WA Secretary of State Blogs

The Sea Runners: A Novel, by Ivan Doig.

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016 Posted in Washington Reads | Comments Off on The Sea Runners: A Novel, by Ivan Doig.

waves-crashing-on-the-rocks-by-axel-rouvinThe Sea Runners: A Novel. By Ivan Doig. (New York: Atheneum, 1982. 279 pp. Map.)

Recommendation submitted by:
Will Stuivenga, Cooperative Projects Manager, Washington State Library, Tumwater, WA.

There exists an actual letter-to-the-editor published in the Oregon Weekly Times, mentioning three Scandinavians who had managed to travel by canoe from Russian Alaska to Shoalwater (now named Willapa) Bay in 1852/53. Doig’s novel imagines what their trek must have been like, full of trepidations and tribulations, all the way up to and including loss of life.

At the time, apparently the Russians recruited Swedes, Finns, and other “outlanders” as 7-year indentured laborers, to do the real work for the Russian-American Company’s fur-gathering enterprise headquartered in New Archangel, now Sitka, Alaska. It was not a pleasant place much of the time: cold, wet, rough, and not very civilized, with the Russians lording it over the “thugs, thieves, hopeless sots, no few murderers, . . . debtors, escaped serfs,” and the rest of “the flotsam of any vast frontier” as Doig describes them.

So perhaps it’s not too surprising that one of them, Melander by name, a former ship’s first mate, decides to plan a way out, recruiting a couple of his fellows to assist him. The idea is fairly straightforward: he engages the best thief among his fellows to squirrel away the supplies they need: food, maps, a compass, etc., and they intend to steal a large cedar canoe from the local native encampment and paddle their way south to Astoria, where they expect to find passage on the ships that stop there. As the story unfolds, the also indentured blacksmith notices what’s happening, and forces his way into the group, making for a frequently skeptical and less than enthusiastic fourth.

Their imagined adventures, replete with inner turmoil, plus all too real privations and misery, are ably described in intricate detail by the author. Doig’s language here is at times a bit convoluted, requiring careful attention to unravel his precise intent, which is not altogether a bad thing, given that the story and the imagery are worthy of the effort. As is not uncommon with Doig, the interior life, thoughts, and feelings of his characters are of at least equal significance to the landscape and actual events as they unfold. Recommended for anyone with a strong interest in NW history and landscape, and who enjoys well-crafted historical fiction.

ISBN: 978-0-15-603102-8

Available in the Pacific Northwest Collection at NW 813.6 DOIG 1982
Available as an eBook. Not yet available in Digital Talking Book or Braille format.

Living in a Virtual World

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013 Posted in Articles, For Libraries, Technology and Resources, Training and Continuing Education, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Living in a Virtual World


Time-traveling back to 1995….

My introduction to the virtual classroom was almost 2 decades ago! One of my undergraduate professors decided that he would have us meet virtually for a class session. In 1995, internet was still a novelty. I had my email through school and felt like one of the elite. I recently stumbled upon an email about that first virtual classroom experience, software has changed, but the premise is the same.

From the 1995 email:

“You will be ‘in’ a virtual ‘classroom’ on the ‘Penn’ campus. See who else shows up, identify yourself, and talk to each other. There’s help on line, but the key thing you need to know is that if you type “ at the left margin, whatever you type until you hit will be attributed to you as spoken ‘discourse’ everybody else can hear…(Some strange things may happen to you, but what the heck?) List-lurkers welcome to come along and meet the rest, and I will try to be there myself, but there are time zones and a schedule where I’m lecturing that evening to cope with.”

I attended this session and was frustrated that my slow typing meant that I was always at least a step behind everyone else in the conversation. Then, we discovered what Professor O’Donnell was trying to teach us. Thirty minutes into the session, “O’Donnell” revealed that he was a Teacher Assistant pretending to be Professor O’Donnell. Lesson learned; we never really know who we are talking with online.

Now, I gAlaska et the opportunity to teach librarians how to use virtual classrooms for meetings and trainings. In March, I went to Valdez, Alaska to teach a conference session on this topic. I must admit that playing the game “Get Out of Valdez” gave me brand-new appreciation for the Pacific Northwest and reinforced my thoughts that the Alaskan librarians are made of awesome. I was welcomed warmly to our northern most state and had the opportunity to meet many Alaskan librarians, from those working in remote villages with a population of 40 to a former Washington librarian who now manages the Anchorage library. Despite concerns that days of snow may prevent us from departing Valdez, we all made it safely out.

The session focused on how to create interactive, fun webinars and I gave the participants several templates that they can re-purpose for their own use. Attendees later told me that I helped them see the simple things that could be done to enhance the webinar experience.

Through my various communities of practice including; I have been able to practice and fine-tune my webinar skills over the years. In the beginning when the Washington training group decided to experiment with web meetings, I was resistant. I knew I would miss seeing my colleagues face to face and the social interaction of those meetings often lead to great new ideas and projects. However, I soon became a convert. Now, while I love seeing my colleagues in person at trainings and conferences, I appreciate the times that we meet virtually.

Plus, there are so many more opportunities for collaboration now that I live much of my life in the “virtual world” of librarianship. I can meet regularly with my fellow Continuing Education state-wide coordinators from around the states and keep up with my local colleagues between our quarterly in-person meetings. I was able to partner with my colleague, Shirley Biladeau, from the Idaho Commission for Libraries to offer a series of eReader webinars for library staff. We are currently partnering on teaching Turning the Page 2.0 in the fall. Without the help of our virtual spaces including the virtual classroom, my job would be a lot harder.

Now, 18 ycomputerears after my first attempt at navigating the virtual classroom, I am passionate at sharing my knowledge and skills with others. Also, I generally “know” who is in my classroom because we now have VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) that allows me to hear the voices of my peers. And if someone isn’t on a microphone and communicating over chat, I trust they are who they claim to be.

Jennifer Fenton is the Continuing Education/Training Coordinator at the Washington State Library and can often be found glued to a computer screen with a headset facilitating, attending or monitoring various online trainings and meetings.

How kind is this – it really touched my heart!

Friday, October 21st, 2011 Posted in Articles, Institutional Library Services | 1 Comment »

We just received an interlibrary loan book that we ordered from Ketchikan Campus library in Alaska…The book is titled “Buried treasure of the United State: how to locate hidden wealth”. Inside was a handwritten note that read:

 Dear SCCC Library – hello to you:  it seems this is a favorite title of your patrons as we have loaned it to you numerous times.  It is hardly ever checked out here, we are happy to weed it from our collection and donate it to you.  So no worries about mailing it back. 

 Best to all of u at SCCC – Kathy at USASK campus library

WSL Event, Oct. 15 @ 6:30pm – The Last Great Race: Iditarod

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009 Posted in Articles, For the Public | Comments Off on WSL Event, Oct. 15 @ 6:30pm – The Last Great Race: Iditarod

image The Iditarod Sled Dog Race began in 1973 to encourage the designation of the Iditarod Trail as a National Historic Trail and bring the tradition of dogsled racing back to Alaska.  The race covers 1,150 miles of the most challenging and difficult landscape Alaska has to offer.  Mushers and their dogs go against blizzards, high winds, below-zero temperatures, and complete solitude.  They must be able to care for their dogs’ safety as well as their own.

For as long as she can remember, Laura Daugereau from Port Gamble, Washington, has loved the outdoors. Laura was 10 when she read a book about mushing and a passion was born.  She trains her own dogs and is very proud of the awards she’s received for the best-kept team.

Laura trains for the Iditarod during the race season on a ranch in Montana with fellow musher Rick Larson and his wife Sandy.  Laura is currently training for the 2011 Iditarod race.

Don’t miss this great event at the Washington State Library, October 15th at 6:30 p.m., featuring Laura Daugereau, Washington State’s first female competitor in the Iditarod. Join us as Laura shares her stories of the trail, and meet one of her dogs.

Thursday, October 15, 2009 @ 6:30 pm, doors open at 6:00 pm
Washington State Library | 6880 Capitol Boulevard South | Tumwater, WA  (Get Directions)

Check out other great upcoming events at the Washington State Library on our events page.