Mistress of the Libraries Moves On…

When she came to The Seattle Public Library almost eleven years ago, one of her key commitments was to help improve the library materials budget and the ability of Technical Services to streamline its work and get materials ordered and ready for the public more quickly. They even had an internal campaign they called: “The Year of the Book.”

Through years of budget increases, reductions, and increases, as well as the generosity of private donors to The Seattle Public Library Foundation, they managed to bring the materials budget closer to what has been identified as “the ideal materials budget.” Through the excellent work of staff materials got into readers’ hands more quickly. Due to sharp negotiations the SPL staff got larger discounts from vendors.

Recently a staff committee studied the holds and delivery processes and through careful implementation of its recommendations have been able to move materials through the system quicker and more efficiently. As staff continue to work on this the public will notice even more improvements.

The SPL has created an amazing virtual library. In fact, this blog is just one of the many new ways the SPL is communicating with patrons and providing readers’ advisory services. But – it’s important that the community not stop here – but check out the on-line databases, downloadable materials, and all the other resources to be found on the SPL Web site.

Deborah Jacobs’ parting thoughts:

I have been asked to comment on books that influenced me or alternately books I might be reading during my transition between my position here as City Librarian and my new position leading the Global Libraries Initiative for The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The first question is too hard; like many readers I find something important in every book I read. Something that touches my heart, teaches me, makes me laugh, and on and on. Even my favorite book would be hard to name but when forced to do so I often say – OUR MUTUAL FRIEND, ANGLE OF REPOSE, A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY, HUNTING MR. HEARTBREAK – but yikes… this is just too hard!~

I do know the books I’m planning to read during my month of no job. I’ve been physically gathering, putting on reserve at the library, listing on my iPhone “notes” section the books I intend to read. They reflect the yin-yang of my reading tastes.

Iliad: Robert Fagles

When Fagles died recently I knew it was important to take time to re-read this.

Means of Ascent (The Years of Lyndon Johnson, volume 2): Robert Caro

I am a political animal and Caro gets to the essence of Johnson and political savvy.

Girls Like Us: Sheila Weller

I know it isn’t supposed to be very good, but I am 56 years old and am of the exact era she is writing on.

Old Glory: Jonathan Raban

I started re-reading this before the recent Mississippi flooding because my book group had just read (or re-read in most of our cases) The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. How very relevant and remarkable it is to be reading this right now.

Netherland: Joseph O’Neill

It seems to be the hot book of the season; I’m #55 on the library’s reserve list so might not get it until after I start my new job.

Lush Life: Richard Price

I actually – gulp – bought this! I am such a library user that I own almost NO books!

If YOU are ever at a loss for what to read, talk to our wonderful librarians. They are chock full of great ideas and have sure helped me when I’ve been in a reading slump.

And, because the world is changing and so is our remarkable library, I plan to stay modern by buying myself a going away present of a Kindle!

I will miss you all but will continue to be an avid library user, supporter, and reader!

Deborah Jacobs

Oh, and:

….favorite word/s: Jacob, passion, libraries
….on her desk right now: Eleven years worth of file folders, sorting and organizing for the new city librarian. Also – magic rocks, cards, chocolate, pictures and gifts.


Meet Duan…Adult Services Librarian

I had the chance to chit-chat with Duan Li, the Adult Services Librarian at the International District/Chinatown Branch. Below is her interview..



What is your favorite word? 


What word do you wish you had made up? 


How did you become librarian of your branch? 

 I came to fill a temporary position in the Literacy, ESL, and World Languages Depart- ment at SPL in spring 2006. While I was in LEW, the IDC library had an opening for the adult services librarian position. I applied for the position and fortunately got accepted in June 2006.


An interesting thing was that prior to joining SPL, while I was subbing for the King County Library System, I read some news regarding the opening of the IDC library under the “Libraries for All Project” of SPL.


As a native Chinese speaker, with a background of the Chinese language and literature, I thought that maybe I’d have an opportunity to work for this library someday. But I really never expected that just one year after the library opened to the public, I became the only adult services librarian in the branch!

What is on your desk right now? (photo is ok too) 

 There is a folder holder that contains a dozen folders on my desk right now. These folders hold collection, reference, program, class, and all sorts of other information that is closely related to my work. I also have a Longman Contemporary English-Chinese Dictionary on my desk.

Tell us about your library. 

The IDC library serves patrons who live within the Chinatown/International District community and also serves those who live in other places located in the Greater Seattle Area.


Our Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese collections draw an immense amount of immigrants to visit the library to check out the items written in their native languages.


These immigrant patrons eagerly join the programs carefully designed for them and seek library services from staff who can speak their native languages. The library equally draws English speaking patrons to come and check out the items they are interested in.


Our new book and DVD shelves often draw the patrons’ attentions. Popular fiction and nonfiction, especially Asian themed nonfiction, always catches the patrons’ eyes! Also, our author reading programs are a big hit for them too. In the past, the library had many visitors from countries such as China, Japan, Korea, and Canada.


The beautiful architecture, rich collections, and wonderful library services all the staff provides always gives the visitors amazing surprises, satisfaction, and enjoyment, just like what our patrons receive every time when visiting the library!

How long have you been at the branch? 

 Since June 2006.

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? 

 The IDC library is the 16th project completed under the “Libraries for All “building program that voters approved in 1998. The first branch that opened in Seattle’s Chinatown/ International District holds up to 12,000 books and materials with an emphasis on materials in Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, and English. The branch is inside the International District Village Square II and opened to the public on Saturday, June 11, 2005.

How does your relationship with the community affect your programming? 

 We work very closely with community agencies and institutions to provide all sorts of programs for our patrons. For example, we work with the Literacy Council of Seattle to host year long ESL classes.


Working with International Community Health Services (ICHS), we offer adult educational workshops that target immigrant patrons. With the Kinokuniya Bookstores, we present author reading events to patrons together.


Our fabulous youth services librarian Treasure Samuel works with the International District /Chinatown Community Center and Chinese Information and Service Center (CISC) to host popular programs for both children and teens.

Bringing youth together at The Seattle Public Library

Councilmember Sally Clark stopped into Rainier Beach Library in late May and blogged about what she saw there- the “Cutest Chess Club ever.” SPD Officer Cookie Bouldin’s chess club is an exciting example of The Seattle Public Library’s partnership with communities to bring youth together in positive ways. Officer Cookie’s Chess Club  for elementary and middle school children is part of a network of programmatic offerings for children and teens that strengthen our families and neighborhoods. For more info on these programs see children’s or teen’s sections on The Library’s website.

These child and teen programs, every one of them that The Seattle Public Library offers, are worth the notice of Councilmembers. Individually they change and enrich young lives. Neighborhood by neighborhood they meet youth where they are. Collectively they provide our city’s most important and comprehensive network of free and open support for students and families.

What Does Your Desk Say About You?

It’s the one question the librarians haven’t answered…but we’re still trying!!!


Does what’s on your desk reveal what’s on your mind? Do those pictures on your walls tell the true tales about you? Is your favorite outfit about to give you away?  For the last ten years Sam Gosling has been studying how people project (and protect) their inner selves, by what they purchase and how they arrange it around them.  By exploring our private worlds (our desks, dorm rooms, bedrooms, closets and cars) he shows not only how we showcase our personalities in unexpected and unplanned ways, but also how we create personality in the first place, and communicate it to others.   When it comes to the most essential components of our personalities, the things we own and the way we arrange them often says more about us than even our most intimate conversations.  



Sam Gosling is an associate professor of psychology at the University of Texas, Austin.  He has spent the last decade conducting research on how personality is expressed and perceived in everyday contexts.  His work has been profiled in The New York Times, Psychology Today and his work is featured in Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book, Blink. 


More Info on Sam


My desk:

– a rubber band

– Nalgene bottle

– a pile of papers

– a non functioning laptop that I intended to wipe a few months ago, but never got to

– 2 stacks of paper for my monitor

– my monitor

– my cell

– packet of gum with one stick left

– a pen

– half an apple from yesterday


What Does It All Mean????

What’s On Yours?

Don’t let libraries get cut this year. Vote now!

Councilman Tim Burgess has a poll on his website www.timburgess.com 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?

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

Are Americans Reading Less?

Here’s a good Wall Street Journal article that takes a look at recent claims of declining reading rates in the US (Primarily the NEA report from last year). There’s a solid view of the math here and he points out quite a few places where changes were overstated in the report. Whew! Thank goodness –

It’s worth reading the comments – the question of how online reading compares to book reading comes up in a few places and is something to consider with respect to libraries.

I stand by my earlier challenge to Amazon – come up with a Kindle Loan Program!