News & Stories

‘It just takes 1 person to speak up’: Scholarship winner celebrates activism of Tulalip leader

Having spent childhood summers with her grandparents in Haines, Alaska, among the Tlingit Indian Tribe, Julianna Folta grew up with an appreciation for indigenous cultures.

So when she learned about indigenous rights activist Deborah Parker while searching for inspiration for the Stim Bullitt Civic Courage Scholarship contest, she knew the Tulalip leader was the ideal figure for her to explore.

“It just felt like it clicked,” says Julianna, an 18-year-old junior at Cascadia College in Bothell. “It felt like the best person to write about, the person I most connected to.”

Julianna’s essay on Deborah “Tsi-Cy-Altsa” Parker earned her the first-place prize in the Foundation’s eighth-annual scholarship contest, winning $5,000 toward college tuition.

“She came from a background that was very humble and often beats down people from being able to rise up because of cycles of violence and abuse and systemic oppression,” Julianna says of Parker.

As a policy analyst for the Tulalip Tribes of Washington, Parker took a particular interest in advocating for tribes’ rights to exercise criminal jurisdiction on their reservations; previously, non-native people accused of committing crimes on native land could not be prosecuted.

Her time on the national stage arrived just ahead of the 2013 re-authorization of the federal Violence Against Women Act, which was slated to include additional reforms, such as special protections for LGBTQ and immigrant survivors.

But indigenous women were left out.

A meeting with U.S. Sen. Patty Murray in Washington, D.C. led to Parker becoming the face of the reform effort for Native American women. And, despite having never gone public with the violence she experienced, she told her story to the nation – which led to protections for indigenous women being included in the newly reauthorized law.

“Her strength and ability to fight and actively working towards promoting her community was really inspiring to me, as well as the fact that she took so many personal risks,” Julianna adds. “It just takes one person to speak up and evoke community action. It makes you feel less alone.”

Julianna grew up in Guam and Saipan before moving to the Seattle area as a teenager, where she attended Inglemoor High School in Kenmore. Running Start classes allowed her to earn enough college credit to enter Cascadia College as a junior.

She aims to earn a Bachelor of Applied Science in Sustainable Practices. She is passionate about fostering sustainable and equitable food production and improving access to healthy food in low-income communities.

Writing about Parker allowed Julianna to learn about the inspiring and transformative figures around us, she says.

“I hope it inspires people to take a deeper look at the figures surrounding the area and the impact happening around the community,” Julianna says. “And it also makes you take a look at the injustices happening around us.”

Read Julianna’s essay about Deborah Parker.

Learn more about the Stim Bullitt Civic Courage Scholarship and the two runners-up.

Stim Bullitt scholarship winners celebrate trailblazers who shaped Washington

The Seattle Public Library Foundation is pleased to announce the three winners of the 2021 Stim Bullitt Civic Courage Scholarship.

First-place winner Julianna Folta and runners-up Eric Anthony Souza-Ponce and Taylor Yingshi each won tuition support from the Foundation by writing essays on courageous Washingtonians who made their communities a better place by fighting for their ideals.

Running 8 years strong, the essay contest honors the legacy of the late Library supporter, community leader, and activist Stimson Bullitt, who believed that civic leadership could make a lasting positive impact on society. The contest challenges local high school and college students to write an essay about an individual or group from Washington state who demonstrated the courage to advance an important community issue at great personal, political, or professional risk.

Each year, $10,000 is divided among three outstanding students and their essays are permanently cataloged in The Seattle Public Library’s Seattle Room.

We are grateful for the time and efforts of the local authors who judged the finalists: Kristen Millares Young, Jon Krakauer, and Jonathan Raban.

Winner Julianna Folta, who earned $5,000, wrote about Deborah “Tsi-Cy-Altsa” Parker, a Tulalip tribal leader who advocated for the protection of indigenous survivors in the federal Violence Against Women Act. Eric Anthony Souza-Ponce and Taylor Yingshi, who won $2,500 each, wrote about Nisqually tribal activist Billy Frank, Jr., and Seattle’s first elected official of color Wing Luke, respectively.

Congratulations to our winners!

Julianna Folta
Junior, Cascadia College
$5,000 scholarship
“Deborah ‘Tsi-Cy-Altsa’ Parker”



Eric Anthony Ponce-Souza
Ballard High School
Entering Western Washington University
$2,500 scholarship
“How a Nisqually Icon Freed the River”



Taylor Yingshi
Issaquah High School
Entering Columbia University
$2,500 scholarship
“The Flap of a Wing, the Overhaul of a City: Seattle’s First Asian-American Councilman”



Learn more about the Stim Bullitt Civic Courage Scholarship.

Book Bingo season is here!

The wait is over! Start your summer reading NOW with the 2021 Book Bingo!

Adult Book Bingo, created by a partnership between the Library and Seattle Arts and Lectures, employs a local artist to create a bingo board of reading challenges that can be returned to the Library for the chance to win prizes.

This year’s Adult Book Bingo was illustrated by Tessa Hulls, a local artist who is working on a graphic memoir set to debut in 2023.

“This year, Seattle Arts & Lectures and The Seattle Public Library wanted to center joy as well as a commitment to equity and inclusion in our category selections,” says Misha Stone, Reader Services librarian at The Seattle Public Library. “We are grateful to our passionate, engaged reading community!”

A Spanish Book Bingo is also available, with the help of Seattle Escribe, Washington state’s largest group of Spanish-speaking writers. Seattle Escribe contributed “transcreation,” which is a type of translation that not just provides literal translations but adapts text to Spanish-speaking culture and context.

Book Bingo categories include “speculative fiction,” “on your shelf,” and “Black joy.”

You have until Sept. 7 to achieve a bingo or even a blackout. Download your Book Bingo board – and find some book suggestions! – at

Kids take a stroll in the park with the Library

As part of the Earth Week StoryWalks, Herring’s House Park (Tualtwx), near the Duwamish Longhouse, featured a guided walk with the book, “We Are Water Protectors” by Carole Lindstrom and Michaela Goade. (Photo by Warren Chin, SPL)

The Seattle Public Library teamed up with Seattle Parks & Recreation last month to celebrate a kid-friendly Earth Week with four StoryWalks® installed at four parks throughout Seattle.

The purpose was to offer a family-friendly activity in outdoor settings that fosters a connection between nature and literature.

Pages of children’s picture books were installed in displays throughout each park to create a guided walk as the story progresses, which makes the activity socially distant by nature. StoryWalks® encourage reading, imagination, fitness, and exploring your community.

“We brought StoryWalks® to Seattle because we knew that the community (would) find it an enjoyable and safe way to recreate,” says Lan Lum, a community naturalist at Seattle Parks & Recreation. “StoryWalks® have the potential to connect people to books, nature, and each other. They can provide meaningful shared experiences and spark conversations among families and friends.”

The book and park pairings were: Harlem Grown by Tony Hillery and Jessie Hartland at Genesee Park, The Storm Whale by Benji Davies at Magnuson Park, The Tin Forest, by Helen Ward and Wayne Anderson at Northacres Park, and We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom and Michaela Goade at Herring’s House Park (Tualtwx). The Herring’s House Park StoryWalk® was offered in partnership with the nearby Duwamish Longhouse.

Louisa Storer, Children’s Services librarian at the Broadview Branch, selected the four books to go with each park and the Foundation supported the purchase of the books used in each StoryWalk®. The four parks were chosen because they are in different areas of Seattle, are easily accessible by public transportation, and serve some of our most diverse and underserved communities.

The StoryWalks® were exhibited at the parks from April 21 to April 24. The Library and Seattle Parks & Recreation may work on future StoryWalks® together.

The StoryWalk® Project was originally created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, Vermont and developed with the Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition and the Kellogg Hubbard Library.

‘The Power of Planning’: A resource list to help plan your aging journey

Watch the full program, “The Power of Planning: Taking Control of Your Own Aging Journey,” with Lisa Mayfield and Janet L. Smith.

The Seattle Public Library Foundation and King County Library System Foundation host quarterly planned giving seminars for our communities.

Certified Care Manager Lisa Mayfield, founder and co-principal of Aging Wisdom, and Elder Law Attorney Janet L. Smith, founder of Northwest Elder Law Group PLLC, joined us May 13, 2021, for their program, “The Power of Planning: Taking Control of Your Own Aging Journey.”

If you missed this informative webinar, click on the video above!

For those who tuned in, we’ve compiled a list of resources recommended by our panelists so you can continue your education on this important topic.

If you’d like to receive invitations for upcoming webinars, contact us at

Happy reading!


Curated reading lists from SPL:

The Power of Planning

Alzheimer’s and Memory Loss


Death and Dying

Estate Planning

Quick guides to keep handy:

More resources and programs for older adults can be found at SPL’s Next Chapter page.

It’s time to GiveBIG for your Library!

Now is the time to help set the Library up for success for the rest of 2021 with GiveBIG – and for a limited time, your gift to the Library will be DOUBLED!

GiveBIG, May 4-5, is an annual statewide online giving campaign that elevates your favorite local charities.

This year, five generous library champions will double each gift up to $25,000, letting your gift work TWICE as hard toward supporting books, free programs, and equity-focused community services that enrich our city.

Give now!

Summer of Learning is approaching quickly, which helps students continue learning in the crucial off-school months. Your gift today can help us achieve our summer goal of putting 9,800 books in the homes of children and teens.

Your matched gift NOW will not only support Summer of Learning, it will help fund interactive online programs, author events, and access to technology that will connect people of all ages to information, ideas, and inspiration.

Thanks to its amazing donors, the Foundation helps the Library expand its services by funding more than 45 free educational programs and about 1 in 4 books on the Library’s shelves – that’s above and beyond what public support provides. Your contribution is critical to keeping the Library strong throughout 2021.

Thank you for boosting the Library that thousands rely on each day for education and opportunity. Chip in now!

Love and affirmation in the time of COVID

Mackenzie Neusiok performs a dance piece, “Autumn,” for the November online dance festival titled “Reflections.” The event posed the question: “If you could sum 2020 up into one dance, what would it be?”

The COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affects communities of color, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – not just because of limited access to health care alone, but because people of color are more likely to be essential workers and bear the economic burden of the pandemic, among a litany of other longstanding factors exacerbated by the crisis.

Working with racial justice in mind, local BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) community partners have shown the Library how community-designed solutions can address COVID in a meaningful way: with joy and affirmation.

The Library’s Public Engagement series is designed to focus on “well-being in communities of color as one solution to racism,” says Davida Ingram, the Library’s public engagement program manager.

“I’d like to be painting a picture of what institutions can do in a moment of crisis,” she says. “As we listen to communities lead, how can we be a place of safe harbor and connection and affirmation? Our goal was to watch how communities of color were doing things through mutual aid efforts and uplift that work.”

Ingram says highlighting the strengths of communities of color can be a salve for the collective trauma people of color have experienced in the past year.

Here are examples of the programs supported by the Library:

Live events

Innovative community-led events have streamed online in 2020 and 2021. Along the way, they have showcased a rich array of local artists and provided much-needed social connection.

A November dance festival called “Reflections” was performed at the newly-reopened Pier 62 on the Downtown Seattle waterfront, featuring Black and Indigenous performers. It showcased Indigenous and Black artists and cultural groups sharing a “love letter” with the city. You can watch it here on YouTube.

The annual “Legendary Children” event also came alive online. This QTBIPOC (queer and trans Black, Indigenous and People of Color) event celebrates the house and ball culture and its long history of offering safety, solace, love, and beauty to artists. You can check out Legendary Children 2020 here.

“LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID” is an ongoing virtual series addressing social justice solutions such as abolition and mutual aid, intended to bring hope through constructive community conversations. Two events last year drew more than 500 viewers.


Working with community and city partners, the Library co-created BLOOM (Beginning Leadership for Organizing and Orchard Management), a program engaging young adults in a college-level urban farming fellowship designed to promote food security.

Eleven people ages 17 to 25 gained in-the-field experience, even picking more than 300 pounds of apples that they pressed into cider at a healing event celebrating BIPOC communities.

“The most memorable part of BLOOM 2020 was meeting other youth like me who are dedicated to building community around this idea of food justice, around loving each other and loving our food and loving the land,” says Cara, one of the participants. “These are the kinds of connections I want to keep with me in moving forward in building a world I want to see.”

Ingram says the program will resume this year in partnership with Wa Na Wari, Black Farmers Collective, and BIPOC food sovereignty and food justice groups.

Art Club

Art Club was established as a community-centered arts project at a Sand Point apartment complex to foster healing after a neighbor was killed there by police in 2017.

Art Club celebrates children as civic leaders in training. Its child-led interviews with lawyers and public health advocates have occurred online throughout the pandemic. They feature dance performances and conversations, and will culminate in a zine with a child’s view of the pandemic.

Art Club participants interviewed public health leaders from African American Health Board, Fred Hutch, and UW Medical Center about the pandemic. They also met Seattle Black Panther co-founder Aaron Dixon, who discussed the Black Panthers’ historic Breakfast Program and public health campaign with Estelita’s Library co-founder and historian Edwin Lindo.

“The behind-the-scenes intention is to celebrate brilliant young people as leaders and to create space for them to meet leaders who look just like them who are doing community-centered work in careers they may not be exposed to, like arts, law, public health, mutual aid, communications,” Ingram says.

The Seattle Public Library Foundation is proud to support public engagement and arts programming at the Library. The Library as a cultural institution seeks to ground its work in racial and social justice while serving as a place where our neighbors can express themselves, learn, and grow.

Genealogy Q&A with librarians Mahina Oshie and John LaMont

Genealogy Librarians Mahina Oshie, left, and John LaMont, right, share their depth of knowledge about the genealogy tools at your disposal.

Genealogy librarians Mahina Oshie and John LaMont joined us for an insightful episode of “Inside Your Library” April 2, walking us through everything The Seattle Public Library offers for genealogy research.

Click here to watch the full program!

Supporters submitted so many questions that we couldn’t get to them all, so Mahina and John graciously answered some additional inquiries for us to share with everyone.

Thank you to everyone who attended this fun program and for your insightful questions! Read on to learn more from Mahina and John:

Q: What’s the best way to ask John and Mahina questions about our genealogy research?

A: During the pandemic, the best way to reach us is to submit a question via the Library’s Ask Us email form. If the question is related to genealogy, it will end up in the Special Collections Department queue for Mahina or John to work on. We usually try to send a reply within 48 hours.

Ask Us:

If you would like to schedule a 30-minute appointment with us, you can do so through the form on our website:

Q: How do I get Census data?

A: You can access U.S. Census records from 1790 through 1940 online with your library card and PIN using the Library’s subscriptions to Ancestry Library Edition (remote access currently through June 2021) and Heritage Quest Online (always available remotely). You can also access these Census records at by creating a free account.

Q: tells me that SPL has a book that I would like to view. Is there a way to do that while the Library is closed due to the pandemic?

A: If you find a book in our collection, via or elsewhere, send us a request via Ask Us. Most of our genealogy collection is available for reference use only at the Central Library, but we’re happy to do look-ups and provide scans of selected pages. If we find that the book is available online, we’ll send you a link, as well.

Q: What message boards would you suggest?

A: Message boards can be great, and there are many posts to be found from the past 20 to 30 years. Personally, I tend to spend more time now on specialized Facebook groups. They’re typically more active than some of the older message boards and often you’ll find a specialist who can answer your questions. That said, you can read more about message boards and find a few links at this somewhat dated FamilySearch blog post:

FamilySearch Blog: Collaboration: Message Boards and Forums

You’ll also find links to a variety of message board resources on Cyndi’s List.

Cyndi’s List: Queries & Message Boards -> General resources

Q: Any suggestions for retracing a soldier’s movements in WWII?

A: For information on an individual soldier, you can visit the National Archives (NARA) website and request records from the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis. You can read more on the NARA site below, but currently they say, “Please refrain from submitting non-emergency requests…until we return to pre-COVID staffing levels.”

Veteran’s Service Records (via NARA):

If you know the unit and have other details already, you might have some success using the Order of Battle to determine where a given regiment was operating during the war:

Order of Battle of the U.S. Army, World War II, European Theater of Operations, Divisions:

Following are additional WWII Order of Battle books in our collection:

Seattle Public Library. Online catalog. Keyword Search for: Order of Battle World War 1939

Q: Is the National Archives on Sand Point Way still open and available for Census research?

A: According to the site, the National Archives at Seattle (located on Sand Point Way) site, they are currently closed: “The Research Room at the National Archives at Seattle, remains closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic….” They have microfilm of the U.S. Federal Census from 1790 to 1940, and likely also have access to Census records through subscription databases such as NARA has partnered with Ancestry and other to help digitize materials in their collections. For more information on the National Archives at Seattle (Sand Point Way), take a look at their website:

National Archives at Seattle:

Q: I paid for Ancestry this year.  Will I have to begin with a new tree again when I shift over to Ancestry Library?

A: Your family tree and your login will remain even after you stop paying for a subscription. You can continue to add to your tree at Ancestry with your unpaid account, but you’ll no longer have the ability to automatically add linked records to your tree from Ancestry search results. If you make your tree public and searchable, you’ll be able to access it via Ancestry Library Edition, but you won’t be able to edit it there. Ancestry Library Edition will only give you access to the content of Ancestry databases, rather than tree building, messaging, etc.

Q: Are most of the in-library resources limited to the downtown main branch? What are the major library resources that are available online from home? Are any genealogy materials available for check-out?

A: The genealogy collection at The Seattle Public Library is available on the 9th floor of the Central Library. While it’s largely a reference collection to be used at the Central Library, we do have a large collection of genealogy handbooks / guides that are available to check out. Also, we’re happy to do lookups in our materials and scan selected pages to send via email. If that doesn’t get you what you need, we will lend some family histories (call # 929.2) and local histories (call # 974-979) for reference use at your local branch. If the requested items are scarce, in poor condition, part of a multi-volume set, or unlikely to travel well, we’ll let you know the book is not available for loan.

Q: Would Daughters of the American Revolution be a possible resource? My grandmother was a member of the DAR but I don’t currently have any records.

A: The DAR Library in Washington, D.C. has a large collection of genealogy materials and they also have copies of member applications. If you don’t have copies of your grandmother’s records and research, it’s worth requesting a copy of her application and supporting materials. If you’re interested in joining the DAR, you might also contact a local chapter to see if they can help. I believe state regents and/or registrars at DAR have digital access to member applications. You’ll find additional details on their website:

Thank you, Mahina and John, for taking the time to offer additional expertise!

Putting the ‘Global’ in Global Reading Challenge

The teen interns, children’s librarians, and program manager who coordinated the Global Reading Challenge author talks pose for a Zoom photo. (Photo courtesy The Seattle Public Library)

On a Wednesday afternoon in March, Siman Nuurali, the Somali-American author of “Sadiq and the Desert Star,” spoke openly with roughly 50 kids about what it’s like to come from an immigrant family.

“I don’t want Somali kids to feel they have to choose an identity – being Somali or being American, like they’re two different things,” Nuurali said.

Of her main character, Sadiq, she added, “The life he has at home is the same life he has at school and with his friends. I wanted Somali kids to see themselves in the book.”

Such representations were an intentional feature of this year’s Global Reading Challenge, which presented Seattle’s fourth- and fifth-grade public school students with seven books to read for the citywide trivia contest, all of which were written by Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) authors.

But Global Reading Librarian Jenny Craig and Interim K-5 Program Manager Ayan Adem also wanted to reach more of the kids reflected in these books.

In partnership with Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) and East African Community Services, the Library hosted three virtual talks with Global Reading Challenge authors throughout March. The intent was to increase access to the program and reach youth furthest away from educational justice. Expertise from SHA staff led the guidance on the program design and marketing, fulfilling the Library’s goals of delivering services by centering equity and community input.

“We really relied on their direction on how to engage families,” Craig said of the community partners. “And it was really effective.”

Author Siman Nuurali, top, and Aki Kurose Middle School eighth-grader Japhia engage in a Q&A session for Seattle Housing Authority youth.

The author talks were promoted to families in the High Point, Lake City Court, NewHolly, Rainier Vista, and Yesler Terrace locations of SHA, as well as families that receive tutoring and support from East African Community Services.

According to the Library, about 62 percent of Seattle Housing Authority residents identify as Black or African – with Somali being one of the more frequently spoken languages – making for an audience that could see itself represented in authors like Nuurali.

The talks were hosted and moderated by paid teen interns – all of whom are also SHA residents – who were trained to present the program to the audience of younger kids.

Nuurali read chapters from two of her eight books in her Sadiq series and tackled questions from the kids.

Because of her experience as a Somali-American, much of the discussion centered on racial and cultural representation in children’s literature.

“I had not seen a book where main characters and supporting characters are all Somali,” Nuurali said of her childhood, adding that she wanted to reflect her five children in her books. “I wanted them to know they were present and they were seen.”

A teen moderator, eighth-grader Japhia of Aki Kurose Middle School, chimed in that people of color in media are typically comic relief side kicks or characters carrying heavy burdens.

“There’s this person of color and that person is always hurt or has a terrible background,” she said to Nuurali, thanking her for instead writing about everyday BIPOC experiences.

Nuurali also shared her favorite author – J.R.R. Tolkien – and shared her advice on writing.

“Whatever is important to you, whatever is valuable to you, what ever is true to you, that’s what you write about,” she said, adding, “Literally just write!”

Additionally, the Library worked through SHA to distribute Global Reading Challenge books – and other promotional Library materials – to about 800 fourth- and fifth-graders, allowing them to own two of the three books discussed in the author talk series.

“This partnership was very unique in the sense that this was the first time we were able to partner with SHA (locations) throughout the city,” Adem said. “That’s really, really special.”

Typically, the Global Reading Challenge engages thousands of students across Seattle Public Schools in a citywide trivia competition based on selected books, culminating in a final contest at Central Library. This year, the Library selected seven books to read and contests occurred online, only at the individual school level.

Adem and Craig estimate the virtual author talks reached more than 165 youth and families, with more to come when the events are ultimately posted to the Library’s YouTube page for kids.

“What we saw was joy, what we saw was connection, and it was because of our intentionality from the very beginning that we were able to have such a joyful program,” Adem said.

Donors to the Foundation supported the purchase and distribution of the books, the stipends for the teens, and the operation of the Global Reading Challenge program. We’re proud to celebrate 25 years of the Global Reading Challenge’s impact on fostering early reading habits and thank the Mannix Canby Foundation for being early and longtime investors in the program.

$25K in matching funds available for Library Giving Day!

The Seattle Public Library Foundation will join more than 350 library systems across North America to celebrate Library Giving Day, a national online giving event focused on library philanthropy.

Libraries continue to provide essential services our neighbors rely on, including curbside check-outs and printing, eBooks, job search assistance, online tutoring, and mobile book delivery. The Seattle Public Library has transformed the way it hosts educational classes and inspirational programs to enrich our community and entertain people of all ages.

And you can help!

Your gift can be put to work now to meet soaring eBook demand, help people build skills through online programs, and provide books to children to develop early literacy skills.

And now is a great time to give because every gift to The Seattle Public Library Foundation will be doubled up to $25,000, thanks to a generous donor. We’re also adding new match sponsors weekly.

Make a gift online here.

Friends like you have always kept The Seattle Public Library strong. Your support ensures our Library can be there for our community today and for generations to come!

Thank you for helping! Give now and see your gift doubled!