This is an excerpt from an open letter to Seattle presented by Friends of The Seattle Public Library president, Linda Ruiz and The Seattle Public Library Foundation president Susan Adkins on the subject of the need to preserve library funding.
There’s a nationwide rush on libraries, and Seattle is no exception. 13 million people visited Seattle libraries last year, up 20% from 2007. The amount of material circulated is increasing at a similar rate.
Our libraries meet a broad range of critical needs. They provide job resources, computer access, wi-fi, educational help, tax assistance, social service support, storytimes, language and citizenship assistance as well as books and materials.
In these uncertain times people are taking their questions to the library. Online access to the Seattle Public Library’s website is up across the board, but so are actual visits to branches as people pack computers and ask librarians how to find critical resources.
The Mayor and City Council supported The Seattle Public Library as they determined the current budget. We recognize that Seattle faces hard choices now as they readjust that budget. The library is part of the budget solution for many people, and the spiking use and demands in new and renovated neighborhood centers present the city with hard questions.
Sustained funding is critical for healthy libraries. Healthy libraries anchor and enrich neighborhoods. They form the essential information infrastructure of a competitive and culturally diverse city like Seattle.
Seattle citizens invested in libraries with the overwhelming passage of the Libraries For All bond measure that improved and expanded the library system. Now they’re relying on access to that investment to ease their personal budgets and improve their lives.
We urge the Mayor and the City Council to continue their support of libraries as they deliberate reductions in the City’s budget.