Friends of Seattle Public Library Blog

The goings on of the Seattle Public Library.

Your Input Needed on the Seattle Public Library of the Future February 25, 2010

Just a reminder that the Seattle Public Library is kicking off its strategic planning process next week with five City-wide open houses so that you can provide input as to new models, services and roles for the Library.  Please drop by any of these open houses to tell us what you think the Seattle Public Library of the future should be like:

  • Noon to 2 p.m. Monday, March 1, Central Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., Level 4, Room 1 (206-386-4636)
  • 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 2, Northgate Branch, 10548 Fifth Ave. N.E. (206-386-1980)
  • 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 3, High Point Branch, 3411 S.W. Raymond St. (206-684-7454)
  • 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 6, Ballard Branch, 5614 22nd Ave. N.W. (206-684-4089)
  • 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 16, Beacon Hill Branch, 2821 Beacon Ave. S. (206-684-4711).

For more information, see the SPL website, email strategicplan@spl.org, or contact Eve Sternberg, project lead, at 206-386-1119.

 

Speak Out For Libraries At Youth And Family Community Engagement Meetings February 23, 2010

On Feb. 22nd, our elected officials began a civic process that will shape our city. The Seattle City Council announced their ambitious and action oriented 17 priorities for 2010 in the afternoon.  Then, in the evening, Mayor McGinn commenced the first  community engagement meeting on his Youth and Family Initiative.  Citizen input from this and four other community engagement meetings  will guide the development of Mayor McGinn’s important Youth and Family Initiative funding. The City Council will also be watching this input closely, so it will inform their actions as well!

The Youth and Families Initiative is a major initiative that will shape the Mayor’s agenda (and undoubtedly, funding) on issues affecting youth and families from a child’s birth to a successful career track.   We need your help in letting the Mayor and the City Council know what an important role libraries play in helping youth and families.

We know that libraries offer foundational support for youth and families.  Our young people depend on libraries for afterschool visits, study support, storytime, homework help, and afterschool computer access. The partnership between public libraries and schools is well documented, yet people might not think to mention what a critical role our libraries play in our community.  For example, the online form for Youth and Family input doesn’t  list full library access as a possible priority!

How can you help ensure that  our libraries are recognized as priorities for the City and for the Youth and Family Initiative?   Fill out the online form. In the answer to questions 1 and 2 please tell Mayor McGinn that free access (for all) to public educational support is critical and we need to restore library hours for children and families.  Then, please bring your voice for our libraries to a Monday meeting in March. These meetings will not only determine how libraries are perceived, they’ll also influence how the City addresses challenges in the education system.

This is a city powered by community input. These meetings are stimulating and well attended. Speaking out for libraries, right now, will help the Seattle Public Library weather the likely mid-year budget adjustments and help its position in the 2011 budget. Supervised childcare is available at the meetings, and translators are available on-site.   Please attend, and help us restore library hours for schools, families, and children.

These meetings start at 7 and end at 8:30 pm and are at:

March 1 – Northgate Elementary School
March 8 – Van Asselt Elementary School
March 15 – Denny Middle School
March 22 – Garfield Community Center

For more on the Youth and Family Initiative, go to the Youth and Families homepage.

RSVP advocacy@friendsofspl.org if you can attend or can help us rally support for libraries.

 

Amy’s Story: “I Just Really Love Reading” February 22, 2010

We know children love libraries.  This year we’re asking kids to tell us why. Here, Amy says that when she goes to the library she gets SO many books she can hardly carry them!  I asked Children’s Librarian Amy LaVare, at the High Point branch library, what a pile of books that high might look like. For that, see the accompanying photo to Amy’s essay.
—————————————————————————————
Why I like the Seattle Public Library
By Amy Pottharst, age 7
 
I think reading is important because if you are bored it gives you something to do. I just really love reading. My favorite kinds of books are mysteries. Books are sometimes so suspenseful and I really love that.  I was 4 ½ when I started reading and my mom says she could barely keep up with me!  Sometimes in the summer we walk or ride bikes to the library to get some books and then we go to a nearby park or to the wading pool. When we go to the library I get SO many books I can barely carry them all!  
 
My younger brother Danny (4 years old) loves getting books too. He goes every week for story-time and was disappointed when there was no more story-time in February.  We usually sit side-by-side and read quietly together. He copies everything I do!
 
The library is great because we can check out books for my book group. We raised money for a group called Pennies for Peace.  We learned about this group from the book “Listen to the Wind” by Greg Mortenson.
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Would you like to become a friend of the Seattle Public Library?  Will you share your story about what the Library means to you?  Email us at advocacy@friendsofspl.org.
 

Children and Libraries Need Your Help February 16, 2010

In community conversations last year, many of you told us how much you and your family use the Seattle Public Library.  Libraries are gathering places and  learning places, not just places to borrow books.  In our library value survey, 28% of you cited kids as the primary reason libraries will remain relevant.  From storytime to homework help, the librarians and volunteers at our Seattle Public Library branches actively help patrons (young and old) learn more about themselves and the world.  It’s time to include libraries in our conversations about youth and family initiatives.

During his inaugural address, Mayor Mike McGinn announced a Youth and Family Initiative.  He’s hosting five community engagement meetings.  Mayor McGinn acts on community input. Your voices at these meetings will make a difference. The first meeting is Monday, February 22nd, at Rainier Community Center, 7-8:30 pm. Can you help?  Please come.  Please tell the panel how libraries play an important role in our children’s lives.

There will be four more community engagement meetings on Mondays in March. But right now you can help by emailing Mayor McGinn about children and libraries.  Please encourage your friends and family to email too.

Sample emails:

Dear Mayor McGinn: My name is —-. I live in —–neighborhood. Children need libraries. Please include our libraries in the Youth and Family Initiative.

Dear Mayor McGinn: My name is—  My family and I use —-library. Children need to be able to use libraries after school, and it is harder to do that now that after school hours have been reduced at libraries in 15 neighborhoods due to budget cuts.  Please help by including libraries in the Youth and Family Initiative.

Dear Mayor McGinn: My name is—. I use the —library.  Libraries are important for families and kids. Please include libraries in the Youth and Family Initiative.

Questions? advocacy@friendsofspl.org

Visit our website.

 

Budget Cuts Cause 15 Branches to Lose Hours February 8, 2010

Budget cuts have forced The Seattle Public Library to phase in a strategic and dramatically abbreviated 2010 service plan. On Feb 3rd, 2010, 15 neighborhoods lost convenient library access for the year and 11 neighborhoods gained operating hours to accommodate those displaced patrons. In addition the entire library system will be closed for one week from August 30th to September 6th.   The Library sustained a 13% cut to operations and a 37% cut in the capital budget. Unbelievably, there is ongoing concern that even further cuts could come in April.

Longer hours and seven day operations at the 11 libraries, chosen for their size, available meeting space, collections and computers, and access to public transit are welcome. But kids in the 15 neighborhoods losing service, including Highpoint, New Holly, Columbia, Northgate, and South Park, find that their afterschool computer access isn’t available on Friday and they won’t have access to library computers on Sundays because their library is closed. Wednesday and Thursday their work must be done by 6 p.m. because the libraries now close two hours earlier. In those same neighborhoods the reduction in hours means working families have difficulty accessing The Library;  community organizations and study groups, which relied on The Library for evening meetings, are now looking for other arrangements.

This budget cut and the resulting reduction in service hours is a discouraging and shocking development that sends a troubling message to the growing number of people who turn to The Library for a lifeline in Seattle, and to the nation that watches this city: the most literate city in America boasting an award winning internationally recognized library system.

Your voices of support have helped. You sent emails to elected officials and some of you came out to public meetings. Thanks to your voices an additional six libraries were added to the proposed 2010 budget of just 5 scheduled to have longer hours.  City Council now realizes there needs to be a long term funding solution and are exploring alternative resources, but this is a 2-3 year process. There may be an end to this struggle, but this year we need your vocal support again. The library is still stuck in a competitive funding mode and only citizen input will move officials to keep prioritizing library services.

Lost hours and lost resource funding have a unique and critical impact on libraries. Library service demand continues to grow and information needs continue to multiply and diversify. We want libraries to have computers, podcasts, books, downloadable books and databases. We want libraries to provide computer literacy, job resources, and story times. We want to be able to ask librarians questions. We want libraries to have world language collections for our increasingly diverse population. This can’t be done on reduced or stagnant budgets. Information service is a dynamic industry with constant and rapid changes. This can only be achieved when we make a civic commitment to stable funding.

Library hours were also reduced in early 2000, shortly after Seattle voters passed Libraries For All, the capital bond that funded the expansion of our neighborhood library system. Those cuts left a lingering legacy. They set a precedent for closing libraries in hard times and set a lowbar for funding that hampered efforts to improve the library budget throughout this decade. Funding has never caught up with patron demand or the new size of our beautiful library system. Ironically, 2 months after the Libraries For All project finished in Sept 2008, library budget cuts were announced that forced a week long system furlough. Seattle voters committed to a visionary investment in libraries now we find we can’t keep the doors open in, of all times, this time when people need them most.

Won’t you join us with your active library support? Protect our investment. Stay tuned to developments throughout coming months. And, right now, please take a minute to email Mayor Mike McGinn and Council president, Richard Conlin (richard.conlin@seattle.gov). Tell them your name and neighborhood and ask them to preserve library funding in 2010 and to budget full library funding in 2011.

 

Your Seattle Public Library — The Next Generation February 4, 2010

The Seattle Public Library is undergoing a strategic planning process to explore the future of the Library and how to prioritize existing resources.  To kick off the process, the Library will be holding 5 open-house style events for Seattle residents and patrons to “think big” and provide input about the future of the Library.

Do the Library’s resources meet your needs?  Are the hours convenient for you?  What does the Library do best?  What things need improvement?  Come give us your ideas and  help shape the future of the Library! 

You can stop by at any time during these 2 hour meeting times: 

  • Noon to 2 p.m. Monday, March 1, Central Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., Level 4, Room 1 (206-386-4636)
  • 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 2, Northgate Branch, 10548 Fifth Ave. N.E. (206-386-1980)
  • 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 3, High Point Branch, 3411 S.W. Raymond St. (206-684-7454)
  • 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 6, Ballard Branch, 5614 22nd Ave. N.W. (206-684-4089)
  • 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 16, Beacon Hill Branch, 2821 Beacon Ave. S. (206-684-4711).

For more information, see the SPL website, email strategicplan@spl.org, or contact Eve Sternberg, project lead, at 206-386-1119.   Special thanks to the Seattle Public Library Foundation for a grant to help fund the strategic planning process.

 

How Do We Provide Excellent Services With Limited Resources, City Librarian Asks February 2, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — friendsofspl @ 4:24 am

City Librarian, Susan Hildreth, told a small group, at the Citizen’s Budget Conference Sunday, that limited financial resources pose a challenge in providing service excellence. “While we weren’t able to maintain current hours, we were able to preserve the book budget,” Hildreth said. “The good news is that our elected officials understand how important library services are to the community.”

On February 3rd, however, many neighborhood branch libraries will begin to operate on reduced hours. Hildreth said the goal is to re-establish six day service, at the 15 branch libraries which will close Sunday and Friday and operate on significantly reduced hours, as soon as possible. The service reductions are “dramatic,” she said.

It’s especially hard to cope with budget reductions when use of library services is spiking.

Seattle checked out 12 million books in 2009.  Circulation of materials increased 6% over the previous year.

People turned to the library for more guidance. Librarians are now available  by phone (206.386.4636), email, on chat, or with a text message and questions were up 20%.  

Visits to the website increased 11%

Downloadable media use jumped 55%

Podcast downloads exploded. Up 931% over the previous year.

The library also continues to provide critical services for families, children, and the unemployed.

Hildreth said the library is leanly staffed for a department operating on a budget of approximately $50 million. By not filling vacant positions, jobs have been preserved. Preserving jobs is a key goal of the Library Board. The Library Board, a group of 5 citizen volunteers, manages and administers library budget allocations from the Mayor and City Council.

“We’ve been known as the smartest and most literate city in the nation. It’s hard to maintain that without a fully operating library system,” she concluded.

 

Concerned Library Patrons Ask Questions At Citizen’s Budget Conference February 1, 2010

Thank you to the library supporters who joined us at the Citizen’s Budget Conference at The Seattle Center House today, Sunday 31 January 2010.  Your voices were heard!

More than half the questions for Councilmembers, in the afternoon panel, regarded the upcoming reduction in hours at many of our neighborhood libraries. “We’re very committed to having the right kind of  budget funding” to support Library collections and provide open hours, Councilmember Conlin, Council President, said. Library operational funds come from the City’s General Budget and, “once you fund safety, which is over 50%,” he said, the library has to compete with other departments for remaining resources.

“We’re starting a 2-3 year process” to “find the way out of this dilemna,” Conlin said, referring to work that will be done in his committee to explore alternate funding sources for our libraries “that can keep [the library] going for the long run.” Councilmember Mike O’Brien added, “We have [library] buildings, we have books, and when we don’t have money to keep the doors open that’s problematic for me.” His remarks drew applause from the audience.

Councilmember Godden noted, “It was difficult for us to find the money {over $800,000 the Council voted to restore in the 2010 library budget}.” She said that people who came to public hearings and emailed and talked to her in public made a difference for the library. Your voices of support helped Council decide to restore funds.  “We heard you. If you care deeply, tell us,” she urged.

Each Councimember gave the audience one tip on how to impact difficult 2011 budget decisions.

Licata, nick.licata@seattle.gov Organize and reach your Councilmembers with concerns.

Rasmussen, tom.rasumssen@seattle.gov Bring your requests to Council but also ask the Mayor to support your cause.

Godden, jean.godden@seattle.gov Participate in the upcoming Spring Roundtable and  come to the Fall budget hearings.

O Brien, mike.obrien@seattle.gov Bring a financial solution with your request.

Conlin, richard.conlin@seattle.gov Tell us the story and show us how our funding makes a difference. Keep in touch.

Please Email Mayor Mike McGinn with library support and urge your friends and family to contact him. He is thinking about budget issues for 2010 and 2011 right now!

 

 
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