WA Secretary of State Blogs

Spotlight on Staff: Kathryn Devine

Monday, September 8th, 2014 Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Public Services | Comments Off on Spotlight on Staff: Kathryn Devine

Spotlight on Staff: Kathryn Devine

When you think of detectives you may think of the hardboiled Sam Spade or perhaps Sherlock Holmes with his deerstalker hat, but working behind the scenes at the Washington State Library is a detective extraordinaire — Kathryn Devine. KD-picKathryn is one of our Public Services Librarians and an expert at deep genealogical research. As her supervisor Crystal Lentz says, “Kathryn has solved many a genealogical mystery for us.” She has a BA in History from Marysville College in Tennessee, is a hair’s breadth away from a Master’s in Art History and of course a Masters in Library Science. In other words, Kathryn has had a lot of experience with research. When asked what she likes best about her job she answered that she loves to take on the deep research questions, something she can really sink her teeth into. She also mentioned the great team of people she works with at the State Library. She stressed how they all work so well together and willingly take on any task if they see that one of their co-workers is swamped.

Kathryn moved to Washington from Tennessee in 2003 working as a faculty librarian at Centralia Community College and as a reference librarian for Timberland Regional Library. She came to the State Library in 2006, hired as the Genealogy Librarian. If you’ve asked a Genealogy question in recent years you no doubt have experienced her excellent service.  Kathryn does outreach to Genealogy organizations in the state and will be presenting, along with the Washington State Archives, next week at the Eastside Genealogical Society in Bellevue.

Recently Kathryn’s job has morphed into helping field more of the Government and legal questions that our public services staff receive. She also helps to monitor the online chat service that the State library offers. It is not common knowledge but the Washington State Library’s “Ask A Librarian” service is the contact for the AccessWA Help Center, so we handle a lot of government research questions.

A personal project that Kathryn has taken on is working to make our Federal Collection more accessible to the public. She keeps her eyes open for short, non-copywrited federal material, which she then scans and makes available online through our catalog.

While she spends her days in quiet research her nights are anything but. She is married with an almost five year old daughter (and anyone with kids knows how busy THAT keeps you!) and… she skates in the Roller Derby!

Want to hear more about her awesomeness? Here are some quotes from her fans:

“I asked a question on Thursday night, 14-August via email, and received an answer Friday morning, 15-August @10am, @my msn.com inbox! Answer was exactly what I asked for – Thanks so much to Kathryn Devine Reference Librarian Washington State Library, for due diligence and very timely reply!! – Grateful Thanks…”

“Hats off to Ms. Kathryn Devine. Questions answered succinctly and with sufficient information to follow up. You Guys ROCK!”

“I didn’t realize at the last minute that this was for the library instead of the Revenue’s contact us page. Kathryn went ahead and helped me anyway, so she’s awesome!”

So if you need help with a good meaty research question, particularly about Washington State history, contact us. You will make Kathryn’s day and you will no doubt become another true fan.


Spotlight on Staff: Kim Smeenk

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012 Posted in Articles, For the Public | 1 Comment »

Kim Smeenk

If the first rule of management is to hire well, then the Public Services group of Washington State Library got off to a good start when reference librarian Kim Smeenk was invited to join the staff over half a decade ago.

Kim, who is a specialist in genealogical research and a fine reference librarian as well, is amazingly prolific in answering online queries. This is an especially desirable trait in light of significant loss of librarians the Public Services unit has experienced in the last few years.

Kim, who has been in the field for 16 years, originally became a genealogical librarian by circumstance. While part of the public library staff in Michigan City, Indiana, she realized she enjoyed the critical thinking and detective work involved in answering the queries, and the other librarians were more than happy to let her have this subject area exclusively. As fate would have it, she learned on the front lines how to use the online tools while those resources were in an embryonic state. Kim’s research skills have grown as the Web-based content has evolved.

She has also been active in promoting WSL’s genealogical resources (online and in person) to Washington State genealogical and historical societies, helping our citizens learn about and celebrate their cultural heritage and the role of their families in the development of The Evergreen State. Kim says, “Educating the library patron to the myriad of resources available to them just within the digital world of WSL/Archives alone can be a major eye-opener for them.”

Kim enjoys discovering new areas of the Pacific Northwest, connecting geographic names she has researched in the course of her work with a real place. And she likes to read, a lot.

One of the most surprising facts about her? Interestingly, Kim, whose North American roots trace to very recent Dutch ancestors, has little interest in researching her own family history. For Kim her work is the biblio version of Ars gratia artis.

Thanks you, Kim, for showing leadership in genealogy research at the Washington State Library.

Old News is Good News

Thursday, May 12th, 2011 Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Technology and Resources | 1 Comment »

Washington State Library releases never-before-microfilmed newspapers from the Snoqualmie Valley!

Washington State Library microfilms Washington newspapers to preserve and provide access to Washington’s history.  Lent by Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum, the newspapers include issues from 1913 through 1925. These newspapers provide a fascinating look at life in Snoqualmie Valley communities almost 100 years ago.

To see what papers and what time periods are covered, visit http://www.sos.wa.gov/library/SnoqualmieValleyMicrofilm.aspx

More information about newspapers on microfilm at Washington State Library including how to purchase copies.

Information about Newspapers at Washington State Library.

WSL Updates for February 17, 2011

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011 Posted in For Libraries, News, Training and Continuing Education, Updates | Comments Off on WSL Updates for February 17, 2011

Volume 7, February 17, 2011 for the WSL Updates mailing list

Topics include:







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WSL Updates for January 27, 2011

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011 Posted in For Libraries, News, Updates, Washington Talking Book and Braille Library | Comments Off on WSL Updates for January 27, 2011

Volume 7, January 27, 2011 for the WSL Updates mailing list

Topics include:







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Tips for Becoming a Better Library Researcher

Friday, September 25th, 2009 Posted in Articles, For the Public | Comments Off on Tips for Becoming a Better Library Researcher

image We in the “librarian” profession are always working hard to better ourselves. We read hundreds of books every week (at least!), we memorize data and statistics for kicks, and we constantly remind ourselves that “Wikipedia is not a primary resource, Wikipedia is not a primary resource …”

We do a lot, dear patrons, to educate ourselves on how to serve you better. Happily, now you can return the favor.

Ancestry Magazine recently posted an online article, “10 Tips to Becoming an Effective Library Patron,” and in it you can learn the hallowed secrets that will allow you to get twice the benefit out of your library in half the time. Mainly a tool for those who use their libraries for genealogical research, there are nonetheless some great tips here for any library researcher, such as:

  1. Come Prepared
  2. Use the Online Catalog
  3. Learn the Library’s Classification System
  4. Ask about Materials That Aren’t Catalogued
  5. Go Easy on the Library Staff
  6. Gather Handouts and Brochures
  7. Go Beyond the Genealogy Department
  8. Respect the Material
  9. Don’t Forget Interlibrary Loan
  10. Use All Available Resources

Want to learn more about becoming a better library researcher? Check out the full article over at ancestrymagazine.com (don’t worry, it’s free).

Get great answers to tough questions, online and 24/7.

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009 Posted in Articles, For the Public, Technology and Resources | Comments Off on Get great answers to tough questions, online and 24/7.

Your librarians will answer your questions, day or night.

Have you ever had a question you couldn’t answer? Has Google left you empty-handed – or overwhelmed? Have you considered asking an expert for help?

Your library has professional information specialists (we just call them librarians) who know how to go beyond Google to find you the information you need. And now asking a librarian is just as convenient as searching the Web.

Over 60 libraries in Washington State have joined together to form Ask-WA, a statewide cooperative of libraries in Washington that is in turn part of a larger, global cooperative. Using Ask-WA’s easy online chat service you can get a quality answer within minutes, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Ask-WA’s friendly librarians are ready to help you with any question — from checking that pesky fact to helping you get started on in-depth research. Whatever your question, Ask-WA has answers from a professional you can trust.

In August, 2009, Washington residents used Ask-WA services through their local libraries to ask nearly 7,000 questions. Those who use the service are thrilled, and within just the last month have left such positive comments as:

“The librarian who helped me was excellent and I loved how he was able to link things that he was talking about directly on to my computer. Fantastic service – thanks for having it!”

“This was so easy, a high school student could do it. It’s nice to get information from REAL people once in a while.”

“I had been looking for this book through the Internet and it took me so long and I didn’t find it. I should of known I could chat with someone and have them as a professional find it for me! It took them about 1 to 2 minutes! That was awesome! Thanks!”

“We are so fortunate to have this service available. Incredible!”

Have a question that needs answering? Need help with genealogical research, citation styles, finding research-quality resources, or just settling a bet? No question is too big or too small.

Get answers now through your library’s web site, or ask via the official Ask-WA page at http://ask.wa.gov. For more information, or to find out if your library is participating in Ask-WA, contact the staff at your local library.