Friends of Seattle Public Library Blog

The goings on of the Seattle Public Library.

2013 Annual Meeting October 2, 2013

On Sunday, October 6th, 2013, The Friends of The Seattle Public Library will hold its 72nd Annual meeting from 2-4 p.m. at the Queen Anne Library, 400 W Garfield (there is free on street parking surrounding the library). In addition to presenting an update on the activities and accomplishments of the Friends during the past year, the membership will elect new officers and board members.
The Friends 2013 Annual Members Meeting will also include a panel discussion in which local booksellers talk about the future of bookstores and libraries and their evolving roles in our community. The conversation will be moderated by Seattle City Librarian Marcellus Turner. If you would like more information on the 2013 Annual Meeting or to learn more about the Friends of the Seattle Public Library, please visit our website at or contact Alice Springer, at

Statement of Friends Activities

From revenues raised in 2012 by the Book Sales, FriendShop and other sources, the Friends made grants to the Library and contributed to the Libraries Yes! levy campaign as well as GiveBig to Books. These revenues also funded the Friends’ advocacy and community education activities. Find more financial info

2012 Grant Results

In 2012, $60,000 in grants made by the Friends to the Library supported the Summer Reading Program, Youth Programming and Staff Training. In addition, $50,000 in 2010 grants supported the Library’s Digital Media Lab project.
Find more about how the Library used these grants


Tell the Library What’s Important to You! May 4, 2010

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”: 

  • Books and other print resources
  • Audio-visual resources (audio books, DVDs, CDs)
  • Online resources

So how would you spend that $10?  Fill out the survey and let your voice be heard!


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.


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 ( 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, 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.


Think Big About Our Libraries January 31, 2010

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.


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!


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).


Preliminary Results: 94% Say Libraries Are Important Neighborhood Assets October 21, 2009

This summer The Planning Commissioners Journal ran a feature titled ” Libraries at the Heart of our Communities.” The author, Wayne Senville, wrote:

“The 21st century library has arrived. Its mission goes far beyond loaning out books and providing reference materials…

30 people waiting for the library to open on Sunday

30 people waiting for the library to open on Sunday

the library has become the hub of the community,drawing large numbers of users. This is happening because libraries are providing programs, meeting space, computer access, and resources to a broader array of community needs.”

Seattle community members, responding to our neighborhood library survey, reflected the same experience locally. Preliminary results show that more than 94% of respondents think the library is an important asset to their neighborhood.

David Howry, Senior Vice President of Frontier Bank in Lake City, said, “I have been in the community 7 years and I think the Library was renovated five years ago, and it’s really come into it’s own since then, I see lots of kids going over there. It’s busier than it’s been. I hear people say, ‘Well let’s go meet at the library.’ I see a lot of business people there using the computers. A lot of our clients are older and don’t own computers so we send them over to the library for that resource.”

Beth Williamson Miller Executive Director of the Ballard Chamber of Commerce, wrote, “Our community organizations especially value the Library for its meeting space. This is really an important part of our community’s ability to meet to discuss issues and thus solve problems. Ballard District Council, one of the strongest in the city, meets there monthly. It is a civic gathering place.”

Koni Olson, in West Seattle, wrote, “The library is an important asset to our community! It gives kids a place to go after school to study or use the internet. It gives people in the community an opportunity to get info and use the internet if they cannot afford to have it in their own home. It is a place to gather and to find entertainment or just a quiet place to be.”

Margie Roe, in North Seattle added, “Libraries are an important neighborhood asset…lots of folks using the computers, meeting rooms, and just running into each other. Great community gathering place.”

Melissa Ropke summed up our library’s value to neighborhoods as, “A place for all to borrow books, a place for children to learn about books and to become literate. Public access to computers, to meeting spaces, to special programs. I could go on and on.”

The Seattle Public Library served 13 million people last year. All measures of use are increasing rapidly. In August visits were up 11% over last year and circulation was up 21%. Demand for online homework help was up 110% over last year and media downloads were up 68%. Online and in our beautiful library buildings, Seattle is discovering the free resources of our neighborhood libraries.

Please speak out for library funding in the 2010 Budget. Libraries need your emails of support.

Sign our online petition or meet us in the community

Visit our website

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