Get to Know Your City Council Candidates – David Schraer

David Schraer – Candidate for Position 7

When you reflect on the Seattle Public Library system, what three things first come to mind? 

  • “Library culture” – welcoming to all, civil relationships without coercion, staff interested in the visitors interests, furthering the visitors self‐improvement, joy in learning and pure selfentertainment.
  • Efficiency – no other government institution provides so much, to so many, for so little, and with less bureaucracy or more civility.
  • Self‐improvement – the library is a place where the least among us can find educational resources and refuge from a hard life at no cost and without enduring the bias they experience in other areas of life.

Given the myriad of essential human services provided by the City of Seattle, where do you rank funding for the Seattle Public Library?  Would you put it in the top, middle or bottom tier of priorities? 

The Seattle Public Library is on a par with Public Health in the top tier of essential services. The Free Public Library is one of the great American inventions. The inventor, Franklin, was the founder whose life best captures the combination of independence of mind, curiosity, self-improvement and civil development embodied and institutionalized in free public libraries. The culture that has developed around libraries strives to welcome and serve all people equally.

The Seattle Public Library has sustained budget cuts of nearly $10 million from its annual budget since 2009, resulting in Friday closures at 15 branches, employee furloughs, lay-offs, and a decrease in the collections budget. Given the City revenue shortfalls projected for 2011 and 2012, what are your views on maintaining funding for Library hours, staffing, collections, programs and services?

I believe in expanding library services – because libraries are the most cost effective way to put resources in the hands of those who need them most. Libraries are a wide ranging prevention service – helping all people make good choices about health and juveniles to make good choices about their future, among many other examples, by being a place to come for nonjudgmental help in the access of good information, directly and, more importantly, indirectly through literary and other arts.

As the Library’s new strategic plan states, “changes in how people access and use information, interact with one another, and in the resources, tools and capabilities needed to operate effectively in today’s society require new approaches to the services and resources that the library provides”.  What is your vision for the library of the future, and how would you support SPL’s evolution over the next 5 years?

Especially in low‐income neighborhoods or those where juvenile crime is high and services low, libraries should be open from very early in the morning to very late at night. Residents in these neighborhoods often work two jobs. Children who are left to fend for themselves have few free places to go where they will find something constructive to do.

The book is not dead but many other vehicles for the transmission of information are very much alive. From what I can see, the Seattle Public Library has done a good job keeping up with technology change and providing a bridge to advanced technology for people who would otherwise not have access. This tradition must continue.

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