WA Secretary of State Blogs

Washington’s Second Library is Also the First

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, State Library Collections, WSL 160 | 1 Comment »


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

Although the Washington Territorial/State Library was formed in 1853, making it the first library and indeed cultural institution in Washington to be supported by public funds, the distinction of becoming the very first community library belongs to Steilacoom.

In our Rare Vault, WSL has two copies of the Constitution, by-laws, and rules and orders of the Steilacoom Library Association, Washington Territory : organized in March, 1858, which was published in 1860. One of the copies has a news clipping attached to the back cover, dated 7 Feb. 1926, apparently from the Tacoma Daily Ledger:

 Steilacoom Library Has Rare Old Books

Movement Under Way to Prepare Fitting Home for Many Valuable Volumes of Historical Interest; First Library Organization Formed in 1857-58

Books, rare old volumes, representing the first library in the state of Washington, are contained in the Steilacoom library. It is but recently the men and women of Steilacoom have begun an active movement to restore the library and secure a home for the institution that will fit with the historical interest centering about this early library.

An article on the founding of the library was recently prepared by Mrs. William A. O’Donnell of Steilacoom and read by her sister, Mrs. Neil Henly, before the annual meeting of the library association January 12. It said, in part:

“During the fall and winter months of 1857-58 a group of citizens, trying to kill time in a corner grocery, in the then flourishing town of Steilacoom conceived the idea of trying to improve their spare time by organizing a library association and at the same time have a place to meet for social intercourse.”

“A call was sent out and the first meeting was held in the grocery store of Philip Keach, on the corner of main and Commercial streets. Meetings were held from time to time. Then a committee was sent to the State Legislature in January 1858, headed by Secretary W.H. Wood of the library.”

 “The result of this was that the first library of the state was formed and known as the Steilacoom Library association. This was agreeable to the act of the Legislature passed February 3, 1858. The object of the association, it was agreed, would be the diffusion of useful knowledge and sound morality. A reading room was to be established, procuring public lectures and debates.”

“Among the signers of the first record very few are alive, but the names familiar now are E.R. Rogers, John Sarltar, E.A. Light, Ezra and John Meeker, Stephen and Paul Judson and Charles Prosch.”

“Money was collected and E.A. Light went to San Francisco to buy books. Some of the first 600 volumes are in the present library.”

“The first home of the library was in the brick store of McCaw & Rogers, with Mr. Rogers as librarian. The years passed and members scattered, until the association was almost forgotten. In 1892 a few interested citizens took the matter up and a reorganization was effected. A.L. Bell was elected librarian. As many of the books as possible were rebound, but this was not much of a success. In 1900 W.L. Bair had the books moved from the old brick store to his drug store and then to the Iron Springs hotel safe, as he realized the old books would become valuable.”

 “In 1914 the Women’s Commercial club solicited books from each member, until a number of new books were secured. This club disbanded and a few remaining members took over the books and formed a library association under the old constitution and bylaws of the Steilacoom library. When the Iron Springs hotel was sold the library was again without a home.”

“Then the new and old library consolidated and since that time those interested have been working hard to keep a roof over the books by social gatherings and other means and hope to secure a permanent home for the oldest library in the state.”

 “At present Mrs. T.A. St. Clair is president of the association; Mrs. F.H. Chelius, vice president; Mrs. William J. Bradley, secretary, and Mrs. E.D. Annis, treasurer.”

 Like the Washington State Library, Steilacoom’s library has had an eventful and perilous history, but has survived and continues to serve citizens to this day.

Other pre-November 1889 territorial library efforts:

1860, January: Seattle Library Association formed, according to Thomas Prosch, followed by several reorganizations for the next couple decades. Actual books were not acquired until 1866. In 1881 the collection was donated to the University of Washington.

1860, November: Lyceum and Library Association, Olympia. A series of lectures failed to excite the interest of the public in funding a new library.

1862: University of Washington. The UW Library did not have a book budget until 1880, existing purely on donated material up to that point. In 1867 the University was missing so many books that an edict limiting circulation to students and teachers was issued.

1864: Walla Walla Library Association began organization in 1864 and incorporated in 1865. Eventually Walla Walla’s library shifted from a subscriber-based foundation and in 1878 actually built and opened what was possibly the first free public library in Washington with a full-time librarian. The experiment came to an end in 1888 due to costs.

1865: Holy Angels College Library, Vancouver. This collection of over 300 volumes was supplied by the Vancouver Catholic Library Association during the College’s quarter century or so existence.

1869, August: Tacoma Lodge of the Good Templars (Olympia). Capt. D.B. Finch, who skippered a mail steamer, donated a building to Olympia for the express purpose of establishing a free public library. By 1878, due to lack of funds, the library had to charge a subscription fee, but that failed to keep the institution alive. The collection was given to the Washington State Library in the 1890s. For a couple years in the 1870s the Territorial Library was housed in the same building.

1873: The Tacoma Reading Room. This short-lived venture began in a tent, which also served as a church on Sundays.

1875: Mrs. Maynard’s Reading Room, Seattle. Catherine Maynard, Doc’s widow, established a free reading room in her downtown Seattle home. In 1876 the collection was moved to the YMCA. Trivia: Mrs. Maynard may have been the person responsible for introducing the dandelion to the Puget Sound area.

1876: Dayton began as a free public library, but was forced to move to a subscription-based model after a year.

1878: The Vancouver Library Association worked in cooperation with the local Odd Fellows to create a free public reading room. In 1891 the collection was given to the newly formed Vancouver Public Library.

1880: The Spokane Library was free to the public and started out with 41 volumes. After a few fits and starts it eventually morphed into Spokane Public Library.

1882: Whitman College makes the first purchases of books for a library.

1882: The city of Colfax worked in cooperation with the Colfax Academy to form a subscription library.

1886: The Mercantile Library of Tacoma began as a reading room in the home of Mrs. Grace R. Moore. Within a few years it was moved downtown and became Tacoma Public Library.

1887: Mr. Bonney’s Book Collection, owned by W.W. Bonney in Ellensburg, was opened to the public. The Ladies Municipal Improvement Society took control of it for several years before the library was presented to the city.

1887, September: Gonzaga University opens and even employs a librarian in the first year.

1888, June: The Ladies Library Association in Seattle started a process of creating a new library, which finally happened after Seattle’s great 1889 fire.

Connect with Your Library: A Mobile app for Washington

Thursday, April 4th, 2013 Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Grants and Funding, News | 2 Comments »


appThe Washington State Library is delighted to announce a $200,000 grant from the Paul G. Allen Family  Foundation which, in combination with Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funds, will develop a mobile application or “app” to connect patrons with their libraries. Libraries that sign up by Friday, April 19, 2013, will have the opportunity to be in the initial phase of implementation.

LSTA funds will pay for development costs of a mobile app for academic, public, and tribal libraries to connect individuals with the library’s online services. Two statewide apps, one for academic libraries and one for public libraries, will be developed. The Allen Foundation funds will pay for public and tribal libraries to use and test the application for the year 2014. Academic libraries will need to pay the subscription fee themselves. Allen Foundation Funds will also pay for a state wide internet PR campaign to publicize the application’s availability.

After the completion of a formal procurement process, and with the advice of an advisory committee, Boopsie was selected as the vendor for this project. Boopsie currently supplies a similar app to the Seattle Public Library (as shown in the image) and to the King County Library System, as well as having provided a similar statewide implementation in the State of Virginia.

More information, including a listing of app features and the Intent to Participate Form can be found at: www.sos.wa.gov/quicklinks/app. Questions? Contact Carolyn Petersen carolyn.petersen@sos.wa.gov, 360.570.5560, or Will Stuivenga will.stuivenga@sos.wa.gov, 360.704.5217.

Anytime Library Reaches Milestone

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public, News | No Comments »


Recently the Washington Anytime Library celebrated the addition of its 30th member library to the group. The Grandview Library became library number 30, meaning that almost half the state’s 62 public library entities are now members of the Washington Anytime Library!

Washington Anytime Library

The Washington Anytime Library provides a substantial collection of downloadable eBooks and audiobooks to its patrons. The Anytime Library is the cooperative effort of a consortium of Washington public libraries, coordinated by the Washington State Library. A list of participating libraries is available on the Anytime Library’s web site.

Congratulations to Grandview Library, and to the Washington Anytime Library for providing this valuable service to library users throughout the state!

This project is funded in part through the use of LSTA (Library Services and Technology Act) funds provided under the auspices of the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) through the coordinating efforts of the Library Development Program at the Washington State Library. Additional funding comes from the participating libraries.

Other Washington libraries provide similar services to their patrons. A list of libraries offering downloadable  audiobooks is available on the project website.

Questions about the project may be directed to Will Stuivenga, Cooperative Projects Manager, Washington State Library.

Vancouver Community Library Opens

Monday, July 18th, 2011 Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public | No Comments »


Atrium wall - the library is here for you

Looking up from the first floor atrium, Vancouver Community Library

The Fort Vancouver Regional Library celebrated the opening of its Vancouver Community Library on Sunday July 17, 2011. Despite the rain, a large crowd turned out for the grand opening ceremonies, the ribbon cutting, and to tour the library building. Speakers included Bruce Ziegman, director of the Fort Vancouver Regional Library, Sam Reed, our Secretary of State, and Karin Ford, the community librarian for the new library. A number of local officials, from trustees to a county commissioner and a city council member, also spoke. The community was thanked for their support of the building project as was the generous contributions of donors.

The library is magnificent with four floors open to the public and one floor for administrative functions. The first floor includes the Columbia meeting room, a computer training area, and teen space. The third floor is dedicated to children, with spaces for an Early Learning Center, a children’s area and the collections for this audience. The fourth floor is largely non-fiction. Fiction is on the fifth floor along with the reading room split by its open fireplace and a large window wall opening to the rooftop terrace.

Bruce Zeigman - DirectorCrowd waiting to enter First Floor Atrium Early Learning Center Reading Room and Fireplace The rooftop terrace

WSL Updates for March 3, 2011

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011 Posted in For Libraries, Grants and Funding, News, Training and Continuing Education, Updates | No Comments »


Volume 7, March 3, 2011 for the WSL Updates mailing list

Topics include:

1) WASHINGTON RURAL HERITAGE GRANT CYCLE OPENS

2) NEW SUPPORTING STUDENT SUCCESS GRANT CYCLE OPENING

3) HELP REVIEW DATABASE PRODUCTS FOR WA LIBRARIES

4) CELEBRATE NATIONAL BOOKMOBILE DAY

5) MONEY SMART WEEK IN WASHINGTON

6) FREE CE OPPORTUNITIES NEXT WEEK

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Electronic Resources for Library Users: Survey Report and Complete Results

Friday, January 14th, 2011 Posted in Articles, For Libraries | No Comments »


Survey GraphIn approaching a new contract for statewide database licensing in Washington State, the Washington State Library decided to create two surveys, one for staff at libraries of all types throughout Washington, and another for the users of public libraries in Washington. Today we are publishing a report that provides a summary of that second survey for public library users.

The survey was administered by providing a link and image for public libraries to put on their websites. In the interest of user anonymity, we did not collect any information about which users came from which libraries, which means that we cannot parse out data based on library size. This summary aggregates responses and comments from all users that started the survey. 1,209 library users started the survey, with 90.1% (1,089 library users) completing it.

Interested parties may download the report (pdf) and complete results (xls) below:

A report and analysis of the survey for library staff will also be published and made available once it is completed.

WSL Updates for October 21, 2010

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010 Posted in For the Public, News, Technology and Resources, Training and Continuing Education, Updates | No Comments »


Volume 6, October 21, 2010 for the WSL Updates mailing list

Topics include:

1) SDL NEEDS ASSESSMENT SURVEYS

2) GO TO THE WEB AND SAY AHH

3) WSL STAFF REMEMBERED

4) BULLYING SURVEY CLOSES THURSDAY AT 11:00 P.M.

5) FREE PRESERVATION WEBINAR SERIES

6) GRANTSTATION SUBSCRIPTION RENEWALS

7) PUBLIC LIBRARY INTERNET USE STUDY DEADLINE

8) FREE CE OPPORTUNITIES NEXT WEEK

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WSL Updates for September 23, 2010

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010 Posted in For Libraries, Grants and Funding, News, Training and Continuing Education, Updates | 1 Comment »


Volume 6, September 23, 2010 for the WSL Updates mailing list

Topics include:

1) NEW DIGITAL COLLECTION – KIONA-BENTON CITY HERITAGE

2) 2009 WASHINGTON PUBLIC LIBRARY STATISTICAL REPORT

3) THERE’S STILL TIME TO TAKE THE SURVEY

4) SPARKS! IGNITION GRANTS

5) GREAT STORIES CLUB GRANTS FROM ALA

6) MUSEUMS FOR AMERICA GRANT PROGRAM

7) AMIGOS ANNOUNCES WESTERN RESOURCE SHARING AGREEMENT

8) FREE CE OPPORTUNITIES NEXT WEEK

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WSL Updates for July 8, 2010

Thursday, July 8th, 2010 Posted in For Libraries, News, Training and Continuing Education, Updates | 1 Comment »


Volume 6, July 8, 2010 for the WSL Updates mailing list

Topics include:

1) PUBLIC LIBRARIES SURVEY REPORT RELEASED

2) WSL REFERENCE LIBRARIAN POSITION ANNOUNCEMENT

3) READER-FRIENDLY LIBRARY SERVICE

4) HOW TO INCREASE YOUR TIME, SPACE, AND COURAGE

5) MISSION INSPIRED GIFT FUNDRAISING

6) CREATING A HIGH PERFORMING WORKPLACE

7) HELPING LEARNERS ACQUIRE MOTIVATION AND SKILLS

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Ride the Wave: Tips to Weather the Heat

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009 Posted in Articles, For the Public, Technology and Resources | No Comments »


Hot Summer Sun (via Flickr)

Hot Summer Sun (via Flickr)

Forecasters claim that the temperature should drop by Friday, but right now Friday seems a long ways off. With the temperatures hovering in the high 90s, here are some resources with tips to help you survive the heat for the next few days until those cool (since when is mid-80s cool?) temperatures come back around to us. Of course it’s always hot in eastern Washington, but that just means these tips are even more relevant.

MedicineNet.com provides tips on “How to Survive a Heat Wave – Without Air Conditioning“, and includes such ideas as using public building for A/C (libraries are good options!), creating your own A/C with a box fan and bowl of ice, avoiding protein-rich meals (which heat your body), and more.

The CDC has a site on “Tips for Preventing Heat-Related Illness“, and has some additional ideas worth checking out. Among them: drinking more fluids, but avoiding sugar and caffeine; wearing loose, light-weight and light-colored clothing; and keeping an eye on those most at risk, e.g. seniors and younger children, to make sure that they are okay.

Both sites suggest hanging out in cool public buildings, and both mention public libraries as an excellent spot to rest out of the sun. Hey, public libraries are the coolest public buildings out there!

Hang in there, stay cool, and don’t forget to check in on those close to you who are most at risk from heat-related illness.