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Historic Sites of the Washington State and Territorial Library: 1853 to the present

The Territorial and State Library Buildings

G.A. Barnes’ Warehouse (1853) McKenny Building (1899-1902)
Oblate Mission’s Buildings (c.11/1853-11/1854) Old State Capitol Building (1902-1913)
B.F. Kendall’s Building (11/1854) Temple of Justice (1913-1958)
Territorial Legislative Building (1856-1875) Pritchard Library (1958-2001)
Tacoma Hall (c.1875-1877) Point Plaza East (2001-present)
Territorial Legislative Building (1877-1899) The Future...


Introduction: Purchase and Delivery

The original books, maps, globes, and miscellaneous materials that made up the original Washington Territorial Library collection were secured using funds appropriated out of the Organic Act of March 2, 1853. This act was signed by President Millard A. Fillmore and provided $5,000 to the newly appointed Territorial Governor, Isaac I. Stevens, for purchases towards the library.  Adjusting for inflation this amount is approximately equivalent to $135,950 in the year 2012. With these funds Stevens purchased books from H. Bailliere of London and C.B. Norton and Co. of New York City; collected archival documents from all the states of the union and made arrangements for the casing and portage of these materials through vendors in New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C.

The first 1,850 books left New York City on May 21, 1853 on the clipper Invincible.  The ship traveled around the Horn of South America to San Francisco, where the books were held briefly by the Port of San Francisco. The collection then traversed the waters from San Francisco to Olympia, arriving October 23, 1853 on the brig Tarquina packed in “Massachusetts steamer trunks.” Since the day that brig touched shore, the Territorial Library has moved around the Olympia area. 

The following passages recount the historic buildings and locations that have housed the collections of the Territorial Library, and later, the State Library of Washington. 


1853: G.A. Barnes’ Warehouse

[No picture available]

The first books arrived on Sunday, October 23, 1853, and were stored in an Olympia warehouse owned by G. A. Barnes. George A. Barnes was an eminent pioneer in the city’s history, a member of Olympia’s first Board of Trustees, and the proprietor of its first general mercantile. Barnes also established Barnes’ Hook & Ladder Brigade, the first volunteer fire department, around that same time. Alongside his many other achievements he established Olympia’s first bank, G.A. Barnes & Co., in 1884 [Jones, 337] and served a one-year stint as mayor of Olympia in 1880.

While we are not entirely certain of the exact location of Barnes’ warehouse, sources [Rathbun, pg.17] have placed his mercantile at the west end of what was then called 1st Street (now Thurston Avenue), near Percival Landing on the Olympia waterfront. It is likely that the warehouse was close or next to this mercantile. The books were stored at this warehouse until the arrival of newly appointed Territorial Governor Isaac I. Stevens on Friday the 25th of November. If we are correct in our placement of the location, there is a hotel of modern construction in its place today.

(Timespan: 1 month. No appointed Librarians during this time.)

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Circa 11/1853-11/1854: Oblate Mission’s Buildings

[No picture available]

Sometime shortly following Stevens’ arrival, the materials were moved - likely to one of the two one-room, one-story buildings on the west side of Main Street between 2nd and 3rd avenues. These buildings, measuring 16 feet by 20 feet, had been rented by Governor Stevens for $900 a year from Father Pascal Ricard, a missionary of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, a monastic Catholic order.  One of these buildings was used by the Railroad Commission as it compiled its survey reports for the proposed route for the Northern Pacific Railroad.  The other was used by the Stevens family upon their arrival in Washington [Nicandri, pg. 64.]

Father Ricard is best known for his establishment in June 1848 of Saint Joseph’s mission on the east side of Budd Inlet. That land is now preserved as Priest Point State Park. [Ibid, pg. 8]  Sensing an Olympia growth boom, Father Tempier of Marseilles had Ricard purchase four lots for the downtown buildings in 1852 or 1853.  These lots were the former site of the cabin belonging to Levi Lathrop Smith, Olympia’s co-founder and a tragic figure in Washington territorial history.  Ricard did so, and placed the lots in the name of another member of the order, Brother George Blanchet, so as not to appear too land-hungry following his Priest Point purchase.  The Oblate’s downtown buildings are long-gone and now the block is home to the Olympia Center, “a public facility open to all members of the community actively participating in programs or meetings.”

The first report of Steven’s Territorial Librarian appointee, Benjamin [Bion] Freeman Kendall - appointed  February 28, 1854, and elected by the House of Representatives on April 17, 1854 - enumerated 2,130 books (the remaining purchase had arrived) and documents, including the two globes.

 (Timespan: 1 year. In his message to the Territory, Stevens essentially announced B.F. Kendall as acting Librarian. Kendall was elected to the post by the House of Representatives in its first session.)

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Circa 11/1854: B.F. Kendall’s Building

[No picture available]

In November of 1854, the library was relocated to a small wood-frame building on Fourth and Main Street. Territorial Librarian B.F. Kendall had the structure built specifically to hold the library materials, the law insisting that it be housed “as convenient as possible to the house occupied by the legislative assembly.” [1854 Laws, pg 415.]  The legislature had not had a building built specific to its needs up to this point. It met for its first session starting on the 27th of February, 1854, at the Gold Bar Restaurant on Second and Main in downtown Olympia [Newell History, pg.36] and then moved during the time of the Indian uprising to the Olympia Masonic Temple on Eighth and Main, meeting there from 1855 to 1856. [Stevenson, pg 146.] 

This demand for clarity over the location of the library stands to emphasize the collection’s value as a tool of both the government and its people. We are not sure as to when this building stopped being used as the library, but we place it at 1856, when a hastily constructed territorial Capitol Building was completed. At some point Kendall’s original Fourth and Main building was demolished and replaced with the McKenny Building, which also acted as a home for the collection, from 1891 to 1901.

(Timespan: 2 years.  Librarian: Kendall.)

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1856-1875: Territorial Legislative Building 

Territorial Legislative Building, circa 1890’s.

Image courtesy of WA State Digital Archives.

According to local historian George Blankenship, the library collection was shifted to the Old Territorial Legislative Building upon completion of its construction. [MS 37, “Paper read at the Olympia Public Library, 1932-11-08.”] The building was built in 1856 on 12 acres donated by Edmund Sylvester. The new Legislative Building was described by historian Gordon Newell as a “wooden two-story structure that stood between where the present Legislative and Insurance Commissioner buildings now stand.”

The building was hastily built and never really in an ideal state following its occupancy.  Reports of the era described it as a “sad picture of melancholy dinginess” [Ex. Doc. 144, 43rd Congress, 2nd Sess.] and “in a sad state of repair” [Smith letter, 1868.11.01] with worn out furniture; “faded, soiled, and ragged carpets;” and a rotting wooden block foundation that had caused the building to slope toward one end.   As described in 1874 by Henry J. Struve, Territory Secretary, the territorial Capitol Building was “left in an entirely unfinished condition” following its construction. He continues:  “The walls of the main chambers, committee rooms, library, entrance halls, &c., have never been lathed, plastered, or painted, and a portion of the same were and remain to this day, covered with rough, unplanned boards with a coat of common whitewash.” He describes it as such as he makes a request to the Secretary of the Interior for $5,274.75 toward needed repairs and upgrades to the building, which is approved in a return correspondence, dated April 2, 1875. The repairs were completed by year’s end.

One interesting side note: Territorial Librarian John Paul Judson, a 24-year-old law student at the time of his appointment, actually lived in the Legislative Building during his year-long tenure.  He did this on practical grounds, claiming it was the best way to gain access to the resources he needed to support his education.

(Timespan: 19 years. Librarians: Kendall, Crosbie, Hicks, Moses, Head, Taylor, Judson, Woodruff, Chapman, Shelton, Mabie, S.H. Mann, C.B. Mann, Mossman, Yantis.)

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Circa 1875-1877: Tacoma Hall

On July 1, 1875, the collection was disrupted again, having been moved to “Tacoma Hall,” a two-story structure located at Fourth Avenue and Columbia Street in Olympia. This was done as a temporary move due to repairs that were needed at the original Capitol Building. Built by Charles Williams in 1861 and originally dubbed the Olympia Building, it was purchased by Capt. D. B. Finch, owner and commander of the mail steamer that delivered between Olympia and Victoria. He donated this building in 1869 for the use of the Good Templars of Olympia, a Masonic fraternal order that advocated abstinence and temperance. Finch also donated a large number of books that would appeal to public reading demands and reserved a portion of the building for use as the first free lending library for the city of Olympia around August of 1868.

Tacoma Hall was the site of several historic events including the first meeting site of the Territorial Supreme Court. It was also the location where Susan B. Anthony spoke on her visit to Olympia in 1871 to speak for women's suffrage and the site of the first Washington Women's Suffrage Association Convention in 1871. Part of the building was also the first free reading room or library in the city. The Women's Christian Temperance Union also met here.

This building was known by many names over the course of its life: Olympia Building, Tacoma Hall, Tacoma Lodge, and Knights of the Good Templars Hall. For some period in time, the Territorial Library collection must have also been housed there. In 1875 the Territorial Legislature ordered by joint resolution that Territorial Librarian Frederick S. Holmes relocate the library from Tacoma Hall to the original Capitol Building, which stood on the Capitol Campus near the present-day Legislative Building. Holmes refused to execute this order.

The original Tacoma Hall is no longer. The building was replaced with another building in 1902. This new building then burned down and was subsequently replaced by the Barnes Building (also known as Knights of Pythias Building and Goodfellows Hall), which was built in 1911 and is still standing today.

(Timespan:  2 years. Librarians: Yantis-Blankenship, Holmes.)

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1877-1899: Territorial Legislative Building 

Inauguration of Governor Ferry, 1889.

Image courtesy of WA State Digital Archives.

The Legislature ordered the library’s relocation - again by joint resolution - in 1877.  Speaker of the House Elwood Evans was the author of the resolution and given that he had recently assumed the post of Territorial Librarian following Holmes’ vacating of the office, it was finally relocated to the old territorial Capitol Building.

During the library’s second occupancy of the old Legislative Building, it witnessed the appointment of the first woman to hold the office of State Librarian and at the same time served as the residence of our 15th Territorial Governor, William A. Newell. The collection also became the State Library upon our admittance into the union on November 11, 1889. In 1890 the Legislature authorized preparation for the first official catalog of the library’s holdings.  It was prepared by Philip D. Moore, the first State Librarian, and published in 1891.  At that time Moore separated the law collection from the general collection.

Both collections remained at the building until 1891. The building served its original purpose until 1901 when the Legislature purchased the building that originally was built for use as the Thurston County Courthouse. The Library relocated to the new building from the Old Thurston Courthouse (described below) in 1901 and the Legislature moved in upon completing renovations in 1905.  The Territorial Legislative building was destroyed in 1911 to make way for the new Legislative Building designed by architects Walter Wilder and Harry White, and the new Capitol Campus, as envisioned by landscape design firm Olmstead Brothers.

(Timespan: 22 years. Librarians: Evans, Newlin, Ferry, Newell, Stevenson, Moore, Gilbert, Kennedy, Bashford.)

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1899-1902: McKenny Building

Kneeland Hotel [McKenny Building], circa 1900s.

Image taken from The Coast, vol. 17, No. 3 (March 1909), pg. 178.

In 1891 the library was moved all the way back to downtown Olympia and placed on the 4th floor of the McKenny Building, located on the Southwest corner of 4th Street and Main. Built by General T.I. McKenny in 1889, the building served as space for many state offices that year.

T.I. McKenny was the Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Washington Territory from 1867-1872 [obituary, Mason County Journal, 11/17/1899]. He spent the rest of his life in Olympia where he was active in real estate and the school system. McKenny was also president of the Olympia and Tenino Railway Company, president of the Olympia Hotel Company, and briefly was the president of the state hospital for the insane (now Western State Hospital).  He was also the father of noted Olympia environmentalist Margaret McKenny, also a strong supporter of the Washington State Library. This building was leased by state government in 1890 and used for many purposes, including housing all the state offices for a year. In 1898 (HOW CAN THAT BE?) the collection was moved to the ground floor of the McKenny Building due to space constraints on the fourth floor.

The McKenny Building was purchased by W.H. Kneeland of Shelton, who converted the office building into the Kneeland Hotel, which operated from 1901 until it was irretrievably damaged in the 1949 earthquake. Goldberg’s, a prominent local furniture retailer, built its new store in 1950 at 4th and Capitol Way, replacing the brick McKenny Block. This structure is now home to Schoenfeld’s Furniture store.

(Timespan: 3 years. Librarians: Bashford, Callison, Gabel.)

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1902-1913: Old State Capitol Building

Old State Capitol Building, before the fire of 1928.

Image courtesy WA State Digital Archives.

In 1901 the library moved into a very cramped space in the basement of what was then the new Capitol Building. This building had been built to serve as the Thurston County Courthouse and did so for 13 years, starting in October of 1892.  The Washington State Library also took over the travelling library of the State Federation of Women’s Club - converting it into a traveling library system for the state.

The building was constructed of stone from Whatcom County and boasted a 150-foot-high octagonal clock tower with clocks on each of its eight sides. State government purchased the building for $350,000 for use as the State Capitol and a new wing on the east side as a home for the state Senate and House of Representatives. Three 20-foot-wide domed skylights, twelve conical towers arranged around all sides, and an ornate wrought-iron elevator that contained a snack bar were added as well.

In 1903, the Washington State Library witnessed the creation of a State Library Commission and the separation of the law collection into a Supreme Court Library under the direction of the Assistant Librarian.  Also during that year an appropriation was secured for a travelling library fund, the Division of Public Documents was created, and the concentration of the NW History Collection began.  And $1,000 was also appropriated to begin the processing of manuscript collections and binding of archival newspapers in the library. 

An April 30, 1909, article appeared in The Olympian describing the Traveling Library as having 6,000 volumes increasing at rate of 1,000 a year. Headed by Mrs. Lou Diven, the travelling library service shipped to 150 various small communities.  According to the 1910 State Librarian report, the library was also receiving 18 daily and 59 weekly papers and had 700 bound volumes plus 500 unbound volumes of newspaper back-files.

In 1907, the Supreme Court Library was renamed the State Law Library, now an entirely separate agency.  The State created a Law Library Committee to oversee that library. The committee was given the responsibility of appointing the State Law Librarian, who would also serve as the Deputy State Librarian. In this very same year an official card catalog was established.

The former State Capitol Building has been the home for the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction since 1906. The building continued to house most of the state agencies until 1919. The Legislature met there until the completion of the present Legislative Building in 1928.

In that same year a disastrous fire gutted the tower and the fourth floor of the West and connecting wings. The earthquake of 1949 resulted in the loss of 10 of the 12 towers and eliminated the rotunda at the East Wing center, the House chamber and related galleries at the south end of the East Wing. Nevertheless, this building still stands, occupying the entire block fronting Sylvester Park on the Washington Street side. The building is listed on both the State and National Registers of Historic Places.

(Timespan: 12 years. Librarians: Gabel, Hitt.)

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1913-1958: Temple of Justice

Temple of Justice, circa 1920s.

Image courtesy WA State Digital Archives.

In 1913, the library collection’s were relocated “temporarily” to five small rooms in the basement of the Temple of Justice, with the rarest items placed into a vault. The Temple of Justice, home of the Washington State Supreme Court, is the oldest building of the Wilder and White capitol plan on the Capitol grounds, dating back to 1912. Though started in 1912, construction was not fully completed until 1920 due to issues with construction financing. Upon completion of the Legislative Building, the library was supposed to move into dedicated space there. This plan was never realized for when the Legislative Building was completed in 1928, the spaces had already been taken over by other state agencies.  Other plans for relocating the collection were devised over the years: moving the collection back to the Old State Capitol Building following a remodel, into “available space” in the General Administration Building, or into a remodeled Labor and Industries Building. All proposals were rejected, often because the costs were close to or the same as creating an entirely new dedicated facility.

Changes and growth began to occur at the library during its stay at the Temple. In February of 1933 State Librarian Mildred Pope established an official Legislative Reference Service. In 1939, portions of the Daughters of Pioneer Collection were relocated and housed at the Washington State Library, including the McCardle index.  In 1941 the Washington State Library Commission was created.  It had five members:  four appointed by Governor, with the Superintendent of Public Instruction as the fifth. In 1944 legal responsibility was vested in the Library Commission, which adopted a Statement of Policy on January 20, 1944.  In 1948 the Washington Library Association wrote a proposal for an Institutional Library Program for Washington State Institutions.  This proposal advanced the idea of a cooperative arrangement between the Department of Institutions and the Washington State Library for reading and reference services.  For many years the proposal would be discussed without any concrete partnership materializing.  In 1951 the library also partnered with the State Archives to initiate the microfilming of archival newspapers and manuscript files. By March 2, 1953, the library’s 100th anniversary, 271,700 volumes were listed in the collection.  Though it was cramped for space and the collections were in serious peril, the library put on a brave face; celebrating its centennial with a tea and open house for dignitaries.

Note: The Washington State Library was a division of the Department of Education at one time.

In 1955 The Tacoma News Tribune described the legislative treatment of the library as akin to being the “stepchild of state government.” It reported on the inappropriate quarters and the neglectful condition of the library.  What follows is one passage from the article:

Housed in congested quarters in the basement of the Temple of Justice at Olympia is the Washington State Library which has become a maze of confusion because of lack of space. Irreplaceable books and papers are in danger of destruction because they cannot be given proper care…rare historical documents and newspaper files share space with office files under steam and water pipes.  Much of this material is deteriorating faster than staff members can repair it. … No public reading space is available, books are piled high and narrow aisles are often completely blocked.

Despite the dire conditions and poor public perception, a glint of optimism was in the air.  A new library bill garnering strong political support from members of both major parties was introduced that year.  The proposal was to create a separate and dedicated building as part of the Capitol Campus.  This building would be funded from the state building fund, which received money from the sale of timber on state-owned lands, removing the need for new taxes to be raised.

(Timespan: 45 years. Librarians: Hitt, Pope, Grim, Tucker, Schenk, Reynolds.)

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1958-2001: Pritchard Library

Pritchard Library, circa 1965.

Image courtesy WA State Digital Archives.

On March 11, 1957, following two years of wrangling over the location and configuration of the new building, Governor Albert Rosellini signed H.B. 50, the “State Library Bill,” into law. Plans for the building at one point even included putting the library on top of a new parking garage.  The bill approved $1,700,000 for the design and construction of a new library facility on the southern portion of the Capitol Campus. In October, a contract was set with a completion date scheduled for January of 1959. Concrete was removed for construction on the first of November, and the official groundbreaking ceremony was held on November 5, 1959, at 2:30 in the afternoon.  State Librarian Maryan Reynolds turned the first shovel load of earth, followed by Governor Albert Rosellini.

The building was designed by the renowned architect and principal designer of the 1962 Seattle World's Fair, Paul Thiry, who was commissioned in 1955.  The contract allowed for completion in January of 1959, and on January 23rd of that year this modern facility was opened as the first dedicated building for the collection since the original Fourth and Main building in 1853.

The Law Library of the State of Washington, containing many original law titles from the Territorial Collection, remained at the Temple of Justice.  It is there to this very day. The Law Library is open to the public, and serves employees of all three branches of state government.  It also provides select services to local governments.  The main collection of the Law Library has been kept on the main floor of the Temple of Justice since the building opened.  When the State Library moved to the new library building, the Law Library began to occupy some of those vacated spaces.

Thiry attracted some of the Pacific Northwest’s preeminent artists of the period: Kenneth Callahan, Mark Tobey and James Fitzgerald. Each created custom murals to adorn the public areas of the building. Kenneth Callahan’s abstract oil on canvas mural depicted the state's history from the beginning of the Earth's to an apocalyptic vision of the atomic age and completely wrapped the interior of the elegant Washington Room.  The Washington Room served as a repository for rare books and Pacific Northwest history materials separate from the general collections and government publications. Mark Tobey created a compact, 8-by-9-foot mural for the main-floor reading room. James Fitzgerald built a massive, 320-square-foot tile mosaic leading from a stairway to the lower level. The building won the 1963 Library Building Award, sponsored by the American Library Association, American Institute for Architects, and the National Book Commission.

The first 10 years spent at the new library were unprecedented in Washington in terms of innovation for library services.  In 1957 the Washington Film Library Circuit was organized to provide Washington’s public libraries with film service; by 1968 it had 25 members.  Lists of the library's microfilmed newspapers and historical material were compiled and distributed in 1964.  The Legislature approved a budget request in 1965 for the funding and operation of an Institutional Library Services program, after 15 years of discussion between the Washington State Library, the Department of Institutions, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and many others asking for establishment of regular library services; plus two years of surveys and proposals for financing options.

The State Library also announced an ambitious 12-year plan to expand service electronically in 1967, calling for 12 library regions with one library designated as group center. The State Library would establish and operate a processing center and switching center. This electronic system would be called the Washington Library Network.

In 1969 all films created or distributed by the various state departments were centralized and distribution was administered through the State Library.  This film service remained open to the public until budget cuts forced its closure in 1981.

Little over a decade in its permanent occupancy there were already designs to remove the library from the Pritchard Building.  In November 1968 a bond to create a new state library building on the newly built Evergreen State College campus was approved, but bids all exceeded the maximum amount [Reynolds, 135].  In December of 1977, there was another proposal from General Administration to move the library to The Evergreen State College, located on the outskirts of Olympia’s west side, in order to use the Pritchard Building to house the staff to the Governor, Secretary of State, Auditor, and Treasurer instead of constructing a new executive office building.  Gary E. Strong, Associate Library Director, stated that this would make it difficult for state agencies to use the Library, as 70 to 80 percent of library business was conducted for state agencies.  The argument for retaining the library in the Pritchard Building was effective and the proposal did not succeed.

During the library’s tenancy at the Pritchard Building, the mission expanded in several ways: a concerted effort began to document the various authors of Washington State and collect their works, legislative reference services were amplified, and support for the libraries of the state was augmented.

The late 1960s and the 1970s witnessed the growth of the State Library branch library services. During this time the State Library established a branch library at the Department of Transportation in 1968;  at the Department of Ecology in 1970; and at the Department of Energy in 1978.

In 1987, the Washington Room in the Pritchard Building underwent renovations. The renovations resulted in a new ceiling that covered brighter lights, and much better air flow. The renovations took the whole summer with Gene Bismuti overseeing the library during the construction. The library was later named the Joel M. Pritchard Library, after the noted supporter of civil rights and environmental legislation in Washington State. Pritchard served 39 years as a State Representative, Congressman, and finally as Lieutenant Governor from 1989-1997.

A review of the collections of the Washington State Library in the late 1990s confirmed 547,554 discrete works.  This is a conservative number of the State Library’s holdings as careful examination in the following decade would reveal many items not yet cataloged.

(Timespan: 43 years. Librarians: Reynolds, Swartz, Zussy.)

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2001-present: Point Plaza East

Point Plaza East, circa 2003.

Image courtesy Friends of the Washington State Library.

On February 28, 2001, an earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale that was dubbed the “Nisqually Earthquake” shook the collections and exacted damage onto the Pritchard Building. In November of 2001 the collections and staff of the Washington State Library were relocated into a new office building at Point Plaza East in Tumwater. Select legislative offices now occupy the Pritchard Building. The Washington State Library has secured a 10-year lease for this building.

The State Library joined the Office of the Secretary of State in 2002 after it underwent severe budget cuts but survived a near-total closure as a result of Governor Gary Locke’s operating budget proposal.  The Library Commission was eliminated in 2002 and the State Library underwent several changes that year.  The collections were diminished and the mission of the library was refocused on library development for the public and school libraries around the state, Federal and State government publications repository services, and public services in the specific subject areas of Washington state and  Pacific Northwest history and culture, as well as family heritage and genealogy.

The Washington State Library has continued to create new opportunities for information access.  On July 2, 2008, the Washington Talking Book & Braille Library (WTBBL), formerly a member of the Seattle Public Library, joined the State Library. The Washington Talking Book & Braille Library is open to the public and serves individuals who are legally blind, deaf-blind, visually impaired, physically disabled or learning disabled. Its services include talking books, braille books and large-print materials, taping services, the Evergreen Radio Reading Service and summer reading programs.  WTBBL retains its downtown Seattle branch location at 2021 9th Avenue and continues to provide services to the citizens of Washington statewide. The State Library also continues to provide other branch and institutional services across the State of Washington.

(Timespan: 8 years. Librarians: Zussy, Walsh, Simmons, Aden.)


The Future...

Planning for a new combined Library and Archives Building are underway. The Washington State Library looks forward to working towards the next building in the institution's long and complex history.  


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This interactive map shows the physical locations of the Washington Territorial and State Libraries:

Territorial and State Librarians as of 2017.   Thirty-eight in all, in a timeline by location:

First Library Building, 1854-1868: Kendall.

Old Territorial Legislature Building, circa 1856-1875: Kendall, Crosbie, Hicks, Moses, Head (3 non consecutive terms), Taylor, Judson, Woodruff, Chapman, Shelton, Mabie, S.H. Mann, C.B. Mann, Mossman, Yantis.

Tacoma Hall/Lodge, 1875-1877: Yantis-Blankenship, Holmes.

Old Territorial Legislature Building, 1877-1891: Evans, Newlin, Ferry, Newell, Stevenson, Moore.

McKenny Building, 1891-1901: Moore, Gilbert, Kennedy, Bashford, Callison, Gabel.

Old County Courthouse, 1901-1913: Gabel, Hitt.

Temple of Justice, 1913-1958: Hitt, Pope, Grim (acting), Tucker, Schenk, Reynolds.

Joel M. Pritchard Library, 1958-2001: Reynolds, Swartz, Zussy.

Point Plaza East - Tumwater, 2001-present: Zussy, Walsh, Simmons, Aden.


Sources consulted:

43rd Congress, 2nd Session House of Representatives of 1874-75.  House documents, otherwise publ. as Executive documents: Ex. Doc. No. 104

Clark, Norman H. Washington, a bicentennial history. New York : Norton, [c1976]

Jones, Edward Gardner [editor.] The Oregonian's handbook of the Pacific Northwest. [Portland, The Oregonian Publishing co., 1894]

Newell, Gordon. Rogues, Buffoons & Statesmen. Seattle : Hangman Press, [1975]

“            ”              So Fair A Dwelling Place: a history of Olympia and Thurston County, Washington. Olympia, Wash.: Olympia News; 1950

Nicandri, David. Olympia’s Forgotten Pioneers: the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Olympia, Wash.: State Capitol Historical Association, c1976

Olympia Heritage Commission. Downtown Olympia's historic resources. [Olympia? Wash.] : The Commission, [1984]

Rathbun, John C. History of Thurston County, Washington. Olympia, Wash., 1895

Reynolds, Marian with Joel Davis. Dynamics of Change.  Pullman, Wash.: Washington State University Press, c2001.

Smith, Ezra L.  Secretary of Washington Territory, Letter, dated Nov. 1, 1868."Estimate of the current expenses of the Legislative Assembly and Secretary's Office of the Territory of Washington for the fiscal year  ending June 30th, 1870."

Stevenson, Shanna B. Lacey, Olympia, and Tumwater: a pictorial history. Norfolk, Va.: Donning Co., c1985

Washington Territory. Acts of the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Washington. Olympia: J.W. Wiley, public printer, 1855-88.


Primary Sources

Blankenship, George E.  Papers: the Washington State Library Manuscript 0037

United States. General Accounting Office.  Records of … [microform]. Miscellaneous Treasury accounts. Selected accounts for the purchase of a library for the Territory of Washington, [1853], 1854-59.

Hitt, Jesse M. Correspondence re: Washington Territorial Library.



Daily Pacific Tribune. Olympia, W.T. [Wash.: s.n.], 1869-1878

Mason County Journal. Shelton, W.T.: Journal Pub. Co., 1886-1927

Morning Olympian. Olympia, Wash.: Olympian-Tribune Pub. Co., 1898-1927

News-Graphic. [Olympia, Wash.] : H.M. Lane, 1940-

Pioneer and Democrat. Olympia, Wash. Territory [Wash.]: Berry, Doyle & Co., 1854-1861

Washington Standard. Olympia, Wash. Territory: John M. Murphy, 1860-1921


Journals / Periodicals

Information Outlook: the monthly magazine of the Special Libraries Association. Washington, D.C.: c1997-

Pacific Northwest Quarterly. Seattle, University of Washington in cooperation with Washington State Historical Society [etc., f/k/a Washington historical quarterly.]  Note: of particular use was Hazel E. Mills’ article “Governor Isaac I. Stevens and the Washington Territorial Library.” Vol. 53 (January 1962): 1-16.

Tacoma News Tribune Magazine. Tacoma, Wash.: Tribune Pub. Co., 1922-1987

Washington Education Magazine. Federal Way, WA: Washington Education Association.


Online Resources

Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Oral history interview with Paul Thiry, 1983 Sept. 15-Sept. 16,

City of Olympia Historic Preservation Program. “Olympia Downtown Historic District [PDF.]” Last accessed 2009.08.18 at 14:32 PST. - Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History.

Thurston Regional Planning Council. A Guide to Olympia's Past. Last accessed 2010.07.28 at 10:08 PST.

Thurston Regional Planning Council. “Programs: Historic Preservation” Last accessed 2009.08.18 at 14:34 PST.

Washington State Courts. Washington State Courts: State Law Library [website.]  Last accessed 2009.08.18 at 14:30 PST.

Washington State Department of Natural Resources. “Earthquakes in Washington” Last accessed 2009.08.18 at 14:36 PST.

Washington State Oral History Program, Office of the Secretary of State. Joel M. Pritchard: An Oral History, September 1996 - October 1997, Washington

Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. “About OSPI: The Old Capitol Building continues to serve.”   Last accessed 2009.08.18 at 14:31 PST.

Willis, Steven; et. al. “Heart of Olympia?  4th & Cap” [Weblog post re: History of buildings and happenings on 4th Street and Capitol Boulevard.] Last accessed 2009.08.18 at 14:29 PST.


Miscellaneous Resources

Washington State Library’s card catalog and vertical files – particularly the Libraries. Territorial. entries.


This history could not have been completed without the assistance of a number of library staff:  Steven Willis, Katherine Hamilton-Wang, Shirley Lewis, and Diane Hutchins (in no particular order) were indispensible in feeding me leads and helping to clarify murky statements into clear details.  I wish to offer my endless thanks to all of them and the other fine folks here at the State Library. – Sean Lanksbury.