Statement of Friends Activities
2012 Grant Results
Find more about how the Library used these grants
Statement of Friends Activities
2012 Grant Results
As noted in our February 4 post, the Seattle Public Library is undergoing a strategic planning process to explore the future of the Library and how to prioritize existing resources. In March, community members provided input at 5 open house meetings about possible new models, services and roles for the Library. Click here if you want to find out more about the strategic planning process or to read the summary of comments received at the open houses.
Now it’s your turn to tell the Library what’s important to you by completing the patron survey, which is available Monday, May 3 through Sunday, May 16. I completed the survey, and found out a number of things I didn’t know that the Library offers — for example, did you know that you can make an appointment to get help from a geneology librarian if you’re trying to put together your geneology chart? How about librarian assistance available 24 hours a day via online chat?
I also realized that I haven’t been taking advantage of some of the on-line resources offered by the Library, like e-books, e-audio, and video that can be downloaded, streaming content (music and video), and access to thousands of magazines, newspapers, journals, encyclopedias, indexes and other reference resources.
The toughest question for me to answer was something like “if you had only $10 to invest in Library resources, how much (using whole dollars like $5 instead of $5.25) would you spend for each of the following”:
So how would you spend that $10? Fill out the survey and let your voice be heard!
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. firstname.lastname@example.org
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 (email@example.com). Tell them your name and neighborhood and ask them to preserve library funding in 2010 and to budget full library funding in 2011.
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:
For more information, see the SPL website, email firstname.lastname@example.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.
Have you ever dreamed of how our libraries could be? Do you have ideas of how libraries could be better? Is there a service you need that isn’t being offered? In early March The Seattle Public Library will be asking all of us to “think big” about the future of the library…stay tuned to this blog for more information.