WA Secretary of State Blogs

WSL Updates for December 15, 2016

December 15th, 2016 Will Stuivenga Posted in For Libraries, For the Public, Grants and Funding, Library 21 Initiative, News, State Library Collections, Training and Continuing Education, Updates Comments Off on WSL Updates for December 15, 2016

Volume 12, December 15, 2016 for the WSL Updates mailing list

Topics include:







Read the rest of this entry »

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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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Our Pacific Northwest card file is now online!

October 2nd, 2014 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Library 21 Initiative, Public Services, State Library Collections, Uncategorized 1 Comment »

From the desk of Steve Willis, Program Manager for Central Library Services

card catalogThe Pacific Northwest Card File appears to have been started in the early 1950s as a finding aid for biographical and historical information in the Washington State Library. Information was indexed from newspapers across the state as well as many published local histories, creating a very unique point of access.

Comprised of hundreds of thousands of cards, the drawers are divided into a Name File and a Subject File. Work began in late 2012, chiefly with WSL volunteer David Lane, on the Name File. We are now up to the surname “C” and will continue to update the online index as progress is made.  See the open drawer in the picture? That’s where we are currently working.

The Card File was closed in the early 1990s.  Please remember however that this is a historical card file and not every item listed is still on the shelves of the library.  A quick chat, email or phone call to the reference desk will help to ensure  you get the proper resource.

To see a nice sampling, simply type in the name “Anderson” in the “Last Name” box.

Many thanks to Evelyn Lindberg for creating the utility that made this possible

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Your State Library – Providing Live Help to Government Information Seekers

June 27th, 2014 mschaff Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Library 21 Initiative, Technology and Resources Comments Off on Your State Library – Providing Live Help to Government Information Seekers

Statistics-snipFrom the desk of Mary Paynton Schaff

The expertise of the reference librarians at the Washington State Library has enabled even more people to find the government information they’re looking for. During the first quarter of 2014, librarians answered 449 questions regarding Washington State government, including referring individuals to the correct state agency, locating information on agency websites, and providing access to thousands of Washington state publications. Additional referrals were made to the appropriate federal or local government agency. The majority of the questions received came from users of Access Washington, the state’s centralized website for government information.

Through a partnership with the Department of Enterprise Services, the Washington State Library provides assistance to website visitors struggling to find the information they need. The Pew Research Center’s Search Engine 2012 report indicates that 41% of online searchers retrieved conflicting information during a search and weren’t able to tell what was correct, and 38% of searchers have gotten so many results that they felt overwhelmed. Add these facts to the layered nature of government information, and informed help becomes a vital link in creating an engaged, well-informed populace.

During January-April of 2014, staff at the State Library answered 353 questions through its online chat service, which enables an information searcher to chat in real time with a librarian who can walk them through the process of locating the government information they need. Live chat is accessible through a customizable widget that can be placed on any website to allow a seamless transition, or by linking the Washington State Library’s Ask page .

The Washington State Library’s customer surveys for the first quarter of 2014 indicate that 89% received an answer better than they could find on their own, 96% would use the State Library’s Ask service again, and 96% would recommend the service to a friend.

The Washington State Library is eager to expand this vital service to additional governmental and quasi-governmental agencies. If you are interested in placing an Ask a Librarian chat widget on your website, or want to find out how to leverage the knowledge of the librarians at the State Library to assist your customers, contact Crystal Lentz at [email protected].

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Preserving the History and Culture of Washington State

April 1st, 2014 Rand Simmons Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Library 21 Initiative, State Library Collections, Tribal Comments Off on Preserving the History and Culture of Washington State

From the desk of Brian Frisina

Washingtonians know the importance of preserving the history and culture of our great state.

Mr. Jackson is shown in the Illustrated History of Mason County, by Susan Olsen and Mary Randlette (1978) Additional information on Dick Jackson can be found in the rise and decline of the Olympia oyster, by E. N. Steele [Elma, Wash., Fulco Publications, 1957]

Mr. Jackson is shown in the Illustrated History of Mason County, by Susan Olsen and Mary Randlette (1978) Additional information on Dick Jackson can be found in the rise and decline of the Olympia oyster, by E. N. Steele [Elma, Wash., Fulco Publications, 1957]

One way to preserve our history is by supporting the Washington State Library. Established as a territorial library, the Washington Territorial Library was created by the Organic Act of 1853, which also created the Washington Territory. The Washington State Library is the oldest cultural institution in Washington State and its original collections were chosen by Governor Isaac Stevens, the first Territorial Governor, before he headed West from the East Coast.

Libraries play a very vital role in society. They provide access to both printed and online information, their collections preserve historical moments, and above all they are the stewards of the history and culture of society.

Libraries also provide people with free opportunities to learn through books, magazines, newspapers, and documents. These opportunities uplift our society and helps us to be the best human beings we can be.

I would like to take a moment and share my experience with the Washington State Library. I was working on a project that required digging deep into the history of the State, the history of the First People. I am interested in telling the story of Washington State through the eyes of the First People.

In my research I was looking for some rare images. One image I was looking for was of a person name Dick Jackson, from the Sqauxin Island Nation. Mr. Jackson played an important role in keeping his people from starving during the 1900s. The image on the right was preserved at the Washington State Library.

Through the collections of the Washington State and help from the staff I was able to locate the research material I needed. I share my story with you to highlight the Washington State Library and its role in preserving the history and culture of our great state.

Thank you Washington State Library.

Brian Frisina works at the Washington State Library branch in the Department of Labor and Industries, He is active in American Indian issues.

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Washington State Library, Head Coach

January 31st, 2014 Carolyn Petersen Posted in Articles, For the Public, Library 21 Initiative Comments Off on Washington State Library, Head Coach

"Go Hawks" @ the Washington State Library

“Go Hawks” @ the Washington State Library

As today is Seahawk blue Friday my mind as I drove south to my job at the Washington State Library was skittering between thinking about the Seahawks and thinking about the Washington State Library (WSL).  Then it occurred to me:

The State Library is like the head coach of a football team. Just as a good coach would, WSL thinks about winning the game—and winning the game is getting the best library services for everyone in the state by serving ALL the libraries in the State.

WSL takes on different roles at different time depending on the needs of the team (citizens of the state)

Sometimes WSL leads

  • IT Academy
  • Library Now (Boopsie app)

Sometimes WSL coaches and mentors other

  • Gadget menageries (staff training), ARSL scholarships, First Tuesdays
  • Central Skagit Rural library district advice on getting organized
  • Trustee wiki
  • Washington Rural heritage (teaches local libraries and historical institutions digitization and cataloguing skills for the presentation

Sometimes the coach runs onto the field and gets right into the games

  • Washington Talking Book and Braille Library, institutional libraries found in hospitals and prison
  • Genealogical resources focused on the Pacific Northwest,
  • Best collection of historical newspapers collection which are a great boon for researcher and students need access to primary sources for  common core requirements.
  • Providing access  through indexing to primary sources needed by businesses (weather data, historical statisitics, population)

A good coach makes certain that everyone has a “level playing field” which WSL does by providing group contracts

  • Statewide database licensing
  • Washington Anytime library
  • Ask-WA

When other teams want to have a statewide “impact”, they need to  “go through”  the Washington State Library: WSL coordinates and collaborates with the Gates Foundation, NoaNet, the Paul G. Allen Foundation, the Department of Early Learning,  the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), and  Employment Security among others.

Then just like any good coach WSL cheers when its players do well by using the skills and resources they have been taught.

Here’s a story from one of Washington State’s small public library: the independent municipal library at Sprague

Dear Carolyn,

I’d like to share a story with you about one of my summer reading programs (Editor’s note: Washington State Library supports this). I had a 12 year old boy in my teen program. He is in special education for all of his classes. I encouraged his mom to let him be part of the teen program. I told her to keep track of what he read. I said she could also read to him and that it would count.

He came to our program mostly to check out books and turn in his reading list. He seemed to be wary of interacting with the other teens. At the end of our program we have a pizza party and give out awards. This boy won the top prize for reading the most books and he was very proud.

My daughter has the boy in her class and when school started she said that he was raising his hand and answering the teachers questions. She went on to say that he never used to talk in class. I received a phone call from his mother and she said that because of our program he has a new sense of confidence. He wasn’t fighting her on homework and he was taking the initiative to work on homework first without asking for help. The mother thanked me profusely.

I give credit for the success of the summer reading program to the extra books that I have received during the interlocal grant, (Editor’s note: WSL grant Connecting Libraries through Resource Sharing) where the libraries rotate their collection every three months. We had the newest, coolest books to offer the kids to read that summer. I have an extremely small budget and our library runs mostly on donations. The new books made the teen program. The kids got very excited about new series that are the ‘must reads’. I wanted to thank the Washington State Library for making these grants available.

Judy’s library may be small, but her impact is mighty!

GO TEAM!!!!!!

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Gadget Menagerie Takes Off

January 29th, 2014 jfenton Posted in For Libraries, For the Public, Library 21 Initiative, Technology and Resources, Training and Continuing Education, Uncategorized 1 Comment »

Less than a month into a whirlwind tour of over 40 libraries around the state and the Gadget Menagerie is officially a big hit in libraries. January kicked off the Gadget Menagerie with visits to Skagit and Lincoln Counties as well as the Ritzville Library and Mid-Columbia Libraries. Now, we are preparing for a super-busy February with visits to Gonzaga University, Richland Public Library, Timberland Regional Library, Washington State Library, Spokane County Library District, Sno-Isle Libraries and Everett Public Library. Wow, that’s exhausting just at a glance!


Sedro-Woolley staff show off devices at the Gadget Menagerie

The exciting thing about the Gadget Menagerie program is that it is not only for staff, but also for the public. Libraries wishing to offer a public program are partnering with Washington State Library staff to bring the Gadgets to the library for patrons as well. Working directly with library users has been a joy. It is so much fun to help people discover the world of eReaders and tablets. Everyone has different needs when it comes to using a tablet and our job is to help people understand how they are all similar, yet different. Is this a contradiction in terms? Perhaps, but it is very true.

By working with staff and encouraging them to approach devices in a “device agnostic” manner, we hope to get staff more comfortable helping patrons coming to the library on a daily basis with various devices. Each day of the Gadget Menagerie, we are learning more about devices and about our communities.
Devices in the current menagerie include: Kindle, Nook Touch, Kindle Fire HD, Nook HD, Galaxy Tab 10.1, iPad Mini, Microsoft Surface RT and a Chromebook.

New devices are coming soon and will include more android-based tablets. Patrons and students may bring their own device or explore one from the Washington State Library.


Just a few of the available devices at the Gadget Menagerie.

At the public workshops, we assisted many people with their own devices and showcased the gadgets from our menagerie. An 83-year old woman wanted to compare tablets. After working with the various tablets in the Menagerie, she was able to narrow her interest down to 2 tablets. At another session, a 70-something farmer wanted to know when high speed internet would come to his county and town. He loves technology and has quite a few of his own gadgets already. He enjoyed showing us what he liked about the different tablets and was enthusiastic when telling us that when high-speed internet comes to his town, he’d be able to do so much more with all his high-tech toys. When the local librarian asked him “How did you get so tech savvy?,” he responded with, “My grandkids, and I have a lot of them!”

Our youngest patron at the Gadget Menagerie was 9 years old. She had a tablet and wanted to learn about YouTube. Unfortunately, since she has no access to internet at home, her tablet has limited functionality when items aren’t downloaded directly onto it. She loves coming to the library and now knows that she can bring her tablet in and use the library’s wi-fi to download what she needs and ask the friendly staff for help.

So, by now you are probably wondering, what exactly is this Gadget Menagerie?

The Washington State Library is partnering with local libraries across the state providing gadget training for library staff. Library patrons and students will be given similar training focused on the needs of the device user. Over 40 locations and 70 trainings are scheduled for the Gadget Menagerie through June 2014.

“We are very excited to be able to provide this training,” State Librarian Rand Simmons said. “We hope these skills will be beneficial to both library staff and those who rely on library resources.”


Staff at the Burlington Public Library study devices at the Menagerie.

Library staff will learn how various eReaders, tablets and other devices work. They will discover what these devices have in common, how they differ, and learn basic operating tips. Staff will learn basic troubleshooting and tips for helping patrons with their devices, including how to download books from the library.

The Gadget Menagerie will familiarize local library staff with the variety of gadgets available, allowing for staff to be more comfortable and skilled in helping library patrons.

Not all libraries are offering both types of training; some libraries are focusing only on staff training since they either already offer public workshops or don’t have the resources to offer trainings at this time.

These trainings are funded by the Washington State Library via the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA).

For this project, which is part of the Washington State Library Digital Literacy project, we are actively encouraging feedback and stories. So far, 100% of the public attendees say they have learned something valuable and would recommend the program to another. Comments from the public vary, but this one is very typical of the responses we have been receiving; “It was useful to have knowledgeable persons explain the equipment-what they will and will not do. Thank you for bringing the variety of devices.”

As one staff person said in a thank-you note, “We couldn’t have asked for better, more useful, hands-on training!”

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State Library Assists WSJ Journalist

December 26th, 2013 mschaff Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Library 21 Initiative, News Comments Off on State Library Assists WSJ Journalist

Photo of lobotomy patient Melbert Peters, courtesy of the Washington State Digital Archives.

From the desk of Mary Paynton Schaff

It is not an uncommon occurrence for the reference librarians at the Washington State Library to be called upon for assistance by journalists.  Questions come in regularly from newspaper reporters, bloggers, and radio contributors.  So when Wall Street Journal reporter Michael M. Phillips contacted the Library about tracking down relatives of some Washington World War II veterans, librarian Kathryn Devine stepped up to provide information on the fates of these servicemen.  The results of Kathryn’s collaboration with him can be seen in Phillips’s monumental report for the WSJ, “Lobotomy Files.” Kathryn assisted Phillips with records, obituaries, and surviving family members for five Washington veterans profiled in “Lobotomy Files,” including Leonard Kingcade whose story is profiled in detail as a case study called, “A Descent into Madness.”

Phillips’s work with primary sources, newspaper accounts, and oral history packs an emotional wallop, especially when one draws parallels between the current psychiatric treatment of our many returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with PTSD.  The impact of “Lobotomy Files” can be seen in this blog post where Phillips discusses what went in to creating the report with his readers.  As for Kathryn, she says, “I’m happy the library could help Michael tell this important story.”

For all the staff at the Washington State Library, “Lobotomy Files” is a clear reminder of the importance of our historical collections.  The dry, long dead facts of one person’s life, recorded and preserved only in musty boxes and reels of microfilm, can, with diligent and compassionate research, be translated into a document that shines a powerful light on the 21st Century condition.  To find your own powerful moment in Washington history, check out the Washington State Library’s many print and digital resources.

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Looking for Columbia River Treaty materials? Start at the Washington State Library!

November 18th, 2013 WSL NW & Special Collections Posted in Articles, For the Public, Library 21 Initiative, State Library Collections Comments Off on Looking for Columbia River Treaty materials? Start at the Washington State Library!

From the desk of Sean Lanksbury. PNW & Special Collections Librarian

Signed in 1961 and ratified in 1964, The Columbia River Treaty (CRT) is an international agreement between Canada and the United States that coordinates flood control and optimizes hydroelectric energy production on both sides of the border.  The United States and Canada are set to renegotiate this important treaty in 2014.  Any decisions regarding the treaty will have profound impacts for citizens of the United States, Canada, Pacific Northwest Tribal Members and Canadian First Peoples.  Not only does the treaty guide how the nations operate hydroelectric resources and compensate the partner nation in doing so, but also how the two nations provide flood control, establish fishing rights, and address numerous environmental issues.  If either nation decided to terminate the treaty next year, the termination would take full effect ten years later, in 2024.



Interested in learning more about the Columbia River Treaty?  The State Library’s “Ask-A-Librarian” service is an ideal place to begin your research.  Perhaps you are curious about other Washington State issues – the Public Services Staff is at your service.

Contact the Ask-A-Librarian Service and our Public Services Team by visiting online at http://www.sos.wa.gov/library/ask.aspx, by emailing at [email protected], or by calling direct: 360-704-5221.

The State Library’s associates at HistoryLink.org, the free online encyclopedia of Washington State history, have authored some new essays on the Columbia River Treaty accessible at http://www.HistoryLink.org.   The State Library has very useful materials from across the last 5 decades that can help provide understanding and context for different aspects and sentiments on this essential piece of international lawmaking.  See below for a few suggestions.  For more details, just follow the links to the State Library Online Catalog:



Canada-United States Treaty Relations. Edited by David R. Deenes. (Durham, N.C.: Published for the Duke University Commonwealth-Studies Center by Duke University Press, 1963. 250 pp.

Bibliographic notes, index.

Work on the 1961 Columbia Basin Treaty between Canada and the United States.



Discussion of coordinated operation of electric utility systems in the Pacific Northwest in conjunction with Canadian storage; presentation before the U.S. Treaty Negotiating Team, Washington, D.C., January 13, 1961. (Washington, D.C., 1961. 48 leaves. Maps (part fold.) diagrams, tables.

Presentation made by a working group representing interested non-Federal generating utilities regarding a treaty relating to cooperative development of the water resources of the Columbia River basin.



Conflict over the Columbia: The Canadian Background to an Historic Treaty. Neil A. Swainson. (Part of the Canadian Public Administration series. Montreal: The Institute of Public Administration of Canada, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1979. 476 pp. Illustrations, Bibliographic notes, index.



The Columbia River Treaty: The Economics of an International River Basin Development.  By John V. Krutilla. (Baltimore, Published for Resources For the Future by Johns Hopkins Press 1967. 211 pp. Illustrations. 24 cm.)



United States-Canada, Pacific Salmon Treaty: Source Materials. Revised Oct. 1985. (Portland, OR: Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, 1985. 1 v. (various pagings). Illustrations.



Transboundary River Governance in the Face Of Uncertainty: The Columbia River Treaty: A Project of the Universities Consortium on Columbia River Governance. Edited by Barbara Cosens. (Corvallis, Or.: Oregon State University Press, 2012. 455 pp. ill., maps, bibliographical references and index.)



Treaty Rights: Sustaining a Way of Life: The Role of Treaty Tribes and Intertribal Treaty Commissions in the Great Lakes and Pacific Northwest. (Portland, Ore.: Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, 2013. 15 pp. Illustrations.

“Recommendations to the Obama Administration and the 113th Congress from the Treaty Tribes of the Great Lakes and Pacific Northwest, including the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission and the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission. February 2013.”



The Si’lailo way: Indians, salmon, and law on the Columbia River. Edited by Joseph C. Dupris, Kathleen S. Hill, William H. Rodgers, Jr. (Durham, N.C.: Carolina Academic Press, 2006. 425 pp. Illustrations, maps, index.)


View table of contents online: http://catdir.loc.gov/catdir/toc/ecip0513/2005013437.html


Taming the Columbia River: the challenge of United States-Canadian cooperation. By Sabra Holbrook. (New York: Coward-McCann, 1967. 121 pp. Illustrations, maps,

Written for younger readers, this work examines the background and benefits of the Columbia Treaty and the water power projects operated cooperatively by the United States and Canada. Describes the river and its tributaries, dam construction, the formation of the treaty, and the economic profits enjoyed by both nations.



Empty Promises, Empty Nets. Produced by Rick Taylor and Dan Kane. (Portland, OR: Distributed by Wild Hare Media, 1994. VHS, 30 minutes, contains one booklet entitled: Che wana tymoo (19 pp. Illustrations)

This video “details the legal decisions confirming the treaty-bound fishing rights of Columbia River Indians.”



WSL Manuscripts (Non-Circulating)

MS 0007: Collection of speeches and statements of Governor Albert D. Rosellini, 1963-1965. (0.5 linear foot (1 box); Washington State Library Manuscripts Collection) The material pertains to Washington State governmental matters. Includes the document, “1964 Annex to exchange of notes dated Jan. 22, 1964 between the governments of Canada and the United States regarding the Columbia River Treaty.”



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Washington State Library a leader in Early Learning

October 22nd, 2013 Rand Simmons Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Library 21 Initiative, Uncategorized Comments Off on Washington State Library a leader in Early Learning

Growing Young Minds IMLSFrom the desk of Rand Simmons

Washington State is listed as one of 10 success stories by the Institute of Museum and Library Services in their 2013 report on early learning, Growing Young Minds: How Museums and Libraries Create Lifelong Learners.

“By proactively responding to new initiatives and policy actions, libraries across Washington have secured their position as key players in statewide early learning efforts,” the report states. It cites several activities in which the Washington State Library has been instrumental: the Washington Early Learning Initiative (2000-2003), the establishment of the Early Learning Public Library Partnership (ELPLP), and a partnership between the University of Washington Information School, the ELPLP, the Foundation for Early Learning and the State Library focusing on research-based evidence of the effectiveness of public library programming on early learning and early literacy.

The report is available online in PDF format.

Limited print copies of the report and the executive summary are available from Leanna Hammond, Washington State Library, [email protected], 360-704-7133.

To learn more about the State Library’s involvement in early learning contact Martha Shinners, [email protected], 360-570-5567.

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