Friends of Seattle Public Library Blog

The goings on of the Seattle Public Library.

Celebrating Our 2013 Friends of the Year October 13, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — friendsofspl @ 6:59 pm

One of the highlights of the Friends of The Seattle Public Library annual meeting is honoring a Friend of the Year — a volunteer or member who has made an extraordinary contribution to the Friends’ work in the past year. However, this year, we just couldn’t narrow it down to one, so two awards were presented: to Tyler Henry, of Discover Books, and long-time volunteer Taylor Trusdale.

Tyler Henry works for Discover Books, a company that resells, distributes, and recycles used books. So far, they have donated over 6.1 million books to non-profit organizations in North America and abroad.


In partnership with the Friends, Tyler works to provide privately donated books to schools for needy children; they’ve donated over 20,000 books so far, and each student gets to pick 5 to 10 books to take home. He says it’s a great feeling to see their eyes light up when they realize they can pick out their very own books and keep them forever. In addition, Discover has also provided almost 10,000 books to the FriendShop for sale. Congratulations, Tyler!

Taylor Trusdale is a hard-working and dedicated Friends volunteer. He has worked the semi-annual book sales for many years, often working multiple shifts, and is generous with his time year-round, volunteering twice a week at the Friends’ office. Thank you for your service, Taylor!


Would you like to help the Friends? We always need volunteers to help out at our book sales, work the FriendShop, sort book donations, and more. Learn more about our volunteering opportunities and contact us for more information — who knows, you might be a future Friend of the Year in the making!


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


Candidates Read at the Central Library June 10, 2013

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The Friends of the Seattle Public Library will be hosting “Candidates Read (and Greet),” a Seattle mayoral candidate event, on Monday, June 17, at 6 p.m. at the Central Library. The event will be moderated by Dan Dixon , president of the Library Board.

Each of the candidates has been invited to read a selection from a book of their choice — a book that shaped them as a person, meant a great deal to their lives, or simply their favorite book. After the readings, there will be a short question-and-answer session dedicated to literacy, library issues, and library funding. Attendees will learn more about important library issues that will affect Seattle’s political landscape for future generations.

Seven candidates are currently scheduled to participate:

  • Joey Gray
  • Bruce Harrell
  • Kay Martin
  • Mary Martin
  • Ed Murray
  • Charlie Staadecker
  • Peter Steinbrueck

Update:  Mayor McGinn is now confirmed to participate


Message from the Board June 9, 2013

Filed under: Newsletter — friendsofspl @ 10:06 pm
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It has been a busy spring for the Friends.

Our Book Sale Operations Team, Alice Springer and her Assistant Katy Bourne, have had many successes:

  • We have recruited many new and some former volunteers sorting books at our new location.
  • We welcomed work teams from Whole Foods, Starbucks, the Seattle Women’s Foundation and the UW Graduate School of Engineering to assist with sorting, boxing and sale activities.
  • We received six palettes of new books from publishers attending the ALA winter conference.
  • We have implemented new scanning and book-listing software that is proving to be financially successful.
  • We look forward to our Summer Book Sale on June 22nd and 23rd at North Seattle Community College.
  • We also look forward to a “big” Fall Sale at Magnuson Park September 20-22, with a member only preview in the evening of the 20th.

The Friends has distributed roughly half of our Title I school vouchers. The program is made possible by an ongoing grant from the Renee B. Fischer Foundation. Teachers use their $100 vouchers to obtain books for their classroom libraries.

Through our partnership with Discover Books, the Friends has provided nearly 5000 in books to elementary school children at two Title I schools, bringing the total number of books we’ve distributed to well over 10,000 since staring the program last fall.  A third “give-away” is scheduled for June.

The FriendShop has completed its second successful “Pop-Up” sale, most recently at the Northeast Branch. At the request of The Library, Board and Shop volunteers have participated in each of the Sunday branch opening celebrations.

The Friends is hosting a Candidates Read event on June 17th at the Central Library. Each of Seattle’s mayoral candidates will be reading a selection from his or her favorite book or author. Library Board President, Dan Dixon, will be moderating the event. Event details will be posted on the Friends’ website, as well as our Facebook and Twitter pages. We look forward to seeing many of you that evening!

We continue to be grateful to our many members and volunteers. Through your efforts and support, we are able to fulfill our mission of supporting The Library and its strategic goals and service priorities.

Respectfully submitted,

Maggie Taylor


Reimagining our Libraries for the Next Generation

Filed under: Newsletter — friendsofspl @ 10:05 pm
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Eighteen months ago, I assumed one of the most revered positions in the library world – serving as your city librarian.  The responsibility of managing one of the city’s most treasured community resources has truly been an honor and a privilege.  Seattle is a city of readers and it’s wonderful to live and work in a city where people care deeply about their libraries.

In 1998, we embarked on the “Libraries for All” program to give Seattle a system of libraries to revolutionize what we do. And we did, renovating or building new libraries including the world-renowned Central Library.

Unfortunately, several years of budgets cuts followed.  But we managed, streamlined and survived.  And we developed a plan to stabilize the Library budget.  A seven-year, $122 million Library levy received overwhelming public support, thanks to each and every one of you.  As a result, we are delivering on our promises for increased operating hours, more print and electronic books, movies and music, upgraded technology and an improved budget for building maintenance and repair.

Now, however, we face the challenge of redefining how our Library does business. The technology and publishing industries are physically and literally changing the landscape of libraries. They are causing us to rethink what we do, how we do it, and more importantly, who can have access to it. Technology and publishing combined are the two biggest game changers in the Library world today. They are impacting what we do with our collections and that in turn changes the work of our reference and shelving staff.  In effect, our current way of doing business is losing its relevance and is slowly becoming a dated business practice.

As more books are available online and more people buy devices to access them, the circulation of physical books will decline.  At our libraries, circulation of downloadable media is up 67 percent over last year and virtual visits have surpassed our in-person visits by nearly 1 million. Likewise, our Wi-Fi access has increased and onsite computer usage has lessened.  While some of that was the result of significant budget cuts and policy changes around the lending of materials we can see shifts in how patrons are using us.

Even so, we hope that the restoration of critical resources and services via the Levy will reverse these trends.

Over the next decade, as more children grow up in an increasingly digital world, our lives and libraries will continue to change.  We must serve our community in new, innovative and compelling ways to meet our mission and survive in an increasingly competitive and difficult public funding environment.

And lest you think our core service deliverables are changing, they aren’t. Patrons still want to check out materials, ask librarians for help, and seek educational classes and lectures to further their intellectual and recreational interests. It’s just that the ways people now access information are transforming the way people use libraries and we must adapt.

Our solution, the vision I am sharing, has been shaped by public and staff comments, philosophical and directional discussions with other Library systems, personal introspection, and what is happening in the world, including advances in technology.

Our efforts are grounded in the Strategic Plan and emphasize five key areas that will assure our long-term success as we adapt to a changing world, blending our work with the values of Seattle residents.

These five areas are:

  • supporting youth and early learning
  • using technology for access and experience
  • enhancing our program of civic and public engagement
  • curating and preserving Seattle culture and history and
  • reimagining our Library spaces to create new patron experiences.

Our business, role and value still matter. Our business remains access to information.  And our role and value – providing a means for continuous personal growth and self-fulfillment, and serving as a vehicle for community connection and betterment stays true.

We have the opportunity to focus on what we want our future to look like and how we can get there. As we move forward on the five priorities, we will explore new and innovative ways to serve our community. We need to put aside our traditional thinking about libraries. We want to reimagine The Seattle Public Library in creative new ways that ensure the educational, cultural and economic health of our vibrant city. I’m excited about the Library’s future and want to hear your thoughts or ideas.




Where Does the Money Go?

Filed under: Newsletter — friendsofspl @ 10:04 pm
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In 2012, the Friends gave $92,945 in Direct Support of the Library.


  • $60,000 in Grants to the Library, including $25,000 for the 2012 Summer Reading Program, $30,000 for Youth Programming, and $5,000 for Staff Training
  • $5,000 to the Library through Seattle Foundation’s GiveBIG event
  • $24,000 to the Libraries Yes! campaign in support of the library levy
  • $4,098 in Library Staff Appreciation

Interview with Eileen Gunn

Filed under: Newsletter — friendsofspl @ 10:03 pm
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We sat down with Eileen Gunn, the Nebula-award-winning author, on a Tuesday afternoon at her home in Seattle. We talked about publishers, the future of paper books and the Seattle Library system. We started off by asking her about the changes that are taking place in publishing now, as digital books compete in the marketplace with traditionally published books.  As always, talking with Eileen was like a giant, fabulous, information download.

EILEEN: The situation with paper versus digital books is larger than just the one issue, of paper or pixels. Right now, the entire industry is changing rapidly, and everybody – authors, agents, book designers, publishers, distributors, librarians, booksellers, and readers – is trying to keep their footing as the ground shifts beneath them. Librarians may be the people who have the best perspective on what’s happening and where it’s all going, as they have an immediate and intimate relationship with the reading public – or with library users, anyway, which is a very special subset of that demographic.

FRIENDS: What’s the writer’s perspective? Why would the writer care about whether the book is on paper or not?

EILEEN: Well, most writers, if they’re looking to be published, want their books read, and they want their books to be found by the people who will enjoy them. The question is how to make that happen. Will you, the writer, work with an agent, who will help you sell your book to a conventional publisher, large or small? Will you skip the agent and the publisher, and self-publish the book, or deal directly with a distributor-turned-publisher, such as Amazon? If so, how? Will you hire people to edit, proofread, design, print and/or code, and market the book, or will you do it all yourself? Will you ignore the traditional-book reader and publish only  e-books? Will you hook up with an  e-book marketer, or an outfit that will help you publish and will take a share of the profits? And what about audio books? The decisions just go on and on, and any choice may be the wrong one for you, or for your book. Any of them could lead to disaster or to best-sellerdom. And notice that all this takes place after the book is written,after the writer has finished her traditional task. As a writer, do you want to take that on?

FRIENDS: From what you say, it sounds as though it’s possible for anyone with a certain amount of money to get published.

EILEEN: Well, that’s always been true. What is it that A.J. Liebling said? “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.” Now everybody can own one, and electronic publishing makes it possible to publish books without concern about the costs of paper, printing, and shipping.

FRIENDS: So, technically then, everyone will be able to call themselves a writer. Does that bother you?

EILEEN: Nope. As far as I’m concerned, people can call themselves anything they want. I don’t actually consider other writers competition. Rather, they’re proof of the concept that, yes, books can be written and people will buy them. Plus, I believe that no one else can do what I do as a writer. No one can write my books but me. Therefore I better get out there and do it.

FRIENDS: Do you think paper books will really go away?

EILEEN: Perhaps not in the next 10 to 15 years, but at some point we’ll only have digital books, or some other implementation than ink on paper. But most publishers, even Amazon, still print paper books as well as e-books. There are a lot of paper books already in existence, and more are coming out every month. It will take a very long time for all of those to go away, though most will rot eventually. She said cheerily.

FRIENDS: Well, just looking around your house, which is filled with books, that’s hard to imagine. With all these books of your own, are you a library user?

EILEEN:  Oh, sure. I love libraries and I love the Rem Koolhaas Central SPL. Over the years, I’ve shifted to doing most of my research at home, but I’ve been using the inter-library loan system to do research for my next book. It’s wonderful to be able to obtain through the library a specific book that I need, such as a small-press or privately printed memoir that may have been issued in a print run of only a few hundred copies and would cost me a hundred dollars or more if I had to buy it. I use to find what libraries have the book I’m looking for, and then go to the SPL website and the library facilitates the loan and sends the book to my local branch. I really appreciate that. I also use it to borrow e-books in areas that I’m researching. I can quickly search them in my e-reader, find the relevant information I need, and return them to the library, all without leaving the house. I wish there were a lot more digital books available from the library.

FRIENDS: What is the book you’re researching? And have you got anything else in the publishing pipeline?

EILEEN:  The book I’m researching is a novel set in the 19th century, a sort of metafictional inquiry into issues of race and gender and creativity. My second book of short stories,Questionable Practices, is due out in March of 2014 from Small Beer Press.

FRIENDS: Well, we can’t wait. Thanks so much for taking the time, Eileen!

You can find out more about Eileen at



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