News

Plateau history part of state's program

By Kevin Hanson

The Courier-Herald

A sampling of Enumclaw's historic past will forever be preserved in statewide archives, thanks to an agreement involving the city, the Enumclaw Plateau Historical Society and the Washington State Library.

Bob Baer, the city's community services director and director of the city library, has coordinated the effort on the city's behalf.

Between the library and historical society, Baer said, there's an eclectic collection of items tracing the history of the Enumclaw Plateau. Included is everything from still photographs and postcards to recorded oral histories.

Getting much of the collection identified, catalogued and formatted so it's available to the public “is something I've always wanted to do,” Baer said.

That opportunity came when the State Library - which functions under the umbrella of the Office of the Secretary of State - announced a trial program. If chosen, the state would make staff and equipment available through its Washington Rural Heritage Project. Baer put Enumclaw's name in for consideration and was pleased to be accepted as the second organization admitted into the program after the eastern Washington community of Ritzville.

Laura Robinson, a project manager with the Rural Heritage Project, spent a week in Enumclaw last fall. She arrived with a large-format camera and a scanner and worked with the local staff to digitally capture items housed in the library's Schlotfeldt Pioneer Special Collection. Initially, 88 items were added to the State Library site.

“Our intent is to help local libraries take a leadership role in their communities,” Robinson said, addressing the need to document the history of Washington's smaller cities and towns. “Libraries have taken in collections but haven't known what to do with them.”

Through the Rural Heritage Project, library collections will become part of a central database and available to anyone with online capability. Links will be available through local libraries or the State Library site.

An advantage of being selected as one of the “trial” libraries, Baer said, is that Enumclaw can now apply for grant money necessary to purchase equipment needed to continue adding to the online collection. Once 200 items are digitized and added to Enumclaw's online collection, it will become part of the State Library site and made available to the general public.

Other than staff time, linking with the Rural Heritage Project came at no cost to the city.

Kevin Hanson can be reached at khanson@courierherald.com.

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