2010 Friends of SPL Wrap-up

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!


Six-Year-Old Sends Her Allowance to Keep Libraries Open

The Friends of the Seattle Public Library recently received a letter from one of our supporters, Ani J.  The letter reads:

” Dear Library,

I want to share my allowance money so you can stay open.  I am 6 years old.  Here is $11.  (as dictated to mom, aka scribe)”

Thank you Ani!  Your contribution means so much to us.  We are happy that you use and love The Library.

If you are reading this and also want to help support The Seattle Public Library, an anonymous donor has pledged $500,000 to support The Seattle Public Library if the citizens of Seattle can raise a matching amount.  To donate, go to the Seattle Public Library Foundation website.  Let’s make a million dollars for The Library!

Another way you can help is to attend City Council budget hearings and voice your support for The Library.  Seattle is facing huge budget cuts again this year.  Come and let the Council know how valuable libraries are to our community.  For a schedule of budget hearings go the City Council’s website.

Budget Cuts Cause 15 Branches to Lose Hours

Budget cuts have forced The Seattle Public Library to phase in a strategic and dramatically abbreviated 2010 service plan. On Feb 3rd, 2010, 15 neighborhoods lost convenient library access for the year and 11 neighborhoods gained operating hours to accommodate those displaced patrons. In addition the entire library system will be closed for one week from August 30th to September 6th.   The Library sustained a 13% cut to operations and a 37% cut in the capital budget. Unbelievably, there is ongoing concern that even further cuts could come in April.

Longer hours and seven day operations at the 11 libraries, chosen for their size, available meeting space, collections and computers, and access to public transit are welcome. But kids in the 15 neighborhoods losing service, including Highpoint, New Holly, Columbia, Northgate, and South Park, find that their afterschool computer access isn’t available on Friday and they won’t have access to library computers on Sundays because their library is closed. Wednesday and Thursday their work must be done by 6 p.m. because the libraries now close two hours earlier. In those same neighborhoods the reduction in hours means working families have difficulty accessing The Library;  community organizations and study groups, which relied on The Library for evening meetings, are now looking for other arrangements.

This budget cut and the resulting reduction in service hours is a discouraging and shocking development that sends a troubling message to the growing number of people who turn to The Library for a lifeline in Seattle, and to the nation that watches this city: the most literate city in America boasting an award winning internationally recognized library system.

Your voices of support have helped. You sent emails to elected officials and some of you came out to public meetings. Thanks to your voices an additional six libraries were added to the proposed 2010 budget of just 5 scheduled to have longer hours.  City Council now realizes there needs to be a long term funding solution and are exploring alternative resources, but this is a 2-3 year process. There may be an end to this struggle, but this year we need your vocal support again. The library is still stuck in a competitive funding mode and only citizen input will move officials to keep prioritizing library services.

Lost hours and lost resource funding have a unique and critical impact on libraries. Library service demand continues to grow and information needs continue to multiply and diversify. We want libraries to have computers, podcasts, books, downloadable books and databases. We want libraries to provide computer literacy, job resources, and story times. We want to be able to ask librarians questions. We want libraries to have world language collections for our increasingly diverse population. This can’t be done on reduced or stagnant budgets. Information service is a dynamic industry with constant and rapid changes. This can only be achieved when we make a civic commitment to stable funding.

Library hours were also reduced in early 2000, shortly after Seattle voters passed Libraries For All, the capital bond that funded the expansion of our neighborhood library system. Those cuts left a lingering legacy. They set a precedent for closing libraries in hard times and set a lowbar for funding that hampered efforts to improve the library budget throughout this decade. Funding has never caught up with patron demand or the new size of our beautiful library system. Ironically, 2 months after the Libraries For All project finished in Sept 2008, library budget cuts were announced that forced a week long system furlough. Seattle voters committed to a visionary investment in libraries now we find we can’t keep the doors open in, of all times, this time when people need them most.

Won’t you join us with your active library support? Protect our investment. Stay tuned to developments throughout coming months. And, right now, please take a minute to email Mayor Mike McGinn and Council president, Richard Conlin (richard.conlin@seattle.gov). Tell them your name and neighborhood and ask them to preserve library funding in 2010 and to budget full library funding in 2011.

Proposed 2010 budget impact: One week furlough and 21 branch libraries closed two days a week

The downward adjustments to the 2010 City Budget were announced today.  Library collections will be kept at the support level of 2009.  However, The Seattle Public Library was asked to identify approximately 5 percent in cuts — about $2.8 million.

This is a significantly larger impact than what Seattle experienced with the downward adjustment of the 2009 budget. What does this mean to you and your neighborhood? A one week closure of the entire system and 21 branch libraries that will close Friday and Sunday all year. In addition, according to the library’s website, the proposed 2010 capital budget is down 37 percent from the 2009 adopted budget which means delays in the maintenance and upkeep of our very busy, well used buildings.

Please help us preserve our library access. City Council can change this budget. This budget includes some new spending and there is room for adjustment, but without your voice and presence at upcoming hearings City Council may not re-evaluate. Can you help? Contact advocacy@friendsofspl.org

12 million people turned to our libraries last year. Many are accessing critical services: job search resources, free computers, wi-fi efficiency, community meeting space, literacy support and so forth. Our blog stories portray these everyday uses and the impact on individuals and families. Closed libraries and abbreviated access creates hardships.  In the recession of 2002 and 2003 our library system was closed for two weeks each year and library hours were cut.   The Library hasn’t regained the operating hours lost almost 7 years ago.

  • The Friends of The Seattle Public Library believes any further reduction in hours of operations isn’t a rational choice given the substantial increase in patrons using The Seattle Public Library and with the difficulties facing the citizens of Seattle who are turning to The Seattle Public Library for support and information in the current economic crisis.
  • The Friends of The Seattle Public Library believes furloughs are not a sustainable solution for the operations of The Seattle Public Library and that furloughs eliminate the critical services provided daily by The Seattle Public Library staff and collections.

The citizens of Seattle have increased their usage of The Central Library and the 26 branches by astounding numbers.  Door counts have continued to rise across the system. With all this usage there is wear and tear that requires timely maintenance to prevent deterioration of the interior and exterior of Central and the 26 branches.  The Library’s capital budget for 2009 was reduced from $1.646 million to $694,000.

  • The Friends of The Seattle Public Library believes there must be an ongoing baseline of support for The Seattle Public Library to protect the investment the citizens of Seattle have made in the building and renovation of The Seattle Public Library System.

Please stand up for the library and for our neighbors who need everyday access. You can help : advocacy@friendsofspl.org

Don’t cut library hours

City officials are in the process of deliberating possible budget cuts which may result in a decrease of important and vital services provided by the Seattle Public Library. Just look outside of any of the library branches now and you will see people lining up in advance, waiting for the doors to open in the last part of the morning, many of them wishing they could gain access much earlier in the day. At closing, the patrons have to be ushered out of the buildings, often leaving before they want, before completing what they came for. With an already exploding usage of library facilities, and with heavy demands and long wait times for limited library materials and resources, a further restricting of access creates hardships for all.

Previous economic recessions were responsible for the austere library funding that is still in place. Libraries had already adopted more limited hours, but despite positive changes in the overall economic climate, Library funding was often overlooked. It took passage of a bond measure and the overwhelming support of residents throughout the City of Seattle, to secure necessary funding to rebuild and revitalize the entire Library system. Not until City Council acted to add 2 million dollars to the library budget in ’08 did the newly expanded Library system begin the process of procuring materials, media and equipment that had been critically needed.

As our city leaders decide how to prioritize precious resources during this difficult economic time, it is crucial to keep in mind the services that the Library provides to all residents. Everyone has equal access to these services and those with the greatest needs are turning to their libraries in greater numbers than ever before. We need to keep the doors open and staff in place to provide the support and assistance that our citizens expect. Any further limits on Library hours is essentially placing limits on how many (or how few) of the City’s residents will gain access.