Friends of Seattle Public Library Blog

The goings on of the Seattle Public Library.

Please Keep My Library Open! May 12, 2012

Filed under: Library Levy — friendsofspl @ 6:20 pm

Library users and union members gather at Central Library to protest the first of several one week closures of the entire Library system that began in 2009 as a result of budget shortages

The Library Levy that Seattle will vote on in August is, in part, a response to the hopes of thousands of Seattleites who made their opinions clear in feedback at community meetings and in online surveys between 2010 and January of this year. One message sent loud and clear was, “Please keep my library open!”

Passage of the levy will restore Sunday hours to every neighborhood library and stop the  week long closures neighborhoods have experienced each year since 2009.  Ironically, reduced hours began months after the successful rennovation of the library system was completed in late 2008 when the city failed to find or allocate ample funding to fully operate Seattle’s Libraries For All vision.  Public demand was already surging by 2000 and  has since grown by a phenomenal 45%.  Passage of this levy will restore the vision of library excellence to our community and re-open our neighborhood libraries as voters intended.

Fifteen of our 26 neighborhood libraries currently operate only 35 hours a week now.  In library feedback, patrons described the hardship working families experience in trying to access the library and talked about the sad impact on children through lost computer time, loss of story times and other programs, and lack of access to reference librarians or collections. For some, shortened hours have made the library impossible to get to anymore. Reactions have ranged between frustration and disheartenment.

Voters, you took the lead  in establishing our strong expanded library system.  Now the vision is at risk and the demand is not being met. Please join us in voting for library excellence and re-opening the library doors. Vote yes on the library levy in August!


Without Hesitation: Queen Anne Library patrons sign petition April 13, 2009


“Good morning, I’m with Friends of The Seattle Public Library, would you be interested in signing a petition urging Seattle City Council to preserve Library funding?” That was the greeting that Friends vice president Jennifer Johnson-Fong gave to her fellow library patrons between 10 am and 12 noon on Saturday, April 11 on the sidewalk  outside the Queen Anne Library.

“So many patrons reached for my clipboard without any hesitation,” said Johnson-Fong,I’m so pleased that I collected that many signatures [68] in two hours. It really shows how busy the Queen Anne branch is, which reflects the huge increase in usage of all neighborhood branches of The Seattle Public Library since the economic downturn. I remember talking to one couple who said they are currently unemployed. But they were really interested in knowing more about what they could do beyond signing the petition. I directed them to our Friends blog where they could find out more about the effects of the economy on The Library’s usage and the potential of cuts to The Library budget. I encouraged them to e-mail their story to Seattle City Council members directly. I wished them both luck with their job searches and told them how much I appreciated their willingness to do more. Clearly, this couple considers The Library an essential service in their lives.”

“Another woman I spoke to said she hadn’t ever used her Library before she became unemployed. Happily, she found another job and is now a faithful library user and enthusiastically signed the petition.”

“I got to connect with people who really appreciated that I was there volunteering to help them raise their voice in support of The Seattle Public Library. I saw patrons of every age today, and really that’s what libraries are about — they are about all people enriching their lives. I’m really honored to have the chance to present these signatures from my fellow Queen Anne Library patrons to the Seattle City Council this coming Monday, April 13th at the Special Budget meeting. Hopefully, we’ll have even more signed petitions from other neighborhood branches for the Monday, April 20th meeting.”

The Friends are busy collecting signatures at as many branches as possible, but don’t have enough volunteers to petition the branches they reach more than once. If you didn’t get a chance to sign the petition but want to show your library support you can email your councilmembers tell them how you use The Library and ask them to support Library funding:,,,,,,,,

Seattle City Council is cutting 43 million dollars from the new 2009 City budget. It’s unknown as yet what services will be cut. The Queen Anne petition will be presented during public comment at the Special Budget meeting in City Council Chambers on 13 April at 10:30 am. If you’d like to attend or get more information on how you can help, please email


In Neighborhoods and District Councils collections rank high October 9, 2008

Here’s what Tony had to say,

“Hello, my name is Tony.  I live in the Ravenna Wedgewood are and I use the Lake City and Northeast branch.

I’m here as a Friend of the Library to thank you for support of our libraries and the communities who rely on them and to ask for your support once again.

I’m concerned that the proposed budget for the Library’s collections of books and materials is 2.2 million dollars below the amount that is actually needed.

From my meeting with Neighborhood District Councils and other members of the community the single most important concern expressed was the lack of adequate collections and materials and the overly long wait times for materials.

Since the start of the Libraries For All project the Library system and it’s circulation have doubled. Yet the library’s books and materials budget is no better than it was in 2001 because of repeated reductions combined with the impact of inflation.

The Library’s ideal books and materials budget is 7.8 million. The 2009 proposed budget only provides 5.6 million. The library needs 2.2 million to fill the gap.

Besides adding popular titles and purchasing additional copies, the library is buying more media formats, purchasing electronic databases, and buying more foreign language materials to serve a growing Immigrant and Refugee population.

With a weakening economy, more people are borrowing and using materials rather than purchasing them. They’re using the libraries to search for jobs, apply for social services, learn to read, learn English, and use computers for access to the Internet.

We need to ensure that our library resources are available to people when they need them most. We need 2.2 million dollars added to the library’s collections budget.  Thank you.


The next opportunity to speak to City Council is Oct 27 at 5:30. Please consider telling your Councilmembers why you believe collections dollars need to be increased.  You can enter “official testimony” in person after 5:30 or by telephone and email between 4:30 and 5:30. Join us at the hearings or help us right now. Here’s how:

The library’s collections budget is 2.2 million dollars short of projected needs. Please ask City Council to increase the collections budget to meet neighborhood demand. Tell them your name, the branch library you use, what you use the library for, and why you think the collections budget should be increased. Councilmember emails:,,,,,,,, 

For more information or ideas on other ways you could help:


Vote by email October 6, 2008

Neighborhoods are just getting settled into their new and rennovated branch libraries and usage is skyrocketing. Funding cuts coming now,  just as the library is completing it’s ten year growth and expansion, Libraries For All, would hit hard.

The Libraries For All project that Seattle passed in 1998 was the largest capital bond in the United States at the time.  It guided the rennovation of existing libraries, built a new Central library and added service to some neighborhoods. That kind of public investment and support drew national attention and created a library system with International recognition. The Ballard, Beacon Hill, Douglass-Truth, South Park, Northgate, and Montlake branches and Central library have garnered many community and architectural awards.

Seattle, we voted with our pocketbooks and now we’re voting with our feet. Visits to Central library are up 211% since 2003. Now we need to vote by email in order to protect our investment. Please help Friends of The Seattle Public Library tell elected officials that library collections need their support.  The Mayor has proposed funding that is 2.2 million dollars short of the library’s need. Please ask City Council to increase the mayor’s proposed collections budget to bring it nearer the amount the library must have to meet growing neighborhood demand. Councilmember emails:,,,,,,,,


Kate Pappas…Adding value in Rainier Beach September 4, 2008

What a terrific testimony to being involved and appreciated by one’s community….


Kate Pappas


Rainier Beach    

What is your favorite word? 

I think “thanks” is about the best word around!       

What word do you wish you had made up? 

After cleaning my windshield, I’d have to say I wish I’d made up the word “squeegee” because it sounds so funny, exactly like what it does after you Windex the window.

How did you become librarian of your branch?

I worked at the old Holly Park branch, and had some hours at Rainier Beach. During a musical chairs redistribution of CSL staff,  the rest of my hours got shifted to The Beach. I discovered  then that I liked being there full-time, and I still do.

What is on your desk right now?

Right now, there is a puppet cat named “Midnight,” five little toy mice that came as prizes in bags of “Good Mews” kitty litter, some children’s paperbacks, a flannel board set that I need to put away, a little Polish doll and a pair of Mickey and Minnie salt and pepper shakers.



(We won’t mention the calendar, photos and comic strips on the bulletin board)       

Tell us about your library. 

Our library is one of the best in the world. We are the most-southeasterly of the city libraries, in a diverse neighborhood not too far from Lake Washington. Our building theme (after Libraries For All) suggests a beach. We have wavy bulletin boards, ripple designs in our pavement, and restful beach colors of sand and soft blue. The children’s area (my personal favorite –can you tell that I’m a children’s librarian?) even has bookcases with frogs, cat-tails and a sea-gull.       

How long have you been at the branch?

Part-time since 1989 and full-time since 1995 (except, of course, when I was redeployed during the remodeling)       

What other posts do you hold in your community?

none–”children’s librarian” is fine with me   

What is the biggest impact the capitol campaign has had on your branch?    

We have changed from a dingy, industrial, gloomy facility, to a bright and inviting building with increased space, study rooms, and inviting lighting. I love to see the faces of people who haven’t been here for a while, who remember the old branch. They always have compliments and they always comment about how they liked how it has changed. Of course, we always respond with “Thank you–it’s nice to hear that; we like it too!”    

How does your relationship with the community affect your programming?    

My long-term relationship with the Rainier Beach community affects my programming in two ways.
First, of course, people seem to think of me as a ‘community helper and friend.”  Many of them know me and recognize me, as they did at a recent community event held in a local park (we had a table next to other community organizations at a “Back 2 School Bash” picnic where children were given backpacks filled with school supplies) 


School children are delighted to walk in and see me because, they tell me, “You came to my school!” Parents and teachers have also gotten to know me, and it has been my joy to watch so many young people grow up and mature. Some area child care centers have asked me to visit them and do presentations on Early Literacy. I feel that the community considers me, overall, to be a useful member and welcomed all over.


Second, when planning library programs for our community, I try to think of programs which will appeal to our diverse and multicultural clientele. Amy Twito always has an excellent selection of summer programs from which we can choose. Valerie Wonder has helped us begin and continue story times held in Mandarin Chinese which have a small but loyally devoted audience.




Seattle Residents are Literate, Well-Educated and Love Books July 1, 2008

Taken from Seattle Central Library Economics Benefit paper:

Seattle is the second most literate city in America, according to a 2004 University of Wisconsin study of cities with populations over 200,000. “Seattle would have been number one,” said researcher Jack Miller, “except for its aging and relatively under used libraries.” This deficiency is rapidly changing, with the Libraries for All program revitalizing libraries across the City. Miller also confirmed what Seattleites have been saying for years: the City supports more bookstores per capita than any other city in the country.

Seattle has been a launching pad for numerous literacy and reading encouragement programs. In 1996, “America’s Favorite Librarian,” Nancy Pearl, launched What If All of Seattle Read the Same Book, a community-wide book club that has been duplicated in more than 50 cities across the country and internationally . Nancy Pearl has since become a cult hero, with two books – Book Lust and More Book Lust – and her own action figure.

According to the Census Bureau, Seattle has one of the highest rates of college education among large U.S. cities, with 49% of the population holding at least a bachelors degree.

This passion for education and reading contributes to the community’s overall quality of life and translates into support for the arts. This support benefits the Seattle Art Museum, the Seattle Symphony, and the Seattle Opera, which has the highest per capita attendance of any opera company in the country (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 1, 2004).

So what are you waiting for! Get to your local branch today and hug your librarian! :-)



Don’t let libraries get cut this year. Vote now! June 6, 2008

Filed under: In The Community — friendsofspl @ 5:37 am
Tags: , , ,

Councilman Tim Burgess has a poll on his website it’s on the left hand column toward the bottom. Please vote now for libraries. The Stranger’s slog today reported libraries are getting the least support so far but that’s because most library supporters are unaware of the survey. Erica Barnett writes on her slog post: tim_burgess_asks_what_shouldnt_we_cut

The city’s library system is reportedly one of the most vulnerable city departments going into this year’s round of budget cuts.

Please, Don’t let this happen! Send a clear message to Councilmember Burgess by voting for libraries as this year’s budget priority.


Related Links:


Libraries For All – What’s The Impact? June 2, 2008

Just thought I would share a little piece about the central library, explaining further the capitol campaign. Every time I mention I work with the Friends, I see people’s eyes light up and they literally gush about the architecture of the Central Library. On Nov. 3, 1998, Seattle voters overwhelmingly approved the $196.4 million “Libraries for All” bond measure to upgrade The Seattle Public Library with new facilities, technology, and books. The bond money, which can be used only for construction of libraries, is funding a new central library and new and improved branches. The “Libraries for All” Web site includes detailed information about the entire building program. For information about individual branch projects, see Neighborhood Branches.

(photos taken from flickr)

Related links:

-          The Friends Flickr account

-          Flickr photos on Central Library

-          Each month we feature a local branch and feature the great librarians that work there


Libraries For All – The Madrona-Sally Goldmark Branch May 26, 2008

So, back to our intention of writing monthly about the librarians…. 

About The Libraries For All Campaign

On Nov. 3, 1998, Seattle voters overwhelmingly approved the $196.4 million “Libraries for All” bond measure to upgrade The Seattle Public Library with new facilities, technology, and books. The bond money, which can be used only for construction of libraries, funded a new central library and new and improved branches. The “Libraries for All” Web site includes detailed information about the entire building program. For information about individual branch projects, see Neighborhood Branches. Check out some of the photos from their library opening!

About The Branch

- Branch Homepage
- Historical Info
About The Librarians….
Had a chance to chit-chat with the Children and Teen Librarians, Lynn Lorenz and Amy Gipson. I’m beginning to think that these ladies are either very tidy with their desks or they are being modest. :-) Aside from that, I’m constantly blown away by how much service these librarians give to their communities. Some days, going to work and making sure the dog gets out on time is all I can get done. There must be a telephone booth out back for these gals to change into their Super Hero costumes, because they pack their days.

Here are their 15-minutes of fame with the Friends…


Lynn Lorenz: Children’s Librarian

Question Answer
What is your favorite word? Fiasco! I like to use it generously to describe even minor disturbances.
What word do you wish you had made up? Synergy – meaning the cooperative, healthy interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects. You know it when you feel it.
How did you become librarian of your branch? I went to my first interview at SPL as I was still finishing up my MLIS at the University of Washington. I was very fortunate to be hired as the Children’s Librarian at Madrona and the Children’s/Teen Librarian at Montlake. I relinquished my split personality and am now exclusively at Madrona.
What is on your desk right now? I haven’t personalized my desk yet as we just moved into the newly renovated branch. In front of me is a tablet where I wrote down the first reference questions we got on opening day. The first was from a young patron named Lena who asked “Can you show me where the comics are?” and the second was from a young boy looking for the book “A Practical Guide to Monsters” which we found on our New & Interesting shelf. 
Tell us about your library. We are a one-room library with a very rich history. The building was Fire Station No. 12 until 1971 when it was turned into a reading center called the Book-tique as a result of the efforts of local activist and library namesake Sally Goldmark, along with the Seattle Public Library board of trustees. A lot has happened between now and then! With our latest transformation through Libraries For All, we took the opportunity to respond to the community’s changing demographics and reading interests. We have more children’s books and media than ever and our adult collection has a focus on current fiction and popular nonfiction subjects like cooking, travel, parenting, and health.
How long have you been at the branch? Since late 2001.
What other posts do you hold in your community? I volunteer and help organize a lot of progressive political events. It’s always a pleasant surprise when I see library patrons at marches and rallies and we do the double-take ‘Oh! That’s where I know you from!’ look.
What is the biggest impact the capitol campaign has had on your branch? Our collection is 100 times more browse-able due to the new design and layout. The environment is light and airy and easy on the eyes…
How does your relationship with the community affect your programming?  There are a lot of schools – both public and private – in Madrona and Madison Park. I have the opportunity to visit them all with great programs –  the Summer Reading Program, the Global Reading Challenge, author visits, opera…you name it! With lots of families with young children in the area, our Story Times are rockin’.

Amy Gipson: Teen Librarian (pictured w daughter)

Question Answer
What is your favorite word? Holiday
What word do you wish you had made up? Intrinsic
How did you become librarian of your branch? I spent three years as a Teen Services Librarian at Rainier Beach before coming to Madrona.  Initially I came to Madrona as a temporary branch manager.  I fell in love with the community and staff and ended up applying for the permanent position of Adult/Teen Services Librarian.  Prior to joining SPL I worked in philanthropy, libraries and non-profits.
What is on your desk right now? Since we’ve just opened we’re still working on getting everything organized.  So right now I have a pile of paperwork, notes, lists of things to do, school-visit schedules, etc.  I share a desk with Madrona’s marvelous and talented Children’s Librarian Lynn Lorenz.
Tell us about your library. At 1,700 square feet, Madrona has the distinct honor of being the smallest branch in the system.  Our doll house of a library is home to many school-aged kids, with several schools in the area (Madrona K-8 is directly across the street and St. Therese is only 3 blocks away).  We also have a lot of families with young children who frequent the branch together—it’s a very youth oriented place. The branch has the capacity to hold 14,000 items and during LFA approximately 3,000 new items were added to the collection.  Our reading area is named for Macon “Mimi” Howard, a former member of the SPL board of trustees and a current member of the board of the SPLF.  One of the interesting things about our branch is that it was originally built in 1919 as a fire station.  When the fire station closed in 1971, local activist Sally Goldmark worked with the library board to recreate the vintage brick building to serve as a library.
How long have you been at the branch? I have been at Madrona since summer of 2006 but took one year of leave when I had my daughter (who is now 15 months old). 
What other posts do you hold in your community? None at this time.
What is the biggest impact the capitol campaign has had on your branch? All of the changes have had a huge impact on our branch.  The community is thrilled (as are staff) about the new building.  Although we didn’t get any bigger, everyone agrees that the building ‘feels’ bigger.  We have an updated collection, more computers, and a reconfigured interior so both patrons and staff can more efficiently use the branch—which also gives us more space for programming and storytimes.
How does your relationship with the community affect your programming?  Because there are so many families with young children and school-age kids in the neighborhood, our collection and programming focus is on them.  I’m excited about the teen book arts workshops we have coming up this summer.  I would also love to start a parent/teen bookgroup if there is interest and of course, will be surveying patrons to learn what types of programs they would like to see at Madrona.  After being closed for almost a year, it’s been so wonderful to see our ‘regulars’ again and great to meet those who are new to the neighborhood and library.

Let it be known: The Seattle Public Library Staff ROCKS! May 22, 2008


The Seattle Public Library staff IS The Library.  These are the people who make Seattle‘s beautiful Libraries for All buildings expansive, personal and meaningful on a daily basis for the neighborhoods they serve and for the entire city of Seattle.


Please join the Friends board members in written tribute to the inspirational service The SPL staff brings to Seattle neighborhoods and the entire city.  Thank You to The Seattle Public Library’s rocking staff!



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