Shout-out to the Teens at the Central Library

Did you know that our library has Teen Advisory Groups? They meet on a regular basis all over the city. They come together and earn service learning credits by writing blog posts and creating displays and giving us direct feedback on our databases, and finding ways to help the library create interesting, engaging programs for teens.

But you guys, here’s the thing – many of these teens are just flat-out AMAZING people. They are gifted, driven, engaged, brilliant people, and I’m just going to take a moment to tell you some more about them.Picture of the Teen Center Advisory Group 2014We could mention Greta, who writes lovely, beautifully written blog posts AND double volunteers for us and the Ballard teen advisory group. Continue reading “Shout-out to the Teens at the Central Library”

Edible Garden series: Confessions of a compost queen

edible_gardening_banner-575x225Not only will red worms eat your garbage, but these girls/guys may take a bigger place in your life than you imagine. You’ll find yourself, even if you’re the prudish sort, gleefully discussing their male/femaleness and digging through your worm bin show off their eggs at when you have parties. You’ll make proclamations like, “Earthworms are the intestines of the planet!” and you won’t be kidding. Continue reading “Edible Garden series: Confessions of a compost queen”

New Seattle History Guide

 Shove over, Sherlock. Seattle history detectives have a powerful new tool to help them deduce the details of Seattle’s past. You should have been so lucky!

Due to the efforts of nearby historians, Lorraine McConahy and Helen Divjak, the legendary voice of Paul Dorpat and friends and Greg Lange at the Puget Sound Regional Archives  among others, we’ve had powerful allies for delving into Seattle history. Now, Seattle history detectives are armed with a new arsenal, a comprehensive compilation of Seattle history resources created by our own Special Collections Department.  The new Seattle Building History Guide annotates a wealth of Seattle history research tools and places them in a broader context than ever before. We’ll be rolling it out on May 19th at the Third Place Books History Cafe. Afterwards, the guide will be available from our website.

If you’re the sort of person who, while riding Space Needle elevator or contemplating your idea for the site of the proposed Chihuly museum, wonders more about the land Continue reading “New Seattle History Guide”

Warship Under Sail – Interview with Lorraine McConaghy

Some of you may know local historian, Lorraine McConaghy, through MOHAI’s Nearby History workshops. A member of the Pacific Northwest Historian Guild, McConaghy has been writing, talking and teaching  the history of Seattle and its environs for years. With her new book, Warship Under Sail, McConaghy delves into the history of the United States Navy by exploring the the USS Decatur warship which played a decisive role in the Battle of Seattle.

I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to ask her questions about the process of writing “Warship”.  Here’s our email interview:

What gave you the idea to write about the USS Decatur?

 In the 1990s – as soon as I first saw them – I became fascinated with the two drawings of Seattle made by U.S. Navy officer Thomas Stowell Phelps during the 1855-6 Treaty War, and published with his memoirs.  The drawings are labeled, and I began the work by just learning what was represented by the “North Blockhouse” or “Yesler’s Mill.”  I didn’t understand why the USS Decatur was here, where it has come from, who had summoned it – nothing.  So it was a very organic process where asking a question led to an answer, and that answer itself encouraged more questions.  In the end, I wrote about the Continue reading “Warship Under Sail – Interview with Lorraine McConaghy”

Let’s get digital

The Special Collections Department  has added three new digital collections to our resources in the past year.  Going digital takes a great deal of effort but makes these collections available to a much larger audience and also makes them more accessible because of their searching capabilities.  The easiest way to get to them is to go from the home page to Library Collections and look for the Special Collections tab near the top on the right side of the page. Or, you can follow this link and bookmark the page. 

 The Alaska -Yukon – Pacific – Exposition Collection was the first of group of material digitized because of the centennial celebration of the AYP in 2009. The AYP was a turning point for Seattle and the entire region and as many people said, “put Seattle on the map”. Over three million people came to the event which was held at what is now the University of Washington. In fact, many of the buildings built for the AYP served (and some still do) as UW buildings.

Having gotten our first digital collection on board, we proceeded to digitize the Seattle Public Library Northwest Art Collection. The Seattle Public Library owns a collection of art from many important Northwest artists: Mark Tobey, Kenneth Callahan, Helmi Juvonen, Robert Cranston Lee, Fay Chong and Guy Anderson, to name just a few. We digitized a selection of 85 prints, drawings and paintings from the collection. Mark Tobey’s “Illustrations for lecture, Feb 26 1948” and Stuart Morris’ line are representations of people using the library itself. In conjunction with the launch of the Northwest Digital Art Collection, we’ve mounted an art exhibit of the Library’s artwork on Level 8 at the Central Library.

And, last but not least, we began to digitize the Seattle Historical Photograph Collection. The collection contains more than 1100 images of Seattle’s early history. There are street views from the 1870’s, photographs taken during, before and after the Great Seattle Fire of 1889,  portraits of important and everyday Seattleites from her early beginnings. There are photographs of buildings, waterfronts, railroads, schools, ships and more.  We’ve begun with over 100 photographs and will be adding to the digital collection through the year, so keep an eye out for the updates.

One thing to remember: Not everything is digital.  We have a treasure trove of resources in Special Collections (and other departments) that are not online and not  in the catalog. Going digital takes time. Don’t miss out on the treasures we have now. You never know just what you might find!~Carol L, Central