WA Secretary of State Blogs

Listen Up! Stories from the Northwest Corner

Monday, June 6th, 2016 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public | No Comments »


ListenUpLogoThe National Park Service turns 100 on August 25, 2016.  In honor of that centennial celebration, the Port Angeles Public Library—located right on the footsteps of Olympic National Park—recently interviewed a number of its patrons about their experiences visiting, living in, and working at national parks throughout the U.S.  These audio recordings are now accessible online at: http://sos.wa.gov/q/listenup.

We especially enjoyed ranger Dean Butterworth’s story of guiding troubled teens on a snowshoeing trip in Mount Rainier National Park: http://www.washingtonruralheritage.org/cdm/ref/collection/nols/id/4155.

This is the first of an ongoing series of oral histories projects planned by the Port Angeles Public Library. Their new program, Listen Up! Stories from the Northwest Corner will collect and archive a wide variety of stories from Clallam County residents. Inspired by StoryCorps, the interviews will be made available for listening through the North Olympic Heritage website—part of the Washington State Library’s Washington Rural Heritage program.

The North Olympic Library System is hosting a free listening party at the Olympic National Park Visitor Center on Tuesday, June 21, 7pm, at the Olympic National park Visitor Center, 3002 Mount Angeles Rd, Port Angeles. Stop by to hear locals recall their favorite National Park stories and memories!  And if you can’t make it, the recordings will also be available at the Visitor Center all summer long.

New Deal-era Art Digitization at the Ellensburg Public Library

Thursday, February 11th, 2016 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public | No Comments »


Washington Rural Heritage staff hit the road recently to help the Ellensburg Public Library digitize unique works by New Deal-era artist Ernest R. Norling.

Known most widely for his important 1939 book on drawing, “Perspective Made Easy,” Norling also made a significant contribution to documenting Washington’s industry and history in the wake of the Great Depression. His murals depicting early pioneers, agricultural workers, Northwest logging crews, or CCC men at work, grace a great many public and private schools, buildings, and businesses throughout Washington. [Read an oral history interview with Norling by the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art here].

2016-01_ellensburgPL1_blogTo digitize oversize works like Norling’s, Washington State Library staff set up a mobile studio of sorts in the Ellensburg Public Library’s archives and local history collections space (the Library stores and preserves works owned by the City of Ellensburg and the Ellensburg Art Commission). We used a field camera along with a large format lens and digital “scan back,” tethered to a laptop, as shown in the photo at left. The result is a high-resolution, reproduction-quality image of Norling’s painting. It will be digitally preserved by the Washington State Library, and a lower-resolution “access” copy will be made viewable to the general public. The digital photography equipment used for this project has also been used extensively to digitize three-dimensional art work, as well as objects and artifacts held by cultural organizations throughout the state.

Norling’s work, along with a large portion of the City of Ellensburg’s art collection, will appear online this spring, as part of the larger Ellensburg Heritage Collection. Staff at the Ellensburg Public Library are performing the bulk of art digitization and description on their own, with a 2015-2016 Washington Rural Heritage grant.

Washington Rural Heritage is a statewide digitization program, serving Washington’s public and tribal libraries as well as their institutional partners (museums, historical societies, etc.). Library Services and Technology Act funding for the program comes from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services. A new Washington Rural Heritage competitive grant opportunity will be available for libraries by early March. Those with questions or project proposal ideas are encouraged to contact Evan Robb, Digital Repository Librarian, at 360-704-5228, or evan.robb@sos.wa.gov.

Rand’s new position – Federal Collection Executive Manager

Thursday, January 28th, 2016 Posted in Articles, Federal and State Publications, For Libraries, For the Public | No Comments »


DSCN2084You have no doubt heard that Rand Simmons has moved to a new position in the State Library.  His new role is “Federal Collection Executive Manager” a job title certainly, but not really a job description.  So this intrepid reporter decided to dig a little deeper and learn just what exciting things are unfolding with this new State Library initiative.   Wow, Rand has his work cut out.

A little background.  The Washington State Library (WSL) is the Federal Regional Depository Library for Washington and Alaska.  This means we are obliged to collect and maintain ALL the federal documents distributed through the Federal Depository Library Program and allow all the libraries and citizens within our region to access them.

What is a federal document you ask? A working definition might be “a publication of a federal agency, congress, or the courts.”  Guess what, after years of collecting, even though many of the federal documents are housed off site, we are running out of space at the State Library.

In addition to WSL’s collection there are 25 Selective Depositories scattered around these two states, which house smaller collections chosen specifically for their users.  Some of the libraries also house pieces of the regional collection on behalf of the State Library.  Rand is working with the selective depositories, using a model developed at the Oregon State Library, to have them take increased responsibility for parts of the regional collection. The regional collection would be distributed among at least five selective depository libraries and the State Library. “This is a model we have wanted to put into place for at least five years,” Crystal Lentz, Regional Federal Depository Library Coordinator, observed.

To give an example of how the Shared Regional Collection would work, WSU has offered to be responsible for documents about Agriculture.  The WSL, as the regional depository, must comply with certain regulations regarding the regional collection and when libraries like WSU partner with us, they will agree to comply with the same regulations.  The regulations will mean less flexibility for the libraries to discard items from within their federal collection.  Regional collection items generally cannot be discarded, except under very specific circumstances, while items received as part of a selective depository collection can be discarded after 5 years.   As you can imagine this will be a slow process with many moving parts and many individuals involved but it is really a key for all of these libraries, including WSL, to have a well-managed, comprehensive federal documents collection for the people of Washington and Alaska. Rand and Crystal are working together with these libraries to develop housing agreements (contracts) that will identify the expectations and obligations to which all parties will comply.

Another piece of Rand’s job is to work towards providing online public access to all federal documents through digitization.  This is a complex project. While some of the State Library’s federal collection is cataloged many older documents are not.  Crystal noted that “many depository libraries are in the same situation of not knowing how many federal publications they have. Even the Government Publishing Office cannot tell us what is included in a comprehensive collection. We have well over a million items. How much more is the mystery.”

Rand describes the project as having two major steps: 1) inventory and catalog pieces of the collection that have been selected for digitization and 2) digitize publications that cannot be accessed online.  Two simple steps that equal a rather daunting project.

First we have to determine exactly what we have/don’t have. Because the Washington State Library was created as a federal territorial library we have been collecting federal publications for a long time. Documents are received in print (paper), on microfiche or other mediums such as DVD, and electronically.

Inventory, cataloging and digitization are parts of making the regional collection visible and available to our “virtual” customers – those who want and need these publications but who are not able to be walk-in customers or able to borrow items through interlibrary loan. The project is labor intensive and will require resources not currently available including a larger staff.  Rand stated, “We don’t want to catalog and digitize publications that other libraries have done.” Unfortunately there is no single place to search to learn which documents have already been digitized by other institutions.

You get the picture.  Before we can even begin the digitization of the documents there is a lot of leg work to be done. Despite hurdles to be jumped Secretary Wyman has stressed the importance of making our federal publications more available to a wider audience than they are now.  The Secretary of State’s office has the goal to become a national leader in the digitization of the Federal Documents collection.  The key is digitizing these publication so they are available to people through the Internet.  While the process will take time it has now become a priority for our leadership and we look forward to seeing the project unfold.

A Century of Stewardship — the Nesset Family Farm Collection

Thursday, December 31st, 2015 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public | No Comments »


aliceNessetThe Washington Rural Heritage Program is pleased to announce a new digital collection from the Deming Library (Whatcom County Library System). The Nesset Family Farm Collection tells the story of a Norwegian immigrant homesteaders who settled on the South Fork Nooksack River in 1902, and for decades worked tirelessly to coax a living from the land, raise five children, and run a small dairy. In the meantime, they documented the many pleasures of settler life in the South Fork, including hiking and skiing on Mount Baker, and fishing on the Nooksack River.

The collection, along with an interactive timeline, can be viewed at: http://www.washingtonruralheritage.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/mtbaker

The Nesset homestead is no longer a working farm, but the land and many of its historical buildings have been preserved by successive generations of Nessets as well as the Nesset Farm Trust. Today, the farm is considered one of the best remaining examples of an intact agricultural homestead in Western Washington. Many of the original buildings, including the farmhouse and barn, are being renovated as of this writing (2015) and will be open to the public when Whatcom County’s newly established South Fork Park is completed.

Tom_Nesset_in_cedar_dugout_canoe_South_Fork_Nooksack_River_circa_1920The Nesset Family Farm Collection is just one part of the Deming Library’s Mount Baker Foothills Collection—a locally-managed digital initiative which promises to bring together a wealth of unique historical materials and make them freely available online.

Digitization in 2014-2015 was accomplished with a grant award from the Washington State Library, funded by the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) through the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

Washington public and tribal libraries will be eligible for our next round of digitization grants to be announced in early 2016. Questions about the grant opportunity should be directed to Evan Robb, Digital Repository Librarian, evan.robb@sos.wa.gov, (360) 704-5228.

Washington Rural Heritage Volunteer Recognized for Excellence

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections | No Comments »


whitmanWandaAldermanPattiCammack

Wanda Alderman (right), standing with Whitman County Library’s Patti Cammack.

Wanda Alderman, Friend and volunteer for Whitman County Library recently received an Outstanding Volunteer Award from The Washington State Genealogical Society recognizing her efforts to preserve important historic images and records for a number of agencies and projects including Washington Rural Heritage, the State Library’s  local history digitization program.

Volunteering for the library for nearly 7 years, Wanda has been the public face of the local project, tracking down hidden collections, interviewing contributors, documenting critical cataloging information, and providing community programs. Thanks in large part to Wanda’s efforts, Whitman County’s Rural Heritage collection contains nearly 4000 images and averages 4000 site visits per month.

Additionally, Wanda has volunteered for Find a Grave for 14 years, served as Bethel Cemetery secretary/treasurer for 10 years, transcribes records for Washington State Digital Archives, donates time and resources to the St. John Historical Society, and keeps scrapbooks for her alma mater Steptoe school.

Wanda is shown here, with Whitman County Library’s Rural Heritage project manager, Patti Cammack at a public program and open house this July promoting the digital collection. These two are truly leaders in the community digitization field, having digitized materials from more than a dozen partner institutions in Eastern Washington and more than 100 previously inaccessible family collections.  Thank you Wanda and Patti for championing our common heritage!

New Digital Collection: Medical Lake Heritage

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections | No Comments »


Large format photography, Medical Lake Library, 2015. Scanning a men's wool bathing suit.A new digital collection from our Washington Rural Heritage program tells the story of Medical Lake—the inland Northwest’s first destination resort and spa community.  This collection of historical documents, photos, and cultural objects was digitized in 2014-2015 by the Medical Lake Library (Spokane County Library District) in partnership with the Medical Lake Historical Society.

Located 15 miles southwest of Spokane, Washington, Medical Lake was once lauded for its curative properties. The lake’s mineral waters were said to provide a cure for everything from “rheumatism” to “kidney complaints” to “skin diseases.” In the late 1800s and early 1900s, a bustling enterprise developed around the lake. Visitors came from far and wide, and an electric train connected the town to Spokane for a period. Medical Lake boasted several hotels, lakeside resorts, and a sanitarium that pumped lake water directly into its baths. In addition, the lake’s minerals were extracted and sold throughout the United States in the form of salts, tablets, soap, an ointment, and even a porous plaster. The water itself was bottled for export.

While the lake’s heyday was relatively brief, it helped firmly establish the town of Medical Lake, and its legacy and local historical interest endures.

Learn more about the history of Medical Lake at HistoryLink: Medical Lake: The Inland Empire’s First Spa.

Highlights from the collectionblog_boom include:

  • The Story of Medical Lake, a 1972 souvenir edition of the Cheney Free Press celebrating 100 years of Medical Lake history. This special edition constitutes an excellent local history of the area, providing profiles of early citizens, businesses, organizations, and community events.
  • Early newspapers from Medical Lake, including the Medical Lake Ledger and Medical Lake Enterprise.
  • Objects and artifacts from the Medical Lake Historical Society, including products incorporating mineral salts and extracts.

Congratulations to the Spokane County Library District for making this unique collection widely accessible for researchers, students, and the general public!

imls-logo-2c.jpgWashington Rural Heritage is supported with Library Services and Technology Act funding provided by the federal Institute for Museum and Library Services. To learn more about participating in Washington Rural Heritage, contact Evan Robb, Digital Repository Librarian at evan.robb@sos.wa.gov.

New Digital Collection: Colville National Forest

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public, Grants and Funding | No Comments »


The Washington Rural Heritage project recently went live with a new digital collection from the northeast corner of our state. The Colville National Forest Collection provides access to a sampling of the archival photos, maps, and documents held by the Heritage Department at Colville National Forest Headquarters in Stevens County.

Of particular note are the photos of fire lookouts that once dotted the mountaintops of the Kettle River and Selkirk Mountain Ranges. These photos have been geo-referenced and placed on a “Story Map” so that users can fly from peak to peak, getting a glimpse of the varied lookout tower styles  as well as truly stunning panoramic photographs taken from the lookouts themselves—once important tools to the fire spotters that occupied the lookouts. Because most of these photos were produced by the U.S. Federal Government, they are in the public domain.

The collection represents a collaborative digitization project undertaken in 2014-2015 by the Colville National Forest and Libraries of Stevens County. According to Colville National Forest spokesman, Franklin Pemberton, “We love the idea of people having access to [the documents] – for research or for student projects. They capture the heritage of Northeast Washington before photos were widely available to average citizens.”

The Washington Rural Heritage project serves public and tribal libraries throughout Washington, as well as partnering organizations such as museums, local government, and schools. Headquartered at the Washington State Library (Office of the Secretary of State), the project is supported with Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funding provided by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services. The project’s 2015-2016 digitization grant cycle is currently accepting applications from eligible insitutions. To find out how your organization can participate in this statewide digitization initiative, please contact Digital Repository Librarian Evan Robb at evan.robb@sos.wa.gov.

 

In search of the Eatonville Dispatch

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public | 1 Comment »


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: .

WSL Updates for March 12, 2015

Thursday, March 12th, 2015 Posted in Digital Collections, For Libraries, Grants and Funding, News, Training and Continuing Education, Updates | No Comments »


Volume 11, March 12, 2015 for the WSL Updates mailing list

Topics include:

1) WASHINGTON RURAL HERITAGE GRANT CYCLE OPEN

2) RECORDED BOOKS ONECLICK RENEWALS

3) SAN JUAN ISLAND LIBRARY WINS AWARD

4) STORYCORPS COMES TO NISQUALLY

5) WELL-FED & WELL-READ – SUMMER MEAL SITES

6) FREE CE OPPORTUNITIES NEXT WEEK

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WSL Updates for March 5, 2015

Thursday, March 12th, 2015 Posted in Digital Literacy, For Libraries, News, Training and Continuing Education, Updates | No Comments »


Volume 11, March 5, 2015 for the WSL Updates mailing list

Topics include:

1) FREE WORKSHOPS FROM WSL

2) MAPPING INCLUSION – FREE ALA WEBINAR

3) AMIGOS CALLS FOR PRESENTATIONS

4) ARSL CALLS FOR 2015 CONFERENCE PROPOSALS

5) ANNUAL CONFERENCE ALERT

6) FREE CE OPPORTUNITIES NEXT WEEK

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