out their CD collections and think that these “dinosaurs” are no longer viable.  But wait… we have an audience in Washington who will gratefully, happily and enthusiastically take those CDs off your hands.  One of the more popular items in WSL’s Institutional libraries, the library branches in our prisons and state hospitals, are the CDs.  The inmates and patients do not have access to streaming music or digital players so CDs are an excellent alternative.  We are always on the lookout for donations of CDs so if you or anyone you know are cleaning out their music please keep the State Library in mind.

Donations may be sent to:

Washington State Library (attention Laura Sherbo)

6880 Capitol Blvd SE

Tumwater, WA 98504

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Random news – Meteors, or UFOs?

February 13th, 2015 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Random News from the Newspapers on Microfilm Collection No Comments »

From the desk of Steve Willis, former Central Library Services Program Manager of the Washington State Library:

Through pure randomness I ran across a couple mysterious events experienced by Washingtonians in the north central part of the state in late December, 1921.

Ball of Fire in Sky seen hereOne of the benefits of working in a library with the largest collection of Washington State newspapers in the world is that I can focus on singular events from a multitude of views. Such is the case with the twin meteors during the 1921 holiday season, over 90 years ago.

In the December 29th and 31st, 1921 issues of The Wenatchee Daily World, witnesses from Soap Lake were quoted as having seen a meteor light up the sky at 12:30 AM on December 27. One man, R.J. Cartmill was certain the object had fallen to Earth and crashed in a ball of fire.

Two days later, a more dramatic event took place around the 7 AM hour. Jim Ellis, a prospector, was quoted in the January 6, 1922 issue of The Oroville Weekly Gazette:

 “When I got outside my cabin there was no fire but the glare caused me to look up and there was a big ball of flame, bigger than the First National bank, heading right for Oroville. Sparks from the thing were dropping on the roof of my cabin and on the snow around. It made a big sound, like a heavy wind as it traveled, and it was going fast, I thought the world was coming to an end. I watched it until it went out of sight in the clouds and fog and little later I heard a big explosion. I thought Oroville had been wiped out and I started for town to see the wreck.”

 The explosive sound could very have been a sonic boom. In conjecturing the cause of this unusual event, the Gazette added, “So many persons in this part of the country saw manifestations of the phenomenon or felt the effects of the explosion that it is accepted as altogether probable that some stray wanderer from interplanetary space visited this locality and either buried itself in the hills hereabouts or exploded nearby, consumed by friction with the earth’s atmosphere.”

Brilliant MeteorThe Methow Valley News in Twisp reported in their December 30th issue that the meteor had “a flash of light equal in brilliancy to a near flash of lightning. A report as of thunder followed, but not so loud, only being heard by those out in the open. It is reported the meteor was seen to strike on the Crevling place above Winthrop, on Eight Mile.”

The January 3, 1921 issue of the Okanogan Independent of Okanogan, Wash. reported: “J.E. Crofoot, living on the reservation 16 miles east of here, was out near his granary at the time of the fall, and was thrown against a steel feed roller and stunned for several minutes. Crofoot’s neighbor reports a similar experience. The phenomenon was thought by them to be lightning. Crofoot, with whom we had a telephone conversation, says that the flash was quick rising, quick dying and all-embracing, and seemed to have with it no sound whatever. Crofoot’s sense left him, he says, so that he had neither eye to discover wherefrom it came, ear to catch any rumbling or booming; and was for several passing moments, totally without speculative faculty, so that, to this hour, he remains in a state of mere gloom and fog as to the exact nature of the phenomenon: saying, however, that it looked like lightning. ‘For a minute, I seemed to be in a ball of fire,’ says Crofoot. Mrs. Crofoot, who was within doors, detected a booming.”

The Tonasket Times and the Okanogan Record issue for December 30th reported on a good number of witnesses from the area. The descriptions were consistent with the other newspaper reports, with the addition of the object flying over with a hissing sound. Supposed Meteorite caused big sensation

So what were these things? The Ursid meteor shower usually takes place every year around December 22nd. This annual astronomical event was not named until the early 20th century. Could these two meteors be connected somehow with the Ursids? Or, as the Gazette suggested, did we have extraterrestrial visitors? If a crash site exists for whatever these flying things were, I have found no record of the discovery.




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Visiting the Washington Talking Book & Braille Library

February 11th, 2015 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public No Comments »

IMG_20150116_122514Since I started working at the Washington State Library (WSL) last February I have heard so much about the Washington Talking Book & Braille Library (WTBBL) and all the good work that they do.  So last month while I was in the Seattle area for another meeting, I took advantage of the opportunity to visit and learn more about this unique branch of the WSL.  The only word that comes to my mind is WOW!  David Junius, Volunteer Services and Outreach Manager at WTBBL, gave me an extensive tour of the library and I thought I would share a little of what I learned.

Things I knew about WTBBL

I knew that WTBBL serves the blind population all over Washington State providing books in braille, large print and audio format, but I didn’t realize they also served people with visual impairments, a physical disability (such that holding a book or turning a page is difficult), or a reading disability.  The most recent addition to their services is the BARD (Braille and Audio Recording Download) mobile app which allows access to downloadable audio books right to an iPhone, iPod, or iPad and an app for Android platform devices is on the way. The app is an additional mode of access to the already popular and large collection of audio and web-braille books on the BARD website.

I knew they have an incredible and dedicated staff, who intimately know and serve their patrons.

I knew they had an extremely loyal and vocal patron base.

Things I didn’t know about WTBBL

Behind the scenes 1. bins of returned digital books waiting for inspection 2. locally produced braille 3. National Library Service provided braille 4. Cassette books on their way to retirement

Behind the scenes 1. bins of returned digital books waiting for inspection 2. locally produced braille 3. National Library Service provided braille 4. Cassette books on their way to retirement

I had no idea that they had a huge cadre of volunteers, in fact much of what they are able to accomplish is because of this dedicated volunteer base.  These volunteers provide a wide range of services from transcribing in braille, using a special software provided by WTBBL, proofreading braille in teams of sighted and blind volunteers, to narrating and reviewing audio books, assisting in youth services, inspecting returned audio books, and general library support.

I didn’t know that they have a very specialized Reader’s Advisory service, which assists patrons, caregivers, and teachers in accessing the best, most tailored service possible.  Each patron has the option of filling out a profile of their likes and dislikes, preferences etc.  The preferences they have identified are matched up with interest codes on books and picked automatically when a book is returned, sort of like Netflix. Approximately 85% of WTBBL patrons take advantage of “autoselect”.  Talk about personalized service!

Amazingly cool things about WTBBL

WTBBL is an Art Gallery. wall

Marissa Sohn a student at Cornish College of the Arts created a permanent art installation “Fragmented”.
The artwork traces a grid of downtown Seattle using old strips of braille. It is not only beautiful to the eyes but is tactile to the fingers, certainly fitting in a library for people unable to read standard print.   In addition there is a more transient exhibition right now called “Innocent Eyes”.  The exhibit is done by photographer Stephanie Harstad.  It features eight large close-up portraits of people who are blind.  Next to each portrait are three smaller photographs taken by the blind individual.  Originally planned to be exhibited for only a short time the exhibit has remained for several  extra months.

WTBBL is a Museum.

1. record player and talking book record loaned beginning mid-1930s 2. cassette player, loaned mid-1970s to 2014 3. digital talking book machine, loaned 2009 - present 4. Inside of a digital talking book

1. record player and talking book record loaned beginning mid-1930s 2. cassette player, loaned mid-1970s to 2014 3. digital talking book machine, loaned 2009 – present 4. Inside of a digital talking book

WTBBL hosts a display of the historic equipment that has been provided to the blind to enable them to listen to recorded books. At the birth of the national service in 1931, audio materials were records and over time have transitioned all the way up to a modern day digital talking book machine using digital cartridges and including a USB port on the side for individual flash drives.

If you’re in the Seattle area and want to be amazed I can’t say enough, make time for a visit to WTBBL.


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Visiting two small libraries in South West Washington.

February 5th, 2015 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public No Comments »

Shirley Lewis and Carolyn Petersen paid a visit to the Kalama and Cathlamet Public Libraries in southwest Washington in January.  Kalama is planning an expansion as the City’s Offices move into a former bank building.  Louise Thomas, Director, and the Library Trustees are looking forward to providing patrons with more seating, program, and collection space.  During their visit, a library volunteer provided a story time attended by 10 small children and their parents in the current children’s area (see photo below).  Everyone had a great time, but it’s a tight fit!

Imagine this space filled  with 10 wiggly children and their parents.

Imagine this space filled with 10 wiggly children and their parents.

Cathlamet Public Library finished remodeling about one year ago.  The Library is light and inviting with a lovely view of downtown, the Columbia River, Puget Island, and, in the distance, Oregon.  Library patrons are enjoying the welcoming reading areas and computer spaces.  Carol Blix, Town Librarian, and the Library’s dedicated volunteers are seeing increased use of collections and services.


Cathlamet Library

Cathlamet Library

Taken in Cathlamet.  Wouldn’t you like to have that view every day?

Taken in Cathlamet. Wouldn’t you like to have that view every day?

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WLA Library Legislative Day -January 30, 2015

February 2nd, 2015 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Uncategorized No Comments »

Library staff, trustee and friends from all points in Washington State gathered in Olympia for the Washington Library Association’s Library Legislative Day. Library Legislative Day

Following a morning briefing these library advocates swarmed the Capitol campus to make their legislators aware of issues that affect Washington libraries.

Among the issues discussed was the Washington State Library’s budget crisis. Many legislators are probably unaware that the State Library, a division of the Office of the Secretary of State is in crisis.

State Librarian Rand Simmons said, “The Washington State Library is facing a $2.4 million shortfall in its budget. The legislature must provide a backfill during this session or the State Library will lose its ability to serve the people of Washington beginning July 1, 2015. Washington libraries depend on federal funding to serve their local communities. Currently $1.8 million in state dollars results in $3.3 million federal dollars. These funds help bring reading to the blind and others who cannot read traditional print material, provide library service to those in institutions and enhance Washington communities statewide. Without state funding for libraries we will lose federal dollars.

kim color small

Secretary of State Kim Wyman spoke to the group about the partnership of the State Library with the libraries of Washington State.  She stressed that the State library touches everyone in the room through opportunities provided by LSTA funds. She explained that she is working diligently to address the situation, visiting legislators and newspaper editorial boards, but she also urged the crowd to speak to their legislator about the State Library and how it impacts their community in a very tangible way.  “They are used to hearing from us, they need to hear it from you, their constituents.” Just how does the State Library serve the people of Washington?  We talked to several of the librarians at the gathering and got a wide range of answers, answers that reflect the wide range of services that are offered by the State Library.  Here are just a few of the comments we “collected”

Tony Wilson – Retired librarian from Highline Community College.

The State Library are national leaders in library database licensing, as well as leaders in reference.  When I needed a map of where forest fires were happening I couldn’t find one anywhere (and I’m a librarian!)  Then I turned to the State Library.  I had the map in minutes.

 Chris Skaugset – Director of the Long view Public Library.

The State Library allows us to do things we simply couldn’t do on our own.Without the State Library we wouldn’t be able to offer the wide variety of digital resources, databases and ebooks that we have available to our patrons.  We also recently received a grant from the State Library that allows us to offer technology training to our community. 

 Mary Thornton – Director of the Hoquiam branch of the Timberland Regional Library.

The digital resources and archives provided by the State Library are the first place we send our Genealogy patrons.  The Grays Harbor Genealogical Society in particular go right to the State Library’s website.

 Devin McCosh – Library Associate from the Olympia Timberland Regional Library

Devin really appreciates the professional development opportunities made available by the State Library.  He mentioned attending online “First Tuesdays” webinars and the fact that the State Library provides Professional Development Grants  to Timberland staff allowing them to keep on top of the profession.

 Donna Schuman – Computer Services Department at Timberland Regional Library

Donna mentioned the Database Licensing that the State Library coordinates, allowing group pricing so that all Washington state libraries are able to provide access at a reasonable cost to the library.  She says the State Library makes a tremendous difference both  in her work and for her professionally. 

How does the State Library impact you or help you get your work done?  How do the services offered by the State Library impact your community?  We’d love to hear your story.

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When the going gets tough, the tough get creative

January 26th, 2015 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Institutional Library Services No Comments »

Kathleen Benoun, long time Library Associate at the Western State Hospital library, had an idea. For over thirty years Kathleen has delivered excellent service to the hospital patients.  ddwIn the past Kathleen used to take the library to the patrons, presenting programs ranging from trivia contests to poetry reading. However over the time that she has worked at the Hospital library, like librarians across the nation, Kathleen has had to learn to do more with less.  As the solo librarian she is no longer able to visit the wards.  So let’s get back to the idea.  In January of 2011 she started writing a monthly library newsletter which the hospital print shop produced and the mail room distributed.  Kathleen reports:

My original goal was to highlight books and films in our collection by themes.  Often, we added new materials that I wanted to advertise immediately.  Thus, the monthly newsletter became a weekly in 2013.   Later, I began to add some historical information about the hospital.  The response has been good.  Staff and patients contact me to request the materials highlighted in the newsletter.

If you’ve ever written a weekly newsletter you know that coming up with an idea every week can be a challenge so here’s where the creative part comes in.  As of January 2015 the Dewey Digest Weekly – “50 states edition” was born.  Each week Kathleen highlights a state pulling together books, films and music that salute the state of the week. There’s a little bit of state background information (what librarian doesn’t want to impart a tidbit of knowledge when they have the chance), followed by books, musical artists and movies associated with that state.  Is it working? ddw2 Kathleen reports that she definitely notices an uptick in requests for materials highlighted in the newsletter.  Kathleen’s newsletters are a fun and visual way of continuing to take the library to the patrons.  Fifty states… well that takes care of 2015.  We can’t wait to see the ingenious idea Kathleen comes up with for next year’s newsletter.

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