WA Secretary of State Blogs

WSL Updates for October 19, 2017

Wednesday, October 18th, 2017 Posted in For Libraries, Grants and Funding, Letters About Literature, News, Training and Continuing Education, Updates, Washington Center for the Book | Comments Off on WSL Updates for October 19, 2017

Volume 13, October 19, 2017 for the WSL Updates mailing list

Topics include:









The 2018 Letters About Literature (LAL) contest has launched. LAL is a nationwide competition which encourages young readers in grades 4-12 to read a book and write a letter to the author about how the book changed their view of the world or themselves. Students write about works of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. The deadline for this year’s contest is January 12, 2018.

Tens of thousands of students from across the country enter Letters About Literature each year. Washington has historically had one of the highest participation rates in the United States. The letters our students write are thoughtful and powerful. Help spread the word about this contest which gets our young students not only reading, but thinking about literature. The contest is sponsored by the Washington Center for the Book, a partnership of the Seattle Public Library and the Washington State Library. For more information, visit sos.wa.gov/q/LAL2018.

The Library of Congress is holding a special webinar for educators to learn more about the Letters About Literature contest. This webinar will explore 25 years of best practices of the program. Details:



There are a few spots left in the all-day Think, Do, Show: Practical Techniques for Using Evaluation to Improve Practice and Demonstrate Impact workshops scheduled for November dates at Timberland, Whitman County, and King County libraries and sponsored by the Washington State Library. Registration and more details are available at sos.wa.gov/q/ThinkDoShow.



The Washington State Library has made a change in how to request books from the Community Book Project. We have created a “bookshop” where everything is free, and you can order as many copies of a book as you want, up to the available quantity. When all the available copies have been ordered, the book will drop off the page. This will eliminate the back and forth emails that currently happen, as well as the time it can take to get the books mailed out to you. Once you place an order, you will receive a confirmation email.

Our hope for this change is that it will make this process easier for both you and our staff. Please use this link blogs.sos.wa.gov/book-sharing to go out and “shop.” For more information on the Community Book Project please read the “About” page. The project redistributes donated books which were left over from community reads to libraries in Washington State for use as community read titles elsewhere, as classroom sets, or book club kits.



ALA President Jim Neal announced the start of an ALA Policy Corps of advocates to work on national (and state/local) policy:

ALA is launching a new Policy Corps to expand our ability to advocate on key policy issues on behalf of the library community. Participants in the Corps will focus on issues for which deep and sustained knowledge are necessary to advance ALA policy goals and library values among policymakers. Training and opportunities to participate in targeted policy advocacy work will be provided to participants. State library staff and local librarians are asked to consider the opportunity.

More information and how to apply (between October 4 and November 3) can be found at: www.ala.org/advocacy/ala-policy-corps. Questions about the Corps should be directed to Alan Inouye ainouye@alawash.org or Larra Clark lclark@alawash.org.



The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is now accepting applications for two museum grant programs: the African American History and Culture and the Native American/Native Hawaiian Museum Services. The application deadline for both programs is December 1, 2017.

Potential grant applicants are invited to view two pre-recorded webinars, which can help provide information on how to choose the appropriate funding opportunity and navigate the required IMLS forms. IMLS also invites potential applicants to view a live webinar offered for each grant program. Details are available on the IMLS website. For more information about these grants, visit sos.wa.gov/q/IMLS-grants.



Monday, October 23

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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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It Keeps Getting Better: Access to Historic Congressional Information

Monday, May 22nd, 2017 Posted in Articles, Federal and State Publications, For Libraries, For the Public | 2 Comments »

Caricature of British rock group, the Beatles.

Courtesy of Josh, Caricature The Beatles Cartoon Wallpaper Free desktop background wallpaper at wallarthd.com.

The Government Printing Office (GPO) in partnership with the Library of Congress just announce the release of the digital (online) availability of the Bound Congressional Record, 1961 – 1970 on govinfo.gov.  This means you can now search the Bound Congressional Record from 1961 to the present!

If you remember that era there is probably some iconic event that stays fresh in your mind such as the invasion of the Beatles and other British rock groups, the Assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Bobby Kennedy. Did you watch the 1969 U.S. landing on the moon on television? What about these (thanks to GPO for the list)?


  • The Administrations of Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and the first two years of the Administration of President Richard M. Nixon
  • The Civil Rights Era
  • The Vietnam War
  • Legislation of the Great Society and the War on Poverty, including:
    • Civil Rights Act of 1964
    • Voting Rights Act of 1965
    • Fair Housing Act of 1968
    • Medicare and Medicaid
    • Economic Opportunity Act of 1964
    • Immigration Act of 1965
    • Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965
    • Endangered Species Act of 1966
    • Public Broadcasting Act of 1967
Photo of US GPO eagle logo

Courtesy of the Government Publish Office


“This latest digital release of the Congressional Record now gives the public easy access to the historic debates of Congress from the 1960s via smartphones, tablets, laptops, and personal computers.” (GPO Director Davita Vance-Cooks.)

Library of Congress logo

Courtesy Library of Congress

Need more information or assistance in finding congressional information? We love to help! You can reach us by clicking here.

WSL Updates for May 18, 2017

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017 Posted in For Libraries, Grants and Funding, News, Training and Continuing Education, Updates | Comments Off on WSL Updates for May 18, 2017

Volume 13, May 18, 2017 for the WSL Updates mailing list

BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS: Topics include:



3) WIN $100 IN BOOKS




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Access to Historic Congressional Information

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017 Posted in Articles, Federal and State Publications, For Libraries, For the Public | Comments Off on Access to Historic Congressional Information

Photo of a puzzled emoticon (smiley face)

Courtesy Wikimedia commons

Remember these?

  • The Administrations of Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter
  • Passage/ratification of the 26th Amendment (allowing 18-year-olds to vote)
  • Watergate
  • The end of the Vietnam War
  • The US Bicentennial
  • Civil Service Reform Act of 1978
  • The Iran Hostage Crisis
  • OPEC and the Oil Crises of the 1970s
  • Title IX Amendment of the Higher Education Act

The 1970’s. Ugh! High gas prices, low mpg, and 55 mph speed limits! So what was going in Congress?

The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) just announced that in partnership with the Library of Congress the have released the digital version of the bound Congressional Record from 1971-1980. You can search it on GPO’s govinfo. This release covers debates and proceedings of the 92nd through the 96th Congresses.

Photo of US GPO eagle logo

Courtesy Government Printing Off

The Congressional Record is the official record of the proceedings and debates of the United States Congress. It is published daily when Congress is in session. The Congressional Record began publication in 1873, and is still published today. Click here to learn more.

Library of Congress logo

Courtesy of the Library of   Congress

Issues dating from 1995 (beginning with the 104th Congress) are available online. Many federal depository libraries (like us) will have issues available in print. Current issues become available on Congress.gov shortly after they are published on GPO’s FDsys.

Need more information or assistance in finding congressional information? We love to help! You can reach us by clicking here.

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:









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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…