Presence Matters: Local Support at the Budget Hearings

Last night I had the opportunity of attending my first city council budget hearing. The event is designed to give the community the chance to share their priorities with City Council, so that they may take public opinion into account when determining the budget.

To those (and I include myself in this camp) who think that government sometimes operates independent of the people, there is sincere interest on behalf of city council to include the community’s opinion – and presence matters. Seattle is really a great place to make a difference because of the access people have to their government.

A gentleman from the community spoke up on behalf of the library and I had the pleasure of speaking with him briefly; here is his story:

Keo Capestany  I was born in Cuba and have lived in Seattle since 1962. We used to live in the High Point Housing Project half a block from the library branch there. My daughter Victoria, who was a precocious speaker, was able to say the word “biblioteca” when she was two. My wife used to take her and the other kids to the biblioteca regularly since we could not afford our own books.Before I could read  English well enough to derive pleasure from reading I sustained my appetite with the Spanish collection at the Central Library.  It was there, comparing several translations of Don Quijote, that I was infected with the virus of the passion for the impossible job of interpreting and translating.Once I met somebody that knew my children at John Muir Elementary and she told me that “the Capestany children were famous there for not having a TV set at home and for always being seen carrying books.”  (Most, almost all, of those books were from the Columbia Branch.) Among them today they boast six bachelor degrees and three masters.  All of them have done well in life and continue to be voracious readers.

We have lived in Mt. Baker since 1966 and I was an Independent Claims Adjuster until I retired in 1998 after 25 years in that business. In preparation for retirement I passed the exams to become a court interpreter and I am one of less than 10 certified for the Federal  courts in the Seattle  area.

When I surrendered circa 1994 to the inevitability of progress and purchased a computer it was at the Central Branch that I was initiated into the rudiments  of mouse and web.

I have been a member of the Friends and for years I have volunteered to the preparation for the book sale where  I purchase way more books that I would be able to read in two lifetimes but I look forward to continue so doing for many years.

Sin lectura no hay cultura.


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Libraries For All – The Madrona-Sally Goldmark Branch

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!


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!

Post A Tribute To Your Favorite Lady….

Hi Everyone!

There’s still time to celebrate Mother’s Day by posting an online tribute honoring the women in your lives who inspired you to read, appreciate books or taught you how to tell a great yarn!

Mother’s Day is coming up—May 11th! *gulp* ordered those flowers yet? *double-gulp*

Post a tribute about the women in your life that inspired you to read. With each online tribute, you’ll also be spreading empowerment and stories of educational opportunity to women everywhere! Honor a mother, a sister, a friend, a wife. Honor anyone who’s inspired and empowered you, and let the world know how much you appreciate her for it.

And then…get a little something from the Friendshop!