Libraries statewide receive rural heritage grants

Community libraries across Washington are receiving state grants to help them preserve and celebrate their rural heritage and history.

The grants, which can be spent starting in mid-August, will be used to expand online digital collections being developed by the library districts. The grants are funded by the Library Services and Technology Act through the Federal Institute of Museums and Library Services (IMLS).

The grants are part of the Washington Rural Heritage grant cycle that will end Aug. 13, 2010. The Cathlamet, Denny Ashby, Fort Vancouver, Mid-Columbia and Pend Oreille libraries are first-time participants and awardees in the project. The Columbia County, Ellensburg and Whitman County libraries received similar grant awards in previous years.

The Washington Rural Heritage (WRH) program is an online repository of special collections in and around small, rural communities throughout the state. It features items important to Washington’s history, culture, places and people.

The physical collections are housed locally by their owners, while the digital collections are hosted by the State Library. The research, digitization and cataloging of items is a collaborative effort between local staff and volunteers at local libraries and the Washington State Library staff.

So far, Washington Rural Heritage has published 12 collections, with an additional collection being catalogued. Several new subcollections will be published later this summer. To date, almost 30 libraries and partnering heritage institutions throughout the state have contributed to the project. There are more than 5,000 items in the rural heritage collection, although not all are published online yet.

The Washington State Library’s Rural Heritage Project is providing grants to the following libraries or library districts for their projects:

1. Cathlamet Public Library ($5,750) — The project title is “Saving & Sharing Wahkiakum’s Past for the Future.” The library will partner with the Wahkiakum County Historical Society to digitize photos representative of the county’s history. Topics include fishing, river life along the Lower Columbia, forestry, Native Americans of the region, and pioneers.

2. Columbia County Rural Library District ($6,144) — The project title is “Cemeteries throughout Columbia County.” The library district will collaborate with the Blue Mountain Heritage Society and the City of Dayton to digitize cemetery records in the Dayton City Cemetery and various county cemeteries, including Bundy Hollow, Covello, Highland, Huntsville, Marengo, Pioneer, Smith Hollow, Starbuck and Turner cemeteries.

3. Denny Ashby Library ($6,000) — The project title is “Historic Photos of Garfield County: Country Schools and the Mayview Tramway.” The library will partner with local historian Lynn Leaverton, the Eastern Washington Agricultural Museum and the Garfield County Museum. The digital collection will focus on preserving two valuable pieces of Garfield County history: 1) photos of schoolhouses around the county, then and now; and 2) photos of the Mayview Tramway, a feature unique to farming in Garfield County before the advent of the railroad and trucking.

4. Ellensburg Public Library ($9,756) — The project title is “Kittitas County Historic Transportation Photograph Collection.” The project will focus on photographs depicting the many transportation modes that had a major impact on the growth of Kittitas County and Ellensburg, which is a major crossroad in Washington. The growth of transportation there had a major impact on travel throughout the entire state and region during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The focus of the grant project will be on the progression of early transportation. Horse travel, trains, early steamboat travel, the advent of the automobile and the beginnings of air travel in the Kittitas Valley will be documented.

5. Fort Vancouver Regional Library District, Stevenson and North Bonneville Community Libraries ($6,477) — The project title is “Stevenson/North Bonneville Community Libraries Historical Items Digitization Project.” Stevenson and North Bonneville library staffers will work with the Friends of the Library, City of North Bonneville employees and the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center Museum to collect and digitize items of local historical significance, including hand-typed volumes and early photographs of the area and its inhabitants. A significant sub-collection will depict construction of the Bonneville Dam and the relocation of the town of North Bonneville.

6. Mid-Columbia Libraries, Benton City branch ($7,160) — The project title is “Time for Centennial and Jubilee: the Benton City History Project.” The library will partner with the Benton City Historical Society and the Karolina Lorz Foundation to digitize materials representative of the city’s history. Subcollections will focus on construction of the Kiona-Benton Irrigation Canal; the Northern Pacific Railroad; a 1929 home canning project that provided food for school lunches; and photos of early Benton City.

7. Pend Oreille County Library District, Metalines Community Library ($3,500) — The project title is “North Pend Oreille Historical Photo Collection.” The Metalines Community Library will digitize a portion of its local historical photograph collection. The photos in the collection represent life in the area from the 1900s to the 1950s, including images of many of the region’s earliest settlers and their families.

8. Whitman County Library ($8,500) — The project title is “Whitman County Library Historical Archive Digitization Project.” The library will work to digitize material held in the collections of private citizens and small cultural institutions to depict early homesteading and town development throughout the county.

For more information about the grants or the Rural Heritage Project, visit the Washington Rural Heritage program online at . The Rural Heritage Project is an initiative of the State Library, which is a division of the Office of Secretary of State.