Recent grants show community support for libraries

Thank you library donors!!!  From the anonymous $500,000 donor that sparked the  “Help Us Make $1 Million for the Library” campaign late last year to this month’s announcement of grants from the Paul G Allen Family Foundation, individuals are setting down their books and reaching into their pockets to help sustain libraries in these challenging times.

The anonymous $500,00 matching donation prompted so many people to give that  the day the story broke so did the Foundation’s website which was flooded with people who wanted to donate. Donations came in all sizes. The “Help Us Make $1 Million for the Library” campaign exceeded it’s goal late last year.

The Paul G Allen Family Foundation’s $90,000 grant to The Seattle Public Library is intended to “strengthen the ability of librarians to meet patrons’ needs and promote libraries as centers for lifelong learning,” said vice president, Susan Coliton.  The Seattle Times reports that the money will fund a readers’ advisory staff at each library to help patrons understand how to use online tools to select books and media; new services such as podcast book talks, virtual book groups and personalized reading lists; and training for 175 librarians and staff.

Library staff, building maintenance and collections are funded through the city budget. Troubling city economics have impacted all city services. At The Seattle Public Library, the 8.5% reduction in general fund support is resulting in reorganization and staffing, collections, and training reductions as well as a one week library closure sometime in 2011.  Private donations to  The Seattle Public Library Foundation help expand the collections, fund free public programs, and enhance facilities.

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2010 Friends of SPL Wrap-up

Now that 2010 is over and a new year is beginning it is time to reflect on what we did in the last year and look forward to 2011.  2010 was a busy year for the Friends and the Library, here are just some of the highlights (and lowlights) of last year:

  • The year started out with tough city-wide budget cuts.  15 of our branch libraries were reduced in hours.
  • Seattle Public Library began working on a strategic plan.  Citizens and the Friends were asked for input.
  • The Friends’ Book Sales were a huge success.  We held Spring, Fall and Holiday Sales.  We are always impressed by the great turn out of donations, volunteers and of course, shoppers!
  • The Friends Blog partnered with the Seattle Public Library to get out the word about the Summer Reading Program.
  • The FriendShop had tons of great featured artist events all year long.
  • The Friends were seen at Farmer’s Markets all over the city to spread the word about what we do and to get people excited about the Seattle Public Library.
  • Once again, the Library closed for a week-long furlough leading up to Labor Day to help close the budget gap.
  • On October 1, the Friends held a reading flash mob in Westlake Center.  It was fun and attracted a lot of media attention!
  • The Friends created a Public Service Announcement.   Look for it on the Seattle Channel!
  • Building 30 at Magnuson Park where the Book Sales are held has been in danger of being closed.  The Friends have been trying to get the word out to save this great space for ourselves and other groups all over Seattle.
  • The Friends have partnered with the Fisher Foundation in Connecticut to get books into classrooms in need.
  • City Librarian Susan Hildreth was appointed Director of Museum and Library Services by the President!

Now that was a busy year!  What does 2011 have in store?  Probably a tight city budget again.  A search for a new City Librarian.  Definitely some Book Sales and great finds at the FriendShop.  Happy New Year!

Congratulations to City Librarian Susan Hildreth!

The Friends would like to congratulate our City Librarian, Susan Hildreth, on her appointment as Director of Museum and Library Services by President Barrack Obama.  On December 22, 2010, Hildreth was confirmed by the Senate and she will begin her tenure at the end of January.  Although she will be missed here in Seattle, we are proud that Susan was honored with such a prestigious appointment.  Good luck, Susan!  We know you will be able to help libraries and museums all over the United States in your new role!