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.

 

 
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