Vote Yes! on Proposition 1

Online sites in support of Proposition 1, the August 8 Library Levy, have launched on Facebook and the web. Please “like” the Facebook page and share your support for the library with your friends.  Volunteers are organizing the campaign for the Library Levy and endorsements are mounting. Consider personal or organizational endorsement for Prop 1 or express your support by joining volunteers in the campaign for stronger and more accessible libraries.

Proposition 1, the Library Levy, will  raise 122.6 million dollars for the library over seven years if it passes in August. It will counter the impact of  budget cuts, ongoing since 2009, by providing for daily maintenance, greater security and much needed major repairs to the library system. It will  preserve core services, restore more open hours and raise money for collections and technology.

Have you gone to your library to find the doors closed? 22% of the levy is allocated to restoring thousands of open hours lost in budget cuts. All neighborhoods will then once again enjoy open libraries on Sundays and the entire system will avoid the one week closures that have inconvenienced patrons and alarmed library supporters the past several years.  Columbia and Northgate neighborhood libraries will also return to their seven day schedules if the levy passes. This will be welcome news to families who have found it increasingly hard to visit their neighborhood libraries. The shortened hours and library closures have been especially hard on children, older generations, working families, the unemployed, and low-income individuals and families who rely on library resources.

Have you been frustrated by long wait times for popular titles or wondered why you couldn’t find a title in the library’s collections? 14% of the levy provides funding to rebuild and expand the library’s collections.  Budget cuts have hampered efforts to meet the demand for books and other 21st century formats: digital books, podcasts, online databases, DVD and CDs. A 13% reduction in the library’s collections budget since 2009, has caused shortages of titles in digital and print collections, long wait times for popular books, and smaller hold limits. Passage of the levy would be welcome news to both print and digital readers and will increase holds to 50 per person.

Seattle voters have an opportunity to make our libraries strong and accessible once more. Please talk with your neighbors and friends about the need for this levy and consider volunteering on the YES! campaign.  The library needs your help lifting awareness about this important levy.  Most importantly, vote on August 8th and say yes for libraries.


Crunching The Numbers. Libraries Return Our Investment.

If you use the library you’re seeing the lives it touches and understanding its value to your community.  But how do we describe that value to people who don’t use the library or to those who use it’s digital resources but don’t feel a personal need for the building itself?

Here’s one way to calculate the library’s value: Start by quantifying the dollar value of your own library use.  Input the materials and services you consume at the library into the library value calculator and you may be surprised at the monetary worth you enjoy. April Hichens, a local homeschooler, calculated a savings value of $18,000 in 2009.  

Now, let’s look at the bigger picture. In 2011 The Seattle Public Library offered over 6,400 free programs, hosted over 4,000 community meetings, and, in Central Library alone, provided 485,000 computer sessions. Imagine the value of those services and the lives they enhance. Zoom out even further and consider this…in 2010, America’s public libraries loaned roughly as many movies as Netflix, offered significantly more career assistance than the Department of Labor, and provided free meeting space that saved students, civic groups and businesses 3.2 billion dollars.  The value of direct library services is staggering and libraries generate even greater value by anchoring and enhancing their surrounding communities.

Seattle currently ranks in the top ten cities nationally in education and walkability and is the second most literate city in the nation behind Washington DC.  A strong library system provides foundation for all three of these achievements. According to Seattle Real Estate agent Adrian Willinger libraries drive the walkability of neighborhoods.  Walkability sustains our environment, draws business, and attracts skilled, intelligent people to the city. Libraries also play a critical role in education. In addition to partnerships with our local schools, afterschool support, and ongoing teen programs, Seattle Public Library provided free SAT prep for 228 students, helped more than 25,000 students with homework, and engaged 15,000 students in Summer reading programs in 2011. Libraries definately are an important component of our well-deserved reputation as a literate city. Funding our libraries so they can achieve the level of excellence envisioned when Seattle voted to expand and update the library system could return us to the top place as America’s most literate city, where we placed in 2005, 2006, and 2009.

Seattle Public Library plays an important role in the strength of surrounding business communities as well according to Christie McDanold of Ballard’s Secret Garden Bookshop, “We’re in a city that survives primarily on sales tax and secondarily on B and O tax,” she said. “If retailers don’t see customers then the city doesn’t collect sales tax. If you’re going to rely on tax then you need to ensure that the business core is kept in mind and realize that there are public services, like the library, that impact commerce, well being, and health.” The library also supports Seattle business in many ways from extensive small business and foundation start up resources to wifi access that many young entrepreneurs use.

Crunch the numbers and its clear that The Seattle Public Library quantifiably contributes to vibrant neigborhoods and civic well being.  Please join us in actively supporting The Seattle Public Library. Vote for the library levy on this August 8th!

Read-a-thon fundraiser (May 19)

Your first book: First Book Seattle read-a-thon fundraiser.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 19 at Seattle’s Elliott Bay Books, local authors including Sherman Alexie to Richard Hugo House program director Brian McGuigan and community readers, will be reading their favorite children’s books.

For more information head over to or call 206-624-6600.

Please Keep My Library Open!

Library users and union members gather at Central Library to protest the first of several one week closures of the entire Library system that began in 2009 as a result of budget shortages

The Library Levy that Seattle will vote on in August is, in part, a response to the hopes of thousands of Seattleites who made their opinions clear in feedback at community meetings and in online surveys between 2010 and January of this year. One message sent loud and clear was, “Please keep my library open!”

Passage of the levy will restore Sunday hours to every neighborhood library and stop the  week long closures neighborhoods have experienced each year since 2009.  Ironically, reduced hours began months after the successful rennovation of the library system was completed in late 2008 when the city failed to find or allocate ample funding to fully operate Seattle’s Libraries For All vision.  Public demand was already surging by 2000 and  has since grown by a phenomenal 45%.  Passage of this levy will restore the vision of library excellence to our community and re-open our neighborhood libraries as voters intended.

Fifteen of our 26 neighborhood libraries currently operate only 35 hours a week now.  In library feedback, patrons described the hardship working families experience in trying to access the library and talked about the sad impact on children through lost computer time, loss of story times and other programs, and lack of access to reference librarians or collections. For some, shortened hours have made the library impossible to get to anymore. Reactions have ranged between frustration and disheartenment.

Voters, you took the lead  in establishing our strong expanded library system.  Now the vision is at risk and the demand is not being met. Please join us in voting for library excellence and re-opening the library doors. Vote yes on the library levy in August!

Thank You Library Supporters!

Thanks to all of you who supported the library by attending The Friends of The Seattle Public Library booksale and/or donated to The Seattle Public Library Foundation on May 2nd, Give Big day. Your support is important and appreciated.

Donations to the library on Give Big day were not just matched by The Seattle Foundation. The Friends of The Seattle Public Library joined with six other donors to create another  fund matching all charitable Big Give library gifts up to a total of $25,000. Last year during Give Big day more people donated to the library than to any other eligible non profit. Did the library once again surpass all other causes?  Stay tuned to this blog for final results.

Update:  The Seattle Public Library Foundation raised $128,635 from 1,044 donors.  Thank you for your support!