Friends of Seattle Public Library Blog

The goings on of the Seattle Public Library.

The experience of reading was……. March 17, 2012

The experience of reading was….relaxing, immersing, enjoyable, informative, and interesting.  A quiet place in the corner and warm sunshine was a perfect environment for your book. Then, along came e-reading and……suddenly so many distractions…hard to foc….it was hard to…foc….hard to focus… on…all the incoming…email?

Recognize this experience? If so, you’re not alone according to a recent New York Times article about e-reading habits. However, though some people in the article confessed that they’re finishing books less often, industry studies show that e-readers are reading a lot more. Buying habits of e-readers seems to be changing too. In a blog post surveying 705 e-readers in February of last year almost 1/4 of respondents said they buy only e-books since they’ve used an e-reader. A 2011 study on e-reading sponsored by the book industry found that dedicated readers who bought e-readers decreased purchases at indie booksellers locally and increased, by a nearly equal percentage, their purchase of books online. Nationally, libraries acknowledged the trend toward increased e-reading by increasing offerings of digital titles 185% in 2011. 

If you’re new to e-reading or thinking about buying a reader or maybe received one of  the over four million e-readers sold this past holiday season and are still not comfortable with the device then stop into Northeast Library on March 20 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. They’re offering a class to help you navigate your device and find what you want in The Seattle Public Library’s growing digital catalogue.


October 29, 2011

Filed under: technology — friendsofspl @ 8:19 pm
Tags: ,

In library-related news, SPL will be launching an online book group next month called Book Chat.

So, if you enjoy reading, like to share your ideas about books and want to try a new kind of book group, you can find more information about Book Chat on the SPL website.

In other news, the Friends will be having a holiday book sale on November 19th in Building 30 at Magnuson Park.

Check out the updated Book Sale section for more information.


The Friends Have a New Website! June 15, 2011

Filed under: Book Sales,FriendShop,technology — friendsofspl @ 12:44 pm

For the past few months, members of the Friends Communications Committee have been hard at work designing and developing a new website. By replacing the old website, we hope to present a fresh new face for the Friends, make it easier to browse and find information, and to initiate an online membership option and volunteer forms. The new website will also have more photos, video, and charts, our events Calendar and Friends’ current news and events, as well as downloadable documents (like our publication, the Bookmark): all of which makes it easier for us to share the myriad ways the Friends are helping The Seattle Public Library.

Image via

To build our site, the Friends partnered with consulting group Visualscope, a local web design company. They were instrumental in helping us create a website that was exactly everything that we wanted. Thank you to all the folks at Visualscope!

Check us out at, and be sure to tell us what you think!


Policymakers, Please Note: Libraries Are Nation’s Computer Stop March 26, 2010

Are you at home looking at this blog? Are you at work?  We’re willing to bet that almost half of you are looking at this blog from your public library. Every time we walk into a library, we see full computer stations and laptops on desktops. “The computers are always jam-packed with neighbors of all ages, it is almost like the library functions as the South Park Computer Lab,” Shawna Murphy recently told us.

Now, a new study released this week from the University of Washington Information School, reveals exactly how many of us are relying on  library computer access for:  job searches (75% of respondents), health information (82% ), homework (42%), and staying in touch with family and friends (64%).

In the past year, one-third of our national population over the age of 14 used a public library to access a computer or to find wi-fi.

In the past year, 50% of the population between 14 and 18 used library computers – mostly for homework. 

What does this mean? It means libraries are indispensable extensions of our schools. They’re helping our kids with homework and college preparation and keeping our unemployed neighbors hopeful by offering a dependable and resourceful place to look for jobs. They’re bridging the digital divide that could separate us from one another.  They’re  a resource and investment that return exponential value to our communities-especially during periods of recession.

 “Policy makers must fully recognize and support the role libraries are playing in workforce development, education, health and wellness, and the delivery of government services,” Marsha Semmel of the Institute of Museum and Library Services said in response to the study’s findings.   Media headlines about the study also tell the story: “Web Usage up at libraries: many young, low-income people rely on public Internet access for research . . .” writes the Spokesman Review. “A third of Americans — about 77 million people — use public-library computers to look for jobs, connect with friends, do their homework and improve their lives,” writes the Seattle Times, citing the study’s findings. 

What can you do to help our libraries? Get involved with the Friends of The Seattle Public Library.


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.


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!


Free Online Access to Through the Library! November 10, 2009

consumer reports

Before you make your next big (or little) purchase, why not check out the product reviews and ratings on Now you can do that online for free through the Library’s web site at

 To find, go to and click on “Databases & Web Sites.”  Next, click on “Consumer Reports & Information” and then click on “Consumer Reports.”

If you are trying to access from a computer outside the Library, you will need to enter your Library card numbers and personal identification number (PIN) when prompted, and then press the Login button.

This is just one more way that the Seattle Public Library is helping its patrons during tough economic times. Be sure to take a look at the many other consumer resources available on the Consumer Reports and Information database.


The Seattle Public Library: A World Class Site — in More Ways Than One! November 7, 2009

Thanks to a grant from the Friends, the Seattle Public Library expanded its web site earlier this year to include more information for its patrons who speak Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Russian, and to add information in Somali and Amharic.  To reach these new web pages, go the Library web site and see the Audiences column on the right hand side of the page.  The Library staff compared the number of Web pages that these audiences used from March 2008 – October 2008 versus March 2009 – October 2009, and were delighted to see significant increases in usage as follows:

Spanish:  2,003 to 9,761 web pages used

Chinese:  3,041 to 10,114 web pages used

Vietnamese:  1,038 to 8,168 web pages used

Russian:  1,364 to 8,632 web pages used

The Friends are able to make grants like these from donations, revenues from the FriendShop, and proceeds from the Book Sale, so we’d like to share these thanks with all of you who support the Friends and the Seattle Public Library:

Gracias a los Amigos de la Biblioteca Pública de Seattle por proporcionar los fondos para el sitio Web de la biblioteca en idioma español (Thank you to the Friends of The Seattle Public Library for providing the funds for the Library’s Spanish language Web site).

衷心感谢Friends of The Seattle Public Library为扩建图书馆中文网页提供经费。 (Thank you to the Friends of The Seattle Public Library for providing the funds for the Library’s Chinese language Web site).

 Xin cám ơn Thân Hữu của Thư Viện Công Cộng Seattle đã cung cấp ngân quỹ cho trang Web tiếng Việt của Thư Viện (Thank you to the Friends of The Seattle Public Library for providing the funds for the Library’s Vietnamese language Web site).

Благодарим Общество друзей Публичной Библиотеки Сиэтла за предоставление финансовых средств для веб-сайта Библиотеки на русском языке (Thank you to the Friends of The Seattle Public Library for providing the funds for the Library’s Russian language Web site).

Mahadsanid Saaxiibta Maktabada Dadweynaha ee Seattle bixinta kharashka lagu soo saaray horudhacan Maktabada (Thank you to the Friends of The Seattle Public Library for providing the funds for this introduction to the Library in the Somali language).

ለሲያትል የህዝብ ቤተ መጻፍት ጓደኞች ለዚህ የቤተ መጻህፍት ማስታወቂያ እርዳታ ገንዘብ ስላቀረቡ ምስጋናችንን እናቀርባለን። (Thank you to the Friends of The Seattle Public Library for providing the funds for this introduction to the Library in the Amharic language).


Separating “truth from fiction and signal from noise” at our libraries October 23, 2009

October is National Information Literacy Awareness Month. President Obama outlined the meaning of Information Literacy in his recent proclamation, “Rather than merely possessing data, we must also learn the skills necessary to acquire, collate, and evaluate information for any situation. This new type of literacy also requires competency with communication technologies, including computers and mobile devices that can help in our day-to-day decision making.” He sheds  light on the important ways library staff  contribute to helping us interpret this abundance of information. He acknowledges,  “We now live in a world where anyone can publish an opinion or perspective, whether true or not, and have that opinion amplified within the information marketplace,” and cites libraries and universities as places  “that can help separate truth from fiction and signal from noise.”

Many people who responded thoughtfully to the question about library relevance in this digital age in our library value survey commented on the role librarians play in helping us find relevant information among all the misleading sources. Others talked about how they look to libraries to provide connections to technology.

Virginia Lore, a Delridge branch patron wrote, “I think libraries are more relevant than ever. The more resources we have at our disposal, the more urgently we need people to help us sort through those resources and find what is most relevant to us. Without the library, I think I’d often be overwhelmed by everything out there.”

Greenlake patron Abe Wenning wrote,  “As more and more information is put onto the internet, it becomes increasingly important to have librarians available to help people sort through it and find relevant and accurate information. While libraries may have to adapt, they will always remain relevant and integral to a democratic community.”

Jessica says, “Access to technology will continue to be an issue as will keeping the public up to date on current technology options. Reference librarians will continue to play a vital role in connecting visitors to new and old ways of accessing knowledge and to the books/websites/search engines themselves.”

For Charles in Fremont, libraries not only connect us with technology and help us discern sources, he writes, “Public libraries are the only informational gatekeepers that can be trusted to keep access open to the public in perpetuity.”

Please help us keep the gateway doors open in our neighborhoods by supporting the 2010 Library budget.

Our libraries provide many computer literacy classes and offer ESL supported computer learning. In August 09 email and live chat format information services at the library were up 38% over the previous year. Like one of our survey respondents said,  “And handy as Google is, if I really want to find the answer to a question, I ask a librarian. He or she might not know the answer, but they always know how to find it!”


I understand Kindles but I’m sorry, I need a book September 10, 2009

Kirby Lindsay

Kirby Lindsay

Blogger and writer, Kirby Lindsay uses Fremont branch and the virtual library and,  in the days before her blog Fremocentrist launched,  she talked with us about why she values libraries and books.   “The library saves me money. As I see books, magazines, music, and movies that I want, I think, ‘Oh good, I’ll be able to get that at the library’.” Kirby also mines the library’s subscription databases. “I wouldn’t subscribe to a database if I was only going to use it once so the library’s subscriptions allow me research options in my work. There’s an article from 1987 about the Aurora Bridge, for instance, that I have accessed.” She stops  in to check Consumer Reports when she’s researching a purchase, pops in with her nephew, and drops by to look at movies on her way to her weekly movie date with her 95 year old grandfather. Like several people we’ve talked with, Kirby uses online holds to  preview cross platform titles of interest, “Being able to go on-line to the library and say I want this, and this, and this, and having it appear on the shelf saved for me, feels like a magic trick.”

The library brings the Fremont community together. Kirby said, “Fremont gathers at its library, and yet the library serves as a calm, non-political entity in a chaotic neighborhood. The library is a draw point for the community. I go to meetings there and our library now has wheelchair access.  They have fascinating information on display from the Fremont Historical Society. They also have archives of the Outlook newspaper in print — something that modern technology can’t have. “

And about library relevance Kirby says, “I’m someone who understands Kindle but I’m sorry, I need a book. I need something to hold onto. I travel and I like to have a book I can take with me. Libraries won’t even slightly fade in relevance. As the world becomes more technology based we MUST preserve a place for the written word in a portable medium that is accessible without electricity – also a gathering place for people to meet face-to-face rather than through electronics.”

See Kirby’s writing about Fremont branch


See what’s happening at the Fremont branch

Become a member of Friends of The Seattle Public Library

Take our 5 minute survey on library value



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