State Librarian Jan Walsh to retire

News Release
Issued: July 28, 2010

OLYMPIA...Since 2002, Jan Walsh has led the Washington State Library through a turbulent period of budget and staff reductions while witnessing increased usage by the public, especially online.  

Her days as State Librarian and director of WSL are coming to an end soon. Walsh recently announced her retirement. Her last day on the job is August 31.  

"The State Library is a special part of Washington's past and present, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time as State Librarian and working with such a talented and dedicated staff," Walsh said. "I'm thrilled that the number of people using the State Library has skyrocketed in recent years. It clearly shows that this library and libraries in general are more important and more useful than ever, especially during these tough economic times."  

Secretary of State Sam Reed praised Walsh’s leadership and direction during a crucial period for the State Library, which joined the Office of Secretary of State in 2002. Previously, it was a stand-alone institution.  

“Jan not only has done an outstanding job of running our State Library, she also is a strong and passionate advocate for it and for libraries throughout Washington,” Reed said. “When the state faced a budget deficit several years ago and the State Library was targeted for closure, Jan and I successfully fought to keep the library open. We knew the library played an important role in providing information and preserving Washington history, and we knew that role would only grow in time – and it has.”          

The Washington State Library operates a flagship institution in Tumwater and provides a wide variety of services free and online to readers around the state and beyond. The State Library also advocates for libraries everywhere and provides grant funding for much-needed local services. For more info about the State Library, go to http://www.sos.wa.gov/library/ .   

Two events are scheduled to honor Walsh:  

  • On Monday, August 9, a brown-bag lunch will be held starting at noon in Room 221 of the State Library, located at 6880 Capitol Blvd. in Tumwater. During the lunch, Walsh will share stories about her 38 years as a librarian, the many changes she’s seen during her career, and her vision for the future of libraries. Please RSVP to Stephanie Horn at stephanie.horn@sos.wa.gov or (360) 902-4193.
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  • On Tuesday, August 17, a retirement celebration event will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Legislative Building’s Columbia Room, located on the first floor. Those interested in attending are asked to RSVP by calling Karla Sullivan at (360) 236-5051 or Marilyn Lindholm at (360) 704-5249.
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Prior to being appointed State Librarian in 2002, Jan worked in the State Library as Assistant Director for Customer Service from 1997.  

Born in Short Hills, N.J., Walsh earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Pennsylvania State University and a Master of Library Science degree from the University of Pittsburgh.   

During her time with the Washington State Library, Walsh has held numerous positions in the American Library Association and the Washington Library Association, is past president of the Western Council of State Libraries, and is a member of Humanities Washington and the Governor’s Broadband Advisory Council.  

Walsh plans to stay active in the library community, and she will work part-time with the YMCA's "Exercise and Thrive, Live Strong" fitness program for cancer survivors.