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News and Updates from the Highline Library

Gardening is my "Crazy Hobby"

Romute Barkauskaite

Library Circulation Services

Please contact Romute (a Highline alum and full-time library staff member) with questions about Inter-Library Loan (ILL) services, library circulation services, or gardening.

Gardening is “my crazy hobby.” I have a big p-patch, which I have fenced with a cute plastic fence. Since I am huge re-cycling fan, I have collected plastic bottles and used them to make all borders around the pathways. I love to grow my favorite vegetables! I plant many perennial and annual flowers for bees and hummingbirds as well.

It’s been several years since I am active gardener in Seattle Department of Neighborhoods P-Patch Community Gardening Program

There is always prehistory in every story of our lives. I have my stories to tell, and I have to mention that I really don’t like when someone looks at me and sees just a color of my skin. Not all diversities and disabilities are visible. I have experienced so many traumas in my live, but this story wouldn’t be about that. 

This story is about gardening, food and related things, like where I came from, a part of history and my lived experiences.

Romute in her garden, 2015

Romute in her garden, July 2015

I am originally from Lithuania. I grew up in a small town close to Poland border and Russian Federation, Kaliningrad Oblast border. Since being a little child, I watched TV, listened Radio and read magazines from three different countries, in three different languages: Lithuanian, Russian and Polish, and that is how I have learned Polish language (speak and read). Russian and some basic of English language I learned in the high school. However, talking about English language skill, by the time I moved to US as an adult, I had almost zero of English language skill.

Back in those days, in my small town everyone used to have their own garden. I was raised to be honest and hard worker, to show respect to food and show a gratitude to everything I have. Back in those days, to have your own garden was major food/nutrition/vegetable option. You have to grow your own vegetables if you want to have them.

At the very young age I have learned how a food gets on the table. I was probably 10 years old when first time got a summer job at Kolkhoz in preparing sweet peas for delivery to canning food factory. (Kolkhoz - a collective huge agriculture industry/business in the former Soviet Union, which included animal farms, vegetable and grain crop fields, equipment facilities, business office.) Together with other kids we were washing peas, after peas were taken out of their pods by the huge machine. 

 My parents used to have a big garden, where we were growing food for ourselves and animals (pigs, cows, chickens) as well, and for me helping them to maintain that garden was hassle as I was a kid, teen or young adult. Back in those days Lithuania was under Soviet regime, there was a Kolkhoz in our county as well. Being in Kolkhoz meant that residents, on the top of having their own gardens for their own family needs, were assigned a huge parcel in common fields to maintain: weeding, cultivating soil, harvesting vegetable, so Kolkhoz assigned workers can take vegetable to a canned food factory.  In those assigned parcels residents were working outside of their regular work hours at their regular jobs in Kolkhoz animal farms, fields, local government jobs, or other jobs they held in our district. Mostly on the weekends. For their labor they were paid so little or almost nothing. 

I don’t remember having food insecurity back in those days, but we had deficit/shortfall in so many things. I remember how some of our neighbor would yell on the street that fresh bread was delivered from district bakery. And I jump on my bicycle and ride to the grocery store, and wait in the line for a bread, while other shoppers, usually local men, would load wooden trays with bread from the truck, and take them to the grocery store. Bread is unwrapped, looks good and smells good.  My mom never made a bread, we don’t even have a brick stove, specially build for that, in our house. But I have watched all process of making bread from scratch at my neighbor’s house.

Since Singing Revolution, when Lithuania got a freedom from Soviet union in 1991, Kolkhoz system is gone together with Soviet regime.

Things have changed since then. Many people in my home town don’t have gardens anymore, they buy vegetables at local grocery stores. So, that is why when I am telling people from my home town that I have my garden and grow my food/vegetables, they are shocked, - you live in America, why do you need that garden? Can you just go and buy? My answer is “yes, I can go and buy, but I want to grow my own! That is so rewarding! I like to put my fingers in the dirt! I have a green thumb! And now no one is forcing me to do so, like in the past, I meant no one is forcing me to do gardening. 

It is so rewarding to see plants growing, to harvesting! I like to share with my friends and co-workers, and even complete strangers, since my garden is in the park, fruits of my labor! 

However, sometimes gardening can be like a therapy, sometimes like a lottery, because of moles, slugs, bugs and other creatures of nature. For example, mole lift the soil and plants will die because plants’ roots exposed to heat. Slugs can eat some plants all way down within one night.  

So, getting back to my American gardening. When I got a crazy idea to have my garden, I was gardening on my balcony on the 3rd floor for a while - growing flowers and vegetables. But because my balcony is on the east side and gets not enough sunlight, some of my plants were suffering, so I started to look for a p-patch gardening community to join.

I contacted City of Seattle Neighborhood P-Patch program.  After being on a waitlist for a while, finally I got a phone call and was invited to see p-patches at Westcrest Park. It was already beginning of July.

I got a big p-patch! 

I started working on it on July 4th, 2015. There was nothing done from previous year! There was so much work needed to be done, so at some point I though, - “oh, what have I got into!”  

I have nurtured that “piece of land” which I call “My Happy Land.” 

In Spring of 2017, I got offer to expand my p-patch by taking over common space next to my p-patch, and I took it. I have a lot to say, and I can go on and on about my garden. 

I love my garden! 

“A picture speaks more than a thousand words!” So, I am adding bunch of pictures (click link to see pictures).

Fall 2022 Student Survey

We want to know what your students think. Please encourage your students to complete our short online survey to share their thoughts and to help improve library support for students: The survey closes December 11, 2022. (And stay tuned for the upcoming faculty and staff library survey!)

We need your (gently pre-loved) books and binders!

How lovely is it that the Highline College Library's (Unofficial) Little Free Library (LFL) cart is so loved this quarter? It’s looking empty! 

If you have a (gently pre-loved) book in your office that you’re interested in donating, or a 3-ring binder, or any gently used books at home, please bring them in and put them on the LFL cart. The cart is currently outside the library classroom (206A), but it moves around the building so check with library staff if you don’t see it.

Library Database Updates

The Library Reference Department meets annually in the spring as a group to assess our collection to make sure we are prioritizing resources to support Highline students, faculty and staff. We consider various factors including cost and usage statistics. We also collect input from faculty colleagues in disciplines relevant to these resources and staff colleagues in other relevant departments. Due to annual database subscription increases and after careful consideration and reaching a department consensus based on usage statistics, feedback, and our knowledge of database use from a reference librarian perspective, the annual subscriptions to the databases listed below were not renewed:

  • CQ Researcher

  • Ebooks Clinical collection (Ebsco)

  • Films on Demand Master Career & Technical Education Package

  • WOIS (Washington State Career Information System)

The Films on Demand Academic Collection and Ebook Academic Collection (Ebsco) databases have extensive collections of online resources that will fill the need for training videos and ebooks.

Our Career and Job Research Guide has a list of alternatives to WOIS. We recommend Washington Career Bridge for its career assessment, career clusters that generally align with Degree Pathways, and links to education programs in WA State. Career One Stop provides access to occupational profiles, career related videos, and an extensive toolkit for career research. O*NET Online search over 900 occupations. For each career, it lists educational programs, job openings, and salary by state or zip code. There is also a tool for Veterans to enter their MOS to find related civilian careers.

As you are preparing for your winter quarter classes, if you have any links to databases we no longer subscribe to in Canvas or use any of these databases in your courses, please reach out to the reference librarians at and we can help you find other resources to use instead. We have a rich collection of databases spanning all disciplines. Browse our library databases by subject or A-Z list to see what’s available.


What's Up with IL (Information Literacy) Instruction at Highline?

As you might imagine, the number of library information literacy (IL) sessions we librarians teach fluctuated quite a bit during the pandemic. In the before times, we averaged the following number of IL session by quarter (all in person):

Fall = 83

Winter = 73

Spring = 69

During 2021/22, we taught the following number of IL sessions:

Fall 2021 = 28 (total), 10 (in-person), 18 (online)

Winter 2022 = 16 (total), 9 (in-person), 7 (online)

Spring 2022 = 26 (total), 23 (in-person), 2 (online)

Interesting fact #1: The longer the library building has been open after the pandemic caused it to close, the more IL sessions are moving from online to in-person:

Fall 2021: out of 28 sessions, 18 were online (64%)

Spring 2022: out of 26 sessions, 2 were online (8%)

More interesting facts:

Months with the most IL sessions: October, November, February, April, and May

Days with the most IL sessions: Tuesday and Wednesday (for online sessions, Wednesday is the most popular)

Busiest hours for IL sessions: 11am and 12pm (for all types of sessions); 11am (for in-person sessions); 12pm (for online sessions)

Departments requesting the most IL sessions:

IL sessions (both in-person and online) from summer 2021 - spring 2022

Library Celebrates Sabrina's 10 Year Anniversary!

Karen Fernandez and Sabrina (on the right) tabling at a campus event.

Library Technician Sabrina Sundell celebrated her 10th year working in the Highline College Library on November 8. Sabrina is a graduate of the Library & Information Services program at Highline as well as Central Washington University, Des Moines. She is a valued member of the library staff. Sabrina is a voracious reader. Please congratulate her when you see her!

Library History Stories with Gerie

Gerie Ventura

Library Director

Once upon a time, Building 25 was the Highline College Library. Five of the six floors housed library departments, collections, staff, and Library students. At the end of 2022, there are seven additional departments housed in the six floors of building 25.

The 6th floor was all one big space in the area that is currently TRIO and cubicles and a kitchen area. It was nice to sit and study with a view of Puget Sound in the northwest corner. The Legal Collection of books was on the east side, with study carrels all around the walls. 

Media Services and the campus Graphic Design studio was on the east side of the building. Students would use the Television Studio to learn how to use large cameras used in local television studios. The Media Services collection of audio cassettes, microfilm, microfiche, vinyl records, and 16mm film was a “closed collection” meaning you had to ring the bell at the front desk and ask for what you wanted to view or listen to. Eventually we purchased VHS tapes and then music CDs. When I was a work-study student, I had to help students get the 16mm films on the 16mm film projectors. After they watched the film, I had to rewind them back onto the main reel.  My first full-time job at Highline was as the Media Film Clerk. I purchased all the media for the collection by using a typewriter to fill out MSRs in triplicate (white, pink, and yellow paper copies). 

I remember when we found out that we were all going to get computers, in the late 1990s. Skeptical library staff were complaining that there wouldn’t be enough room for them to work if that large piece of equipment was in the middle of our desks. People talked about a “paperless society” but they didn’t realize how much paper we were going to end up printing…Early adopters asserted that they had seen the Internet and everything was going to change after that. I thought they were kooky.

When the faculty needed computers in the classroom, the campus could only afford a few, so we put them on a rolling cart with a video projector and the Media Services staff and students would have to figure out what time to push them all over campus to different classrooms. I came up with the acronym “COW” to describe the multimedia cart: Computers on Wheels. It was really difficult to push them and figure out exactly when to leave the 6th floor and when to pick them up so they could be moved to a different classroom. In the early days of distance learning, Highline offered 4-6 different “telecourses” and students would pay $250 per quarter to get a box of VHS tapes for the class they were taking (History, Sociology, etc.) Media Services staff burned up VHS duplicators night and day making multiple copies of the original telecourses for these classes. I would print the spine labels for those VHS tapes and check them out to students using our new computerized library system, INLEX. I also remember that one of my earliest work-study jobs was putting barcode labels on all the books.

The 5th floor housed the audio listening center in the large room where Accessibility Resources is now. The large, tall walls were covered with brown carpet for soundproofing. Students would listen to English as a Second Language audio cassettes and practice their English by recording themselves and playing it back. It was a technician’s job to check out the audiocassettes to students and make sure the equipment was working properly. Campus advisors had offices in the area where International Student Programs staff are now. There was a painting by Jacob Lawrence in the hallway that I loved. I wonder where that went…In the large room where ISP staff are now was the Library Technical Services department. It was nice to have a large kitchen space.

The 4th and 3rd floors have not changed much, except for there used to be a Library Exhibits committee that would organize local artists to display their art each month. That’s why those carpeted walls are just off the main elevators on the 4th floor.

The 2nd floor used to be all study tables, with the large card catalogs on the right as you walked into the building. This was before 70+ computers filled that same space. If you needed research help, the librarians showed you how to find information in the large red books (Library of Congress Subject Headings) and then in the card catalog drawers. In the northeast corner of the study carrels, there was a green typewriter for students to use. We kept bottles of white out and strips of typing correction film for students who were typing their papers. The 25-209 area that has horizontal slats was wide-open and the library staff desks were there along with a lot of typewriters for work-study students and library staff to use for their work. Just like on the 6th floor, faculty, staff, and students would ring a bell to notify library staff that they needed help.

The 1st floor has always had the mailroom and receiving departments on the west side of the building. The Library Technician Program, led by faculty emeritus Tony Wilson, used to be housed in both big rooms on the east side. Thousands of library employees around the state went through this program and are working in all types of libraries. Highline College Library employees Romute Barkauskaite, Sabrina Sundell, George Babcock, and Cheryl Lulendo are also graduates. Tony was known around the state and the nation as an advocate for libraries and library technicians.

The library used to be open 7 days a week, Monday-Friday from 7am - 10pm. And shorter hours on the weekends. We played a closing announcement from the 6th floor on an audio cassette, recorded by Media Services staff member Bill Brown. One version started with the beginning of the song, “Happy Trails.” He used to work the radio and he had a great voice. Sometimes when I was being silly, I would sing songs on the intercom at the end of the day.

Smiling library staff behind the old Circulation Desk.

WWLSR (What Would Library Staff Read)?

Do you think that library staff are constantly reading one or more books at a time? It’s true! Scroll down to get the full book list!

Black Potatoes: the Story of the Great Irish Famine, 1845-1850
Bartoletti, Susan Campbell

It's the story of children and adults who lived in grinding poverty, who suffered from starvation and disease, who lost family and friends, and who died. Yet it's also the story of the courageous Irish people and how they held onto hope.

Democracy in one book or less: how it works, why it doesn't, and why fixing it is easier than you think
David Litt

Litt, a former speechwriter for President Barack Obama, tells a serious story with humor and wit about what has gone wrong in our democracy and how we can fix it. Starting points: DC and Puerto Rico statehood. Abolish the Electoral College. Make Election Day a National Holiday. And other eminently reasonable proposals. As we grapple with this year's midterm elections, give yourself an interesting perspective on our political tribulations. 

The Faiths of the Founding Fathers
David Holmes

With so many factions claiming they are following the religious beliefs of our country’s founders, I read The Faiths of the Founding Fathers to see what really is the case. The broad answer – the founders were not so much Christians as Deists. This was a widespread belief in the 17th and 18th centuries that “held the belief in a single god who does not act to influence events, and whose existence has no connection with religions, religious buildings, or religious books, etc.” (Cambridge English Dictionary) 

For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World's Favorite Drink and Changed History
Sara Rose

It is a dramatic tale of corporate espionage that changed the history of the world and what we drink every day.

The Gateway Chronicles (6 book series)
K.B. Hoyle.

It is about a group of teens that go to a magical world that were chosen to save that world and our world from a terrible enemy. Each teen was given a role they had to follow which were companion, musician, scribe, spy, warrior and betrothed. It is similar to CS Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings. I recommend it because it is an interesting fantasy with great characters.

A Haunted History of Invisible Women
Leanna Renee Hieber

This spooky and thoughtful feminist deconstruction of classic American ghost stories is the perfect Halloween read.

Klara and the Sun
Kazuo Ishiguro

Sir Kazuo is an English novelist who won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature. He has written other books I’ve enjoyed such as The Remains of the Day. In this book, we see through the eyes of an artificial friend (AF), which is intriguing and unique.

A Memory Called Empire and A Desolation Called Peace
Arkady Martine

A Memory Called Empire is a 2020 Hugo Award winner (science fiction) for Best Novel and it was a best book of NPR, Library Journal, and other media sources.  It is space opera at its best, a mystery and culture clash. A Desolation Called Peace is a worthy sequel to it.

Library, Fall 2022: A Haiku

Students through the doors
Questions, browsing, study space
The library lives

Jack Harton

Reference Librarian

Library Data Snapshots




Gardening is my "Crazy Hobby" Photos

July 4, 2015

July 2015

August 1, 2015

April 22, 2016

May 25, 2016

July 4, 2017





June 21, 2020

August 2, 2020

July 30, 2020

August 7, 2020

August 26, 2020

April 22, 2021

August 9, 2022