WA Secretary of State Blogs

Author Archive

WSL Holds eBook / Audiobook Conference

Thursday, October 5th, 2017 Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Technology and Resources | Comments Off on WSL Holds eBook / Audiobook Conference


From the Desk of Will Stuivenga.

Picture of a large group meeting. Tables with white tablecloths

The Washington State Library recently hosted the first ever face-to-face User Group Meeting for members of the Washington Digital Library Consortium, a group of 44 (soon to be 45) of the state’s mid-sized and smaller public libraries that provide the OverDrive-powered Washington Anytime Library to their patrons.

61 people (including Cindy Aden, State Librarian, and 4 additional staff from the State Library) attended the event, with all but a handful of member libraries represented. The event ran all day September 27, and through lunch on September 28. Libraries represented at the meeting were from as far away as Camas, Clarkston, Lincoln County, the Olympic Peninsula, Richland, Walla Walla, and pretty much everywhere in between.

The event was organized and coordinated by Will Stuivenga, Cooperative Projects Manager for Library Development at the Washington State Library, a division of the Office of the Secretary of State. Will manages the consortium’s day-to-day operations with the assistance of a 3-person Executive Advisory Committee. Funding provided by the State Library comes from the Library Services & Technology Act (LSTA), administered through the Institute of Library and Museum Services (IMLS). Currently, member libraries contribute most of the regular ongoing funding for the organization.

As a result of this meeting:

  • Washington Anytime meeting participants now have a much better understanding of the challenges facing their collaborative;
  • Advisory votes were taken on the several important questions regarding the governance of the consortium and customer service issues;
  • 26 individuals volunteered to serve on committees to undertake necessary work in the  following areas:
    • Governance,
    • Weeding,
    • Collection development,
    • Curated title lists for the Anytime Library;
  • People came away with a better knowledge of the support which the State Library has provided to organize, grow, and financially subsidize the consortium and its Anytime Library collection.

Attendee reviews of the event were universally positive. People said they especially enjoyed the opportunity to meet and discuss important issues with their peers from other libraries, both small and large, and many expressed hope that similar events can be scheduled in future.

For more pictures from the event, visit our Flickr Album

Help us Tag Washington’s WWI Sammies!

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public, State Library Collections | Comments Off on Help us Tag Washington’s WWI Sammies!


From the desk of Shawn Schollmeyer

The Library of Congress has once again found a fun new way to promote our digital newspapers collections by launching a new crowd-sourced tagging tool to help us capture the key names & titles of the WWI cartoons in our Washington digital newspapers. From 2008-2014 the Washington State Library participated in the National Digital Newspaper Program, contributing over 306,000 pages of Washington newspapers to the Chronicling America website.

One of the biggest advances in making a digital collection full-text searchable is the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software, which is great for text, but does a poor capture of handwritten and small text that is often used for cartoons & illustrations. The Beyond Words lab just launched this month by Library of Congress is a fun way to learn about the editorials and opinions of WWI by tagging these cartoons & illustration adding value as a primary resource for researchers, teachers and students. Give it a try and let us know what you think of it! We’ll be passing along feedback to the NDNP staff at Library of Congress. And tell us more about these Sammies!

Crowdsourcing: Beyond Words

One of the first features on labs.loc.gov is Beyond Words, a website that invites the public to identify cartoons and photographs in historic newspapers and provide captions that will turn images into searchable data. This fun crowdsourcing program grows the data set of text available for researchers who use visualization, text analysis and other digital humanities methodologies to discover new knowledge from Chronicling America—the Library’s large collection of historic American newspapers. Beyond Words is available as a pilot project to help the Library of Congress learn more about what subsets of Library data researchers are interested in and to grow the Library’s capacity for crowdsourcing.

“What I like about crowdsourcing is it gives people a chance to discover hidden gems in the collection. You never know what you’ll find poking through old newspapers,” said Tong Wang, the IT specialist who created Beyond Words during a three-month pilot innovator-in-residence program.

Beyond Words will also generate public domain image galleries for scholarship and creative play. As this data set grows, educators, researchers and artists will be able to group image collections by time frame, such as identifying all historic cartoons appearing in World War I-era newspapers.

The Shoalwater Bay Tribe has a beautiful new museum/library.

Friday, September 15th, 2017 Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Site Visits, Tribal | Comments Off on The Shoalwater Bay Tribe has a beautiful new museum/library.


From the desk of Carolyn Petersen

Congratulations to the Shoalwater Bay Tribe on their new museum library location!

People lined up against a wall. A man and a woman shaking hands. Native American drums in the picture.On Friday, September 8, the Shoalwater Bay tribe realized a long held dream of opening a museum to highlight their cultural contributions to their community.  Tribal Library Consultant Carolyn Petersen conveyed a letter of congratulations on their achievement from Secretary of State Kim Wyman which was presented to tribal members.

Some of the highlights of the collection: a cedar hand dugout canoe, a recreation of a tribal headdress using eagle feathers collected from the beach combined with an otter skin purchased at a tribal gathering, and a facsimile of the map with President Andrew Jackson’s signature showing the Shoalwater Bay reservation

Shoalwater Bay tribal librarian Linda Rose Woman leaning on a low bookshelf in a library.was excited at the opening as well because it meant that the tribal library now shares space with the museum which is on a prime location on the coastal highway (in Tokeland, WA.)  Many more folks will discover the library in its current location.  New shelving on casters will allow Linda to accommodate her frequent community programming.

The tribe hopes many visitors will stop by to appreciate both the museum and the library.

The Great Eclipse of 2017

Monday, August 21st, 2017 Posted in Articles, For the Public | Comments Off on The Great Eclipse of 2017


Click for a Flickrset of some of the great pictures we took!

What started as a surprise, turned into a glorious celebration!  Several months ago when we learned that NASA was giving away eclipse glasses to libraries we decided to order 1000 pairs to hand out to Washington Libraries.  Those were quickly claimed, but NASA was kind enough to send us several thousand more, which we continued to distribute to interested libraries across the state.  Then one day, out of the blue, our phones started ringing, “Where can I get eclipse glasses?”  That was when we learned that NASA had published a list of all the libraries they’d given glasses to and we were listed as a place that was holding an event!  A quick change of gears and the response was “We will be holding an event on the day of the eclipse and we will hand out glasses then.”  But all we had left were 90 pairs.  Hmmm.

Meanwhile we had an event to plan.  Calls were made to find a local expert willing to speak at the event and we were fortunate to locate Ken Slavens from the Tacoma Astronomical Society (TAS), and Francisco Velez from the Evergreen Astrological Society who were willing to come to our event to present a program and be available to answer questions.  OK, we were getting a good program together.  Next we managed to buy 100 more pairs of glasses and learned that the TAS was bringing a whole bunch more.  Things were falling into place nicely.  Will anyone come we wondered?

Fast forward to this morning.  Arriving at 7 a.m. we found a line snaking around the building.  Some intrepid souls even slept in their cars in order to be sure they’d get glasses!  As the morning went on more and more people arrived.  By 8:30 a.m. when we started handing out glasses the line was seemingly endless.  We estimate there were around 500 people waiting.  All in all, we handed out 300 pairs of glasses to the assembled crowd. Others came with their own glasses to take part in the event.  There were lots of homemade viewers, everything from cereal boxes to elaborate cardboard constructions.  In the end, although we didn’t have enough glasses for everyone, it wasn’t a problem.  Many people shared glasses and they were generously passed around.

The weather was perfect, the visiting astronomers were great.  They brought posters, models, fielded questions and set up a telescope named “Luke Skywatcher” to project an image of the sun.  Another telescope had been made safe for the event so you could look closely at the sun through the telescope.  The astronomers shared safety tips and astronomical facts. The crowd was wonderfully engaged and often responded with applause and cheers. To keep kids busy while waiting, sidewalk chalk and coloring sheets were available. It became a community event where people made new acquaintances, talked with each other, and laughed and marveled at the glorious site.  Our guest astronomers occasionally gave a countdown to our ‘totality’ – about 94%.

As we neared this the sky grew oddly dark, and the temperature dropped. People sat and chatted or milled around and commented on their experience. Then came the big announcement “We hit totality, this is it. This is the best we’ve got.” A wonderful, spontaneous cheer went up again. Eclipse glasses were passed around again, the view was spectacular and the crowd loved it.  We were thrilled that hundreds of you came and enjoyed the eclipse here at the Washington State Library.

We didn’t set out to hold an eclipse program but sometimes serendipity happens and it’s best to just go with it.  I don’t think we could have asked for a better morning!

The National Book Festival and a book to represent Washington State

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017 Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Washington Center for the Book | Comments Off on The National Book Festival and a book to represent Washington State


image of a book cover, a paper cut showing a child doing a cannonball into the ocean. In September of 2001 the first National Book Festival was held in Washington D.C.  Laura Bush, a retired librarian, then First Lady of the United States, worked with the Librarian of Congress to launch this new event to encourage a lifelong love of reading.  James Billington, then Librarian of Congress, said, “We must all try, in every way we can, to send the message that reading is critical to our lives and to the life of our nation.” (1)

In 2002 a new addition to the Festival, The Pavilion of the States, was added. (2) Each year states choose a Children’s or Young Adult book they feel represents them.  A representative from each state heads to D.C. to set up a table to showcase their choice and more importantly their state. On the day of the festival thousands of children and their parents run through the pavilion collecting stamps, stickers and bookmarks, on the way learning more about the country they live in.  Washington State was involved almost from the very beginning sending representatives from the State Library to the book festival since 2003.  The books that have been selected each year are an eclectic mix, but they all have one thing in common, they represent Washington State.

The 2017 choice is by author/illustrator Nikki McClure, a Washington native and longtime resident of Olympia.  Waiting For High Tide  (Abrams, 2016) tells the story of a young boy scouring the high tide line for treasures, practicing walking the plank and waiting for high tide so he can swim. While he waits, sea birds and other creatures mirror the family’s behaviors: building and hunting, wading and eating. At long last the tide arrives, and human and animal alike savor the water.

McClure’s picture book features full-bleed cut-paper illustrations in black and white with isolated use of blues and pinks. “Lavish with words and images in a story that is a worthy heir to Robert McCloskey’s work. The sense of place is so rich that it seems possible to smell the air and hear the gulls,” says a Publisher’s Weekly starred review.

It is that sense of place that led to its selection to represent the state of Washington in the Pavilion of the States and in the Great Places, Great Reads publication at the National Book Festival. McClure said she wrote the book to “represent place and to have a beach book that wasn’t East Coast and was for Washington kids.”

Nikki McClure is an author and artist who works with cut-paper to create picture books and an annual calendar. “I cut my images from black paper with an X-Acto knife. Everything is connected,” McClure says. “It’s all one piece of paper, yet it now it holds a story.”

Her books include “To Market, To Market,” “How to Be a Cat,” “Mama Is It Summer Yet?” and illustrator of “All in a Day” by Cynthia Rylant.

The Washington Center for the Book is a partnership of The Seattle Public Library and the Washington State Library.  It is a state affiliate of the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress.

Stimulating Summers

Thursday, July 27th, 2017 Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public | Comments Off on Stimulating Summers


From the desk of Carolyn Petersen

Four boys in a tornado tunnel. Big smiles

Kids visiting the Mobius Science Center

The city libraries of Reardan, Harrington and the Ritzville District Library  have banded together  to tackle a common problem: summer enrichment activities for children which would slow the summer learning slide. Their solution: a day camp for grade school children with the libraries providing essential mid-day programming.

Seeing a need and realizing that libraries could play a role in filling that need, Carolyn, the overall project manager for Stimulating Summers, corralled disparate funding sources: an Inland Northwest Foundation grant, LSTA funding, “Feed your brain” grant  from School’s Out Washington and USDA summer nutrition funds.

Next she coaxed the key players to support the effort

  • Local librarians who would now need to provide DAILY library programming for 90 minutes for SIX weeks  instead of  one hour of programming once a week for six weeks
  • School district personnel (thank you Justin Bradford superintendent of the Harrington School district for donating the use of the Harrington school pool and Kelli Tanke who recruited EWU student teachers to serve as key Feed your Brain reading counselors)
  • 4-H camp expert (Thank you Bridget Rohner, Lincoln County 4-H for designing the day camp, training the camp counselors and allowing Judy Boutain your administrative assistant to provide essential administrative support such as lining up buses and drivers to get the kids to the field trip.
  • Margy Hall (Economic Development Counselor for Lincoln) to serve as our on the ground PR expert (Please send this required USDA announcement to the local papers to fulfill the requirement to get the summer meal funds approved)

It was a lot of organization but efforts are starting to pay off.  We are half way through the summer and pictures are starting to appear on Facebook.  It looks like a good time is being had by all!   One summer down, two to go.

Book Bingo, it’s never too late!

Thursday, July 20th, 2017 Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Washington Center for the Book | Comments Off on Book Bingo, it’s never too late!


picture of a Bingo card.  Stars and moon for decorationBy now we hope you’ve heard about the new partnership between the Seattle Public Library (SPL) and the Washington State Library.  Yes, we are talking about the Washington Center for the Book. As with all new  endeavors, it can take a while for the behind the scenes work to emerge but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening.  Lots of ideas and projects are being cooked up, and we hope to announce things soon.  Meanwhile, if you don’t have your own Summer Reading Book Bingo going, SPL kindly adapted their Bingo card and shares it with you to give you a taste of things to come.  So,  here’s a Bingo card that your library can download, print and hand out to your patrons as we head into the dog days of summer. It’s never too late to read a book! How many do you think you can read before Labor Day? Happy Reading!

Greek History in Seattle again reaches for a global audience

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public, State Library Collections | Comments Off on Greek History in Seattle again reaches for a global audience


Black and white image of an old newspaper. Woman with wings holding a flag in front of the ParthenonIn the early days of the Seattle-based Washington Hellenic Civic Society, little did community citizens know their comings and goings would reach an international audience through the publication of the monthly newspaper, the Washington Hellenic Review.

It had just over a 10-year run (1924-1936) under the vision of WHCS president Pericles H. Scarlatos.   It reached an audience mostly in Seattle, but also across to subscribers in 33 cities, and even a few in Greece. The many activities of members of the community were chronicled: births, baptisms, name days, marriages, illnesses, deaths, vacations abroad, visitors, graduations, picnics, bazaars, formal Three men two in traditional Greek costumesdinners, events of local clubs and societies, and the news of the local parish of St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church.

At the time of publication, the Society aimed to assist the Greek immigrants of Washington with integrating into American culture and keeping up on church news, how to apply for and practice good citizenship in America, which candidates to support in upcoming city and state elections, and when and where to see Greek cultural activities.

Two women and one man in traditional Greek costumesThe Hellenic Review was an essential newspaper to the Greek community in Seattle and now the publication is an essential document of Seattle’s local history and to the descendants of Greek immigrants in Washington. The Washington State Library is proud to present online access to the Hellenic Review, one of our most recent titles on the Washington Digital Newspapers website.

Presenting… “WSL Presents”

Monday, June 12th, 2017 Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public | Comments Off on Presenting… “WSL Presents”


Screenshot of WSL Presents with an arrow showing how to subscribeFor many years one of the projects of the State Library was an emailing and blog post called “Clippings.” We contracted with a newspaper clipping service to scour Washington newspapers for mentions of our libraries.  These stories were collected and published weekly, as a way of keeping all of us up to date on what was happening around our state.  It was a great service but it had its limitations.  First, by the time the clippings made their way to us many of the events were weeks old.  Also many of our small libraries rarely turned up in the newspaper and that felt lopsided.  We know that you are all doing great things and we wanted to find a way to capture them.

A few years ago we started playing around with a web newspaper tool called Paper.li, designed to collect news on a given topic from around the web.  We were intrigued by the possibilities but life was busy and other things took priority. Then one day last fall we learned that our Clipping service was closing. It was time to resume our investigation!  One of the problems we hoped to address was the under-representation of our state’s smaller libraries. Was there a way that moving to the new online format could fix that issue?  Brain flash- most libraries have a Facebook page.  We could learn what was happening through their Facebook posts and share that on our new newspaper.  Fast forward several months (and a lot of trial and error) and we launched the new, flashy updated “Clippings” now renamed “WSL Presents: News from Washington Libraries.” We still look for mentions in the news, we are combing your Facebook feeds BUT (this is where you come in) we would LOVE it if you sent us your news directly.  Staci Phillips is the seeker, finder, collector and creator of the paper.  You can send her your stories and pictures at staci.phillips@sos.wa.gov.  We want to hear from public, academic, school, tribal, and special libraries, in other words YOU!

Meanwhile if you haven’t discovered it yet, our bi-weekly online newspaper is found here.  On the upper right of your screen you’ll see a “Subscribe to the Email Newsletter” box. If you are interested in keeping up with all the good library news in the state why not sign up?  When a new edition is published you’ll receive an email announcement so you know to visit the page.  All past editions are available in the archives.  So, please send us your news and help us create a rich resource to celebrate all things Washington Library.

Washington State Library joins forces with the Seattle Public Library to promote reading and literacy statewide through Center for the book

Thursday, June 8th, 2017 Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, News, Washington Reads | Comments Off on Washington State Library joins forces with the Seattle Public Library to promote reading and literacy statewide through Center for the book


Picture of a woman signing books

Book signing at the Washington State Book Awards

The Washington State Library has joined forces with The Seattle Public Library to lead the work of the Washington Center for the Book.

The Seattle Public Library was designated as the home for the Washington State Center for the Book by the U.S. Library of Congress back in 1989.

The mission of the Washington Center of the Book is to promote Washington’s literary heritage and the importance of books, reading, literacy and libraries.

There is a Center for the Book in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“We are very excited to collaborate with The Seattle Public Library to broaden the reach of the Center for the Book in our state,” said Washington State Librarian Cindy Aden. “We believe by combining our efforts, we can be more effective in strengthening Washington’s community of readers.”

She noted that some State Library programs – such as the Letters about Literature contest – will receive an added boost from the partnership, since they will now be produced jointly. Letters for Literature invites children from across the state to write letters to their favorite authors.

Three young girls smiling and holding a certificate

Washington’s three top winners for the 2017 Letters About Literature contest

Marcellus Turner, city librarian for The Seattle Public Library, said collaborating with the State Library will heighten awareness about many other activities local libraries offer to support writing, reading and literature.

“Events such as The Seattle Public Library’s annual Washington State Book Awards and the Seattle Reads program – which connects communities with books and authors through discussion – will benefit,” Turner said.

In addition to creating and calling attention to programs that highlight Washington’s robust literary heritage, future goals include offering unifying literary activities and promotions across our state. “We are just getting started, but we intend to explore opportunities to increase reading and literacy in Washington in new and innovative ways,” Turner said.