WA Secretary of State Blogs

WSL and the “Declaration of Learning”

Friday, February 8th, 2013 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public, State Library Collections, Technology and Resources | Comments Off on WSL and the “Declaration of Learning”

Declaration-of-LearningThe Library of Congress, along with 12 other governmental agencies and non-governmental organizations, including the American Library Association and the  Institute of Museum and Library Services, have recently created the Declaration of Learning.  This document “formally announces their partnership as members of the Inter-Agency Collaboration on Education”.  Each organization involved pledges to utilize its historic artifacts and institutional expertise to create interactive digital media, apps, and websites.

In the spirit of this declaration, Washington State Library would like to highlight some of  our digital services and activities that also share this pledge.

Washington Rural Heritage

Washington Rural Heritage is a collection of historic materials documenting the early culture, industry, and community life of Washington State. The collection is an ongoing project of small, rural libraries and partnering cultural institutions, guided by an initiative of the Washington State Library (WSL). The initiative provides the infrastructure and training to both digitize and serve unique collections to a widespread audience.

Classics in Washington History

The State Library is delighted to present Classics in Washington History. This digital collection of full-text books brings together rare, out of print titles for easy access by students, teachers, genealogists and historians. Visit Washington’s early years through the lives of the men and women who lived and worked in Washington Territory and State.

Special Collections of the Washington State Library

 The Special Collections of the Washington State Library collect and preserve rare and archival materials that enrich research in the history and culture of the Pacific Northwest.
The geographical region comprises the states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho in their entirety; the province of British Columbia; and western portions of the State of Montana.  Alaska and Yukon Territory materials are also acquired selectively when they relate to the Pacific Northwest region.

These non-circulating collections are comprised of historic and unique books, pamphlets, maps and manuscripts that are made available for research in our reading room.

Historical Maps

The State Archives and the State Library hold extensive map collections dealing with the Washington State and the surrounding region. Maps for this digital collection will be drawn from state and territorial government records, historic books, federal documents and the Northwest collection.

Genealogy at the Washington State Library

Washington State Library has Wide array of genealogical resources both online and on site, including biographies, bibliographies, vital recordscemetery inscriptions, City and County histories, directories, Immigration records , military records and more.

Historic Newspapers in Washington

Washington State Library’s newspaper collection includes current issues on paper and historic newspapers on microfilm with some searchable online. We subscribe to about 125 daily and weekly newspapers throughout Washington, plus a few out-of-state papers. The microfilm collection consists of over 40,000 reels of newspapers dating from the 1850s to the present.

Over 5.2 million pages strong… and counting

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public, News, State Library Collections, Technology and Resources | Comments Off on Over 5.2 million pages strong… and counting

The Torch Bearer at the Library of Congress
Interior of the Library of Congress

From the futuristic desk of Shawn Schollmeyer.

With 100,000 pages contributed each two year grant cycle from over 30 states and reaching for participation by all 50 states, the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) is the biggest digital newspaper project in U.S. history and sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Library of Congress (LC). Each of those 5.2 million pages need related lines of code and metadata along with the page images.  Title, city, date, as well as Optical Character Recognition (OCR) files that turn an image into machine-readable text, allow users to search newspaper content on the Chronicling America website.

That’s a lot of files! Who manages all these files? Less than a dozen people at Library of Congress support the websites & wikis, upload files, and help project managers learn the NDNP digitization process. Here in Washington State, we rely on this handful of people to guide us on best practices for digitization and image standards for our participation in the program.  In September, all the participating states gathered to meet our sponsors, advisors, and fellow awardees to discuss the great ways people are using the content from this project.  At the end of the three day conference, our heads are filled with practical knowledge of processes, resources, and exciting new ideas. While I was there I had the rare opportunity to meet the magicians behind the curtain…

Our main contact for the National Digital Newspaper Program in Washington, DC is Chris Ehrman. Nearly a librarian by birth (his parents are both librarians), Chris began his newspaper experience in the University of Utah Ski Archives , uploading photos and video of America’ favorite winter sport before moving on to the NDNP program in Montana. There he honed his technical expertise learning the selection and upload process for Montana’s newspaper collection, becoming a great candidate for the Library of Congress’ Digital Conversion Specialist position. Chris is our “go-to” man when we have questions about how to resolve the challenges of working with so many files and metadata. If the data checks out OK, Chris prepares the scripts to load files for the automatic ingestion process so the newspaper images will appear in the Chronicling America database. He also supports the LC’s NDNP website.

There are four Digital Conversion Specialists who evaluate and help load our submitted batches of files to the website. Missing pages, cataloging conflicts, or date misprints are among the situations that may flag a batch for further review.  These four take turns validating batches from all awardees for final approval in addition to their specialized tasks, which include validation tool support and digitizing from LC’s own historic newspaper collection.  Chris estimates that they see 150,000-180,000 pages per month, translating to about six terabytes. One of their biggest challenges is to keep the workflow moving and avoid bottlenecks in the system.

Robin Butterhof is another LC specialist. Friendly & energetic, Robin supports the NDNP wiki page that contains the technical specifications, trainings, tools, deliverables, and state by state project information. She is a woman of many talents, having held several different library jobs, including book publishing, reference librarian, non-profit work and consulting, all while attending classes as a library student. Excellent training for the many tasks she juggles daily at LC.

Chris, Shawn & Robin with “batch_wa_lacamas”
Pulling all the teams, awardees, conversion specialists, NEH contacts, and LC resources together is the NDNP Coordinator, Deborah Thomas. Deb has a long history of working with digital collections in our national library, most notably, the American Memory project, a multimedia collection of American history and culture with over nine million items. In my short interview with the team, she really helped put the national project into context for me. One of the most significant challenges is managing “a sustainable collection of significant scale produced by many organizations” which includes careful planning for maintaining access and managing the data and processes long term. She reminds us that “Digital objects are not just pictures. For newspapers, they are pictures of pages and machine-readable text from those pages and metadata that describes the pages and the relationships between pages.” In order to help people find what they’re looking for we need to figure out “how to make the cream rise to the top.” These millions of pages of newspapers would be pretty overwhelming to wade through without text search capabilities at the page level. Creating standards for metadata and text recognition software (OCR) is only a piece of making these pages accessible. Each state has their own workflow; software vendors; page or article level OCR; file storage systems; and even multiple languages that need to be filtered and standardized.

When I asked the team about what they enjoy most about their work Robin admitted she loves how “something wacky pops up every day” referring to the many series of cartoons, entertaining articles and sometimes sensational headlines. Chris agreed and mentioned his favorites are the illustrations of the future, which led to discussion of Deb’s favorite article from the December 20, 1908, New-York Tribune, “Public Library of the Future.”

Unlike the library vision in the article, we may not be sending facsimiles of our newspapers and important manuscripts through pneumatic tubes to our Congressional Library, but we will be sending a dozen or so hard drives with thousands of files of newspaper pages to real people, the people I met in the James Madison Building. These are the people who will be helping us create the new digital libraries of a very real future where we can still have “a library in every hotel, train, trolley car and steamship!”


CRCC Community Read 2012

Friday, March 30th, 2012 Posted in Articles, Institutional Library Services | 1 Comment »

Jamie Ford

The “community read movement” started in 1998 in Seattle and has gained popularity across the United States. I’ve been intrigued by them for many years. And while I hear about them all the time, I’ve never heard of one taking place inside a prison. So, last summer, I decided to organize one for Coyote Ridge. And it wasn’t easy, but I did it.

The book I decided to use was Jamie Ford’s Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Maybe you’ve heard of it? It has been translated into over 30 different languages. The setting is Seattle, and the book was recently selected for a community read in Pierce County, Washington, which is where I managed to get 45 used copies of the book.

Now, for those who don’t know, a community read is different from a regular book group in three ways, 1) it is open to an entire community, 2) it includes supplementary social events related to themes in the book of choice, and 3) it usually includes a guest appearance by the author. At first, I was unsure about how I would achieve that third piece. Without any programming funds available, I wasn’t sure how to entice this successful author, who lives in Montana, to come all the way to Connell, which is miles from any major airport and not exactly a late-night excitement kind of town. Upon contacting his agent, however, I found that they were eager to work with me if we could figure out a way to cover Mr. Ford’s travel expenses. In the end, I was only able to bring Jamie Ford in as a guest speaker by teaming up with a Humanities group at Washington State University’s Tri-City campus, and by a donation from the Friends of the Washington State Library. Finally, after months of planning and negotiating, Mr. Ford spent the evening of Wednesday, March 22, talking to inmates, reading from his book, and answering an endless stream of questions.

In addition to the guest author event, the library at Coyote Ridge hosted a jazz music appreciation event and a historical slide show about the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII, featuring images from Densho and Library of Congress digital archives.

WSL Updates for October 21, 2010

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010 Posted in For the Public, News, Technology and Resources, Training and Continuing Education, Updates | Comments Off on WSL Updates for October 21, 2010

Volume 6, October 21, 2010 for the WSL Updates mailing list

Topics include:









Read the rest of this entry »

National Newspaper Archive Celebrates 1M Pages Online

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public | Comments Off on National Newspaper Archive Celebrates 1M Pages Online

Scenes in the proposed new National Park among Montana's glaciers (LOC)

Scenes in the proposed new National Park among Montana's glaciers (LOC)

The National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) recently celebrated adding 1 million pages to the Library of Congress’s Chronicling America site and adding 7 more states to the program. Read more about this major milestone at washingtonpost.com.

The program is a combined effort of the Library of Congress, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and institutions from 22 states (including Washington State). Access to the historic newspaper archive is free at chroniclingamerica.loc.gov. Selected illustrated newspaper pages have also been uploaded on the Library of Congress Flickr Commons.

Read more about Washington State’s participation in the National Digital Newspaper Program. The first of the Washington State newspapers selected for NDNP are digitized and will soon be added to Chronicling America – stay tuned…