WA Secretary of State Blogs

The National Book Festival and a book to represent Washington State

August 8th, 2017 Nono Burling 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.

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2017 Eclipse Across America

July 28th, 2017 Jeremy Stroud Posted in Articles, For the Public, News 1 Comment »

Hinode Observes Annular Solar Eclipse

Hinode Observes Annular Solar Eclipse – Courtesy of NASA

If you didn’t already know, there will be a total eclipse rolling through the United States on Monday, August 21, 2017, and we are happy to announce that in collaboration with STARnet, the Washington State Library (WSL) has distributed nearly 4,000 eclipse glasses to 44 libraries across our state for safe viewing of the eclipse. Each library location will host programs filled with safety information, fun facts, and learning opportunities for the whole family. Check out the list below for more information.

The Olympia area will experience about a 95% eclipse developing around 9:07am as the moon rolls east. The optimum viewing time will be at 10:19am, with the eclipse wrapping up around 11:38am. If you would like your own pair of eclipse glasses for viewing this event from your choice of location, you can find many deals online and in stores. Just make sure you use the word ‘eclipse’ in your search and verify that they are safety certified. Additional safety information can be found on the NASA website.

Visualization of the August 21, 2017 Total Solar Eclipse

Visualization of the August 21, 2017 Total Solar Eclipse – Courtesy of NASA

Here at WSL, we are planning our own event! It will start at 8:30am on the 21st, and go until Noon. We have 90 pairs of eclipse glasses to hand out, and they will be given out on a first come first served basis. There will be a liability waiver that each person who comes to the event will be required to sign to receive a pair of glasses. We have a speaker from the Tacoma Astronomical Society who is going to come and talk about the science behind the eclipse and answer participant questions. This is going to be an amazing event that we won’t see again at this magnitude until 2044! So bring a blanket, some snacks, and your family and come picnic with us while we watch the eclipse!


  • We will have a reflective projection viewing area set-up outside so that those who may not get safety glasses can still watch and enjoy the eclipse!
  • If you’re unable to attend the WSL event, do not have safety eclipse glasses, or would just like to be creative and make your own safe eclipse pinhole viewer, there are two options on STARnet’s Resource Center webpage. Use either a cereal box or shoebox!
  • As parking is limited we encourage you to take public transportation to the event.  The #13 bus comes right down Capitol Blvd. and stops right by the State Library (at Israel Road)

Libraries that have received glasses

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Stimulating Summers

July 27th, 2017 Nono Burling 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.

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Book Bingo, it’s never too late!

July 20th, 2017 Nono Burling 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!

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Greek History in Seattle again reaches for a global audience

June 20th, 2017 Nono Burling 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.

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Presenting… “WSL Presents”

June 12th, 2017 Nono Burling 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.

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

June 8th, 2017 Nono Burling 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.


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Tacoma’s Poet Laureate visits the Washington Corrections Center for Women

June 6th, 2017 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Institutional Library Services Comments Off on Tacoma’s Poet Laureate visits the Washington Corrections Center for Women

From the desk of Ken McDouall, Library Associate, Washington Corrections Center for Women

The picture of an African American woman smiling.Washington Corrections Center for Women (WCCW) library branch was pleased to welcome Tacoma’s newest Poet Laureate last week. Kellie Richardson is a lifelong resident of Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood, and her poetry is informed by her intersecting identities as an activist, an African American woman, a mother, and a Christian. She has taught at Pacific Lutheran University and is often busy conducting workshops and giving presentations to local schools and community events.

Ms. Richardson formed immediate connections with the crowd of inmates gathered for an open mic event on the evening of May 26. She read a couple of her pieces, and encouraged those in attendance to come up and share their work. The evening featured some stellar performances from the inmates, including a striking presentation of a couple Nina Simone songs. When participation started to flag, Ms. Richardson energized the crowd with several rounds of “pop-up poetry,” engaging participants to create spontaneous poems based on words chosen by their peers.

Enthusiasm for poetry and spoken word is high at WCCW, and the library branch here makes every effort to keep it that way. Ms. Richardson looks forward to returning and encouraging other poets in the area to connect to this unique population of library patrons. ​


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It Keeps Getting Better: Access to Historic Congressional Information

May 22nd, 2017 Rand Simmons Posted in Articles, Federal and State Publications, For Libraries, For the Public 2 Comments »

Caricature of British rock group, the Beatles.

Courtesy of Josh, Caricature The Beatles Cartoon Wallpaper Free desktop background wallpaper at wallarthd.com.

The Government Printing Office (GPO) in partnership with the Library of Congress just announce the release of the digital (online) availability of the Bound Congressional Record, 1961 – 1970 on govinfo.gov.  This means you can now search the Bound Congressional Record from 1961 to the present!

If you remember that era there is probably some iconic event that stays fresh in your mind such as the invasion of the Beatles and other British rock groups, the Assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Bobby Kennedy. Did you watch the 1969 U.S. landing on the moon on television? What about these (thanks to GPO for the list)?


  • The Administrations of Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and the first two years of the Administration of President Richard M. Nixon
  • The Civil Rights Era
  • The Vietnam War
  • Legislation of the Great Society and the War on Poverty, including:
    • Civil Rights Act of 1964
    • Voting Rights Act of 1965
    • Fair Housing Act of 1968
    • Medicare and Medicaid
    • Economic Opportunity Act of 1964
    • Immigration Act of 1965
    • Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965
    • Endangered Species Act of 1966
    • Public Broadcasting Act of 1967
Photo of US GPO eagle logo

Courtesy of the Government Publish Office


“This latest digital release of the Congressional Record now gives the public easy access to the historic debates of Congress from the 1960s via smartphones, tablets, laptops, and personal computers.” (GPO Director Davita Vance-Cooks.)

Library of Congress logo

Courtesy Library of Congress

Need more information or assistance in finding congressional information? We love to help! You can reach us by clicking here.

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Perceptiveness through Poetry

April 18th, 2017 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Institutional Library Services Comments Off on Perceptiveness through Poetry

From the desk of Anna Nash

Every year I look forward to April because it’s National Poetry Month. It is my favorite time for programming in the Institutional Library Services branches. The talent I see each year is at time overwhelming. It is a labor of love. We arrange workshops, presentations, and open mics and in return we get to listen to and read truly amazing poetry.

I don’t think I can say it any better than I did in when we released our first collection of Percipience: A collection of poems from the Institutional Library Services Poetry Month April 2014. Below is the intro to that collection:

 Poetry is the journal of a sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air.

― Carl Sandburg

When I hosted my first poetry program two years ago I didn’t realize how powerful poetry could be. Poetry is many things to many people. Some may find comfort in hearing or reading poetry that expresses their feelings. Some may use it as a vehicle to express what might be otherwise inexpressible. It is, above all, expression. Language, verbal and written communication, can be frustratingly limiting. Poets are those who are able to use that frustration. They manipulate language; the words, the cadence, the pronunciation, and spelling to communicate what other can only think or feel.

I chose the title Percipience because it means good understanding of things; perceptiveness. The authors represented in this book have a good understanding of their subject. Hopefully the reader will experience their own understanding and perception of the works presented.

I have seen great talent in the events I have hosted in the institutional libraries. Performances, great performances, by some I have never heard talk before. Others who never stop talking have performed thoughtfully constructed subtle poetry that beautifully articulates love, or pain, or anger or all three. One of the greatest revelations I had was that we are surrounded by poets. Not people who write poetry, poets.

It was a great undertaking to transcribe nearly 150 poems from 11 institutional libraries. It gave me a chance to read and appreciate each one. I hope I have done all the poets around the state justice. Thank you to everyone, patrons and staff, who participated in the first Institutional Library Services Poetry Month. I look forward to seeing and hearing all the poetry our patrons produce in the future.

I want to once again thank the poets and artist from the prisons and state hospitals in Washington who have contributed in past years. Thank you for trusting us with your poetry and art work. I am so incredibly happy to announce that this year’s edition of Percipience will be published AND we will be expanding our collection of artwork from Eastern and Western State Hospitals!

We have copies of our two collections of Percipience the 2014 edition and the 2015/2016 edition in each of our branch libraries and available digitally right here. Print copies of Percipience will be available for purchase for the first time this year as well as a digital copy available for free. Stay tuned for more information on how and when to purchase your copy of Percipience 2017!

Disclaimer –we are unable to profit off of the sales of Percipience 2017. Our goal is to provide a platform to the artist and poets in our branch libraries. Your purchase and/or download of Percipience gives them an audience. Thank you!

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