WA Secretary of State Blogs

Reality Check

March 7th, 2018 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Technology and Resources 2 Comments »

From the Desk of Joe Olayvar

A woman with a VR headset and controls on her hands. The background is a library.

If you haven’t noticed, there’s a device craze going on.  Nearly everywhere you look in any town or city across the globe, someone is absorbed in conversation, web searching, or game play.  Yes, we’ve come a long way since the Atari or the early phone and its five pound battery pack.  But like every technology, there’s always something new that will eventually overshadow it, or at least add a new facet; in this case, it’s Virtual Reality; better known as simply VR.

VR is nothing new, but it’s influx into the consumer market is.  At first glance, it’s a new platform that takes gaming up a notch with immersive 3D graphics and audio.  But in reality (pun intended), the potential for VR is literally ground breaking on so many levels.  Its ability to transport the user into worlds of every description will reinvent how we learn, conduct business, recreate, experience social media, and even heal.

With this in mind, the Washington State Library has launched the “VR in Libraries” project in partnership with the University of Washington’s Information School (iSchool) and one of the leading VR companies in the world, Oculus.  This two-year project will have several phases.  The initial Pilot (Phase I) includes studying the educational possibilities of VR in six libraries, thanks to the team of iSchool researchers led by Negin Dahya.  The following phases will take advantage of what is learned and ultimately see forty seven VR systems being rotated roughly every six months to reach as many Washington State Libraries as possible by the close of year 2020.

In the course of the project’s two year span, fifty VR systems will have been shared with over 180 libraries.  But at projects end, these VR systems will be granted to fifty Washington State libraries as permanent homes.  That is virtually a real win, win for our communities.

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Announcing the winners of our 3rd Annual Zine contest!

March 1st, 2018 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public Comments Off on Announcing the winners of our 3rd Annual Zine contest!

Picture of two Zines stacked on top of eachother.How many of us remember sitting through dry history classes in school?  And yet history done right is a fascinating and important subject.  Here at the Washington State Library we take history seriously.  One of our strategic goals is to “Preserve and share Washington’s stories.” We have several paths to achieving this goal. There are our historic digital newspapers, the digitized “Classics in Washington History” collection, our collection of Historic maps, and the  Washington Rural Heritage Collection.  But making the resources available is only one part of the process.  We also want them to be found and used.  Our historic digital resources are an opportunity to wake up and engage those history classes.

Three years ago Judy Pitchford had an inspiration, and along with other partners began what is now our 3rd Annual Zine contest.  Do you know what a zine is? “Zines (pronounced “zeen”, like “bean”) are self-published – often via a photocopier – magazines with limited print runs. They can be on any topic or many, are usually written by one person or a few individuals, and typically provide an individualistic or alternative point of view.” (adapted from “Stolen Sharpie Revolution” by Alex Wrekk).  The zine contest requires the use of historical materials from the collections of the Washington State Library, the Washington State Archives or the Timberland Regional Libraries. Unpacking the entries as they arrive is a delight as we get to see people engage with primary resources and make their slice of history relevant to their life.

Today we are happy to announce the winners of the 2017’s Historical Zone Contest.  The winner in the Youth category is Mia Widrow, Grade 5. Mia titled her zine   Hanford : The complex legacy left behind. The adult winner is Lisa Oberg,  who entered, Answering Columbia’s Call : Seattle’s War Relief Bazaar of 1917. Click on the links to the zines themselves and you’ll see not only a great example of a zine but a cross-discipline art/history project that makes history come alive.

Both Mia and Lisa received a $75 prize and their zines will be added to the Washington State Library Manuscript collection.

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Beekeepers at the Airway Heights Corrections Center

February 26th, 2018 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Institutional Library Services 1 Comment »

From the desk of Sue Box, Library Associate at the Airway Heights Corrections Center.

Picture of a group of men with a Banner that says West Plains Beekeepers AssociationOn February 15, I had the pleasure and privilege of watching sixteen men be congratulated on a one-of-a-kind accomplishment.  About two years ago, Mr. Jim Miller, a master beekeeper and longtime member of the West Plains Beekeepers Association, decided to give of himself and his time to help the prison really get the beekeeping program going.  He helped set up hives, he taught the brand new beekeepers how to do what they needed to do, etc.  But he was hoping for more.  What he really wanted of the inmates in return was their help in writing a journeyman level beekeeping curriculum (which had been his dream for more than a decade).  A daunting task, to be sure.  This required the beekeepers to immerse themselves in peer-reviewed scientific literature and other pretty heavy reading and study.  They took it on, they dived in head first, they worked their butts off… and a year later, the coursebook was revealed.  Mr Miller was so happy and so proud of the work they did, and they are hoping to have the course approved by the state beekeepers body in the coming months.

I was lucky enough to be in the room about a year ago when the writing journey started.  To see the inmates go from the deer-in-the-headlights, “He wants us to do WHAT??” faces, to the proud faces of accomplishment that I saw today, was pretty cool.  I was also pleased to help them with a very small amount of research for their task.  Not much, but a little.

What these men did, has never before been done.  It may well never be done again.  So, when I won ajar of honey in a raffle at the ceremony, it was also very cool.  Just a little jar of honey….but so much more.

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Veterans in Washington – Creating a Stronger Library Connection

February 21st, 2018 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public Comments Off on Veterans in Washington – Creating a Stronger Library Connection

From the desk of Jeff Martin, Manager, Library Development, Washington State Library

The United States flag with the setting sun for backlight.I didn’t realize how many veterans, active duty and reserve personnel, and their family members exist in Washington State. The Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) reports the figure as roughly 2.6 million persons. That means one in every three of us in Washington is a veteran, on active duty, in the reserve, or a family member of a veteran, active duty and reserve military member. Veterans within Washington number more than 593,000 with another 63,000 persons who are active duty or reserve members.

Certainly I think about the active duty members who serve on the military bases around Washington but the population is more geographically dispersed than we may first think. The Washington State County Veteran Population Map show the distribution by county in 2016. Every county in our state has veterans, with most counties claiming numbers in the thousands. The smaller, more rural counties are home to hundreds of veterans in incorporated and unincorporated areas.  And six counties have populations of more than 30,000 veterans, with King County having the largest resident population of veterans at more than 115,000.

Do you know how many veterans visit the library in your community? My understanding is that many veterans and their families visit libraries throughout Washington State. Libraries are a trusted resource.

If a question arose would you know where to refer the person for veterans’ services? Did you know that local veteran service organizations exist in every county? Use this map to find those answers. Click in the county in which you are located to see a list of services and organizations which support veterans.

Libraries exist in most communities throughout Washington State. These libraries often have the fastest internet connection in a small town, perhaps the only reliable connection in a rural community.  Have you thought about how your community library can better serve as a connector between the veteran and the services that are available to them?  Living Well in Washington Resource Guide is a Washington State Library guide for helping people find the information they need to live a more rewarding life. It also has a section with resources for veterans and their families.


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All Aboard for Storytime!

February 16th, 2018 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Training and Continuing Education Comments Off on All Aboard for Storytime!

Picture of a school bus and a blue sky with cloudsFrom the desk of Carolyn Petersen

In the spirit of it takes a village to raise a child Washington libraries offer preschool storytimes because attending storytime has been proven to increase the kindergarten readiness skills a child needs.

This spring the Washington State Library will debut a series of trainings, All Aboard for Kindergarten, around the state.  The trainings are intended to strengthen youth services staff skills around the five key early literacy practices.

Sing, talk, read, write and play are all essential building blocks for early literacy.

The Every Child Ready Read program which was developed by the Public Library Association identifies those five practices as essential.

Sing: When an adult sings with a child, it slows down language so children can hear the smaller sounds in the words and learn new words.

Talk: A conversation between adults and children should feature open ended questions that open up a child’s world to more than the here and now.  Children should be encouraged to tell and retell stories themselves.

Read: Shared or interactive reading is the single most important activity to enable children to be ready to read.  Reading with children on a regular basis while they are young in an important predictor of success in school as well as the practice of reading itself.

Write: Drawing helps with fine and gross motor skills. Drawing shapes and letters and pictures prepares a child for abstract concept and connects spoken language to abstract ideas detailed in written language.

Play: When a child plays with a toy, they learn its properties (it is hard, soft, make noise, taste good). As they mature they begin to test out roles (You be the policeman, I’ll be the teacher) as they play. Language and many other skills are enhanced through play.

The trainings are also an opportunity for youth services staff to invite their local early childhood workers to come with them and refresh skills together.

Registration for the six hour workshop is now open.  Workshops will be held at Anacortes Public Library, Colville Library, Longview Public Library, the Kennewick branch of the Mid-Columbia Library, Neal Public Library and at the North Central Regional Library Service Center in Wenatchee.

Stars credit from the Department of Early Learning will be available.


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“Connecting Washington through the power of libraries”

February 13th, 2018 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public Comments Off on “Connecting Washington through the power of libraries”

Picture of the Washington State Library Building with the words "WSL Presesnts: News from Washington Libraries."

Our mission statement is a short and simple, yet powerful statement of what we do here at the Washington State Library.  We see ourselves as an umbrella that hovers over all the wonderful libraries in our state, offering unique resources, expertise, training opportunities and grants which help you fulfill our common goal: to provide excellent service to our states residents.  We look with amazement at all that happens in our state; the programs, resources and support you each provide to your community.

One small role that we can fill is to amplify the work that each and every library in this state does for their patrons.  In the past we used to collect library news from around the state and send out an email called “Clippings”.  A year ago, however, we moved to an online platform that we named “WSL presents: News from Washington Libraries.”  We constantly comb the web and your social media sites to try to learn what is happening at your library and every two weeks a new issue is published (the first and third Friday of the month.)  Despite our best efforts however we know there is so much going on that we miss.  So this is a call for help. What’s happening at your library?  Maybe you have a remodel going on, perhaps some particularly cute pictures from Storytime, news of a really special author reading that occurred?  How about one of those golden handwritten notes of praise from a patron… you get the idea.  We would love to help you share your news.  If you send your stories to Staci Phillips (staci.phillips@sos.wa.gov ) she’ll include it in the next issue. And while you’re at it, head on over to the paper, and read all the great Washington Library news, and while you’re there, sign up to have future issues delivered right to your inbox twice a month.

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How your donations to the Institutional Libraries makes a difference.

February 2nd, 2018 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Institutional Library Services Comments Off on How your donations to the Institutional Libraries makes a difference.

Picture of a bookshelf with the covers facing forward.

In two weeks 45 books and 2 DVDs have been donated to Institutional Library Services for their ILS Reads Program. Thank you to everyone who donated!”

The Clallam Bay Corrections Center is trying something different.  They are reconsidering the usefulness of solitary confinement.  According to an article in the Seattle Times, “Being alone in your own head 23 hours a day in a 48-square-foot poured-concrete cell makes, inmates say, the mad madder and the bad even worse.”  Clallam Bay is using a new approach to navigating the intervention of behavioral barriers, developing a program called the “Intensive Transition Program (ITP)” and the library is a contributing piece of this program.

Their Operations manual describes the program like this.  “The Intensive Transition Program at Clallam Bay Corrections Center strives to break the cycle of personal dysfunction through supportive discipline, staged socialization, targeted integrated programming, and progressive development of self-control” (ITP Philosophy and Operations, p1).

So what exactly does this mean? Think of the ITP as a transition.  When an inmate shows a desire to change they are considered for selection in the ITP program. Restrictions are slowly and carefully lifted and a small suite of privileges open up that have previously been denied.  Participating in a library program can demonstrate their commitment to disciplining themselves and regulating their behavior.

Right now, the Washington State Library is partnering with the ITP to provide a weekly book discussion program.  This consists of discussion around world issues. Participants are presently reading “Persepolis,” a story about a young woman experiencing a revolution. The book has inspired conversations around the critical issues presented. Some discussion includes, the role of politics in school, the ways that revolutions manifest, how seeking power disrupts equity, and the lens that children create for the world around them in the face of trauma.  This book has elicited several interesting responses. One person said, “There are always people that are deprived of their rights. Revolutions are a way for people to speak up and seek change for the better. Revolutions are needed for continual change to occur.” Another tied the book in to his own life, and his own experience. “Teaching about a broad range of politics in schools is really important, I want to know that my daughter has a chance to learn about as many different perspectives as possible.”

This book discussion is in its early stages, and is seeking to create a meaningful environment that promotes prosocial behavior, critical analysis, and self-growth.  In order for this important program to expand we need more titles which meet the needs of this group.  If you feel like donating to this very worthy cause we have made it easy through the use of an  Amazon wish list.   Even if donating is not within your means take a look at the list.  You will very likely be surprised at the wide range of books and materials that have been requested.

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Announcing a new home for the Washington Center for the Book!

January 26th, 2018 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Washington Center for the Book Comments Off on Announcing a new home for the Washington Center for the Book!

Scissors cutting a ribbon over the webpage for the Washington Center for the Book
















Way back in May we made an announcement that the Seattle Public Library (SPL) and the Washington State Library (WSL) were joining forces to grow the Washington Center for the Book (WCB) into a powerful statewide program. Since then we have been diligently working behind the scenes to create our digital space. Today we launch our new website.  Ta-Dah!

The Washington Center for the Book, is an affiliate of the Library of Congress’s Center for the Book (CFB). Every state in the union, along with the District of Columbia and the US Virgin Islands, have a CFB and each state runs their program slightly differently. So what is Washington’s take? To understand you might start by reading our mission statement.

The Washington Center for the Book promotes literacy and a love of books, reading, and libraries. We celebrate Washington’s robust literary heritage and shine a spotlight on the contribution of reading and libraries in strengthening communities and in fostering civic engagement.

High flying words and goals —  but what does this really mean? We believe that our state is home to exceptionally talented writers. We have a long history of a love of literature, in fact our largest city, Seattle, is almost always included in lists of most literate cities in America, and was named an international City of Literature by UNESCO in 2017. Maybe it’s all the rain in the westside and snow in the eastside that keeps us indoors and reading in the winter, but then our gorgeous summers also have us reading outside.  Maybe we just plain love books. The WCB’s goal is to nourish our writers and our readers, creating programs that form a bridge between the two. That bridge? Our wonderful Washington libraries, of course.

We are fortunate that SPL and WSL each brought a strong program to our partnership. The Seattle Public Library has hosted the Washington State Book Awards since 2001. Our website contains information about past winners as well as information about submitting a book for future consideration.

The Letters About Literature contest (LAL) has been run by the State Library since 2005. LAL is a contest that encourages young readers to read a book and write a letter to the author about how the book changed their view of the world or themselves. The letters are powerful, funny and sometimes heartbreaking. These letter writers may become our future Washington authors.

On top of these existing programs we are devising ways to bring our state’s writers into the public eye. Our front page has a carousel of blog posts that will point you to newly published books, or information about awards that WA authors have won.

The “For Writers” section contains information about writer’s workshops and conferences as well as an excellent list of books for aspiring writers.

We are working on a variety of programs and ideas which we will announce as they become reality. If you love books and you love libraries we hope you will visit us often.


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Learning through play

January 23rd, 2018 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Technology and Resources, Training and Continuing Education Comments Off on Learning through play

five boys playing with Lego robots on the floor.With Microsoft, Amazon, Google and many other companies based in Washington we are a technology state. Washington State is endlessly hungry for skilled technology workers and STEM learning is an important component of educating our future workforce.  The State Library, seeing this need, has invested in many STEM kits which we circulate to interested libraries around Washington. Coding and robotics are work skills that are highly prized, and one of our original, and very popular kits, Lego Mindstorms teaches these skills.  Purchased in 2016 these kits have so far visited 28 libraries and have a waiting list that stretches out until well into 2018.

While endlessly fun, fascinating, and educational, Lego Mindstorms also have a steep learning curve.  At the beginning of the program, Joe Olayvar and Evelyn Lindberg developed a hands on training, signed up interested libraries and hit the road.  Travelling around the entire state, Joe and Evelyn visited 43 public, Tribal, School and Academic libraries, training staff in 44 different Legislative districts. The trainings were a huge success with comments such as, “Great example of how to do a Mindstorms program.”, “Excellent training – I want MORE!” and “I wished there was an hour of just free play.”

As popular as the trainings were, the kits soon had a waiting list that was over two years long.  Joe realized that by the time they arrived at some of the later scheduled libraries, the person running the program might need to learn all over again, or might not even work there anymore. Being a problem solver by nature he set out to do just that, solve the problem.  A comprehensive LEGO® Mindstorms® EV3 Programming Basics tutorial was created complete with accompanying YouTube videos.  While he was creating this resource, Joe thought of it as support for Washington libraries. Little did he know that his work would be discovered and spread widely.  The first to contact him was COSUGI .  They were so impressed by the tutorial that they are bringing Joe and Evelyn to Atlanta to do a training at their annual conference in April.  Recently a Community College instructor in Oregon contacted Joe asking permission to use the resource.  Joe regularly receives calls about the tutorials, which are being used around the nation.  We can only imagine what will happen after their April conference presentation!

Thanks to this effort, the youth of our state, and now the nation, are being exposed to robotics education and coding in a way that is so fun and hands-on they don’t even know they’re learning.  You’re welcome Tech industry.

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Keeping our library workforce well trained.

January 12th, 2018 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Training and Continuing Education Comments Off on Keeping our library workforce well trained.

people sitting at a table with laptopsOne of the roles we take very seriously at the State Library is making sure that the library workforce in Washington is kept up to date with the latest, and greatest information about the skills needed to be a success in the 21st century.  We do this in a variety of ways, First Tuesdays webinars, specific in person trainings offered at sites around the state, professional development grants, support for WebJunction and subscriptions to Skillsoft and Lyrasis trainings .

The first of these, the First Tuesdays webinars, are accessible to anyone in the state or even the world.  We host a webinar every month on a wide variety of topics, selected to be both timely and forward thinking as well as appeal to a broad range of library staff.  Recent topics , “Let’s talk about race in Storytimes” to “Public data and privacy protections”, “Legal Reference – The Basics” give you an idea of the range of topics we cover.  People from all over the country and even outside of the U.S. attend these webinars. All the webinars are archived on our YouTube channel allowing anyone to watch, at a time that is convenient to them.

We also offer live trainings at libraries around the state.  A couple of upcoming trainings are “Self-Talk and Emotional Intelligence: Improving your Work Narrative” and “Screen Scene: Best Practices for Using Screen Media with Young Children” . These trainings are offered at no charge to library employees.  simply register, show up and learn.

Every year we work with our teacher librarians to identify their specific needs for training.  Last year WSL trained over 350 teacher librarians in Digital Citizenship offering trainings at dozens of sites around the state.

Professional Development grants are an amazing, and not very well known, resource for Washington library staff. Any individual who works in a Washington library at least 10 hours a week can apply for a grant.  By applying for a PD grant, organizations can help their staff pursue special interest topics by attending conferences, workshops or seminars. In addition organizations may apply to bring a specific training into their library. Most libraries who receive one of the organizational grants open up the training to other local libraries.

We certainly love WebJunction here at the state library. WSLhas supported them from the very beginning and continues to support this incredible growing library of online trainings.  If you’ve ever taken a WebJunction course you know what high quality webinars and trainings they offer.

Skillsoft is a collection of resources specifically designed for continuing education in libraries. Classes are offered in communication, interpersonal skills, leadership, management and a whole suite of technology applications.

In short, if you want to learn it, we probably provide a means to get you there.  Please explore some of these links. We hope you will take advantage of all we have to offer.

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