Friends of Seattle Public Library Blog

The goings on of the Seattle Public Library.

Vote Yes! on Proposition 1 May 29, 2012

Online sites in support of Proposition 1, the August 8 Library Levy, have launched on Facebook and the web. Please “like” the Facebook page and share your support for the library with your friends.  Volunteers are organizing the campaign for the Library Levy and endorsements are mounting. Consider personal or organizational endorsement for Prop 1 or express your support by joining volunteers in the campaign for stronger and more accessible libraries.

Proposition 1, the Library Levy, will  raise 122.6 million dollars for the library over seven years if it passes in August. It will counter the impact of  budget cuts, ongoing since 2009, by providing for daily maintenance, greater security and much needed major repairs to the library system. It will  preserve core services, restore more open hours and raise money for collections and technology.

Have you gone to your library to find the doors closed? 22% of the levy is allocated to restoring thousands of open hours lost in budget cuts. All neighborhoods will then once again enjoy open libraries on Sundays and the entire system will avoid the one week closures that have inconvenienced patrons and alarmed library supporters the past several years.  Columbia and Northgate neighborhood libraries will also return to their seven day schedules if the levy passes. This will be welcome news to families who have found it increasingly hard to visit their neighborhood libraries. The shortened hours and library closures have been especially hard on children, older generations, working families, the unemployed, and low-income individuals and families who rely on library resources.

Have you been frustrated by long wait times for popular titles or wondered why you couldn’t find a title in the library’s collections? 14% of the levy provides funding to rebuild and expand the library’s collections.  Budget cuts have hampered efforts to meet the demand for books and other 21st century formats: digital books, podcasts, online databases, DVD and CDs. A 13% reduction in the library’s collections budget since 2009, has caused shortages of titles in digital and print collections, long wait times for popular books, and smaller hold limits. Passage of the levy would be welcome news to both print and digital readers and will increase holds to 50 per person.

Seattle voters have an opportunity to make our libraries strong and accessible once more. Please talk with your neighbors and friends about the need for this levy and consider volunteering on the YES! campaign.  The library needs your help lifting awareness about this important levy.  Most importantly, vote on August 8th and say yes for libraries.

 

2010 Friends of SPL Wrap-up January 13, 2011

Now that 2010 is over and a new year is beginning it is time to reflect on what we did in the last year and look forward to 2011.  2010 was a busy year for the Friends and the Library, here are just some of the highlights (and lowlights) of last year:

  • The year started out with tough city-wide budget cuts.  15 of our branch libraries were reduced in hours.
  • Seattle Public Library began working on a strategic plan.  Citizens and the Friends were asked for input.
  • The Friends’ Book Sales were a huge success.  We held Spring, Fall and Holiday Sales.  We are always impressed by the great turn out of donations, volunteers and of course, shoppers!
  • The Friends Blog partnered with the Seattle Public Library to get out the word about the Summer Reading Program.
  • The FriendShop had tons of great featured artist events all year long.
  • The Friends were seen at Farmer’s Markets all over the city to spread the word about what we do and to get people excited about the Seattle Public Library.
  • Once again, the Library closed for a week-long furlough leading up to Labor Day to help close the budget gap.
  • On October 1, the Friends held a reading flash mob in Westlake Center.  It was fun and attracted a lot of media attention!
  • The Friends created a Public Service Announcement.   Look for it on the Seattle Channel!
  • Building 30 at Magnuson Park where the Book Sales are held has been in danger of being closed.  The Friends have been trying to get the word out to save this great space for ourselves and other groups all over Seattle.
  • The Friends have partnered with the Fisher Foundation in Connecticut to get books into classrooms in need.
  • City Librarian Susan Hildreth was appointed Director of Museum and Library Services by the President!

Now that was a busy year!  What does 2011 have in store?  Probably a tight city budget again.  A search for a new City Librarian.  Definitely some Book Sales and great finds at the FriendShop.  Happy New Year!

 

Up Close and Personal at the South Park Branch Library March 20, 2010

Shawna Murphy

“I feel so personal about the South Park library,” Shawna Murphy told us.  “In this library, the staff know me and my family. The  level of service is just unbelievable. We’re all on a first name basis at my branch!”  Talk to anyone from this close-knit neighborhood and you’ll probably hear about two things: the pending closure of the South Park Bridge and reduced hours at the South Park Branch library. “Without the bridge out of the neighborhood the community will depend even more on our small library branch,” Murphy pointed out.

“Our library always has a lot going on,” Murphy, a mother and child care provider explained. ” The older kids in the neighborhood use our library as an afterschool hang out. Our kids section is in the front ¼ of the library so it’s the focal point.  And the computers are always jam-packed with neighbors of all ages, it is almost like the library functions as the South Park Computer Lab. “

Murphy and her small  child care group have been attending Story Time since the South Park branch opened three years ago, but reduced library service hours are impacting that routine.  “Our branch had to change the time of this offering,” Murphy said, “so story time is now offered at 11:15 instead of 10:15.  This new time frame will be a bit of a challenge because it will be cutting into our lunch & nap time and the children will not be at their best.”

In addition, the closure of the South Park branch twice a week, on Fridays and Sundays, cuts into Murphy’s personal routine. “Sunday was my personal day to go to the library, without the kids,” she confided.

When faced with dramatic budget cuts, the Seattle Public Library Board tried to equitably spread 7 day a week library service across the city.  Unfortunately, some of the neighborhoods where library service was reduced were in communities, such as South Park, where the library is greatly needed.  Driving to the next closest open library is sometimes difficult or impossible for families, and some report that it takes them two bus rides to find an open library.

Please help these communities by speaking out for restored library hours. Questions? advocacy@friendsofspl.org

 

A Young Boy’s Letter To Mayor McGinn March 15, 2010

Ezekiel’s letter:

My name is Ezekiel B.  I go to the Northgate Branch Library and I’m in the 4th grade.  I’m almost 10 years old.

I like to go to the public library.  The selection of books in any one subject is very limited at the school library, and it’s impossible to get digital materials there.  At the public library, I get a higher selection of books, like Stephen Jay Gould’s the Book of Life, which covers evolution of all of life on earth, or the Eyewitness Guide to Religion or The Definitive Guide to Kendo, a martial art I’m taking at the parks.  I can order these online to pick up at Northgate.

In Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade, we used to take Field Trips on Fridays to the Northgate library.  We could walk there.  Now it’s closed on Fridays, so the little kids at my school can’t go there for field trips.  Lots of times my mom can’t get me to the library until after work or on the weekends.  Mostly we just go on Saturdays, now, because we can’t go Sundays or many weekdays. 

Some kids can’t use the computer at home, so they need to do it at the library.  Please restore branch library hours for me and lots of other kids.

——————————————————————————————-

Children are among the hardest hit by reduced library hours in several neighborhoods. Ezekiel presented this letter to Mayor McGinn at the Youth and Family Commuity Engagement Meeting held at Northgate Elementary on March 1.  There are two more community engagement meetings on: March 15 and 22. Will you find time to join these small group discussions to support libraries and brainstorm the best futures for our children and families?

 

Youth And Family Participants in Seattle Community Engagement Meetings Cite Reduced Library Access As Challenge March 5, 2010

Mayor McGinn addresses participants

Participants in Seattle’s Youth and Family community engagement meetings are asking for longer library hours and seeking solutions to other “issues and challenges” that face our youth and families.

People are realizing that reduced library hours means less community resources available to address these critical issues and challenges.  Library programs like Homework Help establish important “afterschool tutoring” and “mentoring relationships.”  Structured programs and resources for immigrants and refugees offered by our libraries are critical free services that lead to “cultural competency” and provide “afterschool support.”   The branch libraries offer programs and needed space for “community engagement” and foster neighborhood pride.  Teen programs nurture “youth leadership.”

Librarians provide “healthy, ongoing relationships” with students and families. Children’s librarians augment “early childhood education” through Storytime and structured programs.

Libraries model “cross sector communication” by establishing bridges between cultural communities and bringing organizations together. They partner with and augment schools and  are THE academic resource for  homeschooling families. Libraries with open doors provide a presence in our neighborhood t0 bring us together and enhance “safety.” Libraries build community, feed minds and foster potential.  Do you want to see library hours restored or increased? Do you want to influence the City’s policy toward our children and families? Please attend one of the three remaining meetings. Make sure your voice is heard!

For more information on what to expect: 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.

 

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!

 

Will Your Neighborhood Library Hours Be Cut on 2/3? What Can You Do to Help? January 28, 2010

Due to budget cuts, operating hours at many Library branches will be reduced starting on February 3.    Click here to see how your neighborhood branch will be affected.

What can you do to help prevent further reductions in Library services?  Our elected officials are setting 2011 (yes, that’s right, 2011) budget priorities now, so here are 3 things you can do now:

1. Attend the Citizen’s Budget Conference 2010 on Sunday, January 31st at the Seattle Center House

Why: The Mayor, City Council members and City agency representatives will be there, and you can ask them questions and tell them why it is important to maintain funding for Library hours and collections.

How: Click here for more info.  There are two key times for speaking in support of The Seattle Public Library

  • 2 to 2:55 pm when The Seattle Public Library gives a presentation
  • 4 to 5 pm for a special meeting of the Seattle City Council Budget Committee to discuss the budget and take public comment

If you plan to attend, please email the Friends’ Advocacy Committee at advocacy@friendsofspl.org so we can keep an eye out for you.

2. Send  Mayor McGinn a comment in support of The Seattle Public Library today

Why: Mayor McGinn acts on community voices.  Please tell him why The Library is important to you and our community.

How: Click here for a link to the Mayor’s website, where you can give him your comments and suggestions.  Feel free to send him your own message, but here’s a sample you can use or adapt:

Topic/Subject Line:  No More Budget Reductions for The Seattle Public Library in 2011

Message:  I use [FILL IN YOUR BRANCH ] neighborhood library.  On February 3rd my branch hours are changing.  I want you to support The Seattle Public Library in the 2011 budget.  [PLEASE ADD A PERSONAL MESSAGE ABOUT WHAT THE SEATTLE PUBLIC LIBRARY MEANS TO YOU AND HOW YOU USE IT]

3. Email Councilmember President Richard Conlin today

Why: Councilmember Conlin now chairs the council’s Library committee, and needs to know how important continued funding is for the Library.

How: Email him at richard.conlin@seattle.gov.  See the sample message above, or come up with your own message.

If you’d like more information about the 2010 Library budget, click here.  And stay tuned to the Friends’ blog for more information about the 2011 budget.

Thanks for your support; your voices made a difference last year, and can make a difference again this year!

 

 
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