WA Secretary of State Blogs

Washington State Library honors Hispanic heritage / Biblioteca del Estado de Washington rinde homenaje a la herencia hispana

October 14th, 2016 Rand Simmons Posted in Articles, Federal and State Publications, For Libraries, For the Public, Institutional Library Services, Public Services, Washington Talking Book and Braille Library No Comments »


Información en español

Need assistance finding information? Why don’t you Ask WA?

“Ask WA,” you say.

Ask-WA is a cooperative of more than 60 libraries throughout Washington State, both public and academic, that provide online reference services through chat, email, and instant messaging (IM). This statewide network is tied to a global network that provides access to online reference service, 24/7.

So, when you enter the Ask-WA portal, no matter the day or time, you should readily find help.

If you are a Spanish speaker there is a Spanish portal for you.

Ask-WA es un servicio de chat en línea que lo pone en contacto con un bibliotecario, tanto a nivel local como mundial. En inglés, éste servicio es disponible 24/7 utilizando una red mundial de bibliotecarios profesionales. En español, el servicio no es 24/7, a pesar de una extensa red de bibliotecarios de habla hispana que ofrece asistencia durante la mayor parte del tiempo, especialmente durante la semana.

Para saber si un bibliotecario está disponible para chatear en vivo, por favor, llene el formulario de chat en español de Ask-WA.

Si un bibliotecario no está disponible, usted puede enviar su pregunta por correo electrónico, usted recibirá una respuesta dentro de 48 horas (probablemente mucho antes).

Fiestas Patrias 2016

Fiestas Patrias

Recently staff of the State Library’s Washington Talking Book & Braille Library (WTBBL) staffed a table at this year’s Fiestas Patrias  held at the Seattle Center. State Librarian Cindy Aden was on hand to greet people.

The festival celebrates the independence of  Latin American countries. Belizeans, Brazilians, Chileans, Costa Ricans, Salvadoreans, Guatemalans, Hondurans, Mexicans, and Nicaraguans from all over the Pacific Northwest to gather and enjoy great food, dance, and music.

Fiesta Patrias was a wonderful opportunity for people to become acquainted with the Washington Talking Book & Braille Library. We, in turn, learned more about the communities we want to serve — individuals needing reading and information in non-English languages.

State Librarian Cindy Aden stated, “We take the motto of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, “That All May Read,” seriously. We know that having reading material and information in multiple languages is crucial in our diverse society. I am proud of the efforts of  Washington Talking Book & Braille Library to reach out to the Hispanic community and to have published its first Spanish-language audio book. The State Library has also provides Spanish language support for our AskWA virtual reference service. We are always looking for more ways to make a difference, and we support and  encourage other Washington libraries to do the same”.

WTBBL services are available to all Washington State residents who are unable to read standard print due to one or more of the following conditions:

  • Legal blindness
  • Visual impairment
  • Physical disability causing an inability to turn pages or comfortably hold a book for extended periods of time
  • Deaf-blindness
  • Reading disability due to organic dysfunction

Read more about the Washington Talking Book & Braille Library.

Las bibliotecas de prisiones

Our branch libraries in nine state prisons provide library and information services to inmates many of whom are non-English speakers. In 2014 the Prison Policy Initiative reported that Hispanics made up 14% of the inmates in Washington State prisons and jails. The State Library provides Spanish language material for those for whom English is not their native language. Our branch libraries are “public libraries” for the incarcerated.


Publicaciones federales en español

Federal and state publications are published in Spanish and other languages although the majority are published in English. For example, many of the tax materials published by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are published in Spanish and material for kids such as El Club de los Dos Bocados (Two Bite Plate) published by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service.

Sigue a Will y Anna a probar dos bocados de cada grupo alimenticio y de como se convierten en el Club de los Dos Bocados! Este libro muy colorido introduce los cinco grupos de alimentos de MiPlato a niños pequeños y los motiva a probar alimentos de cada grupo alimenticio. El libro que tiene actividades interactivas tales como narración optional, realce de texto, juegos y activades interactivas, cetificados y páginas para colorear ayudaran a los niños a aprender acerca de MiPlato y una alimentación sana al mismo tiempo que mejora sus abilidades de lectura.

You can borrow the book from the State Library or other federal depository libraries, read it on line, or download it.

Need assistance finding state or federal publications in Spanish? Contact our Ask a Librarian service. We can help you find resources such as these: America’s PrepareAthon! Materials in Spanish from FEMA.

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Poetry on the Inside

December 8th, 2015 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Institutional Library Services Comments Off on Poetry on the Inside

DSC_0028Washington State Poet Laureate Elizabeth Austen recently held  poetry workshops for the inmates at both the Coyote Ridge Correctional Center and the Washington State Penitentiary. Washington State Library has an institutional library branch in each of these facilities and the workshops were held in our libraries.  You may not think a prison would be a place that was receptive of poetry but both reported successful programs.

​At the Washington State Penitentiary’s program nine inmates attended as well as a couple of teachers who dropped in.  The session lasted over two hours and all of the inmates participated in the discussion and asking questions.  ​ Ms. Austen started by reading poetry, including her own from her book “Every Dress a Decision”.   The inmates were enthusiastic and ready with questions and discussion about the poetry they heard.

After the reading they asked Ms. Austen  questions about her writing process and she talked about what can be learned about yourself while writing.   The men who attended the workshop also had a chance to read their own poetry and listened carefully as she gave them tips and feedback on the rewriting process to help them polish and refine their words.  DSC_0025

​Ms. Austen left some poetry books including a copy of her volume.  The inmates were very appreciative of the program and enjoyed the chance to meet her.  Apparently Ms. Austen equally enjoyed the chance to work with the inmates.  In a blog post she wrote about the events she said,

“My role in the workshops was to try to offer the same thing I hope to provide at workshops in libraries on the outside: the chance to read a few good poems together, and avail ourselves of poetry’s power to illuminate our lives and connect us to each other… The original poems they read aloud voiced regret and longing, struggles with anger and addiction, sorrow at lost connections to children, parents and spouses… As with any workshop, I can’t really know if what I did was useful to the participants. I hope so; I know it’s going to take me a while to assimilate the stories I heard through their poems and conversation.”

The program was sponsored by of Humanities Washington and ArtsWA, the Washington State Arts Commission. 

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Poetry and Community at the Washington Corrections Center

July 20th, 2015 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Institutional Library Services Comments Off on Poetry and Community at the Washington Corrections Center

From the desk of Jessica Aws, Library Associate at the Washington Corrections Center.

Poetry Workshop 4-7-15(6)During April, the Washington Corrections Center Branch of the Washington State Library was a gathering place of poets. In celebration of National Poetry Month, the WCC library hosted a series of events aimed at encouraging artistic expression and building community bridges.

The events of the month kicked off with a poetry workshop that was facilitated by Suzanne Simons, a professor of Writing, Journalism, and Social Sciences at The Evergreen State College. Ms. Simons began the workshop by asking each of the 22 men who participated to introduce themselves and share what poetry means to them. Their words were powerful:

“Poetry is like breath. When I’m drowning in emotion…when I feel like I’ve dived down into a deep lake of it…when I start writing it feels like the first breath you take after being underwater for a long time.”

“Before, I had trouble expressing myself. I didn’t talk much. But then I started putting pen to pad and it gave me power. It gave me a voice.”

“I didn’t read much before I went to the hole awhile back, but when I was there I read a lot. I became a lover of words and a seeker of knowledge. When I write poetry, I try to capture the moment and bottle it up on paper.”

Over the course of two hours, as the men completed generative writing exercises and shared their work, the energy in the library was overwhelmingly positive and supportive. Every time one of the participants shared their poetry or gave a particularly insightful response, their words were greeting by a chorus of snapping fingers and murmurs of encouragement.

This atmosphere continued over the next several weeks, through two spoken word workshops taught by Christina St. Charles, a former theater student from The Evergreen State College. She has since begun a successful theater group at WCC. I don’t think the library has ever seen so much laughter, as the men good naturedly participated in voice exercises and tongue twisters. At the same time, I also don’t think that the library has ever seen so much raw emotion. At one point, one of the offenders read a poem that he had written while spending 27 months in solitary confinement. When he was finished, there were very few dry eyes in the group. “Most of us here can relate to those words,” one man said, “we’ve all been there. We’ve felt those emotions, and it takes a lot of courage to put that on paper, and even more to stand up in front of us all and say those words out loud.”

While every workshop was a resounding success, the real highlight of National Poetry Month at WCC was the Poet’s Open Mic event held on May 2nd, 2015. It was truly a community event, in which over 30 offenders, plus students and faculty from Suzanne Simon’s Poetry in Community class and DOC staff from several departments came together to share poetry in a positive and uplifting event that was “scandalous good” according to one audience member. 

Throughout these events, what struck both staff and offenders alike was the ability for these men to be vulnerable. To be raw. To share things with each other that they never would have outside of these programs. “These events not only allowed us to open up for ourselves, but also made it possible for those of us who have lived such a segregated lifestyle to open up to others. Thank you for this source of freedom that many of us have not been able to experience in years!” 

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Stafford Creek’s Favorite Author, Garth Stein, Visits Yet Again!

May 22nd, 2015 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Institutional Library Services, Uncategorized Comments Off on Stafford Creek’s Favorite Author, Garth Stein, Visits Yet Again!

From the desk of Karen S. Diehm, Secretary Senior, Stafford Creek Corrections Center

Write fat, edit lean – Garth Stein


SCCC’s Library crew with Garth Stein (L-R): Clerks Harold E., Jacob M., and Nate H., stand with Stein, Program Manager Laura Sherbo, and SCCC Librarian Jeannie Remillard stand to the right.

On Friday, May 8th, 2015 Garth Stein made his 3rd visit to Stafford Creek Corrections Center (SCCC) . We think he’s beginning to like it here!

We originally invited Garth to SCCC due to his novel, The Art of Racing in the Rain, which is narrated by a dog. This beautiful book has over 4 million copies in print and was on the New York Times bestselling novel list for 3 years! Garth graciously accepted our invitation, met with the Freedom Tails handlers and dogs, and proceeded to discuss the book with program volunteers. With some cajoling from the handlers, Garth agreed to come back for a book read which involved the general population and was an overwhelming success.

Recently, when we contacted Garth, he was happy to visit SCCC for another book read. Not only that, but he donated all the books! This time, How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets was introduced to the SCCC’s general population. The theme of this novel is based around a man who has found out, long after the fact, that he has a 14 year old son. There are many offenders who have been in, or are in, this situation, so it made for a great novel of choice. garth stein

While discussing the book, many other questions came to light – especially on the art of writing itself. Stein informed his audience that the first and foremost rule of writing is: “There is no rule”. Questions abounded from the offenders ranging from dialog tagging, point of view, the voice, and the process. One by one, Garth answered all questions – and of course more questions ensued. One point Stein stressed to the offenders was: “The easiest thing to do in the world is to not write. The hardest thing to do is write – and, it’s easy to find excuses not to write.”

Among the questions asked, many offenders wanted to know how to deal with editing your work. Garth explained that is was necessary to get people you trusted and who would give you honest feedback, but to keep in mind that “other people can tell you where you went wrong, but they can’t fix it. Only the writer can fix it.”

scccAs usual, Stein’s visit was an overwhelming success. Everyone at SCCC truly appreciated him taking the time to come share his talent and knowledge, and we look forward to him coming for another book read in the future!

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Our Prison Libraries help inmates to re-enter society

March 31st, 2015 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Institutional Library Services 1 Comment »

8702897202_7ca303552d_z On February 24, 2015 Library Associate Jean Baker participated in a “Help and Program Fair” at The Washington State Penitentiary.   This is an annual event with the intent of reinforcing positive changes in the prison environment and is held in response to the establishment of the Group Violence Reduction Strategy.   The purpose of this event is to present all of the programs available to inmates and to help them choose different and more productive paths while serving their sentences.   This year about forty inmates attended the Fair.  Facility officials gave opening remarks and the various guests and programs were introduced.    Those included education classes in basic skills, life skills, bookkeeping, and trade education.  Other programs centered on helping inmates establish a pathway for success included Redemption, Inside Dads, Toastmasters, Dog Training, and the Sustainable Practices Lab.  After introductions the inmates were free to visit the presenter tables to ask questions and get printed information.

Representing the library, Jean attended this program and presented information about how the inmates can utilize the library’s resources.   Prison libraries provide access for inmates to books, magazines and newspapers, a service that is highly appreciated by the inmates.    The goal of the librarians is to help inmates find  resources to help their re-entry into society.   The library maintains an extensive collection of re-entry materials on Housing, Education, Health and Benefits, Veterans issues, and Directories.   The Prison Libraries consider this an essential service, to provide inmates with learning options and information to assist them with transitioning to their lives outside the institution.

In our recent “Essential Needs Survey” the staff and the inmates of our prison libraries were very vocal in their support for their libraries here are a few comments we received:

 “The State Library is essential for prison safety.  Offenders who spend time reading are less likely to be behavioral problems.  The need for services for our disabled prisoners is essential as are the resources needed to for offenders to engage in self-help through literature.”

“Many young women have never been in an environment safe enough to read openly about anything they wish with no condemnation or ridicule. This alone should justify our library.”

“I am an inmate at a Washington correction center and the library has always been my favorite place to spend time looking up information on ancient civilizations, and as an inmate it provides a very special distraction for the inmate. I believe in libraries so strong I work in the library. It also provides a calming effect to those who seek a quiet place to study.”

“I’d like it to be known that I’ve acquired an AA degree, 52 credits from Peninsula College and several credits from Centralia College – all while incarcerated. However, I’ve learned more from the books I get in the library (often ILL as well) that all of my college education combined.”

“I am a patron in correctional facility and I can personally say without the library we would not be able to improve ourselves. We have access to countless educational tools to improve ourselves and become upstanding community members. They also help reduce the violence because many people use the library to be better people.”

Clearly our Prison Libraries are highly prized by both the staff and the inmates they serve.






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Got CDs?

February 17th, 2015 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Institutional Library Services, Uncategorized Comments Off on Got CDs?

photo by Eelke de Blouw https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

photo by Eelke de Blouw https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

CDs… do people still use CDs or is all music “consumed” digitally these days?  Across the state, people are cleaning out their CD collections and think that these “dinosaurs” are no longer viable.  But wait… we have an audience in Washington who will gratefully, happily and enthusiastically take those CDs off your hands.  One of the more popular items in WSL’s Institutional libraries, the library branches in our prisons and state hospitals, are the CDs.  The inmates and patients do not have access to streaming music or digital players so CDs are an excellent alternative.  We are always on the lookout for donations of CDs so if you or anyone you know are cleaning out their music please keep the State Library in mind.

Donations may be sent to:

Washington State Library (attention Laura Sherbo)

6880 Capitol Blvd SE

Tumwater, WA 98504

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When the going gets tough, the tough get creative

January 26th, 2015 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Institutional Library Services Comments Off on When the going gets tough, the tough get creative

Kathleen Benoun, long time Library Associate at the Western State Hospital library, had an idea. For over thirty years Kathleen has delivered excellent service to the hospital patients.  ddwIn the past Kathleen used to take the library to the patrons, presenting programs ranging from trivia contests to poetry reading. However over the time that she has worked at the Hospital library, like librarians across the nation, Kathleen has had to learn to do more with less.  As the solo librarian she is no longer able to visit the wards.  So let’s get back to the idea.  In January of 2011 she started writing a monthly library newsletter which the hospital print shop produced and the mail room distributed.  Kathleen reports:

My original goal was to highlight books and films in our collection by themes.  Often, we added new materials that I wanted to advertise immediately.  Thus, the monthly newsletter became a weekly in 2013.   Later, I began to add some historical information about the hospital.  The response has been good.  Staff and patients contact me to request the materials highlighted in the newsletter.

If you’ve ever written a weekly newsletter you know that coming up with an idea every week can be a challenge so here’s where the creative part comes in.  As of January 2015 the Dewey Digest Weekly – “50 states edition” was born.  Each week Kathleen highlights a state pulling together books, films and music that salute the state of the week. There’s a little bit of state background information (what librarian doesn’t want to impart a tidbit of knowledge when they have the chance), followed by books, musical artists and movies associated with that state.  Is it working? ddw2 Kathleen reports that she definitely notices an uptick in requests for materials highlighted in the newsletter.  Kathleen’s newsletters are a fun and visual way of continuing to take the library to the patrons.  Fifty states… well that takes care of 2015.  We can’t wait to see the ingenious idea Kathleen comes up with for next year’s newsletter.

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Why Do We Need a State Library?

December 3rd, 2014 Will Stuivenga Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Institutional Library Services, Library 21 Initiative, News, Public Services, State Library Collections, Washington Talking Book and Braille Library Comments Off on Why Do We Need a State Library?

Slice of Advocate headerTo quote a prominent library administrator: “Every library is designed to serve a specific community:

  • Public libraries serve the people of a specific city or county.
  • Academic libraries serve the faculty, staff, and students of a specific college or university.
  • School libraries serve the students and teachers of a specific school.
  • Medical libraries serve doctors, nurses, and patients at a specific hospital.
  • Law libraries serve the attorneys and staff of a specific law firm.

Each library is designed to add value to the specific community that it serves.”

The Washington State Library (WSL) is none of the above. Its broad mission is to collect and preserve materials of value for the entire State of Washington.

This theme is developed in the current issue of the WLFFTA newsletter, the Advocate. WLFFTA stands for Washington Library Friends, Foundations, Trustees & Advocates, and is an interest group of the Washington Library Association.

The current issue of the Advocate focuses on the Washington State Library and some of its key services and programs. It also highlights the precarious budget situation in which the State Library currently finds itself. Read the entire newsletter at http://sos.wa.gov/q/AF2014.


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Summer Reading at our Institutional Libraries

October 29th, 2014 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, For Libraries, Grants and Funding, Institutional Library Services Comments Off on Summer Reading at our Institutional Libraries

spark a reation ILS










This past summer the innovative staff in eleven of our Institutional Libraries tried something new. They formed a Summer Reading Program for the inmates and patients. Starting with the theme “Spark a Reaction” used in Public Libraries around the country. Every month had a theme. In June: Controversies & Music; July: Science Fiction Trivia; and in August: Spark a Reaction Chemistry. The inmates and patients were encouraged to keep a reading log of all the books they read, number of pages per book and if they were interested, to write a book review. Each month’s theme had an activity/trivia sheet to fill out which corresponded to the monthly theme. The activities went very well and the inmates were excited about filling the sheets out.  Each person received a certificate of participation for books and pages read, and for each activity they participated in with three possible certificates: books, pages logged and activities.  Participants also received great bookmarks that had the theme “Spark a Reaction” on them, some in English and some in Spanish.

And now… the numbers. Around Washington State, 3,337 books, a total of 1,822,015 pages were read by 586 participants. 23 Book reviews were written, 233 trivia sheets were filled out and 172 certificates were handed out. But best of all everyone had fun. As Sharon Brewer, Library Associate at the Washington Corrections Center Branch Library said, “This was our first time doing the ILS Summer Reading Program and I believe it was a great success! “

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Joyce Hanna is the 2014 State Library Employee of the Year.

September 30th, 2014 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Institutional Library Services Comments Off on Joyce Hanna is the 2014 State Library Employee of the Year.

OSOS Staff Appreciation Sept 26 2014 026Joyce retires today after a long tenure with the Washington State Library. She is our branch manager at the Airway Heights Corrections Center, one of our largest institutional library branches.

Joyce was one of the first branch managers to establish a Read Together program. The community reading program became very popular and inmates who regularly attended the programs frequently asked what the next book would be.

Last year Joyce fought, and beat, cancer! While undergoing treatment she kept the Airway Heights Corrections Center open, an indication of her dedication toward library service to prisoners.

Her manager Laura Sherbo summarized Joyce’s leadership role as “leading by example.”

Bob Fendler will step in on an interim appointment to manage the Airway Heights branch.

Congratulations, Joyce. Enjoy your retirement.

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