WA Secretary of State Blogs

Have you heard of the Extension Service?

April 24th, 2014 Kim Smeenk Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, State Library Collections 1 Comment »

extension washing machine

In 1947, if you had never seen one before, who could help you learn how to choose and use a washing machine?


extension chair

In 1950, before HGTV and Martha Stewart, where could you go to learn how to tackle DIY projects like reupholstering a chair?

Luckily, Washington state citizens did not have to look far for help, because for over 100 years the Extension Service at the State College of Washington (now Washington State University) has offered demonstrations, and printed bulletins on these topics and thousands more.


extension sheep measlesThose thousands of bulletins can be found at the Washington State Library.

They are part of our State Publications collection, which has hundreds of thousands of reports, magazines, newsletters and yes, those bulletins, that have been published by Washington state and extension sewing is funterritorial agencies for over 150 years.

The range of the topics the Extension Service bulletins cover is awe inspiring.

You can find Sewing is Easy and Fun (1947) and Bitterness in Cucumbers (1972) and even Sheep Measles (1958).


extension wiringThey offered advice for people who were getting electricity and indoor plumbing for the first time.

What is Adequate Wiring? was written in 1940, and helped these new users of electricity to plan for their electrical needs for both their homes and farms for the next 5 years.


extension kitchenPlanning the Efficient Kitchen (1946) and Planning the Bathroom (1949) both go into great detail to help people design these rooms.

They include illustrations of fixtures, floorplans and recommended measurements for cabinets, shelves and counters.  They offer assistance with selecting wall finishes and floor coverings.


extension mattressYou could learn how to make a cotton mattress (1940), iron a shirt (1954),
co-ordinate your accessories with a basic wardrobe (1950) and
how to sew an outfit for graduation (1954).

extension cooky

You could get recipes from Our Cooky Book (1954), learn how to Feed a crowd safely (1976), and find out all about Outdoor Cookery for the Family (1958) – otherwise known as barbecuing.


Despite the broad range of topics, their main target audience was living in rural areas and on farms. So there are hundreds of pamphlets on crops and farm animals.

extension strawberryYou could get detailed instructions on growing just about anything.

In 1959, they first published Growing Strawberries in Washington, which described soil types, the varieties of strawberries, fertilizer and irrigation, how and when to plant, and how to harvest.


extension curly topYou can also find bulletins about any threat to those crops, including Fire Blight (1966), the Codling Moth (1969), and the Carrot Rust Fly (1979), and Curly Top (1969), which sounds cute, but is actually a disease that affects tomatoes and beets.

extension pigsIf you were thinking of starting a dairy farm, you could learn everything from What to feed the Dairy Herd (1943), to Raising Dairy Calves (1938) and how to breed Genetically Superior Dairy Cows (1982).

If you were thinking of adding a herd of pigs to your farm, Making Pigs Pay (1949) tells you how to pick good stock, how to breed them, feed them, build housing for them and treat their diseases.


The Cooperative Extension System is alive and well today in America.extension pest control

The Washington State office is still run out of Washington State University in Pullman.

Today you can go to their web site to access just as wide a range of information as they offered 50 or 100 years ago.


extension cucumbersYou can browse the Extension Service titles in the State Library’s collection.

Contact us if you have any questions about using any of these items from our State Publications Collection.

askalibrarian@sos.wa.gov / 360.704.5221









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Linking the Past with the Present

April 17th, 2014 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public, State Library Collections No Comments »

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 Denison_children_and_goat_cart_1929“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.”   	Logging on Gardene's homestead on property

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.

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Celebrate Teen Literature Day!

April 17th, 2014 Kim Smeenk Posted in State Library Collections, Washington Reads No Comments »

From the desk of Kathryn Devine

teen blog happy day
Every year, the Thursday of National Library Week, April 17th  this year, is set aside as Teen Literature Day.

Check out these teen books at the Washington State Library.



Meet Hannah West—smart, resilient, slightly sarcastic, and sometimes too
nosy for her own good.teen blog belltown towers cover

She’s a young Seattleite whose favorite pastimes include watching the Crime Network, Law & Order, Monk, Columbo, or any mystery show really.
All of which provide a solid education when she tries to untangle her first real mystery in her own (temporary) home in Hannah West in the Belltown Towers.

Not to give too much away—but there are missing paintings, a ubiquitous bike messenger, and a shady artist who may be involved.

This is a fun read peppered with references to Seattle locations and culture.
Linda Johns, author and librarian at the Seattle Public Library, has created a wonderful character to spend some time with.

teen blog deep water coverYou can follow Hannah’s other adventures, all set in the Seattle area:

Hannah West in Deep Water (2006)

Hannah West in the Center of the Universe (2007)

Hannah West on Millionaire’s Row (2007)



Here are a few other series for teens, also at the Washington State Library.0-545-22418-7

Dear America

1. West to a Land of Plenty 

2. Across the wide and lonesome prairie: the Oregon Trail Diary

3. The Fences Between Us (Kirby Larson) 


Carl Deuker Sports fiction for Teens teen blog high heat cover

1. On the Devil’s Court (1988)

2. Painting the black (1997)

3. Night hoops (2000)

4. High Heat (2003)

5. Runner (2005)

6. Gym Candy (2007)

7. Payback Times (2010)

Come and visit us, or browse the catalog, if you’re  looking for teen fiction written in or about the Pacific Northwest.


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Have you read a poem lately?

April 11th, 2014 Kim Smeenk Posted in For Libraries, For the Public, State Library Collections, Washington Reads No Comments »

If you haven’t read poetry in a while, now is the perfect time to start again - April is National Poetry Month.

In his National Poetry Month proclamation, Governor Inslee called on

“…all the people of Washington to observe National Poetry Month in a more meaningful, personal way…as a means to offer comfort and solace to those who are suffering as a result of the Oso mudslide.

One way to do so is to submit a poem yourself to the Art with a Heart – Response to Oso tumblr forum.

The Washington State Arts Commission runs the forum.  Among the poems you can find there is one written by Elizabeth Austen, the Washington State Poet Laureate.

If you would like to read poetry written by other Washington state poets, browse the Washington State Library’s collection for the poetry books listed in our catalog.

Here are just a few excerpts from that collection that might, as the governor said, “offer comfort and solace.

Grace AboundingWillow_Tree_
I’m saved in this big world by unforeseen
friends, or times when only a glance
from a passenger beside me, or just the tired
branch of a willow inclining toward earth,
may teach me how to join earth and sky.
Even in Quiet Places by William Stafford (1996)

Nooksack Valley
At the far end of a trip north
In a berry-pickers cabin
At the edge of a wide muddy field
Stretching to the woods and cloudy mountains,
Feeding the stove all afternoon with cedar,
Watching the dark sky darken, a heron flap by,
Riprap, & Cold Mountain Poems by Gary Snyder (1965)

Round_beech_stones_ Riverbed
We walk on round stones, all flawlessly bedded,
Where water drags the cracked dome of the sky
Riverbed by David Wagoner (1972)


His Father’s Whistle
For hours the boy fought sleep,
strained against the whir of cicadas, moths
at the screens bumbling, night’s
blue breezes, to hear out on the country road
his father’s car rumbling in gravel.
Earthly Meditations by Robert Wrigley (2006)

Aurora_Northern Lights
Once more it’s the rainbow leaps
and foldings of the old process,
a whole border of pink roses
growing wild on the horizon.
The Dark Path of Our Names by Joan Swift (1985)

Mount Alaska Stream

In the pines
where the sun never shines
a small, damp fire filled mountains
green lungs of each century
Orcas Island by Don Wilsun (1980)

Untitled by Nasira Alma
in cascades
down the blooming rocks
yesterday’s rain
Sunlight through Rain: A Northwest Haiku Year (1996)

Come and visit us, or browse the catalog, if you’re  looking for a poetry book written in or about the Pacific Northwest.


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What can you find in a city directory?

April 7th, 2014 Kim Smeenk Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, State Library Collections, Uncategorized 1 Comment »

Do you know what you can find in a city directory?

If you want to research your home, your family history,
or local history you’ll want to use city directories.

They are similar to telephone books in that they were published every year, and they list the people living in a city….but city directories have so much more information.

You can find out the name of a spouse, both living and deceased.

Everett City Directory 1939

Everett City Directory 1939


You can find out someone’s profession.

cd profession

Wenatchee City Directory 1936


You can look up a company, and find out who was in charge.

Spokane City Directory 1893

Spokane City Directory 1893


If you are researching the history of your house you can search most city directories by street
address, instead of by a name, and find out who lived at a particular address.

Bellingham City Directory 1939

Bellingham City Directory 1939

This is a partial list of people and businesses located on Meridian Street in Bellingham in 1939.

In 1939, the Fountain Plumbing Co. could be found at 2309 Meridian.  Today, over 70 years later,  there is still a home improvement business at that address.

Not a plumbing company,  but a store selling recycled and salvaged building supplies.


You can track your ancestors year by year.

You not only find out if their address changed, but also if their employment or marital status changed.  These 1936 and 1938 Wenatchee city directories tell us that Don Miller got promoted during those years, becoming the President/Manager of North Central Chevrolet.






City directories also provide a historical snapshot of the city.  There is usually a profile of the city
at the beginning of each one, along with some statistical data.

Ellensburg City Directory 1968

Ellensburg City Directory 1968

The information provided varies from year to year and city to city.

This example from the 1968 Ellensburg City Directory tells us what their population was, and what their media, entertainment and transportation options were.

It gets even more detailed, and tells us how many beds the hospital had, how many volumes the library held, how many telephones were in use.
*click on the image to read those numbers*

There might not be surviving data from the Ellensburg Chamber of Commerce, but since they provided these statistics, along with the historical and economic data for the directory, we still have this historical snapshot of Ellensburg in 1968.



The directories after about 1920 usually have a yellow pages section where the businesses, churches, and government offices are listed by subject.

You can find out who all the local officials were….the mayor, police chief, and so on.
If the town happens to have Federal Government offices, you can find out who was in charge of them, as we can see in this  1955 Moses Lake city directory.

cd government

Moses Lake City Directory 1955


You can even find a future president….living with his mother in Seattle in 1961-1962.


Seattle City Directory 1961-1962


The Washington State Library has a collection of city directories for cities all over the state.

This page on our web site lists all of the city directories in our collection.

Contact us if you have any questions about using our city directory collection.
askalibrarian@sos.wa.gov   /   360.704.5221



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Double Trouble in Walla Walla

April 2nd, 2014 Kim Smeenk Posted in For Libraries, For the Public, State Library Collections, Uncategorized, Washington Reads No Comments »

Double_Trouble cover

Double Trouble in Walla Walla.

The Adventure on Klickitat Island

What do these titles have in common?

Well, they contain two of Washington State’s very unique place names.  Walla Walla and Klickitat are just fun to say.

They are also part of our collection of children’s books here at the Washington State Library.

We don’t just have history books and microfilm here at the State Library.  We collect any book written about, or set in, Washington State.  That includes picture books.


Double Trouble in Walla Walla by Andrew Clements is a wonderful tongue twister of a tale that is great fun to read aloud.Double_trouble 2

In Lulu’s English class one morning, there is an outbreak of “lippity-loppity jibber-jabber.”

Everyone is double talking - the students, the teachers, the nurse and even the principal.

He tries to deny it by saying “Tut-tut, sounds like silly-willy hocus pocus to me”.

It seems he has caught the double talk bug too.

Adventure on Klickitat Island
by Hilary Horder Hippely is a beautifully illustrated nighttime adventure.  A little boy and his bear head out to help animals on the island who are wet and cold in a thunderstorm.

“On Klickitat Island
just think of the rains,klickitat
now soaking the otters
and poor baby cranes”

Once they get to the island, all of the animals work with him to build a shelter.  They triumph over the cold rainy night.

“With deer hauling driftwood
and cranes helping sort,
soon standing up tall
was a Klickitat fort!”

Come and visit us, or browse our catalog, if you’re  looking for a children’s book set in, or written about, Washington State.


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Preserving the History and Culture of Washington State

April 1st, 2014 Rand Simmons Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Library 21 Initiative, State Library Collections, Tribal No Comments »

From the desk of Brian Frisina

Washingtonians know the importance of preserving the history and culture of our great state.

Mr. Jackson is shown in the Illustrated History of Mason County, by Susan Olsen and Mary Randlette (1978) Additional information on Dick Jackson can be found in the rise and decline of the Olympia oyster, by E. N. Steele [Elma, Wash., Fulco Publications, 1957]

Mr. Jackson is shown in the Illustrated History of Mason County, by Susan Olsen and Mary Randlette (1978) Additional information on Dick Jackson can be found in the rise and decline of the Olympia oyster, by E. N. Steele [Elma, Wash., Fulco Publications, 1957]

One way to preserve our history is by supporting the Washington State Library. Established as a territorial library, the Washington Territorial Library was created by the Organic Act of 1853, which also created the Washington Territory. The Washington State Library is the oldest cultural institution in Washington State and its original collections were chosen by Governor Isaac Stevens, the first Territorial Governor, before he headed West from the East Coast.

Libraries play a very vital role in society. They provide access to both printed and online information, their collections preserve historical moments, and above all they are the stewards of the history and culture of society.

Libraries also provide people with free opportunities to learn through books, magazines, newspapers, and documents. These opportunities uplift our society and helps us to be the best human beings we can be.

I would like to take a moment and share my experience with the Washington State Library. I was working on a project that required digging deep into the history of the State, the history of the First People. I am interested in telling the story of Washington State through the eyes of the First People.

In my research I was looking for some rare images. One image I was looking for was of a person name Dick Jackson, from the Sqauxin Island Nation. Mr. Jackson played an important role in keeping his people from starving during the 1900s. The image on the right was preserved at the Washington State Library.

Through the collections of the Washington State and help from the staff I was able to locate the research material I needed. I share my story with you to highlight the Washington State Library and its role in preserving the history and culture of our great state.

Thank you Washington State Library.

Brian Frisina works at the Washington State Library branch in the Department of Labor and Industries, He is active in American Indian issues.

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Mercy Thompson Series

March 28th, 2014 Kim Smeenk Posted in For the Public, State Library Collections, Washington Reads No Comments »


From the desk of Kim Smeenk

Frost Burned

Frost Burned

There is a bestselling fantasy series about werewolves and vampires
in Washington State, and it isn’t the one you’re thinking of.


Instead of the rain, mountains and misty forests that most people think of when they picture Washington State, Patricia Briggs has set her Mercy Thompson series where she herself lives.  The dry and sunny Tri Cities region in Eastern Washington.  More desert than forest, more farmland than mountains.

Tri Cities Region

Mercy Thompson is a young Volkswagen mechanic, who also has the ability to shift into a coyote.   This is why she can count amongst her family, friends, acquaintances and enemies, werewolves, witches, vampires, trolls, various other shape-shifters and members of the Fey.

Mercy isn’t a superhero.  Most of the time, she is the weakest supernatural creature in the room.   When we first meet her in Moon Called, she is driving an old VW Rabbit, and lives in an old single wide trailer outside of town with her cat Medea.

You just enjoy spending time with her in these books.  She faces life with humor, loyalty and grit.  There is the actual grit that comes from working on cars all day, but Mercy is also full up on the grit required to face all of those creatures who are stronger than her.  Facing them in her daily life – her neighbors happen to be werewolves – and facing them in battles she often doesn’t expect to win.   She fights those battles because friends are in trouble, or sometimes, it’s her enemies who are in trouble.

Life is complicated, but really, really interesting, in Mercy Thompson’s Tri Cities.

Iron Kissed

Iron Kissed

#1 Moon Called
#2 Blood Bound
#3 Iron Kissed
#4 Bone Crossed
#5 Silver Borne
#6 River Marked
#7 Frost Burned
#8 Night Broken

If your local library doesn’t have these titles, you can borrow them from the Washington State Library through interlibrary loan.


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Mt Constitution on San Juan Island up for sale and not at Five Thousand Feet

March 19th, 2014 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public, State Library Collections No Comments »

From the desk of Shawn Shollmeyer

Wes Langell taking a wagon_load_up_Mt_ConstitutionToday, March 19, 2014, marks the 101st Anniversary of the Washington State Park System.  You can read a little about the history of one of our state parks and follow links to historic newspaper articles.

Dr. J Hilton of Seattle owned 80 acres of land that included Mt. Constitution on Orcas Island. A prime piece of real estate that provides views across the Puget Sound to British Columbia. The February 5th, 1909 San Juan Islander corrected the Bellingham American to get their facts straight, but at 2409 feet, not 5,000, Mt Constitution is still the highest point in the Puget Sound and “…one of the finest views to be had in the world, if the atmosphere is clear.”

The San Juan County citizens petitioned for the state to create 40 acres of this area to be preserved and on February 1st, 1909, Senator John L. Blair introduced a resolution that this area be purchased by the state for a public park when the land came on the market. But many argued over the exorbitant price being asked for the land.

Mt. Constitution did became part of a state park years later. The land was finally donated to the state by Seattle Mayor Robert Moran, but not without some controversy. The Washington State Board of Park Commissioners was created in 1913, but was not able to act until House Bill 164 allowed the state to acquire land (http://www.parks.wa.gov/175/History ) in 1921.

Moran State Park dedication-1 (2) How much was the land worth in 1909 and who was this Dr. J. Hilton? How big is the park now? You can find out more directly from Washington newspapers:

The announcement & support of a state public park

The San Juan islander. (Friday Harbor, Wash.), 16 Jan. 1909. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn88085190/1909-01-16/ed-1/seq-8/>

The San Juan islander. (Friday Harbor, Wash.), 29 Jan. 1909. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn88085190/1909-01-29/ed-1/seq-1/>

The San Juan islander. (Friday Harbor, Wash.), 05 Feb. 1909. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.


Dr. J. Hilton

The San Juan islander. (Friday Harbor, Wash.), 21 Feb. 1913. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn88085190/1913-02-21/ed-1/seq-1/>

 How much were they asking?

The San Juan islander. (Friday Harbor, Wash.), 26 Feb. 1909. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn88085190/1909-02-26/ed-1/seq-1/>

Robert Moran Steps in

The San Juan islander. (Friday Harbor, Wash.), 21 Feb. 1913. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn88085190/1913-02-21/ed-1/seq-1/>

Robert Moran’s Letter refutes a “Public Playground”

The San Juan islander. (Friday Harbor, Wash.), 16 May 1913. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn88085190/1913-05-16/ed-1/seq-1/>

This collection is made possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities, Library of Congressand Washington State Library Digital Collections.

Images are from the Washington Rural Heritage Collection.


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Natural Disasters in Washington State

March 18th, 2014 mschaff Posted in Articles, For the Public, State Library Collections No Comments »

From the desk of Kim Smeenk

Fires, volcanoes, and floods, oh my!

The Pacific Northwest has seen its share of natural disasters over the years. Forest fires, windstorms like the Columbus Day Storm in 1962, and the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980.    The Washington State Library has books, magazine articles, government reports and documentaries about these events.

If you want to read what the newspapers were reporting as the disasters were unfolding, you can find those articles in the State Library’s microfilm newspaper collection.  If you can’t make it to our library, don’t worry, we lend out many of our books, and all of our microfilmed newspapers, to people all over the world through interlibrary loan.
Contact us if you have questions.
blogpost big blow cover image2


In 1963 Ellis Lucia published The big blow; the story of the Pacific Northwest’s Columbus Day storm, about the Pacific Northwest windstorm that killed over  40 people, and caused millions of dollars in damages.

The following year, Dorothy Franklin published West Coast Disaster, Columbus Day, 1962


The great Forks fire, by Mavis Amundson, describes the fast moving forest fire
on the Olympic Peninsula in September 1951 that threatened to destroy the town of  Forks, WA.


blogpost newspaper article 1910 fire2

Olympia Daily Recorder August 13 1910


1910 was another year of massive forest fires in the Pacific NorthwestThere were more than 1,700 fires that burned three million acres, and killed over 80 people.

Year of Fires by Stephen J. Pyne, and The Big Burn by Don Miller are just a few of the books we have about these fires.

For official state reports from that time, you can come to the State Library to read the 100+ year old annual Report(s) of the State Forester and Fire Warden





The most famous natural disaster in Washington State was the eruption of Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980.  These are just a few of the titles the State Library has about this event.

mt st helens

Citizen response to volcanic eruptions: the case of Mt. St. Helens by Ronald W. Perry and Marjorie R. Greene.

Echoes of fury : the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens and the lives it changed forever / Frank Parchman

Mt. St. Helens : surviving the stone wind by Catherine Hickson

Portrait of Mount St. Helens : a changing landscape / essays by Chuck Williams and Stuart Warren

The eruption of Mount St. Helens [videorecording] DVD

Mt. St. Helens [videorecording] : back from the dead DVD

You can find all of these items and more in our online catalog.

If you have questions about how to borrow any of our books or newspaper microfilm, contact us at askalibrarian@sos.wa.gov.


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