Staff Spotlight: Jessica Anderson

May 6th, 2016 by Donna McBain Evans

Jessica_AndersonJessica Anderson is a librarian at the Elisabeth C. Miller Library at the University of Washington Botanic Gardens.  Most days you will see Jessica at the Reference desk, doing research or providing answers to gardening questions.

Jessica moved to Seattle from the Southwest to attend the University of Washington, earning her Masters in Library and Information Science in 2010.  As an undergraduate, Jessica began working at the Natural Sciences Library inside of the Suzzallo-Allen Library on the main campus.  Once graduated, she began volunteering at the Miller Library.

“I became fascinated by all the books on horticulture,” she notes,  “and checked out dozens of books on growing edible plants.  Then I began experimenting at home.”

Jessica is now a full-fledged urban farmer and maintains an edible garden of fruits and vegetables, complete with chickens in her small backyard.

At her work in the Miller library, Jessica performs varied tasks including managing the print and electronic serials collection (subscriptions, renewals, receipt records, claiming, and archiving), supervising volunteers, and tracking purchase orders and library supplies.  Her favorite part of her job is learning new things from the research questions she is asked via the Plant Answer Line Service.

“I feel so lucky to work at a place where I spend my time with patrons answering questions about plants,” she glows.

She also feels fortunate to work next to the Union Bay Natural Area loop trail, where she often walks and, when it is clear, looks out toward the mountains across Lake Washington.

When the weather is not so nice and she is not working, Jessica joins a meet-up group to play board games.  And her favorite plant?  The Saucer Magnolia tree (Magnolia x soulangeana), with its large fragrant blossoms in spring.saucer-magnolia

“Especially after a long winter, it is a welcome sight to see a magnolia in full bloom!”

Staff Spotlight: Laura Blumhagen

April 8th, 2016 by Donna McBain Evans
Laura on a favorite hiking trail

Laura on a favorite hiking trail

Laura is an Information Specialist with the Elisabeth C. Miller Library. She works half-time, dividing her time between reference services, working on Leaflet newsletters, taking care of the library’s offerings for children and teachers (including monthly story programs), as well as choosing new curriculum and children’s books.

Laura is from Coeur d’Alene, ID. Her parents (retired from public library work with children, and teaching high school Latin and English) grew up in Seattle. Laura came here in 1992 to study Arabic at UW.

In her free time she enjoys hiking, swimming, photography, and beach rambles all around Puget Sound and the Olympic Peninsula. Reading, graphic design, cooking, and gardening keep her busy at home. Her family garden is just big enough to grow plums, blackberries, grapes, and herbs, along with a few favorite shrubs and perennials.
Although Laura’s major field of study was Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, her favorite class was Plant Identification – a series of two courses taught at the Washington Park Arboretum; in those days by Professors Clement Hamilton and Matsuo Tsukada. Laura states the chance to explore the green world and learn plant recognition characteristics from these experts was well worth the rushed commute from the main campus across the Montlake Bridge to the Arboretum.

Laura comes from a family that values libraries and learning, as well as gardening. While she was a UW student, she worked at Suzzallo Library. After her Plant Identification and Plant Propagation courses, she volunteered with the Arboretum, Plant Propagation Unit, helping to keep starts watered during the summer of 1995. When summer was over, her supervisor, Barbara Selemon, suggested she look into volunteering with the library, since they needed year-round help. Brian Thompson, Martha Ferguson, and the rest of the library staff were amazing teachers and mentors for her, right from the start. Over the years, volunteering turned into part-time and then half-time employment as her skills and responsibilities grew.

Because Laura’s duties are so varied, no day is typical, and she loves that! She said that on a given workday she is likely to answer a few telephone and email reference questions, assist several researchers in finding materials on their topic, lead students on a tour, and/or set up a display of books. She helps process donated books, edits newsletter articles, and answers questions about the collections and exhibits. She especially enjoys the families and school groups who visit the library to hear stories and do craft projects, and loves selecting a few new items to add to the Children’s and Parent/Teacher Resource collections each month. Her absolute favorite task, though, is “working one-on-one with readers of all ages to find the information they are seeking, especially when they don’t know exactly what they’re looking for.”

Laura’s favorite place at UW Botanic Gardens is the Pinetum in the Arboretum, which has a special place in her heart. She has happy memories of rushing across the footbridge to get to her Plant ID section only a little late. Now that she is not in such a rush, Laura treasures meditative time spent in the grove of Sequoiadendron giganteum and Sequoia sempervirens.

Laura thinks her favorite plant may be Arbutus menziesii. “It’s hard to choose; there are so many plants I love, and our native plants seem to me to be a community that is more than the sum of its parts.” She said she loves the colors of madrona, with its peeling bark and dramatic silouette; it reminds her of her grandmother’s garden. “Grandma grew up in Bellingham. She had a keen eye for design along with a love for Northwest native plants, and she and Grandpa kept a stand of madronas near the house where my mother grew up, in Burien. As a small child I remember playing with the strips of bark and the tough leaves, and being fascinated by the interesting red seeds peeking out of their brown cases.”

Volunteer Spotlight: Kirsten Rasmussen

March 25th, 2016 by Donna McBain Evans

Kirsten Rasmussen

Kirsten is a Volunteer at the Elisabeth C. Miller Library.  She grew up in Denmark near Copenhagen and relocated to the Seattle area in October of 2011.  Kirsten likes to garden, knit, and sing in her free time.

She has a BS in biochemistry and biology and a BS in library and information science.  Her favorite classes in college were evolution and classification of higher plants, native plant identification, and information retrieval.  Kirsten enjoys solving puzzles, finding information and facts, relevance, and providing research assistance.

A typical day at UW Botanic Gardens includes working in the collection and editing records; she enjoys combining her love of plants and libraries!

The Fragrance Garden at the Center for Urban Horticulture in early spring is her favorite place at UW Botanic Gardens.

Her favorite indoor plant is the Paphiopedilum spp. (a type of orchid) because they are easy to grow, great variety, and it is such a joy to watch them bloom.

Anemone hepatica (syn. Hepatica nobilis) is her favorite outdoor plant because it reminds her of a song/poem and the flowers have the most beautiful and vibrant shade of blue.

 

 

 

Staff Spotlight: Rebecca Alexander

March 11th, 2016 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor
Rebecca_Alexander_1

Rebecca in the Washington Park Arboretum

Rebecca Alexander is the Plant Answer Line librarian in the Elisabeth C. Miller Library. In addition to providing reference services, she works on acquisitions, cataloging, and a wide assortment of tasks including editing Miller Library and other publications, and updating the library’s database of questions and answers.

My beautiful picture

A younger Rebecca at the former Union Bay Circle, now the site of the Center for Urban Horticulture

Rebecca grew up in Seattle and spent some of her early childhood years living near the current site of the Douglas greenhouses at the Center for Urban Horticulture. Later on, she lived in the last house before the E. Lynn Street bridge into the Washington Park Arboretum, but her family was forced to move when the SR 520 Ramps to Nowhere were built. Rebecca has also lived in Jerusalem, Berkeley, and Brooklyn. In her spare time, she works in the garden, takes long walks with the dog, bakes bread and pastries, and writes poems.

She has a Master of Library and Information Science degree from the University of Washington, and a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting from Pratt Institute in New York. She also studied French, and Near Eastern languages and literature. College was long ago, but two classes stand out as favorites: a course in Egyptology at Hebrew University in Jerusalem which culminated in a bus trip to Egypt, and a survey of African American History at U.C. Berkeley, both of which shaped her world view as a young adult.

Rebecca was a work-study employee in the Arboretum’s Education Department in the late 1980s to early 1990s while she was in library school. She hoped to work in the Miller Library one day, but it took a while to wend her way back. She began volunteering in the library in 2005, and became a staff member in 2006. The landscapes of the Arboretum, Union Bay Natural Area, and the Center for Urban Horticulture have been a part of her life since she was a small child. She finds it heartening to work in a place that has been so transformed (for the better!).

As the Plant Answer Line librarian, Rebecca answers a lot of questions from the public (in person, by email, and on the phone). She has learned to expect the unexpected, and enjoys finding useful information (in the library’s resources and beyond) and solving mysteries. Every day at work is different. She seeks out new titles to consider, orders books, and catalogs new additions to the collection. At any given moment, she might be working on her quarterly article for the Arboretum Bulletin, assessing a donation of books, compiling library statistics, creating an original cataloging record for a student thesis, updating a booklist, replacing dead links in the Gardening Answers Knowledgebase, or writing a book review.

Rebecca said there are too many special places at UW Botanic Gardens to name just one favorite place. She likes eating lunch on the slab of rock in Goodfellow Grove at the Center for Urban Horticulture. In the Arboretum, she enjoys spying hummingbirds in the Winter Garden and on the Grevillea behind the greenhouse, and brushing the needles of the Montezuma pine in Crabapple Meadow.

She does not have a favorite plant but is fond of Mediterranean plants like Phlomis and Halimium. Grey and fuzzy things catch her eye. They aren’t all fond of wet winters, so she has lost a few. She would love to add a Callistemon and an upright manzanita to her tiny garden, but it might mean evicting something else first!

Love Plants? Love Books? Don’t Miss the Garden Lovers’ Book Sale April 2nd

March 4th, 2016 by UWBG Communication Staff

Love gardening, plants, trees, flowers, or growing food?
Can’t pass up a bargain?
Then you won’t want to miss the 11th annual GARDEN LOVERS’ BOOK SALE of used books at the Center for Urban Horticulture.

booksale-booksThis important benefit for the Elisabeth C. Miller Library funds the purchase of new books and magazine subscriptions.

The sale on Saturday, April 2 from 9am to 3pm is free and open to everyone at the Center for Urban Horticulture, 3501 NE 41st Street, Seattle, 98105.

Beautiful art will also be on exhibit and for sale from the Pacific Northwest Botanical Artists.

hummingbird and lonicera

Botanical illustration prints and original works will be on exhibit and for sale through May 7. Illustration by Margaret Trent

The Garden Lovers’ Book Sale Preview Party is on Friday, April 1, 5 – 8pm

photo

Why are these women smiling? Because they are thrilled with the fantastic plant books deals!

Enjoy wine and light refreshments while browsing a fantastic selection of gardening books. Advance tickets cost $25; $30 at the door.
To purchase tickets call 206-543-0415.

Art Exhibit: Al Dodson Photography

December 29th, 2015 by UWBG Communication Staff

AL Dodson photo of barkNorthwest native and trained botanist, Al Dodson, is intimately familiar with plants of all kinds. He loves photographing their more subtle and elusive qualities and bringing them to light so that the more casual observer might appreciate them. Bark, for example, can have beautiful color, texture, and pattern that often goes unnoticed.

Come view Al’s photos in the Library January 2 through February 12th.

Holiday Art, Craft & Gift Sale in the Miller Library

November 30th, 2015 by UWBG Communication Staff

2015DecemberShowGet your shopping done early and support local artists! We invite our patrons to join us for a reception on Friday, December 4th, 5 to 7pm. Exhibit and sale runs through December 23rd, we’ll have a selection of locally made arts and crafts available for purchase at the Miller Library.

Cash* or Check only please! 25% of proceeds benefit the Miller Library.

Artists participating this year are:

  • ANN GIRARDE, garden inspired wreaths
  • DOROTHY CRANDELL, elegant jewelry
  • JENNY CRAIG, Notta Pixie Press, vintage letterpress cards and gifts
  • MOLLY HASHIMOTO, nature-inspired watercolor paintings, prints, cards and calendars
  • JENNIFER CARLSON, felt veggie ornaments and lavender wands
  • SYLVIA PORTILLO, The Human Hand Card Company, cards, prints, dioramas and botanically inspired, felted wool, wearable flowers
  • JOAN HELBACKA, hand-bound notebooks
  • MICHELLE SMITH-LEWIS, cyanotype botanical print fabric
  • JOEL BIDNICK, mini aqua-systems
  • AL DODSON, photographs

Center for Urban Horticulture, 3501 NE 41st Street, Seattle, 98105

*some artists may accept credit card at the reception on 12/4

Staff Spotlight: Tracy Mehlin

September 25th, 2015 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor
Tracy_Mehlin

Tracy visiting The Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island

Tracy is the Information Technology Librarian in the Elisabeth C. Miller Library.

She grew up in the Southwest, in Southern California and Las Vegas. She has been interested in plants since childhood, and one of her earliest gardening memories is selecting bulbs and roses from the Jackson and Perkins catalog to plant at  their house in the high desert. She moved to Seattle after college in 1996 because her sister lived here. She hadn’t planned to stay long, but got a job at a botanic garden, got married, and bought a house, setting down really deep roots! Now she spends time gardening, cooking, reading,  knitting, and enjoying the many varied restaurants of Ballard.

Tracy has a BA in Social Science and a minor in International Relations from Humboldt State University in Arcata, California. She really enjoyed all her major classes in history, geography, political science, economics, and anthropology, but her favorite class was on Mexican history and culture. She also holds a Masters of Library and Information Science from UW.

Tracy became interested in UW Botanic Gardens when she read Val Easton’s column in the Seattle Times and noticed her byline, which said she was a horticultural librarian. She thought to herself that she finally had figured out what she wants to do with her life! She started volunteering in the Library autumn of 1999, was hired by the following winter, and started grad school in August 2000.

Tracy manages the websites of the Miller Library and the UW Botanic Gardens, so usually every day she edits or adds new content.  She assists patrons and fellow coworkers with computer and technology questions, and works on various projects as they come up, such as working with a vendor to redesign the interactive map of the Arboretum so that it works on smartphones.

Tracy really enjoys talking to patrons and coworkers about plants and feels so lucky to work here!
Her favorite place at the UW Botanic Gardens is walking from Merrill Hall to Douglas Conservatory because that takes her through three beautiful, dynamic gardens that have something interesting growing all year.

Tracy’s current favorite plant is the tomato. Really! She has five in her garden and is struck by how much she enjoys tending to them. They get planted in late May as tiny little things, then grow amazingly fast, especially this year with the hot, sunny weather. Two plants are already six feet tall. She loves the way the foliage smells. Tracy finds pruning and training them to grow on rebar stakes challenges her live-and-let-grow gardening attitude. Nothing is more coveted than the first ripe tomato. She also likes to make & can green tomato chutney and roasted tomato soup to savor in winter.

Art Exhibit: Now You See It! The Slime Mold Revelation

September 11th, 2015 by UWBG Communication Staff

Tuesday, September 15 – Friday, October 30

slime mold artWhat do evolution and the Emperor of Japan have to do with art about slime molds? Now You See It! The Slime Mold Revelation reveals the stories behind four centuries of artistic devotion to these otherworldly organisms. Just what are slime molds? Worldwide, one-celled bacteria-munching travelers of the earth beneath your feet. Shimmering rainbow-colored spore-filled protists on your rosebush. Tiny dwellers of the arctic, the rainforest, and the desert. Now You See It! is a colorful foray into a little-known world: a visual and scientific delight for all ages. Come confused, leave stupefied. Curator Angela Mele is a scientific illustrator finishing the illustrations for a field guide to cosmopolitan slime molds. She recently received a Master’s of Museum Studies from the University of Washington.
The artist invites you to a reception at the Miller Library on Friday, September 18 from 5:00 to 7:00pm.

Hear Angela recount how she got started with slime molds in this interview by KPLU.

Art Exhibit: Now You See It! The Slime Mold Revelation

September 4th, 2015 by UWBG Communication Staff

Tuesday, September 15 – Friday, October 30
Slime mold artwork by Angela Mele

What do evolution and the Emperor of Japan have to do with art about slime molds? Now You See It! The Slime Mold Revelation reveals the stories behind four centuries of artistic devotion to these otherworldly organisms. Just what are slime molds? Worldwide, one-celled bacteria-munching travelers of the earth beneath your feet. Shimmering rainbow-colored spore-filled protists on your rosebush. Tiny dwellers of the arctic, the rainforest, and the desert. Now You See It! is a colorful foray into a little-known world: a visual and scientific delight for all ages. Come confused, leave stupefied. Curator Angela Mele is a scientific illustrator finishing the illustrations for a field guide to cosmopolitan slime molds. She recently received a Master’s of Museum Studies from the University of Washington.

The artist invites you to a reception at the Miller Library on Friday, September 18 from 5:00 to 7:00pm.