Friends of Seattle Public Library Blog

The goings on of the Seattle Public Library.

Vote Yes! on Proposition 1 May 29, 2012

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.

 

Five Reasons We Love Our Libraries March 17, 2012

A common adage: “You don’t know what you’ve got till its gone” comes to mind when thinking about The Seattle Public Library. This will be the third year in a row that all libraries have been compelled to close for at least one week during the year because of repeated dramatic cuts to their budget and consecutive years of insufficient funds to support the explosion of information and services needed by our community. We miss our libraries already because of the reduced hours at more than half our branch libraries. When we voted for Libraries For All over ten years ago we had such a different future in mind.

We can change this disturbing trend and  put our libraries back on the path of excellence by letting The Seattle City Council know that we support an August levy to restore and improve core services and to preserve what we have rather than accept yet another year of downgrading.  Consider attending the very important April 3rd City Council hearing on the Library’s request to place this levy before Seattle voters. 

Here are five reasons why we love our libraries and commit to supporting library services. We hope you’ll join us in active library support. Together we can return The Seattle Public Library to the standard of excellence we envisioned and provide it with needed funds to meet changing technological needs and the hopes of our neighborhoods.

1) The Seattle Public Library promotes academic success for all children and students and provides much needed afterschool computer access and homework help for kids in families with financial need. 

2)Libraries are our community gathering points and our city’s classroom.

3)The Seattle Public Library evens the playing field for poor and unemployed adults and helps them recover stability by providing computer access, free information, and job hunting resources.

4)The library is free!  High speed bandwidth and computers, famous authors, books, e-books, databases, podcasts, movies, resources in six languages, classes, tax help- it’s all free.

5) Libraries anchor our neighborhoods by contributing to economic health and promoting an atmosphere of community.

 

 

Support Seattle Public Libraries This Budget Season October 2, 2011

Filed under: library budget — friendsofspl @ 11:00 pm
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The City Council is in the process of reviewing Mayor Mike McGinn’s proposed 2012 city budget. Despite financial challenges to the city, the Mayor has avoided directing additional funding cuts at libraries. Under the mayor’s proposed budget, The Seattle Public Library would be able to continue offering current levels of services and hours at all branch locations.

As the City Council reviews the Mayor’s budget, please show your support for funding libraries. You can do so in the following ways:

1) Email the City Council. You can contact the Council via this online form intended for 2012 budget feedback. Create your own message or use the sample letter at the bottom of this page.

2) Contact councilmembers individually. Make your support for libraries known to individual members of the City Councity. A list of phone numbers and email addresses for councilmembers can be found here.

3) Join the Friends at a public hearing. Show your support for libraries in person at a City Council Budget Committee Public Hearing. Hearings are scheduled for Tuesday, October 4th at 5:30 p.m. and Wednesday, October 26th at 5:30 p.m. Meetings take place on the second floor of City Hall, located at 600 Fourth Avenue. If you would like to stand up with the Friends, email advocacy@friendsofspl.org.

 

Library Mid-Year 2011 Budget Reduction: $150,000 June 20, 2011

Filed under: library budget — friendsofspl @ 8:34 pm

On March 30, 2011, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn directed all city departments to identify 3 percent cuts to their current budgets, a pre-emptive savings measure to address approximately $17 million in anticipated reduced state and federal funds. Although departments planned for 3 percent in cuts, the mayor was given discretion to decide how much to cut from each department.

The Mayor’s Office announced today that The Seattle Public Library will need to cut $150,000 from its current 2011 budget to address mid-year city revenue shortfalls (a 3% cut to the Library budget would have been approximately $1.43 million).

This cut preserves current Library operating hours, but reduces the budget for books and materials to $5.05 million: nearly $2 million below what the Library’s funding level was four years ago. The Library has taken five significant cuts since 2009, restructuring and reducing public service hours and management positions, reducing the collections budget, instituting materials loan changes, and restructuring and reducing support services, including human resources, financial services, information technology, and communications. The Library has also implemented pay cuts through furloughs and COLA reductions. The 2011 Library furlough – the third annual such cost-cutting measure – will take place the week of August 29-September 5.

The Library will learn of proposed cuts for 2012 later in September, when the Mayor submits the city budget to the City Council.

There are two ways you can support the Library this weekend:

 

Recent grants show community support for libraries January 30, 2011

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.

Visit The Friends of The Seattle Public Library on Facebook

 

2010 Friends of SPL Wrap-up January 13, 2011

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!

 

The Friends of the Seattle Public Library Win Baker and Taylor Award June 16, 2010

Filed under: About Us,library budget — friendsofspl @ 4:02 pm
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Big congratulations for the Friends of the Seattle Library for winning the Baker and Taylor Award!  The Baker and Taylor Award recognizes Friends groups that do an outstanding job supporting their library.  The Friends of SPL had an outstanding year in 2009.  Not only did we tirelessly raise funds to support Seattle Public Library but we also spearheaded a campaign to have funds restored to the Library’s budget!  Over $800,000 were restored by the City Council!   Thanks to all the Friends and supporters for making all our efforts successful.  Also a big thanks to our admin Alice Springer for compiling and sending in our application.  City Librarian Susan Hildreth will accept the award at the upcoming American Library Association Conference.  To learn more about the Baker and Taylor Award click here.

 

Tell the Library What’s Important to You! May 4, 2010

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!

 

Policymakers, Please Note: Libraries Are Nation’s Computer Stop March 26, 2010

Are you at home looking at this blog? Are you at work?  We’re willing to bet that almost half of you are looking at this blog from your public library. Every time we walk into a library, we see full computer stations and laptops on desktops. “The computers are always jam-packed with neighbors of all ages, it is almost like the library functions as the South Park Computer Lab,” Shawna Murphy recently told us.

Now, a new study released this week from the University of Washington Information School, reveals exactly how many of us are relying on  library computer access for:  job searches (75% of respondents), health information (82% ), homework (42%), and staying in touch with family and friends (64%).

In the past year, one-third of our national population over the age of 14 used a public library to access a computer or to find wi-fi.

In the past year, 50% of the population between 14 and 18 used library computers – mostly for homework. 

What does this mean? It means libraries are indispensable extensions of our schools. They’re helping our kids with homework and college preparation and keeping our unemployed neighbors hopeful by offering a dependable and resourceful place to look for jobs. They’re bridging the digital divide that could separate us from one another.  They’re  a resource and investment that return exponential value to our communities-especially during periods of recession.

 “Policy makers must fully recognize and support the role libraries are playing in workforce development, education, health and wellness, and the delivery of government services,” Marsha Semmel of the Institute of Museum and Library Services said in response to the study’s findings.   Media headlines about the study also tell the story: “Web Usage up at libraries: many young, low-income people rely on public Internet access for research . . .” writes the Spokesman Review. “A third of Americans — about 77 million people — use public-library computers to look for jobs, connect with friends, do their homework and improve their lives,” writes the Seattle Times, citing the study’s findings. 

What can you do to help our libraries? Get involved with the Friends of The Seattle Public Library. advocacy@friendsofspl.org

 

Up Close and Personal at the South Park Branch Library March 20, 2010

Shawna Murphy

“I feel so personal about the South Park library,” Shawna Murphy told us.  “In this library, the staff know me and my family. The  level of service is just unbelievable. We’re all on a first name basis at my branch!”  Talk to anyone from this close-knit neighborhood and you’ll probably hear about two things: the pending closure of the South Park Bridge and reduced hours at the South Park Branch library. “Without the bridge out of the neighborhood the community will depend even more on our small library branch,” Murphy pointed out.

“Our library always has a lot going on,” Murphy, a mother and child care provider explained. ” The older kids in the neighborhood use our library as an afterschool hang out. Our kids section is in the front ¼ of the library so it’s the focal point.  And the computers are always jam-packed with neighbors of all ages, it is almost like the library functions as the South Park Computer Lab. “

Murphy and her small  child care group have been attending Story Time since the South Park branch opened three years ago, but reduced library service hours are impacting that routine.  “Our branch had to change the time of this offering,” Murphy said, “so story time is now offered at 11:15 instead of 10:15.  This new time frame will be a bit of a challenge because it will be cutting into our lunch & nap time and the children will not be at their best.”

In addition, the closure of the South Park branch twice a week, on Fridays and Sundays, cuts into Murphy’s personal routine. “Sunday was my personal day to go to the library, without the kids,” she confided.

When faced with dramatic budget cuts, the Seattle Public Library Board tried to equitably spread 7 day a week library service across the city.  Unfortunately, some of the neighborhoods where library service was reduced were in communities, such as South Park, where the library is greatly needed.  Driving to the next closest open library is sometimes difficult or impossible for families, and some report that it takes them two bus rides to find an open library.

Please help these communities by speaking out for restored library hours. Questions? advocacy@friendsofspl.org

 

 
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