Last week’s announcements of budget reductions to the library’s capital and operations budget drew both sighs of relief and concerns for the future. Our mayor’s support of day to day hours ensures that people who are turning to the library now for computer access, budget relief, and needed resources will continue to enjoy the benefits of a strong library system. However, the announcement of a one week closure of the library system in August ’09 drew concerns from several citizens at today’s City Council budget meeting.
The President of the Seattle Public Library Foundation, Susan Adkins, said, “The Seattle Public Library has proven itself to be an incredibly important resource to the citizens of Seattle in the past six months. During this difficult economy the number of people using the Library has increased even more than the high numbers we have experienced since the rebuilding of Central and all the branches. Patrons are using our services to seek employment, get help with taxes, research opportunities for job training, and enjoy free programs and classes for children, teens, and all ages.
The Central Library and all the branches provided a warm safe haven during the severe snow events in December. Our doors remained open for students, stranded workers and homeless to find shelter.
Now the Library System is challenged, along with all city funded entities, by budget cuts for both 2009 and 2010. We are grateful to the mayor for preserving our branch hours in 2009 by restoring $500,000 to our budget. However we are very concerned about protecting brach hours in 2010.
It is quite likely that our City will continue to face economic challenges next year. Our staff needs to meet the growing and diverse needs of our customers. They count on our Library, they count on our staff, they count on our resources and they count on our open doors.”
The City Council cannot change or impact the Mayor’s budget reductions in ’09, but, in a discussion among councilmembers, Council determined that they can provide a forum for public comment and can consider current public feedback as they look ahead to the 2010 budget process. Today’s morning meeting was the last of three morning meetings scheduled by the Budget committee for public comment. A hearing for additional comment begins at 5:30 p.m. Wed, April 22, in City Council Chambers. Please show your support for preservation of the library’s budget in 2010. Can you join us at the Wed evening hearing? RSVP firstname.lastname@example.org