Library Supporters Bring Library Into Council Chambers

Library supporters packed City Council Chambers on April 3 and presented a diverse and articulate case for placing the Library Levy before voters in August. City Council will likely decide the issue at its April 9 meeting. Councilmember Tim Burgess suggested the decision would be easy and told the large audience, “You brought the library into Council Chambers by talking about its impact on your lives. It’s had an impact on me.”

The audience, ranging from grade school age to ninety, testified for nearly 1 1/2 hours on a wide spectrum of ways the library is relevant to their lives and to our city. “The library is the #1 resource in the city for addressing the Digital Divide…[it is] a window for attaining employment, job training, getting a GED, and even getting your taxes done,” explained businessman and realtor, Dr Gary Kunis.  Expressing his “100% support”  Dr. Charlie Walker 3rd, said, “Victory of education is in the classroom as well as the library.” School teacher/librarian Craig Seasholes further expanded the idea pointing out that libraries and schools work closely together to educate and that large numbers of public school students spend their afterschool hours in public libraries. He added that the library’s summer reading program ensures that students experience no loss in reading ability over the summer break.

Several people explained how the library empowers people with low vision through LEAP (Library Equal Access Programs) at Central Library. Becky Bell said large text and audio speech technology has “enabled me to reach out to my blind community and my community in general.” Jean Jacobs called the library her, “home away from home.” Janice Hufty credited LEAP with helping her to start a Muslim resource center and launch the Warm For Winter Foundation. Camille Jassny, board member of Vision Loss Connections, talked about the importance the Low Vision library book group holds in her life.

Many aspects of library services were cited as enhancements in the lives of people testifying. Paul Michaelson was impressed by library meeting rooms that “affords a unique opportunity for people to come together.” Katherine Beck attended as representative of five generations of library users and talked about using the library for literary research. Paula Becker spoke enthusiastically about the historic collections in The Seattle Room and their excellent digitized offerings.

Two cautionary testimonies from representatives of the City Neighborhood Council (an umbrella group of district councils) and the Seattle Community Council Federation  urged levy authors to establish a levy oversight council to secure voter trust. They also recommended a levy amendment which commits City Council to maintaining existing levels of general fund support for the library if and when the levy passes and commits the Library Board to act on the public’s wish to restore library hours. The levy promises to do four things: restore library hours, enhance books and services, improve computer and online services, and maintain the buildings.

Thank you to those of you who attended the hearing. If you didn’t attend, enjoy the April 3 hearing recorded at Seattle Channel and consider joining Friends of The Seattle Public Library in future events for library support.


Friday, November 5 – “The Hollywood Librarian”

The community organization Wallingford Neighbors for Peace and Justice will be presenting a free screening of the documentary “The Hollywood Librarian”,, which focuses on the work and lives of librarians.  An open discussion about the complex and democratic nature of librarianship in the age of technology, censorship, library funding, citizenship, and democracy will follow.

Tell the Library What’s Important to You!

As noted in our February 4 post, the Seattle Public Library is undergoing a strategic planning process to explore the future of the Library and how to prioritize existing resources.   In March, community members provided input at 5 open house meetings about possible new models, services and roles for the Library.   Click here if you want to find out more about the strategic planning process or to read the summary of  comments received at the open houses.

Now it’s your turn to tell the Library what’s important to you by completing the patron survey, which is available Monday, May 3 through Sunday, May 16.   I completed the survey, and found out a number of things I didn’t know that the Library offers — for example, did you know that you can make an appointment to get help from a geneology librarian if you’re trying to put together your geneology chart?  How about librarian assistance available 24 hours a day via online chat?

I also realized that I haven’t been taking advantage of some of the on-line resources offered by the Library, like e-books, e-audio, and video that can be downloaded, streaming content (music and video), and access to thousands of magazines, newspapers, journals, encyclopedias, indexes and other reference resources. 

The toughest question for me to answer was something like “if you had only $10 to invest in Library resources, how much (using whole dollars like $5 instead of $5.25) would you spend for each of the following”: 

  • Books and other print resources
  • Audio-visual resources (audio books, DVDs, CDs)
  • Online resources

So how would you spend that $10?  Fill out the survey and let your voice be heard!

A Young Boy’s Letter To Mayor McGinn

Ezekiel’s letter:

My name is Ezekiel B.  I go to the Northgate Branch Library and I’m in the 4th grade.  I’m almost 10 years old.

I like to go to the public library.  The selection of books in any one subject is very limited at the school library, and it’s impossible to get digital materials there.  At the public library, I get a higher selection of books, like Stephen Jay Gould’s the Book of Life, which covers evolution of all of life on earth, or the Eyewitness Guide to Religion or The Definitive Guide to Kendo, a martial art I’m taking at the parks.  I can order these online to pick up at Northgate.

In Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade, we used to take Field Trips on Fridays to the Northgate library.  We could walk there.  Now it’s closed on Fridays, so the little kids at my school can’t go there for field trips.  Lots of times my mom can’t get me to the library until after work or on the weekends.  Mostly we just go on Saturdays, now, because we can’t go Sundays or many weekdays. 

Some kids can’t use the computer at home, so they need to do it at the library.  Please restore branch library hours for me and lots of other kids.


Children are among the hardest hit by reduced library hours in several neighborhoods. Ezekiel presented this letter to Mayor McGinn at the Youth and Family Commuity Engagement Meeting held at Northgate Elementary on March 1.  There are two more community engagement meetings on: March 15 and 22. Will you find time to join these small group discussions to support libraries and brainstorm the best futures for our children and families?

Youth And Family Participants in Seattle Community Engagement Meetings Cite Reduced Library Access As Challenge

Mayor McGinn addresses participants

Participants in Seattle’s Youth and Family community engagement meetings are asking for longer library hours and seeking solutions to other “issues and challenges” that face our youth and families.

People are realizing that reduced library hours means less community resources available to address these critical issues and challenges.  Library programs like Homework Help establish important “afterschool tutoring” and “mentoring relationships.”  Structured programs and resources for immigrants and refugees offered by our libraries are critical free services that lead to “cultural competency” and provide “afterschool support.”   The branch libraries offer programs and needed space for “community engagement” and foster neighborhood pride.  Teen programs nurture “youth leadership.”

Librarians provide “healthy, ongoing relationships” with students and families. Children’s librarians augment “early childhood education” through Storytime and structured programs.

Libraries model “cross sector communication” by establishing bridges between cultural communities and bringing organizations together. They partner with and augment schools and  are THE academic resource for  homeschooling families. Libraries with open doors provide a presence in our neighborhood t0 bring us together and enhance “safety.” Libraries build community, feed minds and foster potential.  Do you want to see library hours restored or increased? Do you want to influence the City’s policy toward our children and families? Please attend one of the three remaining meetings. Make sure your voice is heard!

For more information on what to expect:

Your Input Needed on the Seattle Public Library of the Future

Just a reminder that the Seattle Public Library is kicking off its strategic planning process next week with five City-wide open houses so that you can provide input as to new models, services and roles for the Library.  Please drop by any of these open houses to tell us what you think the Seattle Public Library of the future should be like:

  • Noon to 2 p.m. Monday, March 1, Central Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., Level 4, Room 1 (206-386-4636)
  • 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 2, Northgate Branch, 10548 Fifth Ave. N.E. (206-386-1980)
  • 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 3, High Point Branch, 3411 S.W. Raymond St. (206-684-7454)
  • 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 6, Ballard Branch, 5614 22nd Ave. N.W. (206-684-4089)
  • 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 16, Beacon Hill Branch, 2821 Beacon Ave. S. (206-684-4711).

For more information, see the SPL website, email, or contact Eve Sternberg, project lead, at 206-386-1119.

Speak Out For Libraries At Youth And Family Community Engagement Meetings

On Feb. 22nd, our elected officials began a civic process that will shape our city. The Seattle City Council announced their ambitious and action oriented 17 priorities for 2010 in the afternoon.  Then, in the evening, Mayor McGinn commenced the first  community engagement meeting on his Youth and Family Initiative.  Citizen input from this and four other community engagement meetings  will guide the development of Mayor McGinn’s important Youth and Family Initiative funding. The City Council will also be watching this input closely, so it will inform their actions as well!

The Youth and Families Initiative is a major initiative that will shape the Mayor’s agenda (and undoubtedly, funding) on issues affecting youth and families from a child’s birth to a successful career track.   We need your help in letting the Mayor and the City Council know what an important role libraries play in helping youth and families.

We know that libraries offer foundational support for youth and families.  Our young people depend on libraries for afterschool visits, study support, storytime, homework help, and afterschool computer access. The partnership between public libraries and schools is well documented, yet people might not think to mention what a critical role our libraries play in our community.  For example, the online form for Youth and Family input doesn’t  list full library access as a possible priority!

How can you help ensure that  our libraries are recognized as priorities for the City and for the Youth and Family Initiative?   Fill out the online form. In the answer to questions 1 and 2 please tell Mayor McGinn that free access (for all) to public educational support is critical and we need to restore library hours for children and families.  Then, please bring your voice for our libraries to a Monday meeting in March. These meetings will not only determine how libraries are perceived, they’ll also influence how the City addresses challenges in the education system.

This is a city powered by community input. These meetings are stimulating and well attended. Speaking out for libraries, right now, will help the Seattle Public Library weather the likely mid-year budget adjustments and help its position in the 2011 budget. Supervised childcare is available at the meetings, and translators are available on-site.   Please attend, and help us restore library hours for schools, families, and children.

These meetings start at 7 and end at 8:30 pm and are at:

March 1 – Northgate Elementary School
March 8 – Van Asselt Elementary School
March 15 – Denny Middle School
March 22 – Garfield Community Center

For more on the Youth and Family Initiative, go to the Youth and Families homepage.

RSVP if you can attend or can help us rally support for libraries.