Friends of Seattle Public Library Blog

The goings on of the Seattle Public Library.

Urban Self-Reliance Programs August 28, 2011

Filed under: Branch Happenings — friendsofspl @ 11:25 pm
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The Seattle Public Library’s Urban Self-Reliance programs are designed to help you consume less and save more.  Learn how to live a greener, more sustainable life with these free DIY workshops offered at your neighborhood library branch in September and October.

 

Get to Know Your City Council Candidates – Sally Clark August 16, 2011

Sally Clark – Candidate for Position 9 (Incumbent)

When you reflect on the Seattle Public Library system, what three things first come to mind?

The first three things that come to mind are the Columbia City Library, the Friends of the Library Book Sale, and our need to care for what we’ve built.

The Columbia City Library is “my” branch library. It’s a place that looks like a classic library, hosts community events, provides a safe and constructive place for young people to engage with information and each other, and it’s a branch where I think the levy did a great job adding space.  I’ll cheat here and say I also think of the Rainier Beach branch (we live in between the two). I appreciate the way the branch has become even more of a community focal point for kids. Whether it’s a homework club or Ofcr. Cookie’s Chess Club, that branch saves lives and broadens horizons.

I have worked the Friends Book Sale in the past. I associate the event with the late, great Doug Lorentzen, a long-time volunteer who was a true evangelist for Seattle’s libraries. Doug made sure I had an invitation to work a shift and, more importantly, made sure I took advantage of the opportunity. Seattle is lucky to be a city of people who care about books (in all their forms) and about how information can empower and change lives. Doug was a great evangelist for the role the libraries and library volunteers play in our system.

Finally, I think often in my job about how we must care for what we’ve built both in terms of the physical buildings and in terms of what people find valuable inside the buildings. In this economy we have had to make tough decisions involving the collections budgets, capital spending and staff schedules. I’m committed to ensuring we have a great system. I appreciate the partnership with the Friends of the Seattle Public Library and the Foundation in making this commitment come true.

Given the myriad of essential human services provided by the City of Seattle, where do you rank funding for the Seattle Public Library?  Would you put it in the top, middle or bottom tier of priorities? 

I have joined colleagues on the Council in consistently ranking libraries as a high priority for funding under the umbrella investment area of safe, healthy neighbors and safe, healthy neighborhoods. Healthy, high-functioning social capital machines like libraries work hand-in-hand with youth violence prevention programs, anti-poverty programs and police to make Seattle a great place to make a life.  After basic food and shelter, services like libraries, community centers and education support must be present to help people not just survive but advance.

The Seattle Public Library has sustained budget cuts of nearly $10 million from its annual budget since 2009, resulting in Friday closures at 15 branches, employee furloughs, lay-offs, and a decrease in the collections budget. Given the City revenue shortfalls projected for 2011 and 2012, what are your views on maintaining funding for Library hours, staffing, collections, programs and services?

The Seattle Public Library has done the best job of any city entity of stepping back to assess priorities in service and management, making tough decisions, and presenting the context and rationale for these tough decisions.  Staff have weathered difficult changes in service; difficult not just because of the impact on paychecks, but also because of the impact on their mission. We invested minimally in collections and must return to a more robust level if we are to keep pace with demand and the pace of change in formats and sources of information.

I believe we face another 2-3 difficult years before the city budgets have breathing room. It’s my hope that we can maintain steady funding this year and then begin serious discussions of long-term funding strategies (e.g. a special taxing district).

As the Library’s new strategic plan states, “changes in how people access and use information, interact with one another, and in the resources, tools and capabilities needed to operate effectively in today’s society require new approaches to the services and resources that the library provides”.  What is your vision for the library of the future, and how would you support SPL’s evolution over the next 5 years?

This is a great question – both fun and a little scary to think about. Over the long-run, no matter how much information moves to the web or the net or the cloud, I believe we will still want and need libraries in our neighborhoods. I believe there’s something gained via the interaction with the librarian, other patrons, and the value-added programs of libraries. Changes in technology have already changed our libraries’ internal design and staff functions. And yet the library is still about helping people access, use and re-configure information to yield greater knowledge, confidence and connections. Over the next five years I hope to be involved with the next chapter of the Seattle library system as a new librarian arrives and we slowly emerge from the recession.  In five years we will have successfully found a steady long-term funding source and lead in the evolution of libraries. In five years Seattle will remain a leader in information access and community value.

 

Get to Know Your City Council Candidates – Dian Ferguson August 15, 2011

Dian Ferguson – Candidate for Position 9

When you reflect on the Seattle Public Library system, what three things first come to mind?

The availability of a world of information and culture, free of charge, to anyone who wants it; the budget cutbacks and funding difficulties of recent years; and the wonderful new neighborhood branches made possible by last decade’s levy.

Given the myriad of essential human services provided by the City of Seattle, where do you rank funding for the Seattle Public Library?  Would you put it in the top, middle or bottom tier of priorities? 

I would put it as a four on a scale of 1 – 10 with one being the highest. This makes it slightly more than a middle priority. It is not as critical as some of the literally life and death human services the city funds, but it is an essential part of the quality of life of many Seattle residents and should be recognized as such. Many low-income people, students, elders and immigrant and refugee citizens are dependent on the library for access to computers and technology. As we continue in a recession individuals seeking employment opportunities rely on the library system to job search, update resumes and complete online applications for employment.

The Seattle Public Library has sustained budget cuts of nearly $10 million from its annual budget since 2009, resulting in Friday closures at 15 branches, employee furloughs, lay-offs, and a decrease in the collections budget. Given the City revenue shortfalls projected for 2011 and 2012, what are your views on maintaining funding for Library hours, staffing, collections, programs and services?

I would work hard to maintain the current staffing, hours, and service levels, recognizing that the library system has already endured many painful cuts. If possible, should the city’s revenue improve in future years, I would look to restore lost funding. Should further cuts need to be made, I would look to minimize the additional impact on building hours and public access to services.

As the Library’s new strategic plan states, “changes in how people access and use information, interact with one another, and in the resources, tools and capabilities needed to operate effectively in today’s society require new approaches to the services and resources that the library provides”.  What is your vision for the library of the future, and how would you support SPL’s evolution over the next 5 years?

SPL must have sufficient funding to do what public libraries have always done: serve as free gateways of ideas, information and culture for whoever wants it. Regardless of the medium – whether it is printed, bound books and periodicals, e-books, video, the Internet, or social media, SPL must have the resources to not only provide access in the medium of a client’s choosing, but to provide training and guidance in how to use the new technology to find information.

More and more, Internet access and familiarity with new communications technologies are a near-prerequisite for most jobs and many basic daily life functions. Particularly for citizens who don’t have the personal equipment or training to utilize these media, SPL is not just a gateway but a resource to ensure that lower income or less technologically adept citizens are not left behind in the 21st Century economy. As such, I would work to ensure that SPL has the funding, staffing, and accessibility to not only preserve its existing functions, but also help user’s access information and culture across new and emerging media platforms.


 

Get to Know Your City Council Candidates – Michael Taylor-Judd August 14, 2011

Michael Taylor-Judd  - Candidate for Position 1

When you reflect on the Seattle Public Library system, what three things first come to mind? 

  1. City budget cuts to library funding
  2. Friends of Seattle Public Library Book Sale
  3. Two-thirds of Seattle residents hold a library card; and one-third say they use it at least once a year

Given the myriad of essential human services provided by the City of Seattle, where do you rank funding for the Seattle Public Library?  Would you put it in the top, middle or bottom tier of priorities?  


I would not hesitate to say that libraries are in the top tier of my budget priorities; and I group them with our parks and community centers as necessary services to provide our residents.

The Seattle Public Library has sustained budget cuts of nearly $10 million from its annual budget since 2009, resulting in Friday closures at 15 branches, employee furloughs, lay-offs, and a decrease in the collections budget. Given the City revenue shortfalls projected for 2011 and 2012, what are your views on maintaining funding for Library hours, staffing, collections, programs and services?

Maintaining its vast collection and the continued demands of new technology are important, but what is most critical for me is that our lowest-income and least-educated residents turn to our libraries for access to computers and the internet. For many in our community, our libraries are the only place to turn to research a school paper, search job listings and print a resume, or learn how to use e-mail to communicate with their grandchildren. In tough economic times like these, the free or low-cost activities provided by libraries and community centers are some of the only fun and educational opportunities families can afford. If we continue to cut operating hours, where will these residents turn to?

As the Library’s new strategic plan states, “changes in how people access and use information, interact with one another, and in the resources, tools and capabilities needed to operate effectively in today’s society require new approaches to the services and resources that the library provides”.  What is your vision for the library of the future, and how would you support SPL’s evolution over the next 5 years?

The Seattle Public Library must continue to transition to being a place to learn about and utilize new technologies for accessing information. It should also continue to explore new ways to offer services through its website, such as through video and audio streaming and borrowing of e-books.

 

Library Furlough Begins August 29 August 2, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — friendsofspl @ 10:26 pm
Tags: ,

For the third year in a row, The Seattle Public Library will close for a week from August 29 through September 5 to meet budget shortfalls.  Here is the Library’s page explaining what will be happening.  A recent article on the International Examiner website discusses how this closure is a hardship for our neediest citizens.  Maggie Taylor, the Vice President of the Friends of the Seattle Public Library was interviewed for the article, and she notes how library usage has been up over the last several years.  Vital services such as free computer access and classes for ESL students will also be suspended during the closure.

The Friends of the Seattle Public Library will continue to advocate for the preservation of the Library’s budget because the Library is a vital service.  We hope that in the future these library closures will no longer be necessary to bridge the budget gap.  For more information on our advocacy efforts, please visit our (new) website.

 

 
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