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MAY 2019


Welcome from the Director
Welcome to May at the Library!

We have quite a range of items in this month’s newsletter.

First, be sure to make a note of our Coast Salish program this month, at 6 pm on Saturday the 18th, when acclaimed musician and storyteller Swil Kanim will visit us. In addition to the information in this newsletter, you can read more about him at or by looking up one of his TEDx talks on YouTube:
We continue planning to purchase and install an outdoor xylophone, which will be a nice feature in our improved southwest patio area. If you’d like to help us with the purchase cost, please contact me. We have it half-funded, and are in search of another $700. Also, we will looking into seating options for the new patio area, which will feature great views into Eastsound and toward Mount Constitution and Buck Mountain. Both of these new features will be great opportunities for placing plaques in honor of your favorite relative or author.

And now for something a bit different: The Library is going to test out the idea of offering coffee and other refreshments as a six-month pilot project. I will be happy to share our Request for Proposals with anyone interested in offering this service in and around the Library building. Just email me at

Be sure to look at the items about the Seed Library, our overflowing Lost and Found bin, and genealogy club. And thank you for your patience while we close the Library for staff training tomorrow!

Phil Heikkinen, Library Director.

2019 Coast Salish Speaker Series
Saturday May 18 at 6pm
Swil Kanim 

Swil Kanim shares traditional songs and stories of the Coast Salish peoples.

The Coast Salish Speaker Series brings a unique opportunity for engagement with Coast Salish peoples to promote understanding of the culture, art, and history of First Nation’s communities. The Series was underwritten by a grant from San Juan County and supported by San Juan Islands National Monument, Lopez Island Library, San Juan Island Library, and Friends of the Orcas Island Library. The series will include two more Coast Salish speakers throughout the summer months of 2019.

The Coast Salish peoples inhabit the Northwest Coast of North America, from the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon, north to Bute Inlet in British Columbia. Coast Salish territories include much of the ecologically diverse Georgia Basin and Puget Sound known as the Salish Sea. 

Swil Kanim is a member of the Lummi nation and is a storyteller, classically trained violinist, and US Army veteran. He travels extensively throughout the United States, performing his original composition music and native storytelling.  Kanim considers himself and his music to be the product of a well-supported public school music program. Music and the performance of music helped him to process the traumas associated with his early placement into the foster care system. Swil Kanim’s compositions incorporate classical influences as well as musical interpretations of his journey from depression and despair to spiritual and emotional freedom. The music and stories that emerge from his experiences have been transformative for many audiences.

What could be a better way to celebrate “History Lives Here” month (May) in the San Juan lslands than to attend the upcoming Orcas Island Genealogy Club meeting?  The May 21 gathering will focus on some of the cemeteries on Orcas Island and share information on how to look for the final resting place of your ancestors (or famous people) elsewhere!  We’ve all heard of the Pike Place Market in Seattle…did you know that the man it was named after is buried here on Orcas?

Pierrette Guimond, long-term member and current chair of the San Juan Cemetery District #3 and Thomas Tillman, local history buff, will be the speakers.  A field trip to Mt. Baker Cemetery will be included in the meeting time (10:30 to 12:30) and as an extra bonus for those who can stay after the meeting, we will take a guided tour of Woodlawn Cemetery at 12:30.

The Orcas Island Genealogy Club is free and open to anyone who is interested in exploring family genealogy--whether you have years of experience or are just wanting to begin now. The monthly meetings happen on the third Tuesday of the month in the library Community Meeting Room from 10:30-12:30. The next meeting is on Tuesday, May 21. You do not need an internet device for this meeting.

Coordinators, Vicki Leimback, Rebecca Johnson and Kathi Ciskowski are passionate about research and will bring their organizational and genealogical skills and resources to share.  ​​All three live on Orcas.  Call either Vicki (206-714-3348), Rebecca (360-298-6007) or Kathi (360-376-4186) for more information.


Orcas Library Spring Seed Update

From seed librarian Katie Wilkins

Spring is in full swing, and now is a good time to stop by the Orcas Seed Library to get some island-grown seeds for your garden. The Seed Library is located in the original part of the Orcas library building in front of the fiction shelves, and is home to an array of seeds including vegetables, flowers, herbs, native plants, and small grains that are well-adapted to our climate. Checking out seeds is easy—find the seeds you want to grow, put what you need (based on how much is available) in one of the provided envelopes, and fill out the green check-out binder with your name and the kind of seed you are borrowing. Then take the seed home, grow and enjoy your plants, and save some seed. Make sure you keep seed for yourself, and bring some back to the seed library so we can keep the cycle going. The Seed Library is stocked entirely with donations from local growers like you.


This year there is a new way you can help the Seed Library thrive: adopt a bean! If you love growing and eating beans, like I do, you know that there are a million shapes and colors and flavors to try—more than you could possibly fit into one garden. It gets extra-interesting when there is a healthy population of pollinators around to mix up those bean genetics for you. This is good fun for bean breeders, but not so great if you are trying to maintain that hundred-year-old bean variety that your Aunt Betty passed down to you.

Many of the bean varieties in the seed library are donations from the Orcas Island Seed Bank, which is a volunteer effort that I undertake with the help of my partner, Dan Borman. We grow, maintain, and distribute hundreds of varieties of locally-adapted staple crop seed--like grains and beans--to interested community members, free of charge. We have over fifty varieties of beans, and are discovering that it is a big challenge to maintain them all as separate varieties, due to limited space and active pollinators. Since variety is the spice of life, and an all-around good idea in terms of promoting biodiversity and food security, we are asking for your help.

How does it work?

For the month of May, there will be a display next to the seed library of all the different beans that the Orcas Island Seed Bank is offering up for adoption. There will also be envelopes and a sign-up sheet on the cart. You get to choose a bean that calls out to you, fill out your name on the sign-up sheet, and take some seeds home to grow. The only hitch is that you just grow that one variety of bean, or grow it far enough from your other varieties that they are unlikely to cross. Since beans can be self-pollinated, it only takes one plant to keep the variety going. It can even live in a container on a sunny porch. You then save seeds from your adopted bean and bring some back to the seed library. The bottom drawer of the seed library is dedicated to seed returns. Some of your bean seeds will go back into circulation in the seed library, and some will go to the Orcas Island Seed Bank for preservation and further distribution. If you have any questions about adopt-a-bean, or are curious to learn more about the Seed Library or Orcas Island Seed Bank, please do not hesitate to contact me, either in person or by email:

Come check out the bean selection soon—prime time for planting beans is mid-May until the first week of June.

Thanks for saving seeds!

Last Chance Lost and Found

Can't find your hat? Water bottle? Shopping bag? Favorite stuffed animal? Come check at the last chance lost and found in the library south lobby, next to Dido the Donkey. The last chance lost and found will be here until May 15th, and then all remaining items will be donated to the Exchange. 
This spring and summer the Library will be continuing improvements to the south veranda, to include a stone patio and more seating.  We invite donations for an outdoor musical feature that we are considering for this space. Please take a look at the example pictured here and contact Phil if you are interested. 
Please join us for bilingual storytimes every second and fourth Thursdays of the month from 11:00-11:30 am, with storyteller Wendy Vallejo.  Children five & under and their caregivers are encouraged to join us!


New Books - Fiction

New Books - Non-fiction

Copyright © 2019, Orcas Island Library District All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
500 Rose Street
Eastsound, WA 98245

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