I love the Seattle Public Library! I have many reasons for feeling that way. But one reason is, one of my favorite authors — who has been something of an influence on my own writing — Ray Bradbury, bless his heart, wrote his first novel in a California library, renting a typewriter for ten cents an hour.
I do not know if my writing will ever be as illustrious as that of Ray Bradbury, but I doubt if I would have gotten as far as I have in my writing project — a long and complicated trilogy that draws on science, human evolution, and medieval history, without extensive use of the Seattle Public Library. Though I have a background in anthropology, my research in both fields started at Ground Zero. I used a number of libraries for this purpose, including, extensively, the Seattle Public Library. And thanks to their collections, I have been able to finish the first drafts of the first two books in this trilogy. I am now working on a third book and a second draft of the first.
Unfortunately, due to very possible budgetary constraints, many people who might potentially use this wonderful resource, may not be so lucky as I was. More people than just potential writers are involved here. They include job seekers, immigrants seeking to learn English, students of all ages, who are working on projects, people in the business community looking for various kinds of information relevant to their business. And there are many more. This is literally a huge segment of the Seattle population, and their needs are varied.
Our city has just completed a round of library building and renovation. These new buildings and renovations have attracted many new patrons, and they love the new, improved libraries. Usage is up. But in order to keep things this way, it is absolutely necessary to keep funding and collections at its present level. The last time there was a budget “crunch” nothing was added to the collections and it was during this period that I had to seek some of my information from other regional sources.
We face similar budgetary restraints at the present moment. However, I cannot emphasize strongly enough the absolute necessity of not only keeping the present level of funding and collection maintenance, but planning for expansion of funding and collections in the future. I realize this will not be easy, but it is absolutely vital if we want to continue to have libraries function as a vital force in this community. In the future, I feel it will be necessary to expand the area of collections into more electronic databases, such as the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. I mention this source because it is online, however, it requires a $300 individual subscription. Perhaps some people have this kind of money to spend, individually, on something like this, but many do not. Institutional subscriptions to such databases and information would be a great addition to the library’s collection, and I can assure you it would be well-used. We also need libraries to function as vital community centers, something which many people have said they want.
We have already invested a great deal of money in this renovation project, and it has paid off. Let us continue to invest in this, a vital public resource. Let us expand the resource for the future.