“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.