Friends of Seattle Public Library Blog

The goings on of the Seattle Public Library.

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

 

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.
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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.
 

Seattle: America’s most literate city—again January 10, 2010

It happened in 2005, it happened in 2006 and it almost happened in 2008. At the close of 2009 the title of America’s most literate city was awarded to Seattle once again. The Seattle Times reported this honor on Dec 23 when most of us were deep in holiday activity. This year, as we brace for the likely reduction in hours at many neighborhood branch libraries, we reflect on why Seattle so consistently wins this honor and how it benefits our community.

Dr. John W Miller, president of Central Connecticut State University, author of the most literate city survey, notes that top ranking cities also tend to perform highly in other quality of life measures including: most active singles scenes, safest, most walkable, and healthiest.

“Most literate cities” are  ranked by measuring 6 different factors: publications, newspapers, libraries, booksellers, internet resources and education. Each factor is examined in several ways. Library services are measured 4 different ways:

1. Number of branch libraries per 10,000 library service population
2. Volumes held in the library per capita of library service population
3. Number of circulations per capita of library service population
4. Number of library professional staff per 10,000 library service population
 

Please join us in keeping The Seattle Public Library strong. A strong library makes a difference in our personal lives, in our community and neighborhoods, and in our city’s well being.

 

Co-working and Libraries: a perfect fit? December 1, 2009

We met with Susan Evans and Jacob Sayles, owners of Office Nomads, at their 5,000 sq. foot office space on Capitol Hill. We talked about co-working and libraries in the digital age.

Jacob Sayles and Susan Evans

Jacob Sayles and Susan Evans

What’s co-working and what does it have to do with libraries?

Susan and Jacob explained:  Co-working is a response to increased demand for telecommuting and people who want less isolation while working from home. In the beginning people started going to libraries and coffee shops to work but those places weren’t originally intended for business use so co-working spaces developed. Co-working is all over the world. In the U.S. there are 60-80 spaces.

And what does it have to do with libraries?

Susan: I get excited thinking about the fit between libraries and co-working. People need to get out of the house when they’re working. We’re a good fit for people who can afford a little bit for a small office space but if we’re talking about making co-working for more people then a public option is an exciting idea. There are people in business who can’t afford 25$ a day.  The libraries aren’t like coffee shops where there are distractions but you can’t use your cell phone  or collaborate there and that’s limiting.  Wouldn’t it be cool though if there was a publically sponsored workspace?  There’s a lot of value in libraries. I think that everyone can also see there could be a lot more.

Jacob: There are some parallels. Libraries have a huge role in education and they have some of the structure for renting out space.  Maybe there could be an assessment of how libraries could be a casual co-working space. Maybe between the hours of x and y there could be places where, for instance, you could use your cell phone.

Susan: From a professional point of view, I think that public libraries could be a really great place to embrace the need for public business spaces (and/or job search spaces) and they’d serve a great community need by doing so.   I love our libraries but if we’re going to stay home more for our work then we need libraries to be more welcoming of co-working needs. Maybe rather than libraries letting business and work happen there they could support and embrace that.

Jacob: Ballard Library has done a great job of becoming a community hub with the municipal services next door. I love the Ballard library. But people are more and more shifting to building their own content. You can get so many things delivered to your house now that, generally,  libraries aren’t really the hub they once were.

Susan: Libraries are wonderful spaces. Clean, beautiful. Capitol Hill has meeting space. Sustainable Capitol Hill used to meet there. It’s one of the first spaces we think of when we need to meet. I think if we’re talking about libraries being an important place to access information or to even out the playing field then they have a huge value and they’re not a place that will diminish until we hit a day and age with free wireless all over or PDA’s in everyone’s life.

Jason: Even if we had free wireless all over and PDA’s there’s still a role for libraries. Once you have infinite knowledge you need the guidance of librarians. We see that here. It’s easy to Google everything but people often turn to us and ask questions. People go to other people for answers.

Susan: It’s a human reaction. ‘I want to talk about it.’ People like to share information. Maybe librarians are no longer keepers of information but they’re…

Jacob: aggregators.

Susan: tour guides. Public libraries are incredibly important community assets. Sharing resources is a key way to make cities more livable and save us all money in the long run!

 

This is Thalia’s story. What’s yours? November 23, 2009

Filed under: In The Community,Stories,Uncategorized — friendsofspl @ 5:04 am
Tags: ,
In preliminary early results from our survey about library value, 28% of respondents say children or kids are the reason libraries are important or remain relevant to our communities.  That’s in the opinion of adults who filled out the survey. In this story we hear from the source. Libraries are a favorite destination for  children, as Thalia tells us in this story.
The Lake City Library
by Thalia Neufeld ( age 8 )
My favorite place in my community is the Lake City Library. I like to go there with Saige. I like it because my mom can read books that I don’t usually get to read. Like The Princesses and the Pizza and Queen of Style. It is fun to look for movies because I like some of the movies that are there. I also like it because there is a play structure behind it. I like to sit on the hmmmmm, maybe I should explain it first. So I guess it is like a bed that you can sit on and it is all cushiony with a lot of cushions on it. So I like to sit on it and look at books. I hope to take you there some day to play in the park and read a book and sit on the cushiony couch. So let’s get outside and we will go to the Lake City Library!
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Do you have a favorite story about your library? Is there an especially comfy chair there? Do you play at a nearby park? Do you stop for ice cream or hot chocolate on the way? Why is the library such a great place for kids?  Send your story to advocacy@friendsofspl.org and we’ll talk about posting it.
 

“Naturally, I came here to learn to play” November 17, 2009

library 015

Friends of The Seattle Public Library recently joined clarinetist Ashley Komoda for a lunchtime rehearsal to discuss the importance of the Library’s music practice rooms to the local musicians who use them.

“These practice rooms are one of the few downtown spots that allow fellow musicians to get together and make as much noise as they want. It is also simple. At any given time, I can call and say, ‘hey, I need a room,’ and reserve one of the two rooms with a piano. The piano is especially useful because of its built-in metronome”, she explained as she set the tempo for an adagio piece she plays with the Cadence Chamber Orchestra.

Ashley first discovered the music rooms this summer while seeking rehearsal space with a fellow clarinetist. They were looking to schedule weekly practice sessions for a company downtown that was sponsoring a summer arts internship program. After being turned down (or chased away) by building managers in downtown offices, they resorted to schools, only to find that such practice rooms were restricted by to current students or by very limited operating hours.  They needed somewhere close and cheap. An online search led them to the library practice rooms, where they could toot their horns to their hearts’ content during regular library hours.

During these weekly sessions, it was not uncommon to have by-standers from the elevator peering through the window or visitors that sat in on the Mozart duet they were working on.  A symphony clarinetist from Vancouver, B.C. once joined in and provided some tips on technique and instrument gear. Five months later Ashley— along with a number of Seattle residents of all ages— still schedule routine practice sessions at the Library.

“A lot of people come here. I enjoy practicing here because there’s really nothing around to distract me.” Ashley first picked up the clarinet in middle school and recently started lessons on the alto saxophone. “Naturally, I came here to learn to play,” she said with a smile. “You have to have someplace to practice, to get experience, learn the basics. You can’t just jump into it!”

The Cadence Chamber Orchestra (CCO) is an all-ages group of volunteer musicians committed to putting on free performances of new and traditional chamber music repertoires in the Seattle area.  Don’t miss your chance to see them perform Beethoven – Symphony No. 1 and Stravinsky – Pulcinella Suite at Cafe Metropolitain [1701 E Olive Way] on Thursday, December 17th at 8pm or at the PONCHO Concert Hall at Cornish College of the Arts [710 E Roy St] on Friday, December 18th at 8:00pm.

 

Art, Family, Playgrounds and Greenlake Library November 8, 2009

“On a typical Sunday outing we’ll take our bikes and scooters down to the lake, have breakfast, play at the playground, go to the library and go home,” Greenlake patron Rebecca Albiani told us over morning coffee.  The library serves an important role in both her family and professional life. Her eldest son, 8, “is an avid reader; it would bankrupt us to keep him in books by purchasing them,” she said. His current reading list: Alcatraz and the Evil Librarians, Septimus Heap books,  and 39 Clues. The youngest son, 6, “memorizes books so he needs a constant flow of simple stories as he learns to read.”

Titian exhibit[1]In professional life, Rebecca “gives talks for general audiences at the Frye Art Museum.” For the past ten years she’s lectured on everything from ancient Egypt to Pop Art. “I couldn’t do that without the library. Every month I have a new topic. 95 percent of my research materials come from the public library,” she said. Wouldn’t the UW Art Library be a stronger resource, we wondered, but Rebecca said the public library’s catalogue is usually ample. “The public library has THE book on the Index of American Design, for instance, which is the New Deal program I’ll be lecturing on in December. I could get a UW library card but it’s so much more convenient to walk to my public library [Greenlake Walkscore: 89] where I know people who work there and I don’t have to worry about parking.”

“The library is a crucial leveling factor. Plus it is simply a wonderful community gathering place” she told us. “When I think about the proposed library budget I worry about Saturday hours and Sunday closures in particular. On Sunday I see people on computers or sitting in the magazine section—that’s where my husband goes. There are always a lot of families reading to kids or kids coloring. At the playground I often hear moms saying, “Shall we go to the library now?”

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Please support Library hours in the 2010 budget.

 

 
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