Award Winning Seattle Author Richard Farr Emails in Support of The Seattle Public Library – Join Him!

Seattle Author Richard Farr

Emperors of the IceThe 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

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.

With respect,

Richard Farr
Author, “Emperors of the Ice”

To purchase “Emperors of the Ice” click here OR To check out “Emperors of the Ice” from The Seattle Public Library click here


We urge you to restore current service hours

At tonite’s Budget Hearing, Friends of The Seattle Public Library board member, Tony Provine, noted that “In many parts of Seattle, libraries serve as community centers, meeting places, job resources, social service centers, public education facilities, and much more. They provide safe havens for at risk youth and offer homework assistance for students. They provide shelter and internet communications for the impoverished. They are anchors in each of their communities.” He told Council that the rise in use, over the last 8 years, contrasts with a comparatively stagnant budget. The current operating hours, such as Mondays and Tuesdays opening at 1 pm, are a result of reductions in 2002. “The proposed cuts would reduce (current) service hours by 23% overall and would result in reductions of 37% at several branches. With 21 branches limiting access to 35 hours a week, residents who rely on the Library in these communites would be affected disproportionately. The effect of these cuts will undermine our neighborhoods, communities and the entire City of Seattle,” he said. “The Friends of The Seattle Public Library urge you to restore $1.2 million  to the Library’s budget to allow the Library to continute to operate all of its branches at their current service hours.”

“Think outside the box” to fund libraries

library 055Josephine waited 2 1/2 hours tonite for an opportunity to ask council to “think outside the box” to find some way to keep our libraries open. She suggested that The Seattle Public Library try to fund itself like King County Library. Weeks ago, during the Library’s Budget Presentation, Councilmember Conlin wondered if there were some way to change the library’s funding structure. Right now, the library is classified as a “non-taxing authority” and, as such, can’t levy for operational money. All operational money must come from the City of Seattle’s General Fund. Capital maintanence, funds which are also deeply impacted by the budget crunch, must come from the City’s REET (Real Estate Excise Tax). Because The Library is bound to get funds from these sources it is always in competition with other essential services during tough economic times. Changing the funding structure, however, may be a difficult task.

Vice President of Friends of The Seattle Public Library presents 2000 petition signatures

library 050
Johnson-Fong sorts the petitions

Jennifer Johnson-Fong presented 2000 petition signatures gathered on Facebook and from The Friends of The Seattle Public Library petitioning drive at branch libraries. She said, “Tonite I’ve brought you petitions from: Northeast, Ballard, West Seattle, Wallingford, Greenwood, and Broadview libraries. My experience while collecting signatures has been consistent. I speak to people who use their neighborhood branch for a variety of reasons and I speak to people who depend on their neighborhood branch either for access to public computers that they can get no where else or for access to the free WiFi. Out of 26 branches and Central 21 neighborhood libraries are proposed to be closed Fridays and Sundays and only open 35 hours a week.” Johnson-Fong closed by asking Council to help all the branch libraries that would be impacted by restoring library hours.

Seattle Free School classes take place during the very hours that may be cut

library 054Clare Cronkleton, a facilitator at Seattle Free School and organizer of “It’s Sew Fun” at the Ballard library, spoke to Council asking them to reconsider cuts to The Seattle Public Library. “As community members that promote the sharing of information and resources, we are proponents of the same principles guiding the mission of libraries,” she said.”Free school is able to exist because of accessible resources like The Seattle Public Libraries. Our classes, which now range in size from 5 to 120 students, take place during the very hours that are now under consideration for being cut.” She told Council that the library is, “a symbol of resourcefullness, creativity, and ingenuity–the very traits that should be encouraged in times of shortfall.”  On behalf of the thousands of Seattle Community members who have participated in some way or another with the Free School she asked Council to reconsider cuts to library hours.

A city in which you cannot go to the library is no city at all

library 049Susan Adkins, Seattle Public Library Foundation president, relayed the words of Sue Nevler, Executive Director, E.B. Dunn Historic Garden Trust, who wrote, “As an active and committed library patron I am compelled to plead that you do not make these most damaging cuts of funds to our Seattle Library system. Just last year my husband, George Nevler, was honored posthumously for his participation in the Libraries for All campaign. An ardent reader, he visited all branch libraries, save one, before he died unexpectedly at age 50. Our two boys, one with a diagnosis of autism, are both avid readers. My hope is that their futures, though now diminished by the absence of their father, will continue to be shaped by the wealth of knowledge available to them in the sacred space of their library. I ask you to please reflect and do not make these severe cuts which will have a profound impact on the many citizens of Seattle who have their own unique stories tied to their library.”

She also quoted award winning author, Richard Farr, “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,” he wrote, “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 city at all.”

The Cuts to branch libraries are too severe

library 048Rona Zevin told the Council, “The cuts to branch libraries are too severe.” She also told Council that almost no one knows about these cuts. Zevin was petitioning in front of Northeast branch this week and noted the many people who hadn’t yet heard about the potential cut in hours.  Today’s article , “Library Cuts Go Too Deep” by Mary Anne Gwinn, in the Seattle Times, helped shine a light on the hours cuts  The Seattle Public Library is facing.