WA Secretary of State Blogs

Spotlight on Staff: Jennifer Fenton

Thursday, July 24th, 2014 Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Training and Continuing Education | No Comments »


If you had to use one word to describe Jennifer “Non-stop” would be a good one. Other words that apply are enthusiastic, friendly, and knowledgeable.  library photo

Jennifer has worked in libraries for over 25 years starting in her high school years at King County Library (KCLS) as a Page. She continued working for KCLS all through her college and graduate school days honing her skills as she went. Her dream job and where she focused her education was in Children’s Services and fresh out of library school she went to work for the Ellensburg City Library as the youth services librarian. Pulling on her experience at KCLS and knowing what was possible, Jennifer took the children’s program to a new level introducing baby and toddler story times, school age programs as well as teen programming. With her quiet charm she roped in the Police and Fire Departments, the City Manager and the Mayor to come and read to the kids. She participated on behalf of the library with the kids in the Ellensburg parade, rode on a float and had on average four programs A DAY! One of the most popular programs was an American Girl Doll event. It started as a Victorian tea complete with real china but soon became a multi-age event for both boys and girls where they put on plays. As she said “The kids enjoy being stage managers and lighting engineers even if they won’t appear on stage.” Sets were made, costumes produced, the show must go on! Jennifer stressed however, that the kids did the work, she just coordinated the event. Did I say “non-stop”?

Besides her day to day work, while in Ellensburg, Jennifer was also the backup Library Director and was often called on to function in this role. In her “free time” She became involved in CAYAS and has been active in the Washington Library Association (WLA) since 1997.

Jennifer loved her time in Ellensburg but wanting to be closer to family she moved back to Western Washington and to the Sno-Isle Libraries, specifically the Mukilteo Library. While at Sno-Isle she was promoted to Assistant Children’s Service Manager. She co-implemented an early learning program called “Ready Readers”. She reports that working with the Children’s staff at Sno-Isle is “Where I got my love of training.” Jennifer’s tenure at Sno-Isle was before Washington’s state-wide involvement with the Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSLP), each library had to create their own Summer Reading Program.

Richard Jesse Watson’s Sno-Isle’s Summer Reading Logo

Richard Jesse Watson’s Sno-Isle’s Summer Reading Logo

She developed a partnership with authors/illustrators to help produce programs and materials for the SRP and other programming and is still friends with many of these authors.

While at Sno-Isle, Jennifer also worked as a collection development librarian and was “loaned” to Lake Stevens Library as a Branch Manager. She found she really liked the “high level work” and that is what eventually led her to the State Library.

Ready for new challenges, in 2008 Jennifer became the Training Coordinator for Washington State, coordinating trainings both in person and online. She plans at least two major “on the ground” events a year, this year’s being the wildly successful “Gadget Menagerie” and “Mental Health First Aid”.   “She also partners with the WLA on a Continuing Education Needs Assessment which goes to all  librarians in Washington state. This fall look for a Social Media training and more sessions of “Leading without Authority.” Judging on the success of Jennifer’s past programs you might want to sign up early.

You would think with ALL this going on in her life there would be no time for anything else but Jennifer has a husband and two dogs to keep her busy in her off hours. She and her husband make jewelry (just look the next time you see her) and love to travel. Her cubicle walls are covered with gorgeous pictures taken in London, Hawaii and Egypt. Jennifer Egypt

But enough from me, let’s see what her fans have to say about her.

“Jennifer is a person of many dimensions but more than anything she is patient, everywhere and every when, she is cool, calm and patient with, well, everybody.”

Lauren L R Murphy, Senior Librarian, Bonney Lake Pierce County Library

“I have worked with Jennifer on numerous projects and her depth of knowledge is always a great asset to each one. She brings a genuine enthusiasm to everything she does and her professional joy is infectious. Jenn is such a treasure to work with!”

Brianna K. Hoffman Richland Public Library

“I admire her as a ‘connector’ creating networks with people state-wide as well as with CE people in other libraries around the country.”

Jeanne Fondrie, Learning Coordinator, Whatcom County Library System

‘I first met Jennifer when I was a new librarian – I followed her as children’s librarian at the Mukilteo Library.  From the beginning, I appreciated the way she took me under her wing and mentored me… I can always count on Jennifer to offer advice on potential trainers, improving training or leadership.  She is knowledgeable, friendly and approachable.”

Kristin Piepho, Children’s Coordinator, Sno-Isle Libraries

Are you tired reading this? I could barely keep up with taking notes. Do you have a training need? Washington Librarians and libraries are in good hands with Jennifer Fenton.

 

 

 

Cha-cha-cha-changes…

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014 Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Uncategorized | No Comments »


Brain Science tells us that you need to “use it or lose it”. Lately, between retirements and re-organization the State Library is providing plenty of opportunities for brain development to two long time employees. First, Carolyn Petersen is transitioning back to her roots.

Carolyn Petersen

Carolyn Petersen

Martha Shinners the long time Youth Services Consultant for the Washington State Library, retired at the end of May and Carolyn has happily stepped up to the plate to fill the very large hole left by Martha. As our Youth Services Consultant, Carolyn will be returning to her roots in Youth Services, only this time for Library Development at the Washington State Library.  This won’t be a huge departure.  Carolyn spent the first ten years of her professional life as a children’s librarian.  Early in her career she chaired the CAYAS interest group, the CAYAS institute and became a founding committee member of the Washington State Children’s Picture Book Award.

Carolyn has kept abreast of trends in Youth Services even as she strengthened her skills in other areas of librarianship.  When she joined Library Development she assisted Martha Shinners by carrying What’s the Big Idea?, a math and science readiness program, out to tribal and rural libraries.  In the immediate future Carolyn will be implementing the third year of the Teacher-Librarian Common Core Cadre (TLC3) with the support of the TLC3 advisory committee.

As Carolyn was already one of the busiest and hardest working members of the Library Development team obviously something had to give. Thankfully another long time WSL employee, Shirley Lewis, has joined the Library Development Team as an Assistant Program Manager.

Shirley Lewis

Shirley Lewis

Shirley began work at the Washington State Library in 1988 as a consultant in Library Planning and Development. She went on to serve in the Washington/Northwest Room, as a Northwest collection specialist, then as Head of Acquisitions, and, most recently, Head of Technical Services.  In addition to her Assistant Program Manager duties, Shirley will work as a project manager developing and implementing statewide projects. She will transition into the role of one of Library Development’s consultants and take on greater responsibility for public library consulting, trustee orientation and similar work over time as Carolyn moves away from that role and into her new role as Youth Services Consultant.

We are very happy to have two such experienced and hardworking people to serve the libraries and citizens of Washington State.

Spotlight on Staff: Judy Pitchford

Monday, June 16th, 2014 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public | 2 Comments »


“Judy is my bulldog. She’ll sink her teeth into a project and finish it!” These are the words of Judy’s supervisor Marlys Rudeen, Deputy State Librarian.

JudyandMurphy What a great picture this paints of a woman with a long and varied career with the Washington State Library. Judy started in 1998 at WSL as a prison librarian working at Washington Corrections in Shelton. She loved this job because she felt that it was like all libraries rolled into one. Depending on the patron she could be called upon, in any given day, to be a medical librarian, a school librarian or a public librarian. Before moving to Washington, Judy had worked as a school librarian at some tough inner city schools in Virginia and said the transition to working in the prisons was really not that hard.

In 2002 Judy left the Prison library and came to work in Digital Collections for WSL and has been there ever since. Judy sees her work as building on itself over time. Her work as a school librarian made her a better prison librarian. Her experiences at both libraries made her understand the importance of the digital collections; how they could be used by school children for research and how the prisoners could use state agency information.

Marlys also said that with the turnover in the last few years that Judy has been invaluable as she has completed many projects which other people have started and left.   Their department is considerably smaller than when Judy first came to work in Digital Collections but it hasn’t slowed her down. In addition to the work she completes on her own, Judy also works with volunteers to help with the digitization projects. She has worked on the Emma Smith DeVoe papers, the Josephine Corliss scrapbook, the digitization of Washington Newspapers, has digitized Historical Maps and oversees the Classics in Washington History. Then there is her pet project, digitizing the Washington State Voter’s pamphlets which she does when she needs a relaxation break. Judy sees these as full of a rich history that would be fascinating and informative for school projects. One example she gave is the sorts of initiatives that were being proposed during prohibition. Speaking of interesting initiatives Judy discovered a gem from 1952 – Initiative 180 – a proposal to the voters to allow yellow coloring to be added to margarine. You can read the arguments for and against on pages 6+7 of “A Pamphlet containing…”   As you can imagine these voter’s pamphlets contain a snapshot of history and what was important to people of the time. In 1952 apparently margarine was high on that list!

One of Judy’s main jobs is to run herd on the State Agencies digital publications. It is the law as well as the mission of the State Library to collect all documents that are published by Washington State agencies, no small task. She accomplishes this in a variety of ways. If she is lucky the agency sends her a copy of a newly published document, sometimes electronically through email or FTP, sometimes on a CD or DVD. But she also has a special tool, a “Page Checker’ built for this specific purpose. Whenever a state agency makes a change to their page Judy will receive a notification through the checker. She then is able to go in, download the document and begin the process of adding it to the State Library’s collection. After a weekend there can be as many as 50 pages to check. Imagine what it’s like after a vacation! All this hard work creates a rich resource in our catalog for researchers to learn about the work of the Washington State agencies.

Outside of work Judy has many other things to keep her busy. She has two children, now grown, two dogs and four cats. In addition to her full time job at the WSL Judy and her husband, along with good friends, run their own t-shirt printing business, a true labor of love as Judy loves t-shirts and personally owns over 100 of them. Most days she leaves her job at the library to head over to their warehouse for an evening of work. judy's socksA mild mannered librarian on the outside, take a look at her crazy socks and you’ll catch a glimpse of what lurks beneath the surface.

The State library as well as the researchers of Washington are fortunate to have this “bulldog” librarian on our staff. Thank you Judy for all that you do.

My Last Blog Post

Friday, July 19th, 2013 Posted in Articles, Institutional Library Services | 2 Comments »


jillThis will be my last blog post.  I am leaving Institutional Library Services for a new adventure in the academic world.  I plan to follow the blog and keep up with all the news, because I may be leaving prison, but it will always have my support.  I think that we all do good work and we should never be forgotten.  Times are changing and I have seen great things come out of the prison libraries here in Washington State and I hope to see many more things showcased on this blog.  Over the last 8 years we went to barely holding on and doing the basics, to a skeleton crew and doing book programs and offering re-entry information to the patrons of the library.  I know that should be the other way around, budget cuts should bring less to the library, but it seems to have motivated all of us to push a little harder, to prove to the non-believers that we are important and I think we have achieved it.  I will miss many people and I will miss the work that I have done, but it’s time for me to pursue a new adventure and see what else is out there for me.

Celebrating ILS Supervisor Laura Sherbo’s 60th Birthday

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013 Posted in Articles, Institutional Library Services | 1 Comment »


Laura 60th with goat-resizedThe staff of ILS wanted to give our supervisor Laura a special “60th” surprise birthday party at Palisades.  We wanted Laura to know that we really do appreciate all she does for us and give her a very special birthday to remember.  Jeannie and I had been talking, and since Laura has a “Goat collection” we decided we should come up with a live goat for her party.  Since I have friends who own goats I thought I could get one for the party.  We also thought it would be a great idea to invite Michael and Rachel, Laura’s children, to come to the party as a surprise.   Rachel came and was presented to Laura along with the goat, Daisy.  I think Laura was very surprised and very happy. She loved the goat, but I think Rachel was her favorite surprise!  Jeannie also thought Laura should have a rocking chair and Joyce Hanna made her a beautiful quilt, which we all signed.  Laura knew we were up to something but had no idea what we were really planning.  I think this is a birthday she will long remember!

Case of the stolen pens!!!

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012 Posted in Articles, Institutional Library Services | 2 Comments »


Jeannie Remillard

When I started working in a library in a maximum-security prison about 11 years ago, I quickly picked up on the fact that having a sense of humor goes a long way when dealing with convicted felons.

It was a typical day.  The library was busy with activity.  I stepped away from my desk for a few minutes to answer the telephone.  Upon returning to my desk, I noticed that a couple of my pens were missing.  I blurted out so everyone could hear “Who stole the pens off my desk?” 

 Immediately the room grew very quiet.  A young man came up and stood by my desk.  He said, “Jeannie, I’m not a thief, I’m a murderer.”  I replied, “Thank you for sharing that information with me!”  The whole room exploded with laughter and the two pens were soon returned.

Grateful for Another Day

Thursday, February 16th, 2012 Posted in Articles, Institutional Library Services | No Comments »


Western State Hospital Library

The last few years have been difficult for all due to the state of the economy.  In spite of shrinking budgets and the uncertainty of the future, the staff in Institutional Library Services have lived up to their mission by continuing to serve their customers “with spirit and fortitude”. Over the next few weeks ILS will be sharing what they have been thankful for in the year 2011 and how they look forward to 2012.  Please check out the upcoming posts from the library staff in the prisons and psychiatric hospital libraries across the state.

Anna Nash, Employee of the Year 2010

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011 Posted in Articles, Institutional Library Services | No Comments »


Lyla Brekke awards Anna Nash with Employee of the Year 2010

The youngest and most energetic member of ILS was awarded with Employee of the year for 2010.  Anna has grown up in the library with a family that loves libraries and books.  Anna continues to look towards her future with her entrance to library school at the University of Washington this fall.  In the last year Anna spear-headed the ILS Library Snapshot Day (the first in Washington), inspiring her coworkers to join her in her advocacy of libraries.  She has brought a breath of fresh air to her co-workers, giving them a chance to see new perspectives on a job they all love.

30 Years of Service to Western State Hospital

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011 Posted in Articles, Institutional Library Services | 1 Comment »


Kathleen accepting 30 years of Service certificate from Rand Simmons Washington State Librarian

Kathleen is a wonderful storyteller with a patience that has served her well as the Library Associate at Western State Hospital.  On June 15, 2011 Kathleen will become the longest working member of the Institutional Library Service team.  30 years of wonderful service was celebrated with a presentation of a certificate and award by State Librarian Rand Simmons.

Keeping the Connection

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011 Posted in Articles, Institutional Library Services | No Comments »


ILS Retreat

Each year staff of Institutional Library Service of the Washington State Library meet to discuss strategy, share experiences, and learn from each other.  As budgets have been slashed, co-workers and friends have been lost, but the connection to each other has not.   Our most recent meeting the first week of June was a time of sorrow and celebration.  As we looked around we thought of the people who were missing, but we also had cause for celebration Milestone birthdays for several of the team included ages 25, 35, 60, and 65 to reveal a group of people who may vary in age, but who share a passion for their work in the institution branches.