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Check It Out!

Education Podcasts

A podcast from Sno-Isle Libraries for lifelong learners with inquiring minds. Check It Out! introduces the amazing people who work at, use and collaborate with the library district – and all of the services it offers to residents of Washington State’s Snohomish and Island counties.

A podcast from Sno-Isle Libraries for lifelong learners with inquiring minds. Check It Out! introduces the amazing people who work at, use and collaborate with the library district – and all of the services it offers to residents of Washington State’s Snohomish and Island counties.


United States


A podcast from Sno-Isle Libraries for lifelong learners with inquiring minds. Check It Out! introduces the amazing people who work at, use and collaborate with the library district – and all of the services it offers to residents of Washington State’s Snohomish and Island counties.






Episode 53: Scouting clean tech with Tom Ranken

As the outgoing president and CEO of Washington CleanTech Alliance, Tom Ranken has been close to many of the biggest and some of the smallest businesses in the region. What they all have in common, Ranken says, is a goal to change the world. Ranken had plenty of business expertise - Immunex, VizX Labs, Axio Research - on his resume before joining the Alliance in 2010 as its first full-time president & CEO. At that time, the clean-tech industry trade association had 35 members. Under...


Episode 52: Discovering seasonal secrets and looking ahead

In this final episode of the second season of Check It Out!, hosts Ken Harvey, Jessica Russell, Paul Pitkin and Jim Hills relate their personal holiday dreams and nightmares and dive into library resources that may just help set a tasty dinner table. Hills, not beset by the piled-plate, food-touching phobia, shares that a holiday meal is best perceived as a single entity, the sum of its parts as measured both horizontally and vertically. The description, however, takes Russell back to a...


Episode 51: The music of community service with Dave Earling

Dave Earling has worn the mantles of many different roles. Student. Musician. Husband. Father. Grandfather. Teacher. Business owner. City council member. Volunteer. And perhaps most recently and visibly, Mayor of Edmonds. Earling speaks in this episode of the Check It Out! podcast as he brings that role as city executive to close. “I jokingly say that I have a checkered past,” Earling says. “But, if you are truly interested in what you are doing, you’ll be successful and that’s how I’ve...


Episode 50: How to become robot-proof with Amit Singh

The key to long term success is becoming “robot-proof,” says Amit Singh. Singh, the president at Edmond Community College, says students need two things to compete in today’s economy and into the future. “They need technical skills and they need higher-level mental skills,” Singh says in this episode. “We normally call those mental skills ‘soft skills’ such as problem-solving. “Those skills are making you robot-proof. A robot cannot take those jobs.” Singh says that technical skills in...


Episode 49: Building the people's palace with Eric Klinenberg

It may not come as a surprise that Eric Klinenberg gets a warm welcome when he speaks to librarians and supporters of public libraries. Klinenberg is the author of Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life that was published in 2018. The book makes the case that shared “social infrastructure,” such as libraries, is critical for the future of democracies and the literal survival of their citizens. He spoke to the...


Episode 48: Keeping government open and transparent with Toby Nixon

Some children dream of being a firefighter or star athlete. After an early civics lesson in school, Toby Nixon knew he was interested in government. That early interest has turned into a life focused on public service and protecting the processes of government. Nixon was re-elected to the city council in Kirkland, Wash., in the fall of 2019, a position he’s held since 2012. Among the many current and former public-service roles Nixon has taken on, he has been a fire commissioner and a...


Episode 47: From the Bookmobile to regency romance, discovering the library

Even for the folks whose jobs are to know things about the library, Sno-Isle Libraries continues to amaze and surprise. In this episode, co-hosts Ken Harvey, Jim Hills, Jessica Russell and Paul Pitkin, “Go over the highlights of what we don’t know.” Service Center Hills points out the oddity that while the library district’s Service Center in Marysville serves all 23 community libraries, Library on Wheels and online services, it is not itself a library. Jessica Russell, Assistant...


Episode 46: Books and book'n'em with Alan Hardwick

What do police officer, adopted son, milkman, cheese cutter, fur trapper and international terrorism have in common? They have all been part of Alan Hardwick’s life. Hardwick is author of “Never Been This Close to Crazy,” the Edmonds Police sergeant’s first novel, which was published in June this year. Hardwick’s 28-year law-enforcement career has touched a number of important areas. Hardwick started in Idaho and founded the Boise Police Department’s Criminal Intelligence Unit. He’s now a...


Episode 45: Serving community with Nate Nehring and Sue Norman

Chapter 1 – Snohomish County Council member Nate Nehring Nate Nehring may look young for a Snohomish County Council member, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a lot of experience. Born and raised in Marysville, Nehring was appointed to an open seat on the county council in 2017 at age 21. He is also the son of Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring. “I remember going out and doorbelling for him,” Nehring says of his father, who was first elected mayor in 2010. Before that, Jon Nehring served as...


Episode 44: Engineering a writing career with Bernadette Pajer

Bernadette Pajer had returned to the University of Washington, intent on completing a degree in engineering. And then the life story of the soon-to-be mystery/crime writer took its own plot twist. Pajer turned her focus toward culture, literature and the arts and completed a Creative Writing Certificate at the UW. From there, Pajer began building on what she knew, which spawned the Profesor Bradshaw Mysteries series. "I don't even remember when I started that (first) book)," Bradshaw...


Episode 43: Newspapers and journalism with The Herald's Phillip O'Connor

There is no doubt that newspapers and journalism are undergoing changes. Phillip O'Connor should know, he has worked through many of those changes and continues to chart a course into the future for the Fourth Estate in his new role as executive editor of The Herald newspaper in Everett, Wash. Until arriving at The Herald in the summer of 2019, O'Connor was a committed midwesterner by birth and then choice. O'Connor started as a "15-er" (sports department clerk working for three hours at...


Episode 42: Library card is the ultimate back-to-school supply

In this episode, Sno-Isle Libraries free-lance reporter Abe Martinez takes a look at four areas related to how the library district interacts with and supports the notion of student success. First, Martinez speaks with Jen Sullivan, a librarian who works out the central Service Center in Marysville and helps coordinate programs and services for students. Sullivan says those start at preschool-age with storytimes, move on to elementary students with programs such as the thitrd-grade reading...


Episode 41: Around the world with Mill Creek librarian Darlene Weber

They say that reading a book can take you around the world. For Darlene Weber, manager of the Mill Creek Library, that is literally true. Weber is a world-class hiker, including numerous hiking vacations and even a hut-to-hut excursion in the Spanish Pyrenees mountains. And how does she plan those trips? "Well, I work at a public library and we have many guidebooks," Weber says. "(My) trips are mostly self-guided." Weber is a 20-year veteran of the Sno-Isle Libraries district that...


Episode 40: On the path to higher education with Paul Pitre

WSU Everett Chancellor Paul Pitre’s career path wasn’t always taking him toward higher-education administration. But once he got there, it all made sense. With a bachelor’s degree in communications studies from Western Washington University in hand, Pitre started working in Seattle-area media jobs. “I worked at (Seattle-based TV station) KOMO for a while,” Pitre says “They had me in reception, then running the Telepromoters and taking the mail around.” Pitre was with the Greater Seattle...


Episode 39: The art of writing in the rain with Garth Stein

Even Garth Stein cries over his books. “The Art of Racing in the Rain” is well-known to readers and movie-goers as a tearjerker. Stein says he rented space at a Seattle pizza restaurant when he was writing the book. “I’d get to an emotional part and be crying,” Stein says. “People would be like, ‘What’s wrong with that guy?’ Although published in 2008, Stein says the recent release of the movie with Kevin Costner giving voice to the dog character, Enzo, catapulted the book to the top of...


Episode 38: The world's top librarian at the greatest library

Carla Hayden, Ph.D, says the Library of Congress is the biggest - the greatest - library in the world. Hayden should know, she’s the Librarian of Congress. And that would make her the world’s top librarian. Hayden visited the Marysville Library on Aug. 1, 2019, along with Congressman Rick Larsen, and then recently joined podcast co-hosts Ken Harvey and Jim Hills for a conversation by phone from her office in Washington, D.C. “I really enjoyed my time at the Marysville Library with...


Episode 37: How to collect a collection with Jessica Russell

Jessica Russel is a collector who is looking to the future. As Assistant Director of Technical Services - Collection Services for Sno-Isle Libraries, Russell oversees the process that makes 1.5 million books, magazines, DVDs, CDs, digital and other items available to customers at 23 community libraries and online. The Louisiana native and Texas transplant says developing a library collection is not just deciding what goes in, but also what goes out. “It’s a lot like your closet at home,”...


Episode 36: Happy podcast anniversary!

On July 31, 2018, the first Check It Out! podcast aired was posted. In this episode, co-hosts Ken Harvey and Jim Hills, along with podcast producer Debie Murchie, take a look in the rear-view mirror. Together, they share how the podcast came about, remind each other of the growing pains along the way and reminisce about their favorite moments over more than 30 episodes. “Some of our guests are really community heroes,” Harvey says adding that some are celebrities in their communities, some...


Episode 35: Singing the praises of opera and libraries with Lorraine Burdick

Lorraine Burdick says she came late to her love for both her vocation and avocation. By day, Burdick is a librarian at Sno-Isle Libraries working in collection development. Away from the library, Burdick can often be found on the Seattle Opera stage as a member of the regular chorus. “I've been working in the library since I was in high school. I started as a page putting books away,” Burdick says. “And I've worked in all the different levels of being a staff member at the library. I put...


Episode 34: Following passions for news and education with Lynne Varner

Lynne Varner speaks with authority about the value of higher education and the details of what is available at WSU Everett. That’s not too unusual, seeing that Varner is Associate Vice Chancellor for Marketing at the Snohomish County-based campus of Washington State University. But Varner has also used to her voice to speak with authority first as a reporter for the Washington Post newspaper and then as an opinion writer for the Seattle Times. Her efforts at the Times led to two...