Friends of Seattle Public Library Blog

The goings on of the Seattle Public Library.

Crunching The Numbers. Libraries Return Our Investment. May 17, 2012

If you use the library you’re seeing the lives it touches and understanding its value to your community.  But how do we describe that value to people who don’t use the library or to those who use it’s digital resources but don’t feel a personal need for the building itself?

Here’s one way to calculate the library’s value: Start by quantifying the dollar value of your own library use.  Input the materials and services you consume at the library into the library value calculator and you may be surprised at the monetary worth you enjoy. April Hichens, a local homeschooler, calculated a savings value of $18,000 in 2009.  

Now, let’s look at the bigger picture. In 2011 The Seattle Public Library offered over 6,400 free programs, hosted over 4,000 community meetings, and, in Central Library alone, provided 485,000 computer sessions. Imagine the value of those services and the lives they enhance. Zoom out even further and consider this…in 2010, America’s public libraries loaned roughly as many movies as Netflix, offered significantly more career assistance than the Department of Labor, and provided free meeting space that saved students, civic groups and businesses 3.2 billion dollars.  The value of direct library services is staggering and libraries generate even greater value by anchoring and enhancing their surrounding communities.

Seattle currently ranks in the top ten cities nationally in education and walkability and is the second most literate city in the nation behind Washington DC.  A strong library system provides foundation for all three of these achievements. According to Seattle Real Estate agent Adrian Willinger libraries drive the walkability of neighborhoods.  Walkability sustains our environment, draws business, and attracts skilled, intelligent people to the city. Libraries also play a critical role in education. In addition to partnerships with our local schools, afterschool support, and ongoing teen programs, Seattle Public Library provided free SAT prep for 228 students, helped more than 25,000 students with homework, and engaged 15,000 students in Summer reading programs in 2011. Libraries definately are an important component of our well-deserved reputation as a literate city. Funding our libraries so they can achieve the level of excellence envisioned when Seattle voted to expand and update the library system could return us to the top place as America’s most literate city, where we placed in 2005, 2006, and 2009.

Seattle Public Library plays an important role in the strength of surrounding business communities as well according to Christie McDanold of Ballard’s Secret Garden Bookshop, “We’re in a city that survives primarily on sales tax and secondarily on B and O tax,” she said. “If retailers don’t see customers then the city doesn’t collect sales tax. If you’re going to rely on tax then you need to ensure that the business core is kept in mind and realize that there are public services, like the library, that impact commerce, well being, and health.” The library also supports Seattle business in many ways from extensive small business and foundation start up resources to wifi access that many young entrepreneurs use.

Crunch the numbers and its clear that The Seattle Public Library quantifiably contributes to vibrant neigborhoods and civic well being.  Please join us in actively supporting The Seattle Public Library. Vote for the library levy on this August 8th!

 

Giggles and Competition at the Global Reading Challenge March 25, 2012

If you’re a parent of a fourth or fifth grader you may be anxiously awaiting the final round of a very special city-wide competition, The Global Reading Challenge (GRC).  The GRC, an annual contest, drew teams from over 45 schools to the 2012 semifinals on February 22nd. Ten teams that advanced, including Alki, Northgate, Graham Hill, Loyal Heights, and Greenwood, that had never before reached the final round (woo hoo!), will compete in an exciting night-time showdown in the Seattle Central Library’s Microsoft Auditorium on March 27 at 7 p.m. Will you be there?

The GRC, dubbed Battle of the Books, quizzes teams about elements from  ten assigned books. As Joan Abrevaya, Friends of The Seattle Public Library board member and volunteer for The Seattle Public Library, says about her four years of deepening involvement with GRC,  “One of the things that I love is talking to the kids and listening to their excitement and focus on the marvelous thing called reading.  They are as involved in reading these 10 books and answering questions as they are about sports.”

The teams, some with catchy names like, “The Title Waves,” prepare in different ways sometimes with a teacher, a librarian or volunteer. Parents help too, when they can, but many of the contestants come from families where parents are too busy to take on support.  But all children take this competition seriously. As Abrevaya notes, “One parent said that her daughter had a “play date” with some friends, during which they quizzed each other in preparation for the semi-finals.”

The winner of the March 27 contest will advance to face Canadian teams in a videoconferenced international final in early April. “There are tears at every session,” Abrevaya says, “when teams do not win but as Mary [Mary Palmer, children's librarian and organizer] tells the kids: ‘You are already winners. You have read great books and had a great time.’”

 

Five Reasons We Love Our Libraries March 17, 2012

A common adage: “You don’t know what you’ve got till its gone” comes to mind when thinking about The Seattle Public Library. This will be the third year in a row that all libraries have been compelled to close for at least one week during the year because of repeated dramatic cuts to their budget and consecutive years of insufficient funds to support the explosion of information and services needed by our community. We miss our libraries already because of the reduced hours at more than half our branch libraries. When we voted for Libraries For All over ten years ago we had such a different future in mind.

We can change this disturbing trend and  put our libraries back on the path of excellence by letting The Seattle City Council know that we support an August levy to restore and improve core services and to preserve what we have rather than accept yet another year of downgrading.  Consider attending the very important April 3rd City Council hearing on the Library’s request to place this levy before Seattle voters. 

Here are five reasons why we love our libraries and commit to supporting library services. We hope you’ll join us in active library support. Together we can return The Seattle Public Library to the standard of excellence we envisioned and provide it with needed funds to meet changing technological needs and the hopes of our neighborhoods.

1) The Seattle Public Library promotes academic success for all children and students and provides much needed afterschool computer access and homework help for kids in families with financial need. 

2)Libraries are our community gathering points and our city’s classroom.

3)The Seattle Public Library evens the playing field for poor and unemployed adults and helps them recover stability by providing computer access, free information, and job hunting resources.

4)The library is free!  High speed bandwidth and computers, famous authors, books, e-books, databases, podcasts, movies, resources in six languages, classes, tax help- it’s all free.

5) Libraries anchor our neighborhoods by contributing to economic health and promoting an atmosphere of community.

 

 

The experience of reading was…….

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.

 

Spend Your Lunch Hour with Nancy Pearl on Monday, December 12th! December 8, 2011

Filed under: Branch Happenings,FriendShop — friendsofspl @ 12:51 am
Tags: , ,

Library Journal’s 2011 Librarian of the Year and literary tastemaking author Nancy Pearl will be appearing at the FriendShop, located on the third floor of Central Library, on Monday, December 12th from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Nancy will be signing copies of her books as well as the recently released 2012 Friends of the Seattle Public Library Calendar.

Nancy is the author of Book Lust and a half-dozen other titles that provide book recommendations for every type of reader. She developed “If All of Seattle Read the Same Book,” a program that has inspired similar “One City One Book” campaigns across the country. Nancy is a frequent contributor to NPR’s “Morning Edition.” Monday’s signing provides an opportunity to meet a bone fide library legend.

While at the FriendShop pick up a copy of the 2012 Friends planner, which features Nancy on its cover, to plan next year’s reading. The shop also features a wide variety of unique gifts for book-lovers and others with discriminating tastes on your holiday shopping list. All proceeds from sales at the FriendShop support The Friends of the Seattle Public Library.

We look forward to seeing you on Monday!

The Friends of the Seattle Public Library

 

Library Furlough Begins August 29 August 2, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — friendsofspl @ 10:26 pm
Tags: ,

For the third year in a row, The Seattle Public Library will close for a week from August 29 through September 5 to meet budget shortfalls.  Here is the Library’s page explaining what will be happening.  A recent article on the International Examiner website discusses how this closure is a hardship for our neediest citizens.  Maggie Taylor, the Vice President of the Friends of the Seattle Public Library was interviewed for the article, and she notes how library usage has been up over the last several years.  Vital services such as free computer access and classes for ESL students will also be suspended during the closure.

The Friends of the Seattle Public Library will continue to advocate for the preservation of the Library’s budget because the Library is a vital service.  We hope that in the future these library closures will no longer be necessary to bridge the budget gap.  For more information on our advocacy efforts, please visit our (new) website.

 

Your Next 5 Books July 24, 2011

Filed under: What we read — friendsofspl @ 1:30 pm
Tags: , ,

Do you ever look at all the book choices out there and wish someone could just tell you what to read next?  Wish no more!  The Seattle Public Library has started Your Next 5 Books, a program that does just that.  Simply write a message about the kind of things you like to read.  Write about authors, genres and subject matter; the more information the better.  Then a librarian at Seattle Public Library will come up with a list of 5 (or sometimes more) books that they think you will enjoy.  Click here to try it.  A few of the Friends Board members have tried the service and were impressed with the results.  Also, check out Hillary Warden’s review of her experience with Your Next 5 Books on Thothy Blog.

Happy reading!

 

2010 Friends of SPL Wrap-up January 13, 2011

Now that 2010 is over and a new year is beginning it is time to reflect on what we did in the last year and look forward to 2011.  2010 was a busy year for the Friends and the Library, here are just some of the highlights (and lowlights) of last year:

  • The year started out with tough city-wide budget cuts.  15 of our branch libraries were reduced in hours.
  • Seattle Public Library began working on a strategic plan.  Citizens and the Friends were asked for input.
  • The Friends’ Book Sales were a huge success.  We held Spring, Fall and Holiday Sales.  We are always impressed by the great turn out of donations, volunteers and of course, shoppers!
  • The Friends Blog partnered with the Seattle Public Library to get out the word about the Summer Reading Program.
  • The FriendShop had tons of great featured artist events all year long.
  • The Friends were seen at Farmer’s Markets all over the city to spread the word about what we do and to get people excited about the Seattle Public Library.
  • Once again, the Library closed for a week-long furlough leading up to Labor Day to help close the budget gap.
  • On October 1, the Friends held a reading flash mob in Westlake Center.  It was fun and attracted a lot of media attention!
  • The Friends created a Public Service Announcement.   Look for it on the Seattle Channel!
  • Building 30 at Magnuson Park where the Book Sales are held has been in danger of being closed.  The Friends have been trying to get the word out to save this great space for ourselves and other groups all over Seattle.
  • The Friends have partnered with the Fisher Foundation in Connecticut to get books into classrooms in need.
  • City Librarian Susan Hildreth was appointed Director of Museum and Library Services by the President!

Now that was a busy year!  What does 2011 have in store?  Probably a tight city budget again.  A search for a new City Librarian.  Definitely some Book Sales and great finds at the FriendShop.  Happy New Year!

 

Six-Year-Old Sends Her Allowance to Keep Libraries Open October 3, 2010

The Friends of the Seattle Public Library recently received a letter from one of our supporters, Ani J.  The letter reads:

” Dear Library,

I want to share my allowance money so you can stay open.  I am 6 years old.  Here is $11.  (as dictated to mom, aka scribe)”

Thank you Ani!  Your contribution means so much to us.  We are happy that you use and love The Library.

If you are reading this and also want to help support The Seattle Public Library, an anonymous donor has pledged $500,000 to support The Seattle Public Library if the citizens of Seattle can raise a matching amount.  To donate, go to the Seattle Public Library Foundation website.  Let’s make a million dollars for The Library!

Another way you can help is to attend City Council budget hearings and voice your support for The Library.  Seattle is facing huge budget cuts again this year.  Come and let the Council know how valuable libraries are to our community.  For a schedule of budget hearings go the City Council’s website.

 

Thanks for Patricipating in Summer Reading at the Library! August 17, 2010

Filed under: Summer Reading Program — friendsofspl @ 4:39 pm
Tags: ,

Hope you read, read, read this summer and took advantage of the Seattle Public Library’s renowned Summer Reading Program.  Research shows that kids who read even only 4-5 books in the summer score better on fall reading tests.  And for the over 50 crowd, lifelong learning boosts mental longevity.  And for all of you in between, read for PLEASURE–experts tell us that reading a few minutes a day reduces your stress level!!!
Check your branch for the remaining Summer Reading Program events and tell your librarian how many books you and your family read this summer.  This year’s summer goal is 148,000 books read.  Don’t forget that the Library’s closed next week due to budget cuts.  We’ll report the number of books read when we reopen.  Thanks for taking part in the 2010 Summer Reading Program and for making Seattle a book-friendly place to be.
 

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.