Michael Taylor-Judd – Candidate for Position 1
When you reflect on the Seattle Public Library system, what three things first come to mind?
- City budget cuts to library funding
- Friends of Seattle Public Library Book Sale
- Two-thirds of Seattle residents hold a library card; and one-third say they use it at least once a year
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?
I would not hesitate to say that libraries are in the top tier of my budget priorities; and I group them with our parks and community centers as necessary services to provide our residents.
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?
Maintaining its vast collection and the continued demands of new technology are important, but what is most critical for me is that our lowest-income and least-educated residents turn to our libraries for access to computers and the internet. For many in our community, our libraries are the only place to turn to research a school paper, search job listings and print a resume, or learn how to use e-mail to communicate with their grandchildren. In tough economic times like these, the free or low-cost activities provided by libraries and community centers are some of the only fun and educational opportunities families can afford. If we continue to cut operating hours, where will these residents turn to?
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?
The Seattle Public Library must continue to transition to being a place to learn about and utilize new technologies for accessing information. It should also continue to explore new ways to offer services through its website, such as through video and audio streaming and borrowing of e-books.