Dr. Rand Simmons
Washington State Library
Office of the Secretary of State
6880 Capitol Boulevard
P.O. Box 42460
Olympia, WA 98504-2460
State library website:
“Empowering 21st Century Washington is our primary objective for the foreseeable future. That means we partner with early learning agencies and education providers to support our youth; we assist local libraries to support job-seekers and others to learn and use digital technologies that prepare them for a modern economy; we ensure that local libraries are constantly improving in their quest to provide quality library services; and we support local library’s outreach to all parts of their communities. We provide staff training in digital competencies, and to bring libraries together to develop best practices. We also provide grant funds for innovative library projects that move libraries and their communities into a rapidly changing world.”
--Rand Simmons, State Librarian, Washington State Library
The Grants to States Program
The Grants to States Program is the largest grant program run by IMLS; it provides funds to State Library Administrative Agencies (SLAAs) using a population-based formula set by the law. SLAAs determine goals and objectives for the funds in their statutorily required five-year plan (see below). For more information, see the Grants to States program overview.
View allotments for all states.
Ask WA Cooperative Virtual Reference Project
This statewide project provides a range of online reference services for all Washington residents by creating a network of collaboration among libraries throughout the state. It includes a platform that enables libraries to both contribute and offer services to their patrons, providing comprehensive coverage to residents statewide. Though not all Washington libraries participate in Ask WA, those that do contribute time monitoring either the 24/7 public or academic library queue. The queues are separated to match patrons with the appropriate librarian. During the project period, the service answered 57,165 questions via email and 37,365 questions via chat. On the whole, these questions came from outside the physical library or outside normal library operating hours. As library resources move to a more digital and 24/7 platform, virtual reference services like Ask WA serve as key resources to access.
IMLS Funds: $119,028
Songs to Read! Books to Sing!
North Olympic Library System targeted librarians and childcare providers from rural communities to enhance storytimes with music. The project offered training to representatives from twelve library systems and focused on music and early literacy, music play, and reading play activities. Sessions included specific tips for engaging parents in storytime or circle time, adapting traditional songs to meet the needs of a specific storytime, incorporating simple fingerplays into storytime repertoire, and serving various audiences more effectively, including the underserved. In addition to these skills, participants learned new songs to use in their storytimes. This small continuing education grant from the Washington State Library strengthened relationships among the participating libraries and also had a positive effect on information sharing.
IMLS Funds: $1,500
Other project(s) featured through IMLS media include:
Search the Awarded Grants Database for additional details about awards in this state.
Each state creates a 5-year plan for its programs to strengthen the efficiency, reach, and effectiveness of library services. Click here to read Washington's 5-year plan for 2013-2017 (PDF, 293KB). View all states' plans.
Five-Year Plan Highlights
Offer informational, educational, and recreational programs and services for the benefits of all Washingtonians in their interest in lifelong learning, improving their own literacy or working with their young children to help them build early literacy skills.
Washingtonians will know how to access the information they need from their libraries in electronic and traditional formats.
Access to E-Resources
Invest in programs that increase the capacity of local libraries to provide access to digital content and leverage other sources of funding to make digital resources more widely available and easily accessible.
Help local libraries preserve and provide access to unique local and state materials, perhaps working through Washington Rural Heritage.
Economic and Employment Development
Offer informational and educational programs and services for the benefits of all Washingtonians in their interest in finding information on workforce opportunities.
Seed short-term projects that address new needs through innovation.
Provide training and other resources to enhance the ability of the library staff to meet the needs of their communities. Specific efforts will focus on technology, library governance and practice, youth services and early learning, digital online services, and consulting with staff of small, rural and American Indian libraries.
Encourage sharing best practices within the library community statewide.
Convene and promote collaborations between and among all types of libraries and governmental agencies, nonprofit organizations, and for-profit groups to share their expertise and design projects and programs that serve community needs and interests.
Provide high-speed, reliable connectivity and services that depend on such connectivity—broadband infrastructure and the K-20 Network Project, the support of E-Rate filing, and working with libraries and their community partners.
Support the work of the library community in developing programs that increase public and civic engagement among the people of Washington, perhaps through author talks, book clubs, and community reads or discussion groups.
Special Services for Special Needs
Deliver library materials and service to special populations, including to the blind and physically handicapped through the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library, and those who are incarcerated through the Department of Corrections.
Health and Social Services Information
Offer informational and educational programs and services for the benefits of all Washingtonians in their interest in finding information about health and social services, which we can deliver through the work of the Department of Social and Health Services branch libraries.
At the end of a 5-year period, each state reports their results in achieving goals and objectives projected in their 5-Year Plan. Click here to read Washington's 5-year evaluation for 2008-2012 (PDF, 1,359KB). View all states' evaluations.
IMLS Data Collection
State Library Survey
The State Library Agency Survey (SLAA) provides descriptive data about state library agencies for all fifty states and the District of Columbia.
Public Library Survey
The Public Library Survey (PLS) provides national descriptive data on the status of public libraries in the United States and its territories. Data are collected from over 9,000 public library systems with over 17,000 public library outlets. Click here for Washington's profile from the most recent PLS publication (PDF, 374KB).