Browsed by
Tag: Washington State Library

Ancestry Day event draws packed crowds ?>

Ancestry Day event draws packed crowds

Kim with Sons of the Revolution

Secretary Wyman with Sons of the Revolution at Ancestry Day Saturday in Tacoma. (Photos courtesy of Washington State Archives)

It takes a special event to keep sun-craving Northwesterners indoors on a nice September weekend, but that was the case Saturday as hundreds packed themselves into a large meeting room at the Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center for Ancestry Day.

The event was co-hosted by Ancestry, the Washington State Historical Society, and the Office of Secretary of State’s Washington State Archives,
Washington State Library and Legacy Washington.

Steve at Ancestry Day

State Archivist Steve Excell addresses the audience during a panel discussion on family history holdings at the State Archives.

Over 700 attendees were treated to workshops, panel discussions and presentations by Ancestry’s genealogy experts and others on Saturday. Secretary of State Kim Wyman gave the welcome address Saturday morning. Wyman noted that her ancestor Nathaniel Dobbs served in the Revolutionary War and was present at the surrender of Lord Corwallis after the Battle of Yorktown.

On Friday, about 250 people came to the State Historical Museum in Tacoma for genealogy-related presentations, including one by the State Archives’ Tracy Rebstock on where to look for information (other than birth/marriage/death records) about someone’s family history. The State Library’s Kathryn Devine later discussed how to use old newspapers to find information about one’s ancestors.

Ancestry Day crowd

The audience listens to a genealogy presentation Friday.

State Library kicks off Letters About Literature, Zine contests ?>

State Library kicks off Letters About Literature, Zine contests

Letters About Lit image

The State Library just launched not one but two contests for Washington students. One is a perennial favorite and the other capitalizes on an alternative art form that allows for self-expression.

For the 12th straight year, the State Library is co-sponsoring the Letters About Literature contest as part of Washington Reads. The competition encourages students to write letters to their favorite authors, living or dead, about how their book changed the student’s view of the world or himself or herself. The contest, co-sponsored by the Washington State Library, is for schoolchildren and homeschooled students in grades 4-12.

“This is a great contest for kids and teens because they get to express how a favorite book inspired them or made them think in different ways,” said Secretary of State Kim Wyman. “I’m amazed by the many incredible, heartwarming letters that students submit each year, and I look forward to more of their great writing.”

Students can start sending in entries on Nov. 2. There are two deadlines for this year’s contest: Level 3 entries must be postmarked by Dec. 2. Entries for Levels 1 and 2 must be postmarked by Jan. 9, 2017.

Here is more information about the Letters About Literature contest, including how to enter.

While LAL is a well-established contest, the Historical Zine Contest is in its second year. You might be wondering, “What is a Zine?” Zines (rhymes with beans) are basically self-published magazines that give the creator’s point of view on a subject. Contest participants are asked to create a Zine about some aspect of Washington history.

The State Archives and Timberland Regional Library are co-sponsors. This contest is open to Washington residents from fourth grade up. Yes, adults can enter, too! Entry deadline is Dec. 15. Go here to see the entry form.

You can learn more about the contest here.

Want to know where you can find materials for your Historical Zine Contest creation? Check out the Washington State Digital Collections history resources, or visit the State Library, State Archives or Timberland Regional Library to find what you’re seeking.

Don’t know how to make a Zine? Watch this video. It shows you one of the many ways to make one.

Want to dig into your family roots? Go to Ancestry Day Sept. 24 ?>

Want to dig into your family roots? Go to Ancestry Day Sept. 24

Ancestry Day Logo

Interested in learning more about your family’s history? Whether you’re a genealogy expert or just starting to dig into your family’s roots, you’re encouraged to attend Ancestry Day in Tacoma Saturday, Sept. 24.

The event is co-hosted by Ancestry, the Washington State Historical Society,  and the Office of Secretary of State’s Washington State Archives,
Washington State Library and Legacy Washington .

“This will be a great event for many people in Washington and the Northwest who want to learn more about their family history,” said Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman. “One reason why we’re excited about Ancestry Day is because our State Archives, State Library and Legacy Washington maintain historical records and collections that can help genealogists research their family history. Our staff looks forward to helping attendees unlock mysteries to their ancestors.”

“Guiding people as they discover the rich stories buried in their family’s past is an endeavor often filled with wonderful surprises,” said Jennifer Kilmer, Director of the Washington State Historical Society. “We’re very pleased to partner with Ancestry and other state agencies to provide that service for the residents of Washington who want to share in their family’s personal experience.”

The event takes place at the Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center (1500 Broadway).

Registration is $35 and includes admission to all classes presented by Ancestry. Lunch tickets can be purchased for an additional $15, which includes a box lunch and the lunch speaker. The first presentation, an Ancestry 101 class, begins at 8:15 a.m. That day, booksellers, genealogy and historical societies, archives and other vendors will have tables in the exhibition hall.

Go here to find out more and register.

Pre-registration is encouraged and available online through 5 p.m. on Sept. 17. Those missing the pre-registration deadline can purchase a ticket at the door on Sept. 24. On-site registration that day is from 7:30 to 8:45 a.m.

Inmate artwork brightens library at Coyote Ridge ?>

Inmate artwork brightens library at Coyote Ridge

Coyote Ridge CC library

Inmates at Coyote Ridge Corrections Center stand in front of artwork they created for the facility’s library. (Photo courtesy Department of Corrections)

At the Coyote Ridge Corrections Center (CRCC) in Connell, there are some individuals who share their artistic abilities for the benefit of all.

There is a paint crew of incarcerated individuals who not only paint but make cardboard props, models and games for use in plays and family-friendly activities. These models/games are donated to the local library for their use in their children’s’ programs and special events.

The most recent painting has been completed and placed in Coyote Ridge Library, which is operated by the Washington State Library. The painters responsible for the great scenes and murals at the CRCC Library are currently Lars Snow, Tony Engles, Dane Bowers, and Mike Sandvigen.

The motif covers some popular themes, including Harry Potter, Dr. Who, Star Wars, and Lord of The Rings. Above is a photo of the artwork put up recently in the library. Many staff at CRCC and the offenders enjoy the work done by the paint/model crew.

“All Institutional Library Services branches strive to be positive environments where patrons feel welcome,” said Anna Nash, an institutional librarian for the State Library. “The addition of artwork to the library will, no doubt, be appreciated by the individuals at the Coyote Ridge branch and will add to the positive environment with images from their favorite series.”

The library at Coyote Ridge is one of many branch libraries throughout Washington operated by the State Library.

Bellevue students win 2016 Teen Video Challenge ?>

Bellevue students win 2016 Teen Video Challenge


This year’s Teen Video Challenge asked contestants to make a short video that ties into the 2016 summer reading slogan, “Get in the Game – READ.”

The winning entry, created by a group of students at Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Bellevue, more than accomplished that sports-related goal. Their 60-second video featured students involved in dancing, lacrosse, tennis, softball, basketball, soccer and football before finishing with other students passing along books in the school library.

The winning video team includes Danielle Baxter, Elena Burnett, Francesca Feider-Blazer, Sofia Gellock, Ella Hikes, Jordan Kerns, Katrina Kuntz, Emma Leventhal, Caroline Shoemaker, Amy Skochdopoleand, Sabrina M. Uyeda, Ximenda Rodriguez Verdieri and Devon Wappler.

The school received a $150 award, which it used for a celebratory party for the talented teens. The Bellevue Public Library received prizes worth $50 from the Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSLP) and Demco/Upstart.

The winning video was named one of the CSLP 2016 Teen Videos to promote summer reading nationwide.

Now in its sixth year, the Teen Video Challenge is a national video competition for teens to get involved with reading and their public library’s summer reading program. In Washington, it’s sponsored by the Washington State Library and CSLP.

Teens were invited to create a 30-to-90-second video with their unique interpretation of this year’s summer reading slogan. The idea is to involve teens in summer reading, before and during the summer months, by being part of the process.

Wyman names Cindy Aden as new WA State Librarian ?>

Wyman names Cindy Aden as new WA State Librarian

Secretary of State Kim Wyman has named Cindy Altick Aden as director of the Washington State Library.

Aden will take the helm next month of one of the state’s oldest cultural institutions, dating back more than 160 years when it was created by the state’s first territorial governor, Isaac Stevens.

Aden has an extensive background in public libraries and the private sector, including stints at Amazon, Corbis, and community newspapers. She is a graduate of Stanford University and the University of Washington School of Library and Information Science.

Wyman said Aden is an outstanding choice:

“I am delighted to appoint Cindy to provide new leadership at one of the library community’s most important jobs. I am excited about the creativity and passion she brings to the table. She has the skills and the vision to help pivot the Library to new levels of relevance, technology advances and user-friendliness in this challenging and exciting new century.”

Aden said she is “honored and excited” to take the new post and eager to join a staff of experienced professionals. She praised the Legislature and Secretary Wyman for working hard to put the Library on a solid financial footing.

Wyman said the selection of the new State Librarian reflects her vision for a Library that responds to the public’s need for solid information across platforms that are convenient and easy to use.

The Washington State Library offers a wide variety of services, including print and digital collections, genealogy resources, photo collections, historic newspapers, help for researchers, (more…)

Letter-writing champions, in their own words ?>

Letter-writing champions, in their own words


Letters About Literature state champions (from left) Emily Maxfield, Joe Jacobsen and Grace Rivkis with Deputy Secretary of State Greg Lane after receiving their certificates during the awards ceremony at the Capitol. 

Three Washington students showed how inspiration can be passed forward.

The three state champions in this year’s Letters About Literature contest inspired a large audience at the Capitol Friday as they shared life lessons that they learned from authors who inspired them.

The Office of Secretary of State and Washington State Library honored top contestants during the event covered by TVW, which will air it and post it online.

Sponsored by the State Library and the Library of Congress, the competition encourages students to write a letter to an author of a book that changed their view of the world or themselves. Nearly 3,300 students in grades 4-12 took part statewide.

During the awards ceremony, this year’s three state champions read their letters for Deputy Secretary of State Greg Lane, family and friends in the Legislative Building’s Columbia Room. Winners were:

• Grace Rivkis, a sixth-grader at Pathfinder K-8 School in Seattle, is the Level 1 (grades 4-6) champion. Rivkis wrote her letter to Jennifer Roy about her book “Yellow Star.” From her letter:

I’m Jewish, and have always had some connection to the people who died in or survived that massacre. But Yellow Star brought me closer to this horror because it’s different from the other books I’ve read about the Holocaust. It told what it was like to survive the ghettos instead of the concentration camps or the time spent in hiding. When I read Yellow Star, I cry. I must have read it 20 times by now, but I’ve never gotten tired of it. It touches an emotional wellspring in me and probably every Jew. That drives me to make sure that nothing like the Holocaust happens again, ever, to anyone.

• Joe Jacobsen, a seventh-grader at Eastside Catholic School in Sammamish, is the Level 2 (grades 7-8) champion. Jacobsen wrote his letter to Frederic Winkowski and Frank D. Sullivan about their book “100 Planes 100 Years.” Joe’s letter points out how the book reminded him of his father, who was diagnosed last summer with Multiple Myeloma, a type of bone cancer:

My dad spent at least 2 weeks at the hospital throughout the whole process of recovery. I would could home from school and he wouldn’t be there. It was very rare that I got to talk to him in October. He was too busy getting blood tests or chemo. I remember finishing my homework one day after school. I went down to my room to change out of my school clothes when I saw a gold book peeking out from underneath my dresser. I reached down to grab the book and began to read. Thoughts and memories swirled in my head. I remembered my old bed, with red covers and an airplane pillow case. I remember all the nights my dad would tuck me in and read 100 planes 100 years. Anytime I couldn’t see the planes, I would pull the book back towards me. This book really helped me think of my dad anytime I couldn’t be around him. I am really thankful not only for the information it provided, but for what it reminded me of: my dad.

My dad is now almost fully recovered, and even to this day, I still peek at the same book I did back in preschool. Who knows, maybe I will be a pilot one day.


Level 3 state champion Emily Maxfield reads aloud her letter as the other two state champions and Deputy Secretary of State Lane listen.

• Emily Maxfield, a senior at Cedar Park Christian School, is the Level 3 champion (grades 9-12). Maxfield penned her letter to Sherman Alexie about her book “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.” In her letter, Emily tells Alexie how she met children on the Yakama Indian Reservation like Junior, a main character in the book, and how her family later moved from middle-class life in the Seattle suburbs to the reservation:

I hope I’m not who I used to be. The reality of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian brought me to another world, a world within my own and yet one that is entirely different. Little ones call me auntie or cousin here. My idea of community has vastly expanded: I’ve seen that communities not only spend time together, but communities bear one another’s burdens, laugh together, cry together, and strive to love, serve, and share with one another. I have a deep love for this group of people, my family of unrelated children, youth, and adults. The kids like Junior mean the world to me; the preschoolers I work with weekly hold a piece of my heart that I can never lose. I am eager to tell others that there are children like these, youth like the ones I know, and adults who are waiting for someone to love them, waiting to know that there is help and hope. As I’ve learned, you just have to be willing to fall, sometimes headfirst, into those roles of example and supporter. Because those are the roles that kept Junior going in the story.

“Grace, Joe and Emily wrote very thoughtful and moving letters,” Lane said. “It was a pleasure to hear them read their letters aloud and to honor them as our state champions this year. Congratulations not only to the students we honored today at the Capitol but the thousands who competed. They and their families should be very proud.”


State champions and other LAL honorees gather for a group shot after the ceremony.

Lane and the State Library recognized the state champions, three second-place runners up and 27 honorable mention letter writers during the event.

Eighty schools from around the state had entries. The contest ran from September to January.

Students wrote a personal letter to an author, explaining how his or her work influenced their perspective on the world or themselves. Students can write about works of fiction, nonfiction or poetry. They cannot write about music lyrics, comic books or comic strips. National winners will receive a $1,000 cash award.

The Washington State Library and the Office of Secretary of State sponsored the competition as part of Washington Reads, which highlights books about Washington or the Pacific Northwest. The project is also sponsored by The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. This is the 11th year that the State Library has run the contest in Washington. The State Library is a division of the Office of Secretary of State.

2016 Teen Video Challenge under way ?>

2016 Teen Video Challenge under way

Teen video photo

It’s no secret that teenagers LOVE to make videos. A contest has just started that can put all of their video-making talent to good use.

The Washington State Library and the Collaborative Summer Library Program have launched the 2016 Teen Video Challenge, a national video competition for teens to get involved with reading and their public library’s summer reading program.

Teens are invited to create a 30-to-90-second video with their unique interpretation of the 2016 summer reading slogan “Get in the Game – READ.” The idea is to involve teens in summer reading, before and during the summer months, by being part of the process. This is an opportunity for teens to showcase their creativity and have their ideas seen and heard by a national audience. The winning video will be named one of the 2016 Teen Videos to promote summer reading nationwide.

A $150 award will go to the creator of Washington’s winning video and his or her associated public library will receive prizes worth at least $50 from CSLP and Upstart. Winners will be announced by CSLP in April.

For full details about the Teen Video Challenge and to find out how to enter Washington’s competition, please go here. Entries must be received by March 25.

Questions? Please contact Nono Burling at the Washington State Library at



State Library/Microsoft IT Academy is now Imagine Academy ?>

State Library/Microsoft IT Academy is now Imagine Academy


The popular Washington State Library/Microsoft IT Academy is getting a new name – the Microsoft Imagine Academy.

Since launching in November 2013 as a partnership between the State Library, Microsoft, and Washington libraries, the program has seen an impressive increase in enrollees statewide, and is helping thousands of Washingtonians improve their skills and lives.

“We’re excited about the program’s name change from the IT Academy to the Imagine Academy,” said Secretary of State Kim Wyman. “The new name reflects that anyone who imagines a new career or a chance to improve skills can make it happen through this incredible program that is free to Washingtonians.

“We are thrilled that this cost-effective program is making a real difference in people’s lives – students, job-seekers, returning military veterans, public employees and others,” Wyman added.


The Microsoft Imagine Academy has about 19,000 users statewide, accessing more than 400 online courses and learning resources. Courses are available in 20 languages.

The Imagine Academy program can help prepare enrollees for jobs and careers in a global economy that is becoming more tech-dependent.

“This program has helped change my life,” said enrollee Christian Osborn of Puyallup. “It was free material and knowledge given to me. (more…)

For Black History Month: WSL’s federal docs on African Americans ?>

For Black History Month: WSL’s federal docs on African Americans


(Image courtesy of Washington State Library)

We recently blogged about the State Library’s vast collection of federal documents. The collection includes publications that chronicle some of the rich history of African Americans.

February is Black History Month, so it’s a great time to highlight this treasure trove. They include a look at African Americans serving in the U.S. military, ranging from the Revolutionary War to World War II (pictured here), the Korean War and afterward.

You can see the State Library’s list of federal publications about African Americans here.

Interested in seeing these or other documents in the library’s federal collection? If you want to view any of the collection but don’t know what you’re looking for, just go on the library’s website and search federal publications in the library’s catalog. If you know what you’re searching for, you can contact the library ahead of time so a staffer can retrieve that document, or you can place a hold on the document in the catalog. Some federal collection items can be circulated, while others can’t due to the item’s age, condition or value.

Go here to learn more about the State Library’s federal collection project.