WA Secretary of State Blogs

Growing up in Washington’s Finest Dairyland

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For the Public | Comments Off on Growing up in Washington’s Finest Dairyland

Former state senator (1969-1980) Gary M. Odegaard stopped in at the Washington State Library last week to share a wealth of unique photographs from his family collection, as well as hours of great stories about growing up in the border town of Sumas, Washington. Deborah Morgan from the Sumas Library met with Odegaard while staff from our Washington Rural Heritage program worked to digitize his photos.

It was a fascinating day of learning about life in Whatcom County in the 1950s, from daily farm life in “Washington’s Finest Dairyland,” to living through major flood events, to the history of the Sumas Valley Grange.

Odegaard’s collection will soon appear alongside other material from the Sumas area digitized through a Washington Rural Heritage grant completed this year by the Sumas branch of Whatcom County Library System. View that collection here: http://sos.wa.gov/q/SumasHeritage

The State Library’s Washington Rural Heritage program is a collaborative digitization project partnering with almost 150 of our state’s libraries and museums. The project also provides access to the otherwise hidden or inaccessible family collections of almost 500 Washingtonians.

The Washington State Library will be working with more than one dozen organizations through the end of 2018 to bring more of our common heritage online. Read more about our recent grant awards here: https://www.sos.wa.gov/_assets/library/libraries/grants/2017_WRH_Awards.pdf

This funding is made possible by a grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Library Services and Technology Act. To learn more about participating in Washington Rural Heritage, please contact Evan Robb, Digital Repository Librarian, at (360) 704-5228, or evan.robb@sos.wa.gov.


WSL Updates for April 6, 2017

Wednesday, April 5th, 2017 Posted in For Libraries, Grants and Funding, News, Training and Continuing Education, Updates | Comments Off on WSL Updates for April 6, 2017

Volume 13, April 6, 2017 for the WSL Updates mailing list

Topics include:









The Washington State Library (WSL) is accepting applications for RSL-2: a new cycle of “Refreshing School Libraries” grants. The purpose of the grant is to help bolster schools’ nonfiction collections. We hope to help support Common Core Standards and student enjoyment.

We anticipate making 100 awards of $2,000 in reimbursable funding. Libraries in public and non-profit K-12 schools are eligible. The deadline for both the online application and the signature sheet (postmark) is May 1, 2017. Awards will be announced on May 30, 2017. For more information, including the guidelines and application documents, visit sos.wa.gov/q/grants.



Washington Rural Heritage (WRH), the Washington State Library’s statewide digitization initiative for public and tribal libraries, is currently accepting grant applications for 2017-2018 digitization projects:

  • This grant cycle is open to all public and tribal libraries currently lacking a functioning digital repository. Current WRH partners are not excluded.
  • Libraries from communities of any size may apply at either the system or individual branch level.
  • The application deadline is Wednesday, May 31, 2017.
  • To review eligibility requirements, grant guidelines, and to download grant applications, visit sos.wa.gov/q/grants.

Collections digitized with these grants will be publicly accessible at www.washingtonruralheritage.org. Learn more about the project and see a full list of contributors by visiting www.washingtonruralheritage.org/cdm/about. For questions and to discuss potential projects, applicants are encouraged to contact Evan Robb, WRH Project Manager, at 360-704-5228 or evan.robb@sos.wa.gov.



The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) provides Preservation Assistance Grants (PAG) to help small and mid-sized institutions such as libraries improve their ability to preserve and care for their significant humanities collections. These grants can help institutions purchase supplies, attend classes or workshops, or hire a consultant for collections care. The program encourages applications from small and mid-sized institutions that have never received an NEH grant. The application deadline is May 2, 2017.

LYRASIS can provide training and consulting services to suit your analog or digital preservation needs. Their free webinar recording on applying for a PAG is available via this shortcut: sos.wa.gov/q/LYRASIS-NEH. Contact annie.peterson@lyrasis.org with questions.



To “choose civility” means to celebrate diversity and choose respect, compassion, empathy, and inclusiveness when interacting with others. Civility is the healing power we need to counteract the divisive, fragmented forces that seem to be undermining our social fabric.

Since 2006, Howard County Library System (MD) has been leading the way toward community connectedness with their Choose Civility initiative. They, along with three library systems across the country, invite you to join the movement to nurture civility in your own community. Learn how kindness creates communities, how to challenge stereotypes effectively, and cultivate random acts of civility. Find opportunities to implement Choose Civility to enhance internal and external customer service, develop partnerships and community support, and create a more connected community of people who will #choose2Bkind. Let’s see civility go viral in 2017.

This free webinar, “Civility Goes Viral: A New Approach for a New Era,” is sponsored by WebJunction.



The Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) website, IMLS.gov, offers information about grants made by the agency to libraries and museums across the nation. The Grants to States program is the largest source of federal funding for library services in the U.S. Using a population-based formula, more than $150 million is distributed every year to State Library Administrative Agencies (such as state libraries) located in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as the territories and the Freely Associated States.

For a guide on how to access the most frequently requested data regarding the Grants to States program and more, visit sos.wa.gov/q/FindingIMLS.



Monday, April 10

Tuesday, April 11

Wednesday, April 12

Thursday, April 13

Friday, April 14

Saturday, April 15

For more information and to register (unless otherwise linked above), visit the WSL Training Calendar at sos.wa.gov/q/training.


DISCLAIMER: The State Library regularly highlights third-party events and online resources as a way to alert the library community to training and resource opportunities.  By doing so, we are not endorsing the content of the event, nor promoting any specific product, but merely providing this information as an FYI to librarians who must then decide what is right for them.

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WSL Updates for March 16, 2017

Thursday, March 16th, 2017 Posted in Digital Collections, For Libraries, Grants and Funding, News, Training and Continuing Education, Updates | Comments Off on WSL Updates for March 16, 2017

Volume 13, March 16, 2017 for the WSL Updates mailing list

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WSL Updates for March 2, 2017

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017 Posted in For Libraries, News, Training and Continuing Education, Updates | Comments Off on WSL Updates for March 2, 2017

Volume 13, March 2, 2017 for the WSL Updates mailing list

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Digital Projects: Year in Review 2016

Thursday, December 29th, 2016 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public | Comments Off on Digital Projects: Year in Review 2016

As 2016 comes to a close, we here at Washington Rural Heritage are at a crossroads. We’re steadily working with our grantees on this past year’s collections, and at the same time, we’re looking forward to the new projects that we will be helping with next year. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s take the time to stop and reflect on what our community has accomplished from 2015 to 2016 in their efforts to preserve Washington’s cultural heritage.

Highlights of these collections include:

  • Asotin County Library’s collection now has images by the photographer, Asahel Curtis, providing a glimpse at everyday life during the turn of the century in eastern Washington, as well as a collection of postcards, which span the first half of the 20th century.
  • The Ellensburg Public Library has digitized various items in City of Ellensburg’s art collection. Included in this selection are works by local artist, muralist, and author, Ernest R. Norling.

  • Continuing the theme of Washington based artists, the La Conner Regional Library collaborated with the Museum of Northwest Art and Western Washington University to create a collection that highlights the works, ephemera, and personal letters of three members of the Northwest School art movement.
  • The Port Angeles Public Library of the North Olympic Library System has expanded upon its already sizable collection of photographs and negatives donated by Bert Kellogg. Notable additions include images of Olympic Peninsula tribes, as well as maritime photos of the Northwest.
  • Kettle Falls Public Library has added to its collection of local history. Included in this year’s project are images of local residents, Kettle Falls, and a “bunny”
  • The Whitman County Library has collaborated with a number of institutions this year, combining items from the Staley Museum, the City of Colfax, and the Colfax Fire Department, as well as private holdings, which were all added to Whitman County’s 2015 collection. The diversity of items in this year’s project is reflected in the cultural artifacts, which include women’s clothing, farm equipment, uniforms, and badges.





Digitization of these collections in 2015-2016 was accomplished with a grant award from the Washington State Library, funded by the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) through the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

Washington public and tribal libraries will be eligible for our next round of digitization grants to be announced in early 2017. Questions about the grant opportunity should be directed to Evan Robb, Digital Repository Librarian, evan.robb@sos.wa.gov, (360) 704-5228.


Listen Up! Stories from the Northwest Corner

Monday, June 6th, 2016 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public | Comments Off on Listen Up! Stories from the Northwest Corner

ListenUpLogoThe National Park Service turns 100 on August 25, 2016.  In honor of that centennial celebration, the Port Angeles Public Library—located right on the footsteps of Olympic National Park—recently interviewed a number of its patrons about their experiences visiting, living in, and working at national parks throughout the U.S.  These audio recordings are now accessible online at: http://sos.wa.gov/q/listenup.

We especially enjoyed ranger Dean Butterworth’s story of guiding troubled teens on a snowshoeing trip in Mount Rainier National Park: http://www.washingtonruralheritage.org/cdm/ref/collection/nols/id/4155.

This is the first of an ongoing series of oral histories projects planned by the Port Angeles Public Library. Their new program, Listen Up! Stories from the Northwest Corner will collect and archive a wide variety of stories from Clallam County residents. Inspired by StoryCorps, the interviews will be made available for listening through the North Olympic Heritage website—part of the Washington State Library’s Washington Rural Heritage program.

The North Olympic Library System is hosting a free listening party at the Olympic National Park Visitor Center on Tuesday, June 21, 7pm, at the Olympic National park Visitor Center, 3002 Mount Angeles Rd, Port Angeles. Stop by to hear locals recall their favorite National Park stories and memories!  And if you can’t make it, the recordings will also be available at the Visitor Center all summer long.

New Deal-era Art Digitization at the Ellensburg Public Library

Thursday, February 11th, 2016 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public | Comments Off on New Deal-era Art Digitization at the Ellensburg Public Library

Washington Rural Heritage staff hit the road recently to help the Ellensburg Public Library digitize unique works by New Deal-era artist Ernest R. Norling.

Known most widely for his important 1939 book on drawing, “Perspective Made Easy,” Norling also made a significant contribution to documenting Washington’s industry and history in the wake of the Great Depression. His murals depicting early pioneers, agricultural workers, Northwest logging crews, or CCC men at work, grace a great many public and private schools, buildings, and businesses throughout Washington. [Read an oral history interview with Norling by the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art here].

2016-01_ellensburgPL1_blogTo digitize oversize works like Norling’s, Washington State Library staff set up a mobile studio of sorts in the Ellensburg Public Library’s archives and local history collections space (the Library stores and preserves works owned by the City of Ellensburg and the Ellensburg Art Commission). We used a field camera along with a large format lens and digital “scan back,” tethered to a laptop, as shown in the photo at left. The result is a high-resolution, reproduction-quality image of Norling’s painting. It will be digitally preserved by the Washington State Library, and a lower-resolution “access” copy will be made viewable to the general public. The digital photography equipment used for this project has also been used extensively to digitize three-dimensional art work, as well as objects and artifacts held by cultural organizations throughout the state.

Norling’s work, along with a large portion of the City of Ellensburg’s art collection, will appear online this spring, as part of the larger Ellensburg Heritage Collection. Staff at the Ellensburg Public Library are performing the bulk of art digitization and description on their own, with a 2015-2016 Washington Rural Heritage grant.

Washington Rural Heritage is a statewide digitization program, serving Washington’s public and tribal libraries as well as their institutional partners (museums, historical societies, etc.). Library Services and Technology Act funding for the program comes from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services. A new Washington Rural Heritage competitive grant opportunity will be available for libraries by early March. Those with questions or project proposal ideas are encouraged to contact Evan Robb, Digital Repository Librarian, at 360-704-5228, or evan.robb@sos.wa.gov.

Rand’s new position – Federal Collection Executive Manager

Thursday, January 28th, 2016 Posted in Articles, Federal and State Publications, For Libraries, For the Public | Comments Off on Rand’s new position – Federal Collection Executive Manager

DSCN2084You have no doubt heard that Rand Simmons has moved to a new position in the State Library.  His new role is “Federal Collection Executive Manager” a job title certainly, but not really a job description.  So this intrepid reporter decided to dig a little deeper and learn just what exciting things are unfolding with this new State Library initiative.   Wow, Rand has his work cut out.

A little background.  The Washington State Library (WSL) is the Federal Regional Depository Library for Washington and Alaska.  This means we are obliged to collect and maintain ALL the federal documents distributed through the Federal Depository Library Program and allow all the libraries and citizens within our region to access them.

What is a federal document you ask? A working definition might be “a publication of a federal agency, congress, or the courts.”  Guess what, after years of collecting, even though many of the federal documents are housed off site, we are running out of space at the State Library.

In addition to WSL’s collection there are 25 Selective Depositories scattered around these two states, which house smaller collections chosen specifically for their users.  Some of the libraries also house pieces of the regional collection on behalf of the State Library.  Rand is working with the selective depositories, using a model developed at the Oregon State Library, to have them take increased responsibility for parts of the regional collection. The regional collection would be distributed among at least five selective depository libraries and the State Library. “This is a model we have wanted to put into place for at least five years,” Crystal Lentz, Regional Federal Depository Library Coordinator, observed.

To give an example of how the Shared Regional Collection would work, WSU has offered to be responsible for documents about Agriculture.  The WSL, as the regional depository, must comply with certain regulations regarding the regional collection and when libraries like WSU partner with us, they will agree to comply with the same regulations.  The regulations will mean less flexibility for the libraries to discard items from within their federal collection.  Regional collection items generally cannot be discarded, except under very specific circumstances, while items received as part of a selective depository collection can be discarded after 5 years.   As you can imagine this will be a slow process with many moving parts and many individuals involved but it is really a key for all of these libraries, including WSL, to have a well-managed, comprehensive federal documents collection for the people of Washington and Alaska. Rand and Crystal are working together with these libraries to develop housing agreements (contracts) that will identify the expectations and obligations to which all parties will comply.

Another piece of Rand’s job is to work towards providing online public access to all federal documents through digitization.  This is a complex project. While some of the State Library’s federal collection is cataloged many older documents are not.  Crystal noted that “many depository libraries are in the same situation of not knowing how many federal publications they have. Even the Government Publishing Office cannot tell us what is included in a comprehensive collection. We have well over a million items. How much more is the mystery.”

Rand describes the project as having two major steps: 1) inventory and catalog pieces of the collection that have been selected for digitization and 2) digitize publications that cannot be accessed online.  Two simple steps that equal a rather daunting project.

First we have to determine exactly what we have/don’t have. Because the Washington State Library was created as a federal territorial library we have been collecting federal publications for a long time. Documents are received in print (paper), on microfiche or other mediums such as DVD, and electronically.

Inventory, cataloging and digitization are parts of making the regional collection visible and available to our “virtual” customers – those who want and need these publications but who are not able to be walk-in customers or able to borrow items through interlibrary loan. The project is labor intensive and will require resources not currently available including a larger staff.  Rand stated, “We don’t want to catalog and digitize publications that other libraries have done.” Unfortunately there is no single place to search to learn which documents have already been digitized by other institutions.

You get the picture.  Before we can even begin the digitization of the documents there is a lot of leg work to be done. Despite hurdles to be jumped Secretary Wyman has stressed the importance of making our federal publications more available to a wider audience than they are now.  The Secretary of State’s office has the goal to become a national leader in the digitization of the Federal Documents collection.  The key is digitizing these publication so they are available to people through the Internet.  While the process will take time it has now become a priority for our leadership and we look forward to seeing the project unfold.

A Century of Stewardship — the Nesset Family Farm Collection

Thursday, December 31st, 2015 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public | Comments Off on A Century of Stewardship — the Nesset Family Farm Collection

aliceNessetThe Washington Rural Heritage Program is pleased to announce a new digital collection from the Deming Library (Whatcom County Library System). The Nesset Family Farm Collection tells the story of a Norwegian immigrant homesteaders who settled on the South Fork Nooksack River in 1902, and for decades worked tirelessly to coax a living from the land, raise five children, and run a small dairy. In the meantime, they documented the many pleasures of settler life in the South Fork, including hiking and skiing on Mount Baker, and fishing on the Nooksack River.

The collection, along with an interactive timeline, can be viewed at: http://www.washingtonruralheritage.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/mtbaker

The Nesset homestead is no longer a working farm, but the land and many of its historical buildings have been preserved by successive generations of Nessets as well as the Nesset Farm Trust. Today, the farm is considered one of the best remaining examples of an intact agricultural homestead in Western Washington. Many of the original buildings, including the farmhouse and barn, are being renovated as of this writing (2015) and will be open to the public when Whatcom County’s newly established South Fork Park is completed.

Tom_Nesset_in_cedar_dugout_canoe_South_Fork_Nooksack_River_circa_1920The Nesset Family Farm Collection is just one part of the Deming Library’s Mount Baker Foothills Collection—a locally-managed digital initiative which promises to bring together a wealth of unique historical materials and make them freely available online.

Digitization in 2014-2015 was accomplished with a grant award from the Washington State Library, funded by the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) through the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

Washington public and tribal libraries will be eligible for our next round of digitization grants to be announced in early 2016. Questions about the grant opportunity should be directed to Evan Robb, Digital Repository Librarian, evan.robb@sos.wa.gov, (360) 704-5228.

Washington Rural Heritage Volunteer Recognized for Excellence

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections | Comments Off on Washington Rural Heritage Volunteer Recognized for Excellence


Wanda Alderman (right), standing with Whitman County Library’s Patti Cammack.

Wanda Alderman, Friend and volunteer for Whitman County Library recently received an Outstanding Volunteer Award from The Washington State Genealogical Society recognizing her efforts to preserve important historic images and records for a number of agencies and projects including Washington Rural Heritage, the State Library’s  local history digitization program.

Volunteering for the library for nearly 7 years, Wanda has been the public face of the local project, tracking down hidden collections, interviewing contributors, documenting critical cataloging information, and providing community programs. Thanks in large part to Wanda’s efforts, Whitman County’s Rural Heritage collection contains nearly 4000 images and averages 4000 site visits per month.

Additionally, Wanda has volunteered for Find a Grave for 14 years, served as Bethel Cemetery secretary/treasurer for 10 years, transcribes records for Washington State Digital Archives, donates time and resources to the St. John Historical Society, and keeps scrapbooks for her alma mater Steptoe school.

Wanda is shown here, with Whitman County Library’s Rural Heritage project manager, Patti Cammack at a public program and open house this July promoting the digital collection. These two are truly leaders in the community digitization field, having digitized materials from more than a dozen partner institutions in Eastern Washington and more than 100 previously inaccessible family collections.  Thank you Wanda and Patti for championing our common heritage!