WA Secretary of State Blogs

Cooperative Projects from Library Development

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013 Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Grants and Funding, Technology and Resources | No Comments »


Ft. Vancouver Regional Library downtown branch As a further recognition of National Library Week, we offer this overview of several cooperative projects that benefit libraries statewide.

The WSL Library Development staff coordinates several cooperative statewide projects which leverage the combined purchasing power of libraries throughout the state to save significant amounts of money for Washington libraries. In addition, LSTA (Library Services & Technology Act) funds provided through IMLS (The Institute for Museum & Library Services) are used to subsidize or kick start cooperative purchasing arrangements, helping libraries break into new areas such as virtual reference, eBooks, or downloadable audiobooks.

The oldest example of these kinds of projects is Statewide Database Licensing (SDL), which since 1997 has been providing a suite of research databases to public, academic, K-12, medical, and research libraries statewide. Library Development staff also coordinate library funded group purchases for other products; past examples include the online version of Consumer Reports, and an automotive repair database; a current example is Zinio, a very popular new platform for reading magazines online. It has been conservatively estimated that SDL saves Washington libraries over $20 million annually.

A more recent example is Off the Page: Downloadable Audiobooks and eBooks for Washington, which has helped libraries provide these new formats to their patrons. 31 public library systems in Washington are now able to offer both e-books and audiobooks via the Washington Anytime Library, and several more libraries are in process to join this consortium. More than 40 public and academic libraries, as well as over 300 K-12 school libraries are offering downloadable audiobooks via a statewide contract with another vendor.Ft. Vancouver High School Library

Another area in which Washington libraries are successfully working together is in providing access to 24×7  virtual reference services to their patrons. Via Ask-WA, more than 60 Washington libraries, both public and academic, are providing online reference services through chat, e-mail, and instant messaging (IM) technologies.

Just being rolled out as we write, is a brand new project, Connect with Your Library: A Mobile App for Washington, which in partnership with the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, is providing the opportunity for public and academic libraries to offer their services via a user-friendly mobile application (app). The app will let users locate libraries, place holds, renew materials, download eBooks, or check to see if the library has an item, and more, all from the mobile device they carry in their hand.

These programs and others like them are great examples of how under the leadership provided by the WSL Library Development Program, LSTA funds are used to assist in providing a level playing field, such that smaller libraries can provide their patrons with the same kinds of services and resources that otherwise might be restricted to the larger library systems, while simultaneously providing assistance to all Washington libraries, both large and small.

Ref22: Mastering the Reference Interview

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010 Posted in Articles, For Libraries, Training and Continuing Education | No Comments »


Ref22-Logo Did you miss out on the live Ref22 webinar this week? Never fear! All Ref22 sessions are archived and available on the website at Ref22: Archived Sessions.

For our October session we had Christa Werle  from Sno-Isle Libraries talking about mastering the reference interview. Check it out!

Whatever our official status, our users think of us all simply as “the librarian.” Join us during October’s Ref22 to discuss how library staff of all levels can engage (and sometimes disengage) our users to best meet their information needs.

Sno-Isle Libraries offers this training quarterly to all staff that work at a public information or customer service desk. The training is a mix of “Reference 101″ (for paraprofessionals) and “Reference Refresher” (for librarians).

With a focus on working as a team, this training reminds us of our best practices in how to be a community doorway to reading, resources, and lifelong learning.

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Ref22: When Teens Attack!

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010 Posted in Articles, For Libraries, Training and Continuing Education | No Comments »


Ref22-Logo Did you miss out on the live Ref22 webinar last week? Never fear! All Ref22 sessions are archived and available on the website at Ref22: Archived Sessions.

Last week we had Jen Robinson from the Seattle Public Library talking about serving teens (and other “difficult” patrons) via chat. Check it out!

The September edition of Ref22 is proud to present, “When Teens Attack!: Tips for dealing with 12-year-olds and other difficult customers on chat reference” (presented in High-Definition PowerPoint).

Jen Robinson of The Seattle Public Library attempts to explain the reasons why teens (and tweens) are the way they are, and presents some clever ways to best help the under-18 set via online chat.

Virtual and physical reference librarians and any library staff that regularly serve teens will find this session of interest.

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Thoughts on Innovation in Reference Services

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010 Posted in Articles, For Libraries, Technology and Resources, Training and Continuing Education | No Comments »


Last Friday I had the pleasure of [virtually] being part of a panel at the WLA / PNLA conference in Victoria. The panel was called “Reference Service Innovations: Present and Future”, and my fellow panelists and I were given some excellent questions to consider.

Since I wasn’t sure how the technology would play out (I was a virtual presenter on a panel that was otherwise physically present AT the conference), I recorded the questions with my answers and sent them along so that I could be represented even if the technology failed. Thankfully, it didn’t, and I’m happy to have my thoughts recorded so that I can share them here with you.

The questions were provided by Heather McLeland-Wieser at the Seattle Public Library. These answers represent some of my thoughts on the future of reference service. I hope they’re of interest, and that you’ll share your thoughts as well in the comments.

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WSL Updates for August 12, 2010

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010 Posted in For Libraries, Grants and Funding, News, Training and Continuing Education, Updates | No Comments »


Volume 6, August 12, 2010 for the WSL Updates mailing list

Topics include:

1) ASK-WA LAUNCHES SMART PHONE APP

2) FULL SCHOLARSHIPS FOR DENVER LIBRARY CONFERENCE

3) TRANSFORMING LIFE AFTER 50

4) ACTIVATE YOUR LYRASIS MEMBERSHIP NOW

5) FALL BOOK BUZZ 2010

6) FREE FUNDRAISING E-BOOK

7) FREE ONLINE CE EVENTS NEXT WEEK

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WSL Updates for April 15, 2010

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010 Posted in For Libraries, Grants and Funding, News, Training and Continuing Education, Updates | No Comments »


Volume 6, April 15, 2010 for the WSL Updates mailing list

Topics include:

1) SUPPORTING STUDENT SUCCESS – MONEY STILL AVAILABLE

2) ASK-WA – ALL YOUR REFERENCE IN ONE PLACE

3) IN THE NEWS – RENEW WASHINGTON

4) ALA ONLINE LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES

5) HOW LIBRARIES STACK UP – 2010

6) NW DOCUMENTARY FILM RELEASED

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Ask-WA(tch): Stats, Kudos and Comments for Dec 2009

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010 Posted in Articles, For Libraries | 2 Comments »


Ask-WA Statistics – December, 2009

December Survey Comments WordcloudDecember tends to be a slower month for Ask-WA, mainly because academic traffic drops off so sharply during the holiday breaks. In numbers:

  • Email questions received: 3319
  • Chat sessions requested: 3474
  • Chat sessions accepted: 2883
  • Qwidget requests (% of total): 791 (22.8%)

On a positive note, our answering percentage rose from its dangerously low 74% last month up to 83% in December, which is ideal. The best part is that this higher ratio is due to every cooperative maintaining a good ratio in December (as opposed to one group doing super-well and raising the rest up). Qwidget requests, as a percentage, rose from November to come back up to their average 20-25% level.

The word cloud highlights some of the most-used words left in survey comments throughout December. Some great words this month include: amazing, awesome, prompt, kind, helpful, useful, and wonderful.

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Ask-WA(tch): Stats, Kudos and Comments for Nov 2009

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009 Posted in Articles, For Libraries | No Comments »


Ask-WA Statistics – November, 2009

November Survey Comments Wordcloud Ask-WA slowed down a bit in November compared to October, but since we were super-extra busy in October, that isn’t saying too much. November numbers were still well ahead of September, August, and July numbers, especially in terms of chat sessions requested. In numbers:

  • Email questions received: 3743
  • Chat sessions requested: 4912
  • Chat sessions accepted: 3645
  • Qwidget requests (% of total): 965 (19.6%)

As a cooperative we maintained an answering percentage of 74% for the month, which is down significantly from previous months, and falls just below our goal percentage of 75%. This is due to some drag in the public cooperative, but I’m sure we can dust ourselves off and bring the numbers back up! Chat continues to dominate email, though both services remain well-used. Qwidget traffic dropped this month to just under 20%, down from a fairly consistent 25% in previous months.

The word cloud highlights some of the most-used words left in survey comments throughout November. Some great words this month include: wonderful, excellent, fast, quick, great, impressed, and love.

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Ask-WA(tch): Stats, Kudos and Comments for Oct 2009

Monday, November 16th, 2009 Posted in Articles, For Libraries | No Comments »


October Survey Comments Wordcloud Ask-WA Statistics – October, 2009

Ask-WA picked up significantly in October, beating September and August in every category. Except Qwidget requests, which remained about even, percentage-wise. In numbers:

  • Email questions received: 4287
  • Chat sessions requested: 5303
  • Chat sessions accepted: 4343
  • Qwidget requests (% of total): 1282 (24.2%)

As a cooperative we maintained an answering percentage of 81.9% for the month, which is down nearly 5% from September (probably because of the increased traffic), but remains well over the goal rate of 75%. Keep up the good work! The email aspect of the service continues to enjoy plenty of traffic, though the chat service blossomed this month and beat email by over 1,000 questions. Qwidget traffic remains consistent at around 1/4th of the total chat traffic.

The word cloud highlights some of the most-used words left in survey comments throughout October. The larger the word, the more it was used, so it’s nice to be able to easily pick out (because of their size), words like: great, helpful, wonderful, excellent, useful, impressed, nice, easy, and love.

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Ask-WA Goes Primetime

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009 Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Technology and Resources | No Comments »


image Ask-WA had its television debut last Friday night on Komo News! All the video they took was from the UW, but they covered the service well, and in a very good light, and mentioned all the key points. Check it out!

If you’re not in the know, Ask-WA is a statewide cooperative of libraries – academics, publics, and specials – offering 24/7 virtual reference service to all the residents of Washington State. If you want to give it a try, go to the Ask-WA website at http://ask.wa.gov.

Check out the text of the story and more on the KomoNews.com website.