The Friends of The Seattle Public Library had the distinct pleasure of featuring award winning-author Richard Farr at their 68th annual meeting this past Sunday. Farr’s book, Emperors of the Ice: A True Story of Disaster and Survival in the Antarctic, 1910 – 13, has been named winner of the 2009 Scanduzzi Children’s Book Award (part of the annual Washington State Book Awards) in the category of Books for Middle Grades and Young Adults (10 – 18 year old readers). Not surprisingly, Mr. Farr is a serious user of The Seattle Public Library.
Mr. Farr shared with us the email he sent to the Seattle City Council on Monday, October 26th. Please join Mr. Farr and help the Friends reach the goal of 500 emails to Seattle City Council!
Send your email to firstname.lastname@example.org
The email can be short-
Subject line: Restore branch library hours. Text: My name is ____. I use the ____ library. Please restore branch library hours.
For your inspiration, information and enjoyment, here is Mr. Farr’s email to the Seattle City Council. Thank you, Mr. Farr, for allowing the Friends to share your words and for supporting The Seattle Public Library:
To the Seattle City Council:
Since I’m an author, permit me to tell you a (very) short story:
Once upon a time, in the year 2019, the City of Somewhere went through a Great Depression. There was so little money that few people even had enough to eat, and they had to heat their homes by burning old copies of the City Budget. Because of the crime wave, public safety was the top priority, and it was clear that some inessential service would have to be slashed. Luckily, one of these was a very expensive and not very important program called “schooling.” The city worked out that it could save a lot of money by shuttering all schools for a week, even more by closing them on Fridays, and more still by not opening most of them until eleven in the morning. Everyone was delighted to be able to save the money for things that really mattered. In fact, because the schools had closed, even some of the least important services, such as libraries, were able to keep operating.
Back to Seattle, 2009: times are tough, but we are not in a Great Depression, and it would take a Great Depression for the city to even consider closing its schools. So the question before you today is simply this: what makes libraries less important than schools? Why are they morally easier to close? Why is it easier to consider them inessential?
The Washington Center for the Book just awarded me this years Scanduizzi Prize, the Washington State Book Award for Young Adult literature, for my book “Emperors of the Ice.” I simply could not have written this book except by spending 15-20 hours per week in the Seattle libraries, constantly depending on the skill and dedication (and availability) of its staff. But I’m just an extreme case: every citizen needs libraries. More important still: every child who grows up in a great and (even today) wealthy city deserves a community that would simply be too ashamed to consider library closures as a budget-fixing option.
Please, for the sake of the city itself, let’s be too ashamed to do this. Do not cut the library’s budget. That Seattle “aspires” to be a “world-class city” is very nice, but the stark reality is this: as everyone has known since the Babylonians, a city in which you cannot go to the library is no kind of city at all.
Author, “Emperors of the Ice”