WA Secretary of State Blogs

March on Washington, a Washington State Perspective

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013 Posted in Articles, For the Public | 1 Comment »

From the desk of Rand Simmons

As a boy of 12 living in “whitebread” rural Oregon I was little aware of the significance of Wednesday, August 28, 1963. Today we celebrate the 50th anniversary of this significant moment in history most commonly know as the March on Washington.

4265614981_6e2e5b2da1_oNational Public Radio’s Kat Chow wrote: “The summer of 1963 was bursting with drama and would become a pivotal moment of the Civil Rights movement. It was the year that Alabama governor George Wallace tried to block — physically and politically — two black students, James Hood and Vivian Malone Jones, from enrolling in the University of Alabama; the year Medgar Evers was shot and killed in his own driveway; and the same year that brought together more than 200,000 protesters for the March on Washington for better jobs and equal treatment.” Kat is leading a team who are replicating the events of 50 years ago in their @TodayIn1963 Twitter  site, http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2013/06/12/190680446/-todayin1963-captures-moments-from-a-historic-summer

Over 50 years ago Martin Luther King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and gave his “I have a dream speech.” Thirty-six years after the speech ignited the nation, Congress issued as a supplement to a report Commemorating the “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial : report (to accompany H.R. 2879) (including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office). The report is in our federal publications collection in both print and microfiche formats. (Because these will have to be retrieved for your use, please call ahead.)

The story is told from a Pacific Northwest perspective in The Facts the “official voice of the N.W. Black community.” The Facts is one of the many Washington State newspaper titles in our extensive Washington Newspaper Collection. Our issues run from 1962-1979 and are on microfilm. The August 30, 1963 paper (front page) reported:

“Seattle residents of all races joined together Wednesday in a Freedom March from 14th & Pike to the Federal Court House. Like the march on Washington, it was orderly and filled with religious tone.

Local leaders spoke to the crowd gathered on the Court House steps. One by one they spoke from the top of the steps with the background reading UNITED STATES COURT HOUSE.”

Father Lynch; Charles Johnson, Seattle NAACP President; State Representative Sam Smith; and Father Anton are shown in photographs. A short story with the headline, “Mixed Crowd Demonstrates for Equality: Negroes, Whites, Join in effort to Bring End to Discrimination” tells the story of the Washington march. “Packed elbow to elbow around the memorial, they heard their leaders call for Congress to pass laws to end all manner of racial discrimination and enable the unemployed to find dignified work with decent wages.”

The same issue’s editorial ends: “True, life has not been fair, but the statement of the unfairness is merely a shaky crutch upon which to support an empty argument. The Negro standing at a new starting mark in the history of his race will fail himself if he looks behind. He must look ahead to a life struggle in which he can now and at last compete on equal terms.”

The following week, September 6,The Facts carried an editorial, “Rights March Just a Start, Negroes Reminded” and speculated on the effect of the Washington march to speed up civil rights. “The top question in race relations today is whether the successful massive civil rights demonstration will speed establishment of an integrated society in America.”


160 Years and Counting — National Library Week

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013 Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public | Comments Off on 160 Years and Counting — National Library Week

Secretary of State enjoys reading with young readers.

Secretary of State with young readers at the Washington State Library.

From the desks of Rand Simmons, State Librarian, and Steve Willis, Manager for the Central Library.

We celebrate National Library Week by harkening back to our founding 160 years ago. The Washington Territorial Library, the predecessor to the Washington State Library, was born from the Organic Act of 1853 which established the Washington Territory. Section 17 states that “the sum of five thousand dollars … be expended by and under the direction of the governor of Washington, in the purchase of a library, to be kept at the seat of government for the use of the governor, legislative assembly, judges of the supreme court, secretary, marshal, attorney of the territory,  and such other  persons and under such regulations as shall be prescribed  by  law.” $5,000 was the same amount appropriated for the erection of suitable buildings at the seat of government (section 13.)

An inflation calculator indicates that $5,000 US dollars in 1853 would be the approximate equivalent of $147,058 US dollars in 2012. Never mind that the dollars are too short to build a government building or equip a library. What is important in the value the US Congress placed in the importance of a library in the Territory. The Washington State Territorial Library was the first public historical-cultural institution in the Washington Territory. And we are still here.

160 might seem like a humdrum number to celebrate, but in many ways the past dozen years have been the most challenging in the history of WSL. In observing this birthday we not only honor the efforts of our library staff predecessors but also recognize our success in continuing to provide quality service in spite of massive budget cuts.

Washington Libraries and Microsoft IT Academy

Friday, March 1st, 2013 Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, News, Training and Continuing Education | Comments Off on Washington Libraries and Microsoft IT Academy

Floppy disksFrom the desk of Rand Simmons

Imagine walking into your local public library, community college library, or tribal library and registering to take one of Microsoft’s IT course … for free!

Through a partnership with Microsoft, the Washington State Library, a division of the Office of the Secretary of State, is seeking funding from the legislature which will be used to pay for the non-discounted portion of the cost of taking a Microsoft course. (Microsoft has discounted these courses by 90%.) It will also cover the cost for the Washington State Library to oversee the project.

The Washington Microsoft IT Academy will provide the people of Washington access without charge to a wide range of Microsoft online courses and learning resources through their local public, community college or tribal libraries. The IT Academy will also be available through the Washington State Library prison libraries. It is currently available through school districts, a project administered by the Office of Public Instruction. Course certification is also available but will not be covered by state funding.

“The Microsoft IT Academy delivered through Washington libraries is a no-brainer. The return on investment of state funds is astounding; an investment of $1.5 million will yield $4 million if Washington’s libraries were to pay full price. There will be no direct charge to people for IT training. Libraries are ready and capable of taking on this project. People are used to coming to their libraries for assistance,” notes Secretary of State Kim Wyman.

The ubiquity of libraries throughout the state, estimated at 472 outlets, and the recognized nature of libraries, to connect to their communities to improve the lives of citizens brings credence to this project model. The Washington State Library is a leader and facilitator among the library community and has decades of experience in managing statewide projects.

For more information on this project, please visit our broadband page.

Comments and inquiries can be sent to Rand Simmons, State Librarian.

Secretary of State Elect Kim Wyman Names Simmons State Librarian

Monday, December 10th, 2012 Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, News | 1 Comment »

Rand Simmons


Kim Wyman, who will be sworn in as Washington’s 15th Secretary of State, announced her choices for her executive team Friday December 7.  In making her appointments, Wyman consulted with outgoing Secretary of State Sam Reed, senior managers and others both inside and outside of government.  In her email, she described the team as “a mix of people from within and outside the office, with a wide variety of experience and perspectives.”

Rand Simmons was chosen as Washington State Librarian effective January 16, 2013 when Wyman takes office. Simmons has been Acting State Librarian since September 2010. Kim and her Executive Team visited the Washington State Library to make the announcement to library staff.

See this link for a full story detailing Ms. Wyman’s choices for her Executive Leadership Team and Division Directors.

30 Years of Service to Western State Hospital

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011 Posted in Articles, Institutional Library Services | 1 Comment »

Kathleen accepting 30 years of Service certificate from Rand Simmons Washington State Librarian

Kathleen is a wonderful storyteller with a patience that has served her well as the Library Associate at Western State Hospital.  On June 15, 2011 Kathleen will become the longest working member of the Institutional Library Service team.  30 years of wonderful service was celebrated with a presentation of a certificate and award by State Librarian Rand Simmons.