Friends of Seattle Public Library Blog

The goings on of the Seattle Public Library.

Tony Talks Budget March 27, 2009


Tony waits to sign in 3/26

Here are Tony’s complete remarks from the March 26th Budget Hearing at Seattle City Council Chambers. We hope you’ll consider joining us at the next meeting: April 6 at 10:30 a.m. Your presence matters! RSVP Keep checking this blog for updates on the library and library budget.

Tony’s Testimony:

I live in the Ravenna/Wedgwood neighborhood and I am with the Friends of the Seattle Public Library.

I want to thank you all for your support of the Seattle Public Library and ask you to preserve the current level of budgeted funding.

The Library is an important community lifeline for the residents of this city. The exploding use of the Library’s programs, resources and services has far exceeded every expectation. In this current economic climate, the Library has also become an integral part of the City’s safety net, providing all citizens with access to information and computer services that link them to city, state and federal agencies and programs. Everyone is familiar with examples of how the Library is doing more for all groups, the displaced, the unemployed, new citizens, as well as all struggling individuals, families and children.

The Library — through its Central location, community branches, and online presence — is experiencing more demands for facilities, resources and services than can be reasonably met with a reduction in funding. The Library already makes extensive use of volunteer groups to assist the professional staff in meeting these demands. And the Library receives financial support through donations from individuals and groups to help to pay for the resources and services it provides.

This unique public/private partnership came to fruition with the successful completion of Libraries For All. Citizens voted for and provided the additional financial support required to re-build and re-energize the Library. They are depending on the City to maintain its materials and operation.

For a City department, the Library is unique for the significant amount of its overall revenue base that comes from donations. Since it already operates with a very lean budget, and donations are not expected to keep pace with past years, any reduction in funding of the Library, may force drastic cuts in services.

I ask you to consider the needs of the entire community when considering a reduction in the Library’s budget. The Library is an invaluable part of the community, a product of the investment made jointly by the city and its citizens. This investment, unlike many others, has not lost its value and is still paying dividends. Now, more than ever, the Library is essential to the lives and well being of every Seattle resident.

Thank you.


What library supporters are saying

Filed under: Uncategorized — friendsofspl @ 3:37 am

Anne simply says: I use the University branch for research. Something that’s been bothering me is the question: are library services and hours going to be cut?  If hours, staff, or services are cut it would have a negative impact on many people. Library services are not a luxury they are essential services.

Cindy says: I use several libraries. Use is increasing. Computers are being utilized for job search. Please keep library hours and services the way they are.

Ianne says: I use capital hill library. Table tops are full of laptops and computers are full.  Libraries are part of the social safety net.

Linda the president of Friends of the Library asks council to remember that the library isn’t a luxury. Tough economic times prove the essential nature of the library.

Joan says she uses Magnolia library and volunteers for the library. She says that young kids at the Global reading challenge (a program for 4th and 5th graders) read books with the enthusiasm of people watching sports. She asks that the Council keep funding at current levels.

Tony says use of the library has exceeded expectation. He says libraries are a public private partnership and urges Council to maintain current funding.

Pat says there’s a strong relationship between libraries and school education. She urges support for libraries.


Explaining the budget

Filed under: Uncategorized — friendsofspl @ 12:49 am

We’re seeing a power point presentation on budget woes. Job loss has accelerated in the past three months. Business and Occupation tax may not be dropping as fast as retail sales tax but it’s dropping significantly. Library funding is taken from B and O tax. Full revenue figures will be available on April 6. Ben Noble has just stated there is no reason to believe there will be a change in 2010. He is stating that we anticipate a 40 million dollar shortfall in 09 revenues and that the reductions needed to balance the budget for this year will likely have to be sustained in 2010.  “It’s a grim story,” Councilmember Godden has just said in summary.


40 million dollar shortfall

Filed under: Uncategorized — friendsofspl @ 12:38 am

Hearings have begun now and Councilmember Jean Godden just announced that they’re anticipating a 40 million dollar shortfall. She is urging citizens to come forward and share priorities to help Council make these hard budget reduction decisions.


Signing up and getting started

Filed under: Uncategorized — friendsofspl @ 12:27 am

ianne-006Spring budget hearings are about to begin. Pat is signing in to talk about libraries as an adjunct to education. Seven library friends have signed in to speak to council. Twelve people are joining us, tonite, to show support for library funds.

Public Hearings are fascinating. If you’ve never attended one please consider doing so in the Fall.  The upcoming April meetings at Council Chambers offer another glimpse. Those meetings will be a good and easy way to see what civic discussion is all about in Seattle. Those meetings are at 10:30 am on April 6, 13, and 20. RSVP to if you can attend.


Voices of Support arriving at Council Chambers, March 26 March 26, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — friendsofspl @ 11:35 pm

ianne-001Lines started forming in the foyer of Council Chambers at 3 pm. At this writing, 4:30, most of the voices of support for the library have arrived and look forward to telling Councilmembers how the library is an essential service in these hard times. To pass the time what else does a friend of the library do but…. read. What’s Mary reading? What the What.


Support the Library!

Budget Committee

Budget Committee

The Seattle City Council will hold a public hearing on Thursday, March 26 at 5:30 p.m. in Council Chambers to listen to citizens talk about their priorities for city government, including programs and services that they would like to see preserved in this hard economic climate. City Council is looking at potential deep cuts to the new 2009/2010 budget.

Libraries are busier than ever serving the growing number of families and individuals looking for critical resources, computer access, and budget relief.  Strong libraries need strong community support. Please join us at a public hearing.

If you can’t join us in Council Chambers on March 26, consider coming to one of three April meetings scheduled for additional citizen input: April 6, 13, and 20 at approx 10:30 a.m. RSVP to:

If it’s impossible to come to Council Chambers in support of the library, please email your councilmembers with library support.

Councilmember emails:,,,,,,,,

Stay tuned to this blog for up to the minute library budget information. We’ll be blogging live from council chambers on March 26.


When the Going Gets Tough, Go To the Library! March 18, 2009

“When economic times get tough, the average American family’s solution is to get creative. In rethinking their budgets, many families across the country are turning to a familiar place – the public library.”

Jim Rettig, president of the American Library Association, wrote these opening remarks  in December 08  at Huffington Post.  Seattle families and individuals are doing just that. According to a Seattle Times article from January 09 circulation, online use, and visits to our libraries are greatly increased over last year.  When economics create widespread needs and inequalities, we become more aware that libraries play an essential role of support for our communities and families. Libraries bridge digital divides and economic gaps.  Please be vocal in your support of libraries as CityCouncil readjusts the 2009-2010 City budget this April. Times are tough.  We need full access to our libraries now more than ever.


Public Library Renaissance March 12, 2009

Filed under: Trends — friendsofspl @ 1:55 pm
Tags: , ,

Have you been checking out more books lately? Seattle Public Library’s circulation has been on a steady increase since 2004. In fact, since 2007, circulation and library visits increased rapidly.  This isn’t just a local experience. Libraries all over the country are experiencing spikes in use and borrowing. The Freakonomics blog (from the authors of the 2005 book by the same name)  sees a connection between double digit increases in library use nationwide and declining sales of books, CD’s and DVD’s.

Seattle Public Library is a great way to save money in your budget.  According to blogger responses to the Freakonomics post, checking out library books is also a good solution for clutter, a motivation for actually reading a book, and, a passageway to a world of related ideas.


The 2009 Seattle Edible Book Festival: Reading Your Cake and Eating it Too?

My friend Cindy is already thinking about her entry for this year’s Edible Book Festival, which will take place on Saturday, April 4, 2009, at the Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford, 4649 Sunnyside Ave North.  What is an Edible Book, you say?  Well, according to the ground rules, “An Edible Book can look like a book, pun on a title, refer to a character, or just have something to do with books– whatever the inspiration, it must be edible.”  My favorites from past years include

·        War and Peeps

·        The Unbearable Lightness of Bean

·        100 Spears of Solitude

·        Remembrance of Things Pasta

·        The Elements of Style

·        Are You Bare Bun?  It’s Me, Margarine

It’s a fundraiser for the Seattle Center for Book Arts, so put your aprons on and find a way to edibilize (yes, I just made that word up) your favorite book.

If you’re looking for inspiration, consider these book recommendations from the Friends’ Board meeting in March; just click on the links below to get to the SPL site to reserve your copy of these books.   Book review excerpts are reprinted with permission from Booklist.  

Heirloom:  Notes from an Accidental Tomato Farmer, by Tim Stark.  This down to earth and back to basics books may appeal to many in today’s tough economy.  It’s the true story of an amateur farmer who starts growing tomatoes in his apartment in Brooklyn and ends up moving back to his boyhood home in Pennsylvania to raise tomatoes that are sought after at New York City’s greenmarkets.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie.  “Fourteen-year-old Arnold Spirit, a Spokane Indian, decides to leave the res and attend a predominantly white high school, making a daring, possibly desperate choice to grasp his future and step away from his culture, identity, and familiar life. The idiosyncratic first-person voice that Alexie creates for Arnold is the most distinctive feature of this alternately harrowing and funny semiautobiographical novel.” Kristi Elle Jemtegaard

I See You Everywhere, by Julia Glass.  In her third exquisite, piercing novel, National Book Award winner Glass juxtaposes the temperamentally opposite Jardine sisters. Analytical, cautious Louisa is destined to become an art critic and gallery owner. Reckless, sensual Clem is drawn to the wild and becomes a field biologist dedicated to protecting endangered species. While Louisa seeks marriage and motherhood, Clem catches and releases a stream of lovers. As the two women struggle for their place in the world, they embody archetypal struggles between nature and civilization, self and society.” Donna Seaman

The Devil’s Highway:  A True Story, by Luis Alberto Urrea.  So many illegal immigrants die in the desert Southwest of the U.S. that only notorious catastrophes make headlines. Urrea reconstructs one such incident in the Sonoran Desert, the ordeal of sun and thirst of two dozen men in May 2001, half of whom suffered excruciating deaths. . . .  The imaginative license Urrea takes, paralleling the laconic facts of the case that he incorporates into his narrative, produces a powerful, almost diabolical impression of the disaster and the exploitative conditions at the border. Urrea shows immigration policy on the human level.”  Gilbert Taylor

The Defining Moment: FDR’s Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope, by Jonathan Alter.  “As the generation that endured the Great Depression passes on, it is essential to be reminded what this nation faced as FDR assumed office in 1933. At a minimum, a quarter of the workforce was unemployed. The threat of mass violence loomed as secure families saw their life savings wiped out. . . . Alter recounts the flurry of the first 100 days of FDR’s administration, which forever altered the relationship between American citizens and the federal government. This superbly researched and well-written work serves as a vital reminder of the importance of leadership during this great national ordeal.” Jay Freeman. 


Note that Jonathan Alter will be presenting the Seattle Public Library’s 2009 A. Scott Bullitt Lecture in American History at Town Hall on Monday, March 23 from 7:00 to 9:00.  For more information, click here for the Library’s calendar of events and classes.





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