WA Secretary of State Blogs

Celebrating ILS Supervisor Laura Sherbo’s 60th Birthday

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013 Posted in Articles, Institutional Library Services | 1 Comment »

Laura 60th with goat-resizedThe staff of ILS wanted to give our supervisor Laura a special “60th” surprise birthday party at Palisades.  We wanted Laura to know that we really do appreciate all she does for us and give her a very special birthday to remember.  Jeannie and I had been talking, and since Laura has a “Goat collection” we decided we should come up with a live goat for her party.  Since I have friends who own goats I thought I could get one for the party.  We also thought it would be a great idea to invite Michael and Rachel, Laura’s children, to come to the party as a surprise.   Rachel came and was presented to Laura along with the goat, Daisy.  I think Laura was very surprised and very happy. She loved the goat, but I think Rachel was her favorite surprise!  Jeannie also thought Laura should have a rocking chair and Joyce Hanna made her a beautiful quilt, which we all signed.  Laura knew we were up to something but had no idea what we were really planning.  I think this is a birthday she will long remember!

Laura Sherbo honored at ALA

Friday, July 13th, 2012 Posted in Articles, Institutional Library Services | Comments Off on Laura Sherbo honored at ALA

Laura Sherbo with her mom at ALA

One of the first sessions I attended was the Unconference (wonderful, by the way).  At the Unconference I was talking with one of the other attendees about this being our first ALA and she said, “Oh wait! Someone forwarded this to me this morning.  There is free food on Saturday! Give me your phone number and I’ll send you the information.” Lo and behold it was the ASCLA Awards Ceremony.  Initially I was a little indignant.  How could these moochers attend the awards ceremony for anything besides honoring Laura?!?!?!  Maybe they are serving champagne, I thought, to console myself (turns out it was pretzels shaped like Mickey Mouse).  Or maybe ALA just knows that the best way to spread a message is with free food.

On Saturday I dressed in my conference best and went to meet Laura and all the other conference goers enjoying mini quesadillas and cake pops.  I also got to see Jeff Martin again and meet Laura’s Mother, who is twice as nice as she is charming. As an aside, I now look forward to my own mother’s presence at all future awards ceremonies in my honor.  The awards honored librarians, students, partnerships, and programs in specialized libraries with five different awards.  When the presenter read all the wonderful reasons why Laura won her award, Laura received the loudest round of applause of all the recipients. I can only imagine the myriad of emotions and admirations running through the minds of every person in the crowd.

Laura has been my supervisor for three years now, and more than anyone I have ever worked for, she is able to motivate her staff to greatness.  In the beginning, I was astounded by the loyalty everyone felt toward her and the Institutional Library Services, but now I understand.  Through budget cuts and layoffs, it becomes more abundantly clear with each hurdle she has encountered, that Laura is dedicated not only to serving the underserved, but also her staff.  She has the strength and high standards of a Titan, while still somehow making her staff feel comfortable giving input, starting new programs, and questioning her decisions, sometimes incessantly, probably much to her chagrin.  In short, Laura is the embodiment of leadership and all of us at ILS are lucky to work for her.

Also, she said the reason she won the award is because of her staff, which I’m not going to argue, because we’re pretty great.

Typical Year at WSP

Saturday, May 5th, 2012 Posted in Articles, Institutional Library Services | Comments Off on Typical Year at WSP

Office at WSP-EC

It was a typical year for both of the Washington State Penitentiary (WSP) Branch Libraries, the East-Complex (EC) and the West-Complex (WC).

In January 2011, our newest Library Associate, Molly Mooney had been on the job for 4 months.  Her training was going well and she enthusiastically participated in special projects:  working with our ILS Wiki pages and Library-Snapshot day.  In March the WC was open full-time again for the first time since February of 2010 and everyone was happy.  In April we said good-by to Molly when she decided to leave ILS.  The WSP libraries were back on half-time schedules.   With all of the going to and fro between EC and WC, Jean still wasn’t getting enough exercise and had to join the gym.

By May we had applicants for the vacant position at WC and in June Laura, Melisa, and Jean interviewed candidates.  In July Matt Roach accepted the position and was at WSP for two days before starting CORE in early August.  Matt was also a very enthusiastic new employee and training was well underway when ILS received the bad news. 

After nearly 30 years of operation the EC Library was being closed.  Jean’s position was going away which resulted in very bad news for Matt, who lost his job.  Even so, Matt gallantly worked through October and November to help pack up the EC collection.   His last day at WSP was November 30th.   The day before that he accepted a job at the State Library, so everyone was happy about that.

The EC library closed for good on November 30, 2011.    When it was all over about 2/3 of the collection had been packed up.  The rest was left for WSP to distribute to the Minimum units.   Using a golf cart pulling a trailer, WSP staff made several trips between EC and WC to move all of the boxes of books, library furniture and equipment which took up every available space in the WC library storage room.  

Now begins the work of unpacking, sorting and cataloging materials for WC.   Here’s hoping the year 2012 will be just as typical as 2011 was.

Program Manager honored by national organization

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012 Posted in Articles, Institutional Library Services | Comments Off on Program Manager honored by national organization


Laura Sherbo

The American Library Association (ALA) has just released the news that Laura Sherbo, Program Manager for Washington State Library’s Institutional Library Services, will receive the 2012 ASCLA Leadership and Professional Achievement Award. After more than thirty years of library service to incarcerated patrons, no doubt Laura has some interesting tales to tell……perhaps in future blog posts! In the meantime, we’ll let her bask in the glory of the Anaheim sunshine as she travels to the ALA Conference this summer to accept her award.

Check out my letter of recommendation here.  Kathleen Benoun’s letter of recommendation and Neal Van Der Voorn’s letter of recommendation here.

When You Need a Friend: Gayle Shonkwiler

Monday, February 6th, 2012 Posted in Articles, Institutional Library Services | 5 Comments »

In times like these, folks need all the friends they can get.  That goes double for librarians who work in the state’s correctional and psychiatric institutions.  Since the 1960s when the U.S. government provided start-up funding to establish libraries in state institutions (ILS) ,  support for these critically needed libraries has plummeted.  As of October 2011, funding for the state’s ILS collections was terminated.

This crisis is not new to Gayle Shonkwiler, library associate at the Coyote Ridge Corrections Center.  She supervised school libraries at an elementary and high school in Pend Oreille County.  She learned early that if a librarian doesn’t have funds, that librarian better have friends.   Following the success of a 4-H fundraiser she managed, Gayle decided to write letters to popular writers.  Many writers were pleased to hear from a school librarian and they responded by sending small gifts of posters and bookmarks for her library.  Next she had to take the big leap.  She applied for a Dr. Seuss grant and won.  Her library and the whole school got involved with the fun.  Kids were served green eggs and ham in the cafeteria.  A reporter from the Newport Miner wrote a story when the school assembled for a Dr. Seuss birthday bash.  After, Gayle shared her grant writing success with the local county library. 

In response to the Coyote Ridge funding crisis, Gayle started a letter-writing campaign in partnership with ILS manager Laura Sherbo.  To date, Gayle has written to nearly 200 publishers asking for “in-kind” support.  Companies have shown themselves to be generous and supportive of small, struggling libraries.  Those companies include Orca Books in Canada.  The manager contacted Laura Sherbo and offered like-new books from their stock.  Copper Canyon Press of Port Townsend sent five boxes of poetry books.   The Gibbs Smith Publishers—a company that specializes in fun, whimsical books–sent enough books for every ILS branch.  HarperCollins shipped  J. A. Jance mysteries that are set in Washington State.  Hunter House sent books about domestic violence prevention.  The Parenting Press sent guidance books for children and adolescents. Bilingual Books of Seattle sent popular titles from their self-instruction inventory.   There are several boxes of books on the way from Sasquatch Books in Seattle. The National Ovarian Cancer Coalition and Pacific NW Chapter of Multiple Sclerosis Foundation sent several educational pamphlets. 

Librarians find out who their real friends are during hard times.  Thank you, Gayle. And thank you to the publishers who have responded so generously to the ILS program!


$1000 Donation from inmates at WCCW

Friday, December 2nd, 2011 Posted in Articles, Institutional Library Services | 1 Comment »

Doug Gelis, one happy librarian with $1000 donation

When the inmates at Washington Corrections Center for Women heard that my book budget was frozen ( again ) , they asked me if there was anything that they could do. I informed them that I could take donations. Soon after this the tier reps approached me and said they were going to do a fundraiser for the library. Last week I sent a check to Laura Sherbo for $1000.00 which is earmarked for the purchase of books for WCCW Library. A very big thank you goes out to all of the inmates at WCCW.

Representative Troy Kelley visits Western State Hospital Library

Thursday, June 9th, 2011 Posted in Articles, Institutional Library Services | Comments Off on Representative Troy Kelley visits Western State Hospital Library

Representative Troy Kelley

Representative Troy Kelley accepted an invitation to visit the Western State Hospital Library on June 7.  Despite the grueling legislative session and hectic personal schedule, he made the time to meet with hospital superintendent Jess Jamieson and the library staff.  State Library Branch Manager Laura Sherbo and library associate Kathleen Benoun welcomed Rep. Kelley into the Patients Library and told him about the State Library’s role in providing services to enhance the recovery and re-entry of those currently housed in state institutions.   He was presented with a copy of the colorful “ILS Snapshot Day” summary report, created by Jill Merritt, Anna Nash and Molly Mooney.  Rep Kelley was given a brief tour of the WSH History Museum.

Troy Kelley represents district #28, that includes Dupont, Lakewood, Steilacoom, University Place, Fircrest, and Tacoma.  He is a businessman and Army reservist, who recently joined the National Guard.