NCRL News and Events

Jack Nisbet

Michelle McNiel - Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Spokane author brings storytelling to seven libraries


The stories that make it into Jack Nisbet's popular books on Northwest history are really just the beginning. They have information he gathers from written documents, personal interviews and exploring interesting places.

But he knows there's much more to learn.

His visits to schools and libraries and other venues around the region, giving talks about the stories he's researched, is where some of the best learning happens, he said.

"There is always someone in the audience who can tell me something new and the story evolves," he said. "You do a book and that's really just the starting point."

The Spokane author and naturalist will bring his storytelling to seven North Central Regional Library branches this spring and summer. He will present different stories from his published collection of essays, "Ancient Places: People and Landscape in the Emerging Northwest."

Here's his schedule:

  • May 24, Moses Lake Library, 6 p.m., the story of 20th century painter and terra cotta sculptor Leno Pristini of Clayton, Wash.
  • June 1, Okanogan Library, 1 p.m., presenting some of the Earth's most spectacular lighting phenomena from two different points of view: fur trader David Thompson around 1800 and an astronaut aboard the International Space Station two centuries later.
  • June 1, Omak Library, 6 p.m., the story of a farmer who found a meteorite on a slope above the Willamette River in 1902 is linked to Northwest mining, museum politics, Ice Age floods, human nature and the history of the universe.
  • June 7, Tonasket Library, 6 p.m., the story of the 1872 earthquake that rattled much of the Northwest as recounted from oral accounts, written descriptions and the latest scientific research.
  • June 9, Twisp Library, 6 p.m., the story of amateur paleobotanist Wes Wehr, who founded Republic's Stonerose Fossil Center, whose busy life also included musical composition, success as a school landscape artist, and an array of famous friends.
  • July 13, Waterville Library, 11 a.m., the farmer who found the meteorite near the Willamette River.
  • July 13, Wenatchee Public Library, 6 p.m., the story of the 1872 earthquake that rattled much of the Northwest.


Nisbet has written several books, most of them about David Thompson and naturalist David Douglas. He said that during his research and travels, he's also heard a number of other stories about Northwest history and geography that sparked his interest. He decided to look into some of them, which resulted in his latest book.

His love of Northwest history started while he worked as a writer for a weekly newspaper in Stevens County in the 1970s. But his storytelling really started from childhood, he said.

"I grew up in a storytelling family in the south that went outside all the time," he said. "It's that simple. I hear about something and I just keep following my curiosity."

"That's one reason I like to take kids out exploring," he added. "They don't overthink things. They just follow their nose and explore."

He said his presentations will be a mix of telling stories and a Powerpoint presentation with photos of places and research materials. His talks are about 40 minutes, followed by another 20 minutes of questions and allowing the audience to talk about their own experiences or knowledge.

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