Friends of Seattle Public Library Blog

The goings on of the Seattle Public Library.

Crunching The Numbers. Libraries Return Our Investment. May 17, 2012

If you use the library you’re seeing the lives it touches and understanding its value to your community.  But how do we describe that value to people who don’t use the library or to those who use it’s digital resources but don’t feel a personal need for the building itself?

Here’s one way to calculate the library’s value: Start by quantifying the dollar value of your own library use.  Input the materials and services you consume at the library into the library value calculator and you may be surprised at the monetary worth you enjoy. April Hichens, a local homeschooler, calculated a savings value of $18,000 in 2009.  

Now, let’s look at the bigger picture. In 2011 The Seattle Public Library offered over 6,400 free programs, hosted over 4,000 community meetings, and, in Central Library alone, provided 485,000 computer sessions. Imagine the value of those services and the lives they enhance. Zoom out even further and consider this…in 2010, America’s public libraries loaned roughly as many movies as Netflix, offered significantly more career assistance than the Department of Labor, and provided free meeting space that saved students, civic groups and businesses 3.2 billion dollars.  The value of direct library services is staggering and libraries generate even greater value by anchoring and enhancing their surrounding communities.

Seattle currently ranks in the top ten cities nationally in education and walkability and is the second most literate city in the nation behind Washington DC.  A strong library system provides foundation for all three of these achievements. According to Seattle Real Estate agent Adrian Willinger libraries drive the walkability of neighborhoods.  Walkability sustains our environment, draws business, and attracts skilled, intelligent people to the city. Libraries also play a critical role in education. In addition to partnerships with our local schools, afterschool support, and ongoing teen programs, Seattle Public Library provided free SAT prep for 228 students, helped more than 25,000 students with homework, and engaged 15,000 students in Summer reading programs in 2011. Libraries definately are an important component of our well-deserved reputation as a literate city. Funding our libraries so they can achieve the level of excellence envisioned when Seattle voted to expand and update the library system could return us to the top place as America’s most literate city, where we placed in 2005, 2006, and 2009.

Seattle Public Library plays an important role in the strength of surrounding business communities as well according to Christie McDanold of Ballard’s Secret Garden Bookshop, “We’re in a city that survives primarily on sales tax and secondarily on B and O tax,” she said. “If retailers don’t see customers then the city doesn’t collect sales tax. If you’re going to rely on tax then you need to ensure that the business core is kept in mind and realize that there are public services, like the library, that impact commerce, well being, and health.” The library also supports Seattle business in many ways from extensive small business and foundation start up resources to wifi access that many young entrepreneurs use.

Crunch the numbers and its clear that The Seattle Public Library quantifiably contributes to vibrant neigborhoods and civic well being.  Please join us in actively supporting The Seattle Public Library. Vote for the library levy on this August 8th!

 

Activities by Friends in other regions December 19, 2011

Filed under: Interesting Links — friendsofspl @ 8:32 pm
Tags: ,

As many libraries know, their friends’ group is vital in supporting library programming initiatives.

In Evanston, IL, the Friends of Evanston Public Library developed and operate a small but vibrant storefront called “the Mighty Twig”. At “The Twig”, volunteers offer resources, assistance and programming that focuses on the needs of the Evanston community

For more information about “The Twig”, check out their website.

 

Armchair Travels: What the Board is Reading July 14, 2010

The board members of the Friends of the Seattle Public Library seem to be doing a lot of armchair traveling these days, even if it’s exploring what it means to be an outsider here in America.  Here’s a sample of what they’re reading in case you’re looking for recommendations:

Tall Man : The Death of Doomadgee, by Chloe Hooper.  This true-crime story explores the death of an Australian Aborigine who was arrested for swearing at a white police officer and then died in jail within an hour.  While the book follows the manslaughter trial, Hooper also explores Aboriginal life and the long history of institutional racism in Australia.  Board member Connie found the story tragic, exhausting, and worth reading.  Critics have compared the novel favorably to Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood and Norman Mailer’s The Executioner’s Song.

 

 

Nomad’s Hotel : Travels in Time and Space, by Cees Nooteboom; translated from the Dutch by Ann Kelland.  Nooteboom is a Dutch novelist and travel writer, and this series of travel essays covers trips made from the 1970s through 2002.  The Booklist review notes that “descriptive travelogue ranks second to considerations of the destinations as repositories of the past. Whether in Venice, Isfahan, or Timbuktu, Nooteboom sees a place through its physical relics and literary associations. The traveler’s innate foreignness, however well informed before arrival in a new place, burgeons with significance for Nooteboom. A traveler arrives, sees, and departs, not likely to return.”

 

Gertrude Bell : Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations, by Georgina Howell.   Board member Mary enjoyed this biography of Gertrude Bell, an extraordinary woman who took the world by storm in the early 1900s.   The starred review in Booklist by Donna Seaman notes that “Born to British industrial wealth and civic prominence during the Victorian era, [Gertrude Bell] possessed boundless self-confidence, courage, and vitality. The first woman to earn top honors in history at Oxford, Bell was fluent in six languages, and became an intrepid traveler and celebrated mountaineer. Tragically unlucky in love, she romanced the world instead. Discovering her spiritual home in the Middle East, Bell transformed herself into a cartographer, archaeologist, writer, and photographer as she undertook perilous journeys to fabled desert outposts, commanding the respect of powerful Bedouin sheikhs. During World War I, Bell became the expert on Mesopotamia for British military intelligence, and a more crucial force in the forming of modern Iraq than that of her friend, T. E. Lawrence. From Cairo to Basra to Baghdad, Bell, against fierce adversity, devoted herself to justice.”

Digging to America, by Anne Tyler (e-book read by Blair Brown).  This novel follows two families who meet by chance at the airport to greet their newly adopted baby girls from Korea.  One family is very “American,” while the other family has more recent immigrant roots.  As the two families get to know each other, the Iranian-born narrator grandmother explores impressions of American, and what it means to try to fit in . . . . or not.  Board member Joan especially enjoyed listening to Blair Brown’s reading of the book, so the link above is to the Books on Tape version, which can be downloaded electronically.  It is of course also available in hardback and in large print.

 

 

 

 

Need Help With Your Homework? April 14, 2010

I’m always amazed by the many resources provided by The Seattle Public Library.  Latest example?  Click here for information on how to get help with your homework, whether you’re young or old. 

First, 11 of the branch libraries have Homework Help Centers, where volunteers help students on a drop in basis during the school year.  Contact these branch libraries for information about when Homework Help is scheduled:  Beacon Hill, Broadview, Columbia, Delridge, Douglass-Truth, International District/Chinatown, Lake City, NewHolly, Northgate, Rainier Beach, and South Park.

Second, you can also get free on-line help from live tutors in math, science, English and social studies seven days a week from 3 p.m. – 11 p.m.  This help is available both in English and en Español.  You will need a Library card and your PIN (personal identification number) in order to log onto the Tutor.com Web site

Third, if the tutors are busy or if you want to look at other resources, the Tutor.com Web site also includes a SkillsCenter Resource Library, with lots of different worksheets, tutorials, and study guides about different subjects.  I took a look at one of the writing tutorials and got some great tips on punctuation.

Now lest you think that homework help is only available to students in K-12 or in college, the Tutor.com Web site also has an on-line Adult Education and Career Center that covers topics like career help, going back to school, and citizenship issues.  There’s even a resume writing workshop video available! 

And once you’ve finished your homework and have some time to relax, consider borrowing one of these books recommended by Friends’ board members:

The True Story of Hansel and Gretel, by Louise Murphy. Board member Connie reports that this book is set in occupied Poland during World War II, and tells the story of a 12-year old Jewish girl and her brother who are sent into the woods to flee the Nazis, and how they are able to survive.  The novel provides an intimate look at Nazi-occupied Poland.  Note:  this is not a book for children.

  

A Walk in the Woods : Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail, by Bill Bryson.    This is a  non-fiction comedic account of two tenderfeet (well, since there were two hikers, I should probably say they had four very tender feet) who try to hike the Appalachian Trail without much preparation or training.    Several reviewers have noted that this is more than a travel memoir, as the trip served as a re-introduction to America for the author after living in England for 20 years.   Board member Joan enjoyed listening to the audio version of the book, so the link above is to the audio version.

Wolf Hall:  a Novel,  by Hilary Mantel.  Board member Liz ‘s take on this book:  “It won the Man Booker prize last year- deservedly so.  Wolf Hall tells the Henry VIII/Anne Boleyn story (yay season 4 of the Tudors started last night!) through Thomas Cromwell’s eyes.  Cromwell comes across as a surprisingly cool guy, Anne as a high maintenance lady, and Henry as his petulant self.  It’s well written and totally engaging. “

 

Support the City’s Bid for Ultra High Speed Broadband Network! March 19, 2010

Longing for ultra-high speed Internet connectivity at home? Think how quickly you could log on to the Library’s Web site, search for books and check our online resources!

The City of Seattle is submitting a bid to Google, who will be  building ultra-high speed broadband networks in one or more trial location communities in the US.  How fast is fast?  Let’s just say speeds more than 100 times faster than what most Americans have access to today.  How cool is that?

Support the City’s bid, and tell Google  why your neighborhood, organization or business needs a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network.  Responses are due back to Google by March 26.

 

Need Help Keeping Track of What’s on Your “To Read” List? March 10, 2010

At the Columbia City Book Fest last October we met a woman who keeps a small book (like an address book) with a list of all the books on her “to read” list.  That way, she has her list ready when she wanders into a library branch or a book sale. 

I clip out book reviews and scribble down recommendations from friends, and then log onto the Seattle Public Library website to put those books on reserve.  Or if I’m in a rush I’ll email myself a reminder or create a note on my Blackberry.

Did you know that if you log into your account on the Library website you can create your own list of books you want to read or have read?  Click here if you want instructions on setting up and managing your list. 

And if you’re looking for suggestions on what to read, consider these book recommendations from members of the Friends’ Board.  You can click on the links below to get to the SPL site to reserve copies.

Spooner, by Pete Dexter.  Daniel Kraus’ review on Booklist Online  notes that “Dexter’s sprawling account of the life of Warren Spooner may be classified as fiction, but it incorporates plenty from the author’s own history. True, false, it doesn’t much matter—this gregarious curriculum vitae is just the ticket for those who like their comic realism served up with a side of Garpian absurdity. . . .  The emotional core, however, is Spooner’s relationship with his cautious yet luckless stepfather, Calmer. A once-promising ship commander whose botching of a sea burial began his slide toward mediocrity, Calmer is the steady path that forever eludes Spooner. But as both men grow older, their emotional fumbling toward each other becomes downright moving. A big, satisfying maybe-memoir.”

Justice:  What’s the Right Thing to Do?, by Michael Sandel.    Professor Michael Sandel teaches a popular course at Harvard about the every day moral decisions we face.  Although our board member hasn’t read Sandel’s book, she enjoyed watching the PBS DVD of some of Sandel’s actual classes at Harvard, in which he uses hypotheticals to help his students and (the viewer!) think critically about issues such as affirmative action, same-sex marriage, surrogate motherhood,  and how to determine how much a life is worth.  Watching students stake out and defend their positions and the logical consequences of those positions, is touching, maddening, and ultimately inspiring.

Read My Pins : Stories From a Diplomat’s Jewel Box, by Madeleine Albright, with Elaine Shocas, Vivienne Becker, and Bill Woodward.  Our board member enjoyed this memoir by Madeleine Albright, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, who used her jewelry to make both personal and political statements.  “Before long, and without intending it, I found that jewelry had become part of my personal diplomatic arsenal. Former president George H. W. Bush had been known for saying “Read my lips.” I began urging colleagues and reporters to “Read my pins.” ” The book includes over 200 photos of pins from Albright’s collection, as well as many of the political figures and celebrities she met while wearing them.

Wicked Plants: The Weed that Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities, by Amy Stewart.     “They may look sweet and innocent, but anyone who has ever broken out in a rash after picking a hyacinth blossom or burst into violent sneezing after sniffing a chrysanthemum knows that often the most beautiful flowers can pack the nastiest punch. . . . . There are plants that can kill with a drop of nectar, paralyze with the brush of a petal. From bucolic woodland streams choked by invasive purple loosestrife to languid southern fields overrun by kudzu, some plants are just more trouble than they’re worth. Culling legend and citing science, Stewart’s fact-filled, A–Z compendium of nature’s worst offenders offers practical and tantalizing composite views of toxic, irritating, prickly, and all-around ill-mannered plants.”  –From Carol Haggas’ review on Booklist Online.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, by Lisa See.  Here’s Kristin Huntley’s assessment from her Booklist Online review:  “Mystery writer See, author of The Interior (1999) and Dragon Bones (2003), takes readers to nineteenth-century China to explore a complex friendship between two women. Lily is the daughter of a farmer in Puwei Village, and Snow Flower is the daughter of a respectable family from Tongkou, and though the two girls have very different backgrounds, Madame Wang pairs the two as laotong, or “old sames,” a bond that will last them a lifetime. . . .  . Their friendship is cemented during their youth and then put to the test when the girls prepare for marriage and Lily discovers a startling secret about Snow Flower’s family. . . .  See’s writing is intricate and graceful, and her attention to detail never wavers, making for a lush, involving reading experience. This beautiful tale should have wide appeal.” 

Reviews from Booklist Online are excerpted with permission.

 

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.

 

 
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