Sundays Are Special… at the International District Branch

2013 is a great year for Seattle readers: for the first time in at least a century, all locations of The Seattle Public Library will be open on Sundays. 15 branches have new Sunday hours, and we’re celebrating at each location with the Check-Out Challenge, refreshments, and craft activities. We stopped by the International District/Chinatown branch on Sunday, March 10, to join in the fun.

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The party was in full swing by the time we arrived, with dozens of patrons browsing the shelves, enjoying snacks and drinks, and getting their Check-Out Challenge game cards stamped. At the craft table, volunteers helped kids and parents make colorful creations out of felt, googly eyes, and glitter glue. The kids also got pencils, stickers, and other goodies. And, of course, the Friends were on hand with our new limited-edition book bags.

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Here are just a few of the things you can do at the Sunday celebrations:

Check-Out Challenge

Pick up a free Check-Out Challenge game card at your local branch. Then, visit any library location on Sundays between Jan. 6 and May 5 to get your card stamped. Once you’ve collected 15 stamps, you can enter a prize drawing for a chance to win a book lover’s gift basket and lunch with the city librarian!

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Apply for a New Library Card

Lost your library card (or haven’t signed up for one yet)? The Library’s new card designs feature six iconic images of Seattle. We especially like the kid-friendly illustrated card.

Take Home a Tote

Special limited-edition canvas tote bags, featuring a commemoratively styled icon of your Library branch, are available for $15 (cash only). Look for the Friends of The Seattle Public Library table and take home one of these handy bags. They make wonderful gifts for out-of-town readers, too!

See all the upcoming neighborhood branch Sunday events and plan a visit to help us celebrate!



Seattle Votes “YES” on Libraries!

The votes are in — Seattle Proposition 1 has passed! 62% of voters approved the seven-year, $123 million property-tax levy, sending a clear message about the importance of our libraries. Here are some of the benefits for the Library:

·         Service hours will be restored
·         Collections will be rebuilt
·         Computers will be upgraded
·         Buildings neglected after four years of city budget cuts will receive maintainance
·         In 2013, library branches that are now closed on Sundays will reopen
·         Staff will no longer have to take a week-long, unpaid furlough
Thanks to voters and volunteers for your support! Visit your local branch to find out more about how levy funds will make a difference.

Erica Bauermeister – I Am a Writer Because of Libraries

I am a writer because of libraries, because of their cool, dark recesses during hot and smoggy Pasadena summers, when I would hole up between the stacks and read and read and read until I had punched every hole in my summer-challenge library card and gone onto the next.  I am a writer because of the refuge of the library during my awkward adolescence, because of the way the books I found by accident taught me about times and places I had never thought of.  I am a writer because of wood floors, and twelve-foot-tall windows that let the light fall down onto books that are sweetly musty and eager to be read.  I am a writer because of inter-library loan, which sent hundreds of books to my tiny Wallingford branch while I was researching 500 Great Books by Women.  I am a writer because of the quick-information line, which answered all my questions in a way far more satisfying than Google will ever be, because the answers were framed in conversations, and sometimes included questions inside themselves.  Which, of course, would lead me back to the library itself.  Because in the end, libraries remind us that reading is a communal activity, a conversation between writer and reader, reader and reader, page and eyes.

Nassim Assefi – The library is one of our most functional, important, beloved public places

I’ve traveled to over 50 countries and have lived in several of them. What I miss most about the US while abroad (aside from friends and family) is our breathtaking national parks and our vastly accessible public library system. I love the downtown Seattle public library, not just because of its distinctive architecture, but because it is one of the most diverse places in the city. Homeless men are reading their email and applying for jobs, veiled Somali women are checking out books on computer literacy and English as a second language, children of all colors are mesmerized by the puppet stage and making up their own story hour, writers are congregating in their special rooms, introverts are finding solace, and a business man is sipping a latte on his lunch break, nose stuck in a novel. Each of the neighborhood libraries in Seattle has its own personality, reflective of the community it serves, much like the local farmers’ markets. A society can be judged not only by how it treats its most vulnerable citizens, but also by the quality, quantity, and accessibility of its public institutions. The library is one of our most functional, important, beloved public places. It is democracy in action and a stepping stone to a better world. Please vote yes on Proposition 1.

Keep Libraries Open – Eileen Gunn

On August 7, Seattle Proposition 1 will be on the primary ballot. The seven-year, $123-million levy addresses four essential priorities: keeping libraries open, adding more books and materials, improving computer and online services, and maintaining buildings. Learn more about the levy and how public libraries help Seattle patrons like author Eileen Gunn.

I grew up in a town that had no bookstore, just a wire rack of cheap paperbacks at the local newsdealer. A block from that store was the public library, built in 1874 with donated money. It was a small wooden building with high, rounded Queen Anne windows on the second floor, and it was filled with fascinating books — the latest best-sellers, newly published science-fiction and fantasy, romance, historicals, everything I couldn’t buy at the store.  

I sampled it all: history, science, archeology, humor, art, and, of course, sexy novels. I discovered Robert Heinlein’s juveniles and read my way through the entire adult SF section.  Left alone to roam the shelves, I formed a very personal relationship with books new and old. I once took out a volume — the speeches of Wendell Willkie, if I recall correctly — simply because nobody else ever had: I felt sorry for it.  
That was fifty years ago. The world is very different now, but public libraries like the SPL, with open stacks that encourage browsing and discovery, and with enticing branch libraries that put books out in the neighborhoods, where kids and passersby can drop in, still bring the world to the people, and people to the world.  
The active presence of the Seattle Public Library, its branches open and accessible to the public, not shuttered and dark most of the time, is essential to the quality of life of Seattle. For the well-being of writers and researchers and people to don’t have easy Internet access, for the enrichment of the children who will be the future of this city and this country, vote on August 7 to support, maintain, and improve the our libraries. Keep the libraries open!  

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!