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State Librarian

The position of State Librarian, as it was with the Territorial Librarians, is politically appointed.  Appointees from 1889 until 2001 served at the pleasure of the Governor.  With the transfer of the Library unto the Office of the Secretary of State in 2001, they serve under the Secretary’s discretion.


Sara Jones

2021 – Current



Sara Jones was appointed as the new Washington State Librarian on Feb. 16, 2021, after serving as the director of the Marin County Free Library since July 2013. Prior to her time in California, she held positions in Nevada libraries for 25 years, including serving as the Carson City Library Director, the Elko-Lander-Eureka County Library System Director and Youth Services Coordinator, and Nevada State Librarian and Administrator of the State Library and Archives from 2000-2007. She was named the Nevada Library Association’s Librarian of the Year in 2012; served as Nevada’s American Library Association (ALA) Council Delegate for four years; coordinated ALA National Library Legislative Day for Nevada for 12 years; served as the Nevada Library Association president; was an active member of the Western Council of State Libraries serving as both vice president and president; and served on the University of North Texas Department of Library and Information Sciences Board of Advisors for over 10 years. She was awarded the ALA Sullivan award for services to children in 2018. She is currently the president of CALIFA, a nonprofit library membership consortium. Sara has an MLS from Syracuse University, and has taught in the San Jose State University and University of North Texas LIS programs. Growing up in rural Idaho, Sara Jones and her family valued the library as a resource for discovering new information. In her time as a librarian, Jones enjoyed providing communities with equal access to knowledge. With an impressive resume and passion for libraries, Sara brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to lead our exceptional team at the Washington State Library and help expand and enhance our outreach and services throughout Washington state.

Sara can be reached at [email protected] or (360) 704-5276

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Eleanor (Ellen) Sharp Stevenson (Acting), 1889 - 1890 Alta Grim (thrice Acting), Fall 1941? - April 1942
Phillip Dorland Moore, 1890 – 1893 Gretchen Schenk, August 1942 - May 1945
Lt. Colonel Franklin T. Gilbert, 1893 – 1895 Carma Zimmerman, September 1945 - 1951
George Alexander Kennedy, 1895 - 1897 Maryan Reynolds, 1951 - 1975
Herbert C. Bashford, 1898 – 1901 Roderick Gardner Swartz, 1975 -1986
Israel Putnam Callison, 1901 – 1902 Nancy Zussy, 1986 - 2002
Joseph A. Gabel, 1902 – 1904 Jan Walsh, 2002 – 2010
Jesse Martin Hitt, 1905 - 1931 Randall Simmons, 2010 – 2015
Alta Grim (Acting), 1931 – 1932 Greg Lane (Acting), 2015 – 2016
Mildred Pope, 1932 – 1934 Cindy Altick Aden, 2016 – 2020
Alta Grim (twice Acting), 1934 - Summer 1937 Sheri Nelson (Acting), 2020 – 2021
William Pierce Tucker, Summer 1937 – Fall 1941? Sara Jones, 2021 – Current




For many years, the appointees were not professional librarians, but acquaintances of politicians or persons of local prominence appointed as reward for past services.  Some had backgrounds in history, education and literature, but many were just politically convenient.  It was not until the end of the 19th century that the position was awarded to individuals who had trained in the art and science of librarianship. 


Full Biographies Coming Soon




The Revised Code of Washington, RCW 27.04.010 (, states:

   “(1) There shall be a state library within the office of the secretary of state, and a state librarian to serve as its chief executive officer.

     (2) The secretary of state may make such rules under chapter 34.05 RCW as necessary and proper to carry out the purposes of this chapter.

     (3) The secretary of state shall appoint a state librarian who shall serve at the pleasure of the secretary of state.”


While RCW 27.04.045 ( outlines the duties of the State Librarian:

“The state librarian shall be responsible and accountable for the following functions:

     (1) Establishing content-related standards for common formats and agency indexes for state agency-produced information. In developing these standards, the state librarian is encouraged to seek involvement of, and comments from, public and private entities with an interest in such standards;

     (2) Managing and administering the state library;

     (3) Exerting leadership in information access and the development of library services;

     (4) Acquiring library materials, equipment, and supplies by purchase, exchange, gift, or otherwise; and, as appropriate, assisting the legislature, other state agencies, and other libraries in the cost-effective purchase of information resources;

     (5) Employing and terminating personnel in accordance with chapter 41.06 RCW as may be necessary to implement the purposes of this chapter;

     (6) Entering into agreements with other public or private entities as a means of implementing the mission, goals, and objectives of the state library and the entity with which it enters such agreements. In agreements for services between the library and other state agencies, the library may negotiate an exchange of services in lieu of monetary reimbursement for the library's indirect or overhead costs, when such an arrangement facilitates the delivery of library services;

     (7) Maintaining a library at the state capitol grounds to effectively provide library and information services to members of the legislature, state officials, and state employees in connection with their official duties;

     (8) Serving as the depository for newspapers published in the state of Washington thus providing a central location for a valuable historical record for scholarly, personal, and commercial reference and circulation;

     (9) Promoting and facilitating electronic access to public information and services, including providing, or providing for, a service that identifies, describes, and provides location information for government information through electronic means, and that assists government agencies in making their information more readily available to the public;

     (10) Collecting and distributing copies of state publications, as defined in RCW 40.06.010, prepared by any state agency for distribution. The state library shall maintain the state publications distribution center, as provided in chapter 40.06 RCW to provide copies of materials that are not available in electronic format to state depository libraries;

     (11) Providing for the sale of library material in accordance with RCW 27.12.305;

     (12) Providing advisory services to state agencies regarding their information needs;

     (13) Providing for library and information service to residents and staff of state-supported residential institutions;

     (14) Providing for library and information services to persons throughout the state who are blind and/or physically handicapped;

     (15) Assisting individuals and groups such as libraries, library boards, governing bodies, and citizens throughout the state toward the establishment and development of library services;

     (16) Making studies and surveys of library needs in order to provide, expand, enlarge, and otherwise improve access to library facilities and services throughout the state;

     (17) Serving as an interlibrary loan, information, reference, and referral resource for all libraries in the state. The state library may charge lending fees to other libraries that charge the state library for similar services. Money paid as fees shall be retained by the state library as a recovery of costs; and

     (18) Accepting and expending in accordance with the terms thereof grants of federal, state, local, or private funds. For the purpose of qualifying to receive such grants, the state librarian is authorized to make applications and reports required by the grantor.”