WA Secretary of State Blogs

Why Do We Need a State Library?

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014 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.


Using the Lobby to “Lobby”

Thursday, September 5th, 2013 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For the Public, News | Comments Off on Using the Lobby to “Lobby”

lobbyFrom the desk of Steve Willis, Central Library Services Program Manager of the Washington State Library

If you are a repeat visitor here at WSL’s Central Library you will no doubt notice some changes in our lobby. What you are seeing is an experiment that is the result of brainstorming from several staff members and one exceptional volunteer. But first, a bit of background.

The Feb. 2001 6.8 Nisqually Quake hammered most of the buildings on the Capitol Campus to the point where they were not safe to inhabit. Unfortunately for us, the Pritchard Building, our old home, was pretty solid with concrete and rebar and survived relatively intact. We were sitting on prime real estate. And so we had to move.

Time was of the essence and by the end of 2001 we relocated to a new office building in neighboring Tumwater. This structure was not designed to be a library, but we have been very creative in trying to adapt to our architectural restrictions.

The actual browsing portion of our collection is on the 2nd floor. This means the library customer has to walk through the lobby and then take an elevator. Before our massive budget cuts we had our circulation desk in that area, but now it is just an empty room with signage and some library displays.

Since we have moved out here to the site of Washington’s first American settlement on Puget Sound we have seen several new office buildings erected and filled with Washington State agencies. Our new neighbors. This area has essentially become Capitol Campus South. And so far as I can ascertain, our lobby is the only truly public state government space (without a commercial coffee bistro) on this campus where a person is not confronted by a security guard and is compelled to account for their presence.

So as a community space, and in the spirit of reaching out to our neighbors, we are going to give different state agencies some display ground as a public service. We want to be the hub of Capitol Campus South. Our services overlap the needs of all of our CCS fellow residents. The most dominant presence out here is the Washington State Dept. of Health, and they have been wonderful in being willing to take the risk and work with us on this idea.

Now for the really good part. This year WSL turns 160 years of age. It could be easy to dismiss us as antiquated.

But get this.

DOH selected West Nile Virus (which apparently is still a problem) as their theme for the exhibit. As I collected library materials to supplement this display it became apparent that the bulk of what the Washington State Library has to offer on this topic is not in hardcopy, but digital. Among the over 20,000 electronic state publications we have captured, cataloged and preserved are numerous titles on this topic. Just by using our catalog you can access entire DOH publications on this or any other subject.

And this service isn’t limited to just DOH.

Try it, you’ll like it. And you’ll see we offer a very unique electronic portal into all aspects of Washington State government and public service. Providing online access to state government publications in an organized and centralized manner with detailed subject headings supports the concept of transparency and enhances public discourse. No one else does this as well as the Washington State Library.

Recently WSL Public Services became the main information source for questions coming into the Access WA website, the primary online gate into Washington government, demonstrating that although we are steeped in history we remain very much a part of Century 21.

Well, my, my, I sort of strayed there. But hopefully I have explained some of the thinking behind the experiment in the WSL lobby.

Government At Hand

Friday, July 13th, 2012 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public, News, State Library Collections, Technology and Resources | Comments Off on Government At Hand

Electronic government publications in the Washington State Library online catalog can be downloaded to desk and lap top computers and handheld devices, such as, Kindle* and Nook*.  There is no charge to download a state or federal government publication.  In most cases, Washington State and U. S. government publications do not have copyright restrictions.  The downloaded publication can be searched by key words and simple phrases.  Publications with hundreds of pages can be stored and accessed conveniently on a computer or handheld device as long as needed for a class or project.  The file can be deleted when no longer in use, but the publication will be preserved for future use in the Washington State Library (WSL) online catalog.

For some devices, pdf files must be converted to electronic publications format.  Calibre, a free software program, can be downloaded to convert pdf files to an epub format which ereaders can use.

Washington State government publications — the links below are to the catalog records in the WSL online catalog.  Click on the link that reads “View online version” to read the publication with the option to download.  The catalog record provides information on which agency produced the publication and the publication date, scope, etc.

A 10-year Retrospective of Washington’s Labor Market Experience under the North American Free Trade Agreement

What does Washington State get for its Investment in Bonuses for Board Certified Teachers?

Freedom Tails  (It is difficult to tell what this publication is about with just the title, but there is a lot of information in the catalog record.)

Listed below are three more examples of Washington State government publications; these are direct links to the publications, but records can be found in WSL’s online catalog:

Use of Social and Health Services by Children of Incarcerated Parents

Stakeholder recommendations for efficient water rights processing and effective water management

Washington State Patrol Retirement System Pension concerns study

Some samples of U.S. government publications:

Raising the Ages of Eligibility for Medicare and Social Security  This link is to the WSL online catalog record for this publication.  Click on the link that reads “View online version” to read the publication with the option to download.

Or, click on this link to WSL catalog record for Unauthorized Hair Samples Submitted for Analysis and solve the case of the “unauthorized hair samples”.  (Could it be a job for Lady Godiva?)

Listed below are three more examples of federal government publications; these are direct links to the publications, but records can be found in WSL’s online catalog:

Indian issues:  Spokane Tribe’s additional compensation claim for the Grand Coulee Dam: Testimony before the Committee on Indian Affairs, U.S. Senate

Coastal Habitats of the Elwha River, Washington – Biological and Physical Patterns and Processes Prior to Dam Removal (This publication takes awhile to download).

Assessment of Soil Disturbance in Forests of the Interior Columbia River Basin:  A Critique

For more information, contact Public Services at Washington State Library.

*These products are listed as examples only.  The Washington State Library does not recommend or endorse any products listed.