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Check It Out!

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A podcast from Sno-Isle Libraries for lifelong learners with inquiring minds. Check It Out! introduces the amazing people who work at, use and collaborate with the library district – and all of the services it offers to residents of Washington State’s Snohomish and Island counties.
52 Episodes
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In this final episode of the second season of Check It Out!, hosts Ken Harvey, Jessica Russell, Paul Pitkin and Jim Hills relate their personal holiday dreams and nightmares and dive into library resources that may just help set a tasty dinner table. Hills, not beset by the piled-plate, food-touching phobia, shares that a holiday meal is best perceived as a single entity, the sum of its parts as measured both horizontally and vertically. The description, however, takes Russell back to a time in her life when space between menu items was required and the queasy realization that she may not have moved as far past those days as thought. Russell describes her southern roots by painting the mental picture of deep frying turkey in a Louisiana front yard. “Deep-fried turkey is the best,” Russell proclaims with no dissenters. The pot, she goes on to say, is the same one used for the crawfish boil. “In Mississippi, that (pot) is called a washtub,” Harvey says. Pitkin allows that as a child his family finally rebelled at his mother’s cooking to the point that they chose to have the holiday dinner delivered. From Nordstrom. The Sno-Isle Libraries collection, Russell points out, has thousands of cookbooks and other resources available to help make any holiday celebration memorable. Pitkin, executive director for the Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation, points out that there is more to the holiday season than eating. “I encourage everyone to make a year-end donation to the foundation,” Pitkin says, adding that foundation donations support a variety of programs at the Sno-Isle Libraries. “The third-grade reading challenge is coming up,” Pitkin says of the program that includes thousands of students across Snohomish and Island counties. “The reading challenge helps third-graders improve literacy at a time that very important to their development level.” The foundation is also the primary sponsor of TEDxSnoIsleLibraries, which is returning after a hiatus on May 9, 2020 at Edmonds Center for the Arts, Pitkin says. Speaker videos from the 2015, 2016 and 2017 events have been viewed more than 3.5 million times, Harvey says. “The foundation has always been the main sponsor and we could not be more excited that it’s coming back,” Pitkin says. Finally, Harvey offers a peek at what’s coming in Season 3 for the podcast. “We working on getting Everett Community College President Daria J. Willis,” Harvey says. “And, the head of IBM’s Watson project is going to talk to us about artificial intelligence and quantum computing.” And books? What about books? “We are working on a slew of authors, some nationally acclaimed, some just getting started,” Harvey says. Episode length 37:26 Episode links Holiday and winter resourcesTEDxSnoIsleLibraries Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation EvCC President Daria J. Willis IBM Watson Deep-fried turkey recipes Paula Deen Alton Brown John Lovick
Dave Earling has worn the mantles of many different roles. Student. Musician. Husband. Father. Grandfather. Teacher. Business owner. City council member. Volunteer. And perhaps most recently and visibly, Mayor of Edmonds. Earling speaks in this episode of the Check It Out! podcast as he brings that role as city executive to close. “I jokingly say that I have a checkered past,” Earling says. “But, if you are truly interested in what you are doing, you’ll be successful and that’s how I’ve worked.” Earling’s service as mayor ends Dec. 31, 2019, but his eight years at the helm is hardly the extent of his involvement and support for Edmonds. Earling is well-known for his unabashed boosterism phrase, “It is always sunny and 82 in Edmonds.” The actual weather at the moment never matters to Earling’s outlook. As a 23-year-old sporting a freshly minted graduate music degree from Washington State University, Earling says his first job at Shoreline Community College in some ways set the tone for what was to follow. “I taught at Shoreline for 11 years,” Earling says. “I was interested in preparing people for performance. As a conductor, you put out a sheet of music, rehearse and then have a performance. “It’s exhilarating to see people go through the process, to share the pleasure of the performance and realize that accomplishment.” Earling says that when he arrived at Shoreline, there were 32 performance students and by the time he left, there were more than 200. “Always leave it better than you arrived,” Earling says of one of his guiding principles. That experience of bringing disparate individuals together for a commonly identified goal became Earlring’s go-to approach as he moved into business and politics. An intense schedule promoted Earling to take a break from teaching and he went to work at Edmonds Realty. “I worked there for a number of years until I had an opportunity to buy the company,” he says. “We watched it grow, watched the success of the various agents we hired.” During that time, Earling became involved with the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce and eventually serving as president and growing the organization. A desire to become more involved led to a successful run for city council. “I was on (the council) for 12 years through a variety of leadership styles,” Earling says. “When you are in an elected position, you don’t choose friends, they just show up and you have to make it work.” From his time as mayor, Earling cites many accomplishments, but says he is particularly proud of the city’s designation by the state of Washington as a “Creative District,” the first in the state. “We have a great base of things in Edmonds around the arts and we are focused on trying to expand that,” he says. While Earling says he’s not exactly sure what lies ahead for himself beyond a bit of relaxing, he does feel good about where the city is headed. “This will sound corny,” Earling says. “Edmonds is a rare gem. How many cities can you drive to and have a small-town experience? Edmonds is a daytime destination, just 14 miles from downtown Seattle. My philosophy is you go where you find success and we need to continue to build on what we have.” Episode length: 1:05:53 Episode links WSU School of Music  Shoreline Community College Music Department Edmonds Realty Edmonds Chamber of Commerce City of Edmonds Edmonds Creative District Growth Management Hearing Board  
The key to long term success is becoming “robot-proof,” says Amit Singh. Singh, the president at Edmond Community College, says students need two things to compete in today’s economy and into the future. “They need technical skills and they need higher-level mental skills,” Singh says in this episode. “We normally call those mental skills ‘soft skills’ such as problem-solving. “Those skills are making you robot-proof. A robot cannot take those jobs.” Singh says that technical skills in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) areas are important, but it takes more. “Sometimes we hear the need for technical skills,” Singh says. “Yes, for the short term, but to survive long term you need more. That comes from a liberal arts education and then n top of that you have the technical skills.” Singh, who grew up in India before coming to the U.S. for college, likens the approach to that of immigrants to a new land “They know everything will be new and different,” Singh says. “They have to adapt. That’s the adaptive mindset we need.” In a time when knowledge is as close as a YouTube video, Singh, who holds a Ph.D. in Economics and three master’s degrees, says Edmonds Community College and higher education, in general, are facing a similar challenge to adapt. “Take the example of Blockbuster (video stores),” he says. “These are middlemen in the content transfer. They didn’t produce the content, the transferred it to (customers). What technology did was bypass the middleman and go direct to the customer.” Singh says colleges are in a similar business of knowledge transfer and to adapt, they must take a page from what they are teaching their students. “We cannot be outsourced if we do things right,” Singh says. “They ways we teach in the classroom and the wraparound services we provide for students are key. We have to be mindful to keep adding value.” Episode length: 56:29 Episode links Edmonds Community College Entrepreneurship program Mariner Community Campus
It may not come as a surprise that Eric Klinenberg gets a warm welcome when he speaks to librarians and supporters of public libraries. Klinenberg is the author of Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life that was published in 2018. The book makes the case that shared “social infrastructure,” such as libraries, is critical for the future of democracies and the literal survival of their citizens. He spoke to the American Library Association’s meeting in Seattle this past January, then to Sno-Isle Libraries employees this fall. The next day, his conversation with Sno-Isle Libraries Executive Director Lois Langer Thompson at a breakfast meeting for community members was captured for this podcast episode. “Palaces” isn’t the first time Klinenberg has posited the common-good perspective. In 2002, he wrote Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago. A sociologist as well as author, Klinenberg examined the data from a 1995 heatwave that killed more than 700 people. Klinenberg found that who died depended in large part on where they lived in the city. Other books by Klinenberg include Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone (The Penguin Press, 2012) and Fighting for Air: The Battle to Control America’s Media (Metropolitan Books, 2007). He is also the editor of Cultural Production in a Digital Age, co-editor of Antidemocracy in America (Columbia University Press, 2019), and co-author, with Aziz Ansari, of the New York Times #1 bestseller Modern Romance (The Penguin Press, 2015). Klinenberg is the Helen Gould Shepard Professor of Social Science and Director of the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University. His scholarly work has been published in journals including the American Sociological Review, Theory and Society, and Ethnography, and he has contributed to The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, and This American Life. Episode length: 46:19  
Some children dream of being a firefighter or star athlete. After an early civics lesson in school, Toby Nixon knew he was interested in government. That early interest has turned into a life focused on public service and protecting the processes of government. Nixon was re-elected to the city council in Kirkland, Wash., in the fall of 2019, a position he’s held since 2012. Among the many current and former public-service roles Nixon has taken on, he has been a fire commissioner and a member of the Washington State House of Representatives from 2002-2006 where he was ranking member of the committee which has responsibility for overseeing Washington’s open government and election laws. And his day job with Microsoft includes serving as chairman of the board of directors of Bluetooth Special Interest Group, the Kirkland-based international organization that develops standards for Bluetooth technology. But of all his efforts, defending and watch-dogging open government holds a special place in Nixon’s heart. He is the 2012 inductee to “Heroes of the 50 States: The State Open Government Hall of Fame” by the National Freedom of Information Coalition and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2006, he received the “Freedom’s Light Award” from Washington Newspaper Publishers Association in recognition of his work to protect and advance First Amendment interests in Washington and he’s a member of the Washington State Historical Records Advisory Board. And, Nixon is president of the board of the Washington Coalition for Open Government, a group that advocates for the people’s right to access government information. The independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization works through the courts and the Legislature to defend and strengthen Washington’s open government laws. “Washington’s public records act, Initiative 276, came into existence, by public initiative, in 1972,” Nixon says. “It got a 72 percent favorable vote, one of the highest ever for an initiative in the state.” The new law went into effect in 1973 and it was immediately attacked, Nixon says. “The original group that sponsored the initiative was called the Coalition for Open Government,” Nixon says, adding that after a few years, “That organization kind of shut down.” The original law included ten exemptions, but by 2002, there were more than 300 exemptions. “A group of folks got together and decided we needed to defend the law against the courts and the Legislature. So, the Washington Coalition for Open Government was formed,” Nixon says. “I joined the board in 2005, three years in.” Nixon says Initiative 276 came forward during the Watergate era when the public was focused on the need to ensure transparency in government. The mission of the coalition, Nixon says, is a group of people who may not have very much else in common, but they all recognize the importance of government transparency and the preservation of democracy. “People assume we are a conservative organization,” Nixon says. “It’s really just a watchdog group, no matter who is in charge. We are really very much a non-partisan group. We don’t agree on much besides transparency is important.” As busy as he is, Nixon says he’s still looking for ways to learn and grow. “I like to read about how to make government better,” Nixon says. “You have to be passionate about learning new things.” Episode length: 1:09:27 Episode links Initiative 276 voters pamphlet from 1972 Washington Public Records Act (state law) Washington Public Records Act (overview) Washington Public Disclosure Commission Washington Coalition for Open Government Toby Nixon city council campaign website Kirkland City Council Heroes of the Fifty States Award Washington Newspapers Publishers Association  
Even for the folks whose jobs are to know things about the library, Sno-Isle Libraries continues to amaze and surprise. In this episode, co-hosts Ken Harvey, Jim Hills, Jessica Russell and Paul Pitkin, “Go over the highlights of what we don’t know.” Service Center Hills points out the oddity that while the library district’s Service Center in Marysville serves all 23 community libraries, Library on Wheels and online services, it is not itself a library. Jessica Russell, Assistant Director of Technical Services - Collection Services, says that, yes, all the materials that are in community libraries flow through the Service Center, those items aren’t there for very long. “Our job is to get them out into the libraries and the hands of our customers,” Russell says. Pitkin adds the fact that for visitors and employees alike, the Service Center building can be a confusing place. “You see people wandering around looking lost because the building has been added on to three times. People walking around lost, but trying to not look like they’re lost.” Special days With everything from Peanut Butter Fudge Day (a Pitkin favorite) to special days for vegans, clams and craft jerky, November is more than just Thanksgiving. “Craft jerky?” Russell asks. “You mean, like craft beer?” With the “fall back” to standard time in November, Hills takes an informal poll of the co-hosts for their preferences: Harvey – “Daylight Savings Time all the time.” Pitkin – “Never. I like the darkness. In the summer it just gets ridiculous.” Russell (a recent Texas transplant)– “But, it’s such beautiful light here, so soft. If you ever want to know what it’s like to be a bug under a magnifying glass, go to Texas.” Hills – “I’d keep both. I love summer nights when it’s light until 9:30 maybe 10 p.m.” Harvey (again) – “And if our listeners have an opinion, let us know at checkitoutpodcast@sno-isle.org Title talk “One of the most clicked on things on our website is the ‘new items’ link,” Hills says. “And Jessica is responsible for getting the stuff that’s new in the collection.” Russell says it is actually the work of “the amazing, wonderful, collection development staff.” For a person who sees the world of what’s published, Russell says her personal reading list is currently focused on “regency romance” novels. “There are tons and tons of regency romances,” she says. For Russell, that means downloading from Overdrive to her iPad. “I have become an almost exclusively digital reader,” she says. Still, Pitkin wondered about “regency.” “Is that a publisher?” he asks. The phrase, regency romance” refers to a time period of dukes and other royalty, Russell says. “If you’ve ever watched ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ you’ll love regency romances,” she says. Bookmobile As executive director of the Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation, Pitkin says he is always looking for great stories of how library services supported by donations to the foundation are helping customers. “The Bookmobile is just an amazing service,” Pitkin says of the mobile service that is part of the larger Library on Wheels department. Russell said a recent ride-along was inspiring to her. “The depth of knowledge our staff members have of their customers and how they know what customers are looking for is amazing,” she says. Episode length: 34:45
What do police officer, adopted son, milkman, cheese cutter, fur trapper and international terrorism have in common? They have all been part of Alan Hardwick’s life. Hardwick is author of “Never Been This Close to Crazy,” the Edmonds Police sergeant’s first novel, which was published in June this year. Hardwick’s 28-year law-enforcement career has touched a number of important areas. Hardwick started in Idaho and founded the Boise Police Department’s Criminal Intelligence Unit. He’s now a member of the FBI’s North Sound Counterterrorism Working Group and was a founding member of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force the Everett Resident agency. Hardwick has served as lead case agent for dozens of international terrorism investigations. “The book a picture of a man, a police officer and his sudden thrust into the life of a single father,” Hardwick says. While the character is raising five children while being a police officer doing counterterrorism, Hardwick says the plot is not autobiographical. “The story bleeds far beyond my own experience,” Hardwick says. “But I do have a lot of raw data to work from.” Despite just publishing a novel, Hardwick says his first passion is music. He studied music theory, composition and education before moving toward his career in law enforcement. Hardwick is one-third of the group One Love Bridge, which includes Ricardo Valenzuela and Mark Pendolino. The group performs original music and rock covers in the Edmonds area, including at Taste Edmonds! “I became a musician, at least partly, when my mother bought me my first instrument for my second birthday which was a cymbal,” Hardwick says of his adoptive mother. As for his father, Hardwick says, “My dad was a milkman for Darigold.” Eventually, the company offered his father a job in Chehalis at the cheese factory. “I got to say my dad cut cheese for living,” he says. “He never really liked that job,” Hardwick says, which prompted a career switch to being a fur trapper in rural Lewis County. “I was the only kid in my school that had to float the river in the morning to check the trap line before going to school.” Episode length: 1:07:54
Chapter 1 – Snohomish County Council member Nate Nehring Nate Nehring may look young for a Snohomish County Council member, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a lot of experience. Born and raised in Marysville, Nehring was appointed to an open seat on the county council in 2017 at age 21. He is also the son of Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring. “I remember going out and doorbelling for him,” Nehring says of his father, who was first elected mayor in 2010. Before that, Jon Nehring served as a Marysville City Council member for eight years so service to the community through local politics has swirled around Nate Nehring for most of his life. Before his appointment, Nate Nehring says, “I was asked if I’d follow in his footsteps. I said, ‘No don’t think so because of divisiveness.’” If not through politics, Nehring says his father’s lesson of service was not lost on him: “I got into education.” A graduate of Western Washington University, Nehring came back home for a job as a middle school teacher with the Marysville School District. But local governance continued to be a draw. Nehring married and he and his wife moved to Stanwood where he was appointed to the city’s planning commission. “I highly encourage anyone with an interest to look at the opportunities in their community,” Nehring says. “They are always looking for people to volunteer.” Nehring says the issues he saw on the Stanwood Planning Commission are similar to the one he’s seeing representing the residents of county council District 1, which includes most of north Snohomish County. “The general issues are around growth,” Nehring says. “We will be looking at those for the foreseeable future.” He says one of the main themes for the north part of the county is jobs. “We’ve been lacking is job opportunities and a lot of people are traveling for jobs,” Nehring says. “We need more jobs in north Snohomish County so people can live and work there.” The other big issues, he says, revolve around the opioid crisis, homelessness and mental health. He points to a collaborative program with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office that pairs a deputy and a social worker as an innovative approach that is making a difference. “We started with a goal of getting 25 people in the program and so far we’ve had 70 people go through treatment,” he says. Chapter links Nate Nehring State of the County message Snohomish County Council  Snohomish County Council District 1 Stanwood Planning Commission Opioid crisis, Snohomish County Sheriff's Office  Ending Homelessness Program Community mental health North Snohomish County employment efforts Chapter length: 46:33 Chapter 2 – Spotlight on Sue Norman If you like libraries and live on Whidbey Island, there’s a decent chance you’ve run into Sue Norman. Or something she has helped make happen. “I’ve lived on the island for 29 years and been active with the Friends of the Oak Harbor Library for 25 years,” Norman says. Norman says her connection to libraries began at an early age. “Mom was a school teacher and my father was a newspaper reporter and then editor,” she says. “I’m proud to say we were the last family on our block to have a TV.” After moving to Oak Harbor to open a business, Norman says she kept thinking she wanted to get involved with the library in some way. “I went to a Friends meeting and got roped in pretty quickly,” she says. Norman hasn’t limited her volunteer time to the Oak Harbor Library friends group. “There’s the Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation, the Trudy Sundberg Lecture series and Whidbey Reads,” Norman says. Norman says she’s been asked why the focus on libraries. “I guess because I have such a reading habit, I could never afford to buy them all,” Norman says. Chapter Links Friends of the Oak Harbor Library Oak Harbor Library Trudy Sundberg Lecture Series Whidbey Reads Chapter length: 3:46 Episode length: 57:41
Bernadette Pajer had returned to the University of Washington, intent on completing a degree in engineering. And then the life story of the soon-to-be mystery/crime writer took its own plot twist. Pajer turned her focus toward culture, literature and the arts and completed a Creative Writing Certificate at the UW. From there, Pajer began building on what she knew, which spawned the Profesor Bradshaw Mysteries series. "I don't even remember when I started that (first) book)," Bradshaw says. The series focuses on a UW professor of electrical engineering named Prof. Bradshaw. Through the course of four books to date. Bradshaw is drawn through intrigue, mystery and crimes, all on a foundation of science and engineering. "I just dove in and a funny thing ... when I received the letter from Poisoned Pen Press that they wanted to publish A Spark of Death, I was both elated and terrified," Pajer says. "I'm not an electrical engineer." While Pajer had done extensive research, she contacted William  Beaty, a research engineer at the UW. "He vetted the book," Pajer says. "Fortunately, I'd essentially got it right, although Bill made a few tweaks." The other interesting thing about Pajer's series, she set it in the early 2oth Century. "I've always been fascinated with this time period," Pajer says. "We went from horse and buggy, and within one generation, to astronauts in space." Pajer shares that her interest in science has, perhaps counterintuitively, put the Professor Bradshaw series on hold for the time being. Pajer is a board member of the group Informed Choice of Washington, which is taking up most of her free time. According to their website, the group advocates for "vaccine policy reform based on scientific integrity and individual health needs, to promote education about healthy immunity, and to protect informed consent and medical freedom in Washington State." Episode length: 51:58 Episode links Bernadette Pajer books William Beaty Informed Choice Washington
There is no doubt that newspapers and journalism are undergoing changes. Phillip O'Connor should know, he has worked through many of those changes and continues to chart a course into the future for the Fourth Estate in his new role as executive editor of The Herald newspaper in Everett, Wash. Until arriving at The Herald in the summer of 2019, O'Connor was a committed midwesterner by birth and then choice. O'Connor started as a "15-er" (sports department clerk working for three hours at $5 an hour) , taking scores over the phone for his hometown paper, the venerable Kansas City Star (which also launched the career of Ernest Hemingway). After rising through the reporter ranks and various news beats, he moved a few hundred miles east across Missouri to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. It was at St. Louis where O'Connor says his mileage reports went from cross-town to round the globe. "After Sept. 11, 2001, it was around Thanksgiving and my parents were in town," O'Connor says. "I got a call from my boss; would you be willing to go to Afghanistan? "And I say, 'Absolutely.' So I walk back to the living room where parents are and I say, 'I guess I'm going to Afghanistan. "And my mom says, 'I raised an idiot.'" After Afghanistan came reporting trips to Iraq, Bosnia, Israel and then Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake. The common thread, O'Connor says, is local news. "When I went to Afghanistan the first time, we traveled with a doctor from St. Louis and that was how we got across the border," O'Connor says. "We told her story." After St. Louis, O'Connor went to The Oklahoman newspaper in Oklahoma City and the next phase of his career. "At Oklahoma, I wanted to change my role," O'Connor says, adding that he eventually oversaw breaking news, enterprise reporting and other areas of news coverage. "(And) instilling the digital culture in our newsroom, looking at the strategies and tools and storytelling methods. We were able to do amazing work that I'm very, very proud of." All of that experience has a bearing on O'Connor's view of journalism, newspapers and his role at The Herald. "Local content is what our readers are interested in," he says. "I try to direct as much of our resources as we can toward local content. And, we need to have a digital experience that people are going to enjoy." As for the future, O'Connor shares his own thoughts on the current state of journalism: "I don't think the public understands how dedicated hardworking committed the majority of people in this profession are. Todays' journalists are more skilled than any generation we've ever had. The talent we demand from our reporters is pretty amazing." Episode length: 1:02:45 Episode links The Herald Kansas City Star St. Louis Post Dispatch The Oklahoman Fourth Estate
In this episode, Sno-Isle Libraries free-lance reporter Abe Martinez takes a look at four areas related to how the library district interacts with and supports the notion of student success. First, Martinez speaks with Jen Sullivan, a librarian who works out the central Service Center in Marysville and helps coordinate programs and services for students. Sullivan says those start at preschool-age with storytimes, move on to elementary students with programs such as the thitrd-grade reading challenge, middle-schoolers can look forward to things like the Tween STEAM Club programs and high school get help with classes, but also assistance in applying for college or trade schools and practicing entrance tests. In the second segment, Martinez speaks with Sheena Fisher and her daughter, Scarlet. Scarlet is an eighth-grader at Cedarcrest Middle School in Marysville and using the Help Now online tutoring service available through Sno-Isle Libraries. "They are on the chat with you," Scarlet says. "A real person on the line with you." In the third segment, Martinez speaks with Shannon Horrocks, the children's librarian and the Snohomish Library, and Shaelynn Charvet Bates, the school librarian at Riverview Elementary. Over the summer, Horrocks meets with Bates and school librarians from three other schools in the Snohomish School District. Together, they pick books that will be used in afterschool books clubs at the schools. The clubs meet at their schools, but also gather once a year at the Snohomish Library. Finally, Martinez speaks with Rickey Barnett, teen and adult services librarian at the Edmonds Library, and Leighanne Law, teacher librarian at Scriber Lake High School in the Edmonds School District. Barnett says he spends much of his time in schools making in-class presentations. It's a service that Law says she and her students appreciate.  "We have LEAD, Library Equity and Diversity in the Edmonds School District and Rickey is involved in that," Law says.  
They say that reading a book can take you around the world. For Darlene Weber, manager of the Mill Creek Library, that is literally true. Weber is a world-class hiker, including numerous hiking vacations and even a hut-to-hut excursion in the Spanish Pyrenees mountains. And how does she plan those trips? "Well, I work at a public library and we have many guidebooks," Weber says. "(My) trips are mostly self-guided." Weber is a 20-year veteran of the Sno-Isle Libraries district that covers most of Snohomish and all of Island counties. "I started as a substitute, which was great, moving around and learning about different libraries," Weber says. "Then, I was the children's librarian at Stanwood and I've been at Mill Creek for 11 years." The Mill Creek Library is one of the busiest out of the 23 community libraries in the district. "Our children's collection circulates more than any other community library," she says. Weber's introduction to reading came at an early age. "I was born in Yakima, the eighth of 11 children," Weber says. "We were farmworkers, growing up in the fields." Weber says that as soon as she could reach them, she was picking apples. And potatoes. And onions. And beets. And working in the warehouses. "We were not migrant workers. We had a home and stayed in the same place," Weber says. In 1965, then-President Lyndon Johnson had launched his "War on Poverty" legislation that included Head Start. "My parents enrolled me," Weber says. "Without Head Start, I would not have had the kindergarten readiness that I did. I am the first in my family to graduate from college." Today, the Sno-Isle Libraries Wheels program visits every Head Start program and every Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program in the library district. "It does my heart good," Weber says.
WSU Everett Chancellor Paul Pitre’s career path wasn’t always taking him toward higher-education administration. But once he got there, it all made sense. With a bachelor’s degree in communications studies from Western Washington University in hand, Pitre started working in Seattle-area media jobs. “I worked at (Seattle-based TV station) KOMO for a while,” Pitre says “They had me in reception, then running the Telepromoters and taking the mail around.” Pitre was with the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce managing community relations and working on public-education partnerships when he took an opportunity to work in the University of Washington’s Office of Minority Affairs as coordinator of admissions/recruitment. “When I was in media, I was thinking I’d go into sales,” Pitre says. “By chance, I got this job chance as a recruiter for Brand X. Pitre says he developed a passion for the work. “I had a decision to make. I just decided it meant more to me to wake up and make a difference in someone’s life,” he says. He moved to a position with Washington State University and while he was setting others on their own journeys to higher education, Pitre was doing the same for himself. After the degree from Western, Pitre earned a master’s degree in higher education administration from New York University and then a doctorate in education policy and leadership at the University of Maryland. He was also a graduate teaching assistant at Maryland and an assistant professor of educational leadership and sport management at Auburn University in Alabama. “I didn’t really know I was going to do all the education when I made the (career) switch,” Pitre says. “Eventually I did, but it suited me.” Pitre says his mother was a teacher and her father was a physician. Pitre's father grew up on a farm in Louisiana and couldn’t get a high-school diploma. “The nearest high school was 10 miles away (from where his father grew up). It might as well have been 10,000 miles away,” Pitre says, adding that his father completed high school while in the military. “I remember when he got his bachelor’s degree from Seattle University when I was 7 or 8.” Pitre says he knows that while growing up in Seattle, some of his peers didn’t have his advantages. “That has fueled my passion for creating access to higher education,” he says. Episode length: 1:09:39 Episode links WSU Everett Paul Pitre’s blog “The Petre Dish” Paul Pitre’s LinkedIn profile Western Washington University Communications Studies University of Maryland Education Policy and Leadership New York University Higher Education Administration Auburn University Educational Leadership and Sport Management
Even Garth Stein cries over his books. “The Art of Racing in the Rain” is well-known to readers and movie-goers as a tearjerker. Stein says he rented space at a Seattle pizza restaurant when he was writing the book. “I’d get to an emotional part and be crying,” Stein says. “People would be like, ‘What’s wrong with that guy?’ Although published in 2008, Stein says the recent release of the movie with Kevin Costner giving voice to the dog character, Enzo, catapulted the book to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. “When that happened, I told my kids they had to call me ‘Dad, Numero Uno,’” Stein says, adding that his demand was summarily ignored. Co-hosts Kurt Batdorf and Jim Hills get behind the wheel in this episode for a drive with Stein through his experiences with cars, racing and writing novels with strong Pacific Northwest and Alaskan settings. Stein also talks a bit about two upcoming releases, a new novel titled, “A Couple of Old Birds” and a graphic novel involving mutant goat people titled, “The Cloven.” While not autobiographical, Stein says all of his novels include some of himself. Stein says he began with screenwriting as a career target, but found he had a “bizarre allergic reaction to it.” Stein then spent nearly 10 years making documentary films. The foray into documentaries helped, Stein says, because his feeling was, “At age 25, I’m not really, as a writer or a person, mature enough to have anything to say.” He eventually came back to books with his first novel “Raven Stole the Moon,” at age 32. An early love for theater also prompted him to write a play for his high school alma mater, Shorewood High School in Shoreline, Wash., just north of Seattle. So where did the car racing in “The Art of Racing in the Rain” come in? Stein and his family had been living in New York for years when they decided to move back to Seattle. He got involved in racing Mazda Miata cars (something Stein and Batdorf have in common). Stein says it was fun, but became a pull away from his family. He had decided to quit racing, would sell his car, but entered one last race. That race ended for him, he says, “Going backward, 100 miles an hour into a Jersey barrier. “We don’t necessarily recognize our own situation when we’re in it,” Stein says. “If I’d had clarity, I probably would’ve said, ‘You know, today’s not a good day to race.’” Episode length: 59:39 Episode links Garth’s official bio The Art of Racing in the Rain A Sudden Light How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets Raven Stole the Moon Sports Car Club of America Spec Miata Granite Curling Club
Carla Hayden, Ph.D, says the Library of Congress is the biggest - the greatest - library in the world. Hayden should know, she’s the Librarian of Congress. And that would make her the world’s top librarian. Hayden visited the Marysville Library on Aug. 1, 2019, along with Congressman Rick Larsen, and then recently joined podcast co-hosts Ken Harvey and Jim Hills for a conversation by phone from her office in Washington, D.C. “I really enjoyed my time at the Marysville Library with Congressman Larsen,” Hayden says. While there, Hayden took a turn at reading a book to a group of nearly 100 children. Hayden began her career as a children’s librarian in Chicago. Larsen followed her, reading another book to the children and impressed Hayden with his skills. “He’s very good," she says. Hayden touched on the evolving roles of public libraries. Before being appointed to her role at the Library of Congress, Hayden spent 23 years at the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, the nation’s first library system. Hayden helped “The Pratt” explore new ways to serve the city’s residents, even bringing pop-up libraries to neighborhood laundromats. “Convening is a good word to think about libraries and their meaning to the community,” she says. In many ways, Hayden says her leadership at the Library of Congress mirrors the work she has done in Baltimore and Chicago. “The vision was to let everyone know the Library of Congress is for them,” Hayden says. “That would include a student in a remote area, as well as teacher who needs a lesson plan on Thomas Jefferson, and people interested in things like baseball; we have the world’s largest collection of baseball cards as well as the world’s largest collection of bibles.” Carla Hayden is the 14th Librarian of Congress and nominated to the position by President Barack Obama. Hayden is the first woman and the first African American to lead the national library. She is also the first professional librarian appointed to the post in more than 60 years. Prior to her appointment, she was CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore. Hayden was deputy commissioner and chief librarian of the Chicago Public Library from 1991 to 1993. She was an assistant professor for Library and Information Science at the University of Pittsburgh from 1987 to 1991. Hayden was library services coordinator for the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago from 1982 to 1987. She began her career with the Chicago Public Library as the young adult services coordinator from 1979 to 1982 and as a library associate and children’s librarian from 1973 to 1979. Hayden was president of the American Library Association from 2003-04. In 1995, she was the first African American to receive Library Journal’s Librarian of the Year Award in recognition of her outreach services at the Pratt Library, which included an after-school center for Baltimore teens offering homework assistance and college and career counseling. Hayden received a B.A. from Roosevelt University and an master’s degree and Ph.D. from the Graduate Library School of the University of Chicago. Episode length: 43:16
Jessica Russel is a collector who is looking to the future. As Assistant Director of Technical Services - Collection Services for Sno-Isle Libraries, Russell oversees the process that makes 1.5 million books, magazines, DVDs, CDs, digital and other items available to customers at 23 community libraries and online. The Louisiana native and Texas transplant says developing a library collection is not just deciding what goes in, but also what goes out. “It’s a lot like your closet at home,” Russell says. “There’s maintenance to be done and sometimes you have to let things go.” Russell’s department does have librarians who sift through what she calls a “fire hose” of published materials: “We try to winnow it down to a manageable garden hose.” In addition, library customers get to suggest items for the collection. “It’s called a ‘request for item not in collection’ and we get hundreds of RINC request each week,” Russell says. Change in the collection is fine with Russell, who says she embraces change. “It’s incredibly exciting to be in a profession that is changing so rapidly right now,” Russell says. “I realize that’s not uncommon, yet there is something special about the way we can also guide our community through change.” Episode length: 29:30 Episode links Harris County Public Library Montgomery  County  Memorial Library System Request Item Not in Catalog (RINC)
On July 31, 2018, the first Check It Out! podcast aired was posted. In this episode, co-hosts Ken Harvey and Jim Hills, along with podcast producer Debie Murchie, take a look in the rear-view mirror. Together, they share how the podcast came about, remind each other of the growing pains along the way and reminisce about their favorite moments over more than 30 episodes. “Some of our guests are really community heroes,” Harvey says adding that some are celebrities in their communities, some are community leaders and regional leaders. “Coming in, everyone thinks that no one will be interested in me as a person. Maybe what I do or have done, but not me.” Murchie shares that one of her favorite episodes was with Sarri Gilman. “It was about finding your boundaries,” Murchie says. “Being able to say ‘No,’ and knowing when to put yourself first. Yes, help when you can, but sometime need to take a step back.” Hills notes that while in some ways the podcast is an extension of the idea behind the well-received TEDxSnoIsleLibraries series which focused on interesting and accomplished individuals from the community. “I wondered how deep the well would be (for podcast guests),” Hills says. “Now that we’ve done this for a year, I see that the well will never run dry.” Episode length - 43:59 Episode links Episode 34: Following passions for news and education with Lynne Varner Episode 12: The art of breaking glass with Jack Archibald Episode 13: How to talk about depression with Bill Bernat Episode 25: Young adults serving their future and ours Episode 11: Awakening the strength of community with Kathy Coffey Episode 19: Uniting the way with Allison Warren-Barbour Episode 14: Finding boundaries, balance with Sarri Gilman Abe Martinez’ stories: Episode 18, Episode 20, Episode 21, Episode 28 and Episode 30 Episode 2: Can Amazon really replace public libraries? Episode 15: ‘Finding Fixes’ comes to Sno-Isle Libraries
Lorraine Burdick says she came late to her love for both her vocation and avocation. By day, Burdick is a librarian at Sno-Isle Libraries working in collection development. Away from the library, Burdick can often be found on the Seattle Opera stage as a member of the regular chorus. “I've been working in the library since I was in high school. I started as a page putting books away,” Burdick says.  “And I've worked in all the different levels of being a staff member at the library. I put myself through college, my undergraduate degree by working in the library.” After graduation, Burdick was working full time in a library. “… but I was not a librarian,” she says. “A few years and went and, ‘Boy, I really like this work. I want to be a librarian.’ So I've been in the library since I was very young, and decided when I was about 28 to become a librarian.” Similarly, Burdick says her early musical tastes ran toward musical theater, Harry Belafonte and the Kingston Trio, not opera. After happening upon a role with the Long Beach Opera in California, Burdick has been focused on the classic form. That opportunity turned out to be a gold-medal choice. Burdick decided to enter the solo category as a mezzo-soprano in the International Musical Eisteddfod in Llangollen, Wales. “(The) choir that I was singing with was going and I thought, ‘Well, I'm a singer, I will go and audition; I will go and participate in the solo competition,’” she says “I'd never done anything like that before. “… I won first place.” For the past 11 years, Burdick has been singing as a member of Seattle Opera’s regular chorus. “Whenever there is a show that has a full chorus, I'm in it, unless I'm not available but I usually I'm because I love it,” she says. Burdick says her interest and expertise in music pays off while performing her duties as a collection development librarian focusing on children’s materials, which she has been doing since about 1985. When reviewing additions to the library’s musical collection, she casts a critical eye. “I listen to see if it sounds like it's well-produced because a lot of these are self-published,” Burdick says. “I listen to how it's orchestrated, meaning what kind of instrumentation it has. I listen to how the person sounds, I listen to several of the songs on it to make sure they don't all sound exactly the same. And I look and see what they're singing about, and such.” Combining both vocation and avocation makes Burdick smile. “One of my favorite points is when I finish singing and there's this moment of silence before the audience starts to applaud, that is just, I just feed on that,” Burdick says. “That's just a joy.” And the library? “I really believe that the library provides many, many, many tools for people to live fully,” Burdick says. “Collection development gets to choose all the books, audiobooks, eBooks, DVDs; all the materials people can check out.” And she loves that, too. Chapter length: 47:05 Episode links Seattle Opera Long Beach Opera Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod Cal State Long Beach music University of Washington music Seattle Opera Il Trovatore Seattle Opera Chorus 2013 – The Daughter of the Regiment Vashon Opera Baroque dance Seattle Symphony Lorraine’s favorite genres Romance Science Fiction Lorraine’s favorite authors Lois McMaster Bujold Connie Willis
Lynne Varner speaks with authority about the value of higher education and the details of what is available at WSU Everett. That’s not too unusual, seeing that Varner is Associate Vice Chancellor for Marketing at the Snohomish County-based campus of Washington State University. But Varner has also used to her voice to speak with authority first as a reporter for the Washington Post newspaper and then as an opinion writer for the Seattle Times. Her efforts at the Times led to two nominations for a Pulitzer Prize. Varner says those two career paths are tied together with an early desire to learn and research subjects. That desire was first fed with first jobs serving as a staff member in congressional offices and interning at United Press International. Varner also shares that growing up near Washington, D.C. in a military family instilled an appreciation for discipline and hard work. At the Times, Varner started as a reporter on the education beat. “I knew that someday I would leave journalism and help pull up others as they had helped pull me up,” Varner says. Episode length: 58:10 Links Lynne’s LinkedIn profile WSU Everett Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine Land-grant universities wiki United Press International The Pulitzer Prize University of Maryland Seattle Times Washington Post Rainier Scholars
Usually, the phrase is, “Baptism by fire.” For Shari Ireton, Director of Communications for the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office, her introduction to emergency management was baptism by mud. It was March 22, 2014, a Saturday, and Ireton was out with the family shopping for science fair supplies when she got a message about a slide that had closed Highway 530. “I didn’t think much of it because slides happen all the time,” Ireton said. What was unusual is that she heard nothing else for the next several hours. “Usually, there’s a flurry of activity, but this was completely silent,” Ireton said. “A couple of hours later, I called.” Starting that afternoon and for the next five days straight, Ireton was the on-site public information officer for the massive Oso landslide that claimed the lives of 43 people. And Ireton, still relatively new to her job, had not yet been through the training provided by the Federal Emergency Management Administration that virtually all public agencies use manage responses to such events. “I was on the waiting list,” Ireton said. “There were lots of others helping,” she said. “And, I have to give a shout-out to the Everett Herald … those reporters; we walked through it together from day one.” Ireton notes that she is not a commissioned officer, doesn’t carry a gun and can’t arrest people. What she can and does do is interact with the media and public and tell the stories of the Sheriff’s Office. “The role is changing,” Ireton said. “Deputies are doing more social work, mental health work that we’ve ever done before.” Ireton made note of effort that started in 2015, pairing a deputy with a social worker. Together, they visit homeless camps and make other contacts with the goal of addressing underlying causes. Ireton said that almost always they find a combination of untreated mental health and addiction issues. The approach, she says, “has been really successful.” Episode length: 47:20 Links Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office Sheriff’s Office on the opioid crisis Sheriff’s Office on Twitter Oso landslide resources at Sno-Isle Libraries Sno-Isle Libraries support during Oso event Linda McPherson dedication event Oso landslide wiki “Check It Out!” podcast on “Finding Fixes” “Finding Fixes” podcast University of Idaho Gonzaga University
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