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.


Reeling In the Years at the State Library

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011 Posted in For Libraries, For the Public, Technology and Resources | 2 Comments »

image taken from an old reel of microfilm side-by-side with image taken from a replacement reel

Here at the State Library our staff and users still heavily rely on this crazy little technology called “microfilm.”  It is what people used for high-density information storage before the age of computers, and digitizing it all is still going to take some time.  The library keeps all of the Washington Newspapers on microfilm and many other interesting documents, such as the Territorial Newspapers Card Index [see catalog record online], which is shown above, or even more enticing, the Special report No. 14 of Project Blue Book: Analysis of Reports of Unidentified Aerial Objects, 1955 [see catalog record online].

One of the best things about microfilm is that if there are long-term power outages, you can always hold them to the light and pull out a magnifying glass to read the data.  Try to do that, memory stick!  One of the downsides is that they are so well loved they begin to wear out, and we occasionally need to have new film made from the masters.  Just look at the above example to see how bad they can get. The old film stock starts to yellow, the image gets scratchy from hours of running through high speed readers, and…is that tape holding the two ends together?  Yikes!

Luckily, the fine folks at the State Archives keep master copies of the state’s newspapers on microfilm and Northwest Collection on microfilm, and our crackerjack acquisitions team can order new ones from them as the budget allows, ensuring that Washington State researchers will continue to have access to these fine resources for decades to come.  You can also purchase copies of microfilm held by the Washington State Library.  Find out more by clicking here.