Recent grants show community support for libraries

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.

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Can we come back tomorrow?

A patron from the Columbia Branch shares a story from her recent visit:

Columbia City Branch“I was checking out books at the Columbia City branch a few months ago, shortly after I’d learned the branch had reduced its hours…as I checked out, a father with two boys came up to the counter to ask the librarian a question.”

The brothers were talking and one said to the other, ‘Let’s ask Dad if we can come back here tomorrow.’ The older brother said, ‘This place is SO much fun!’

The younger boy said ‘OK,’ and they started tugging on their dad’s shirt. ‘Dad, Dad, can we come back here tomorrow?’ Finally the dad responded, ‘Yes, sure.’

“My heart sank because I knew that the branch was now going to be closed on Sunday, the next day. The enthusiasm the boys had for being in the Library was contagious and impressive. I wished I had the power to open the doors for them the next day.”

How the Mayoral and City Council Candidates Stack Up on Library Funding

For information on how the Seattle City Council candidates responded to our questions on Library budget issues, see the FSPL website for the 2009 edition of our newsletter.  

We didn’t receive responses from mayoral candidates Joe Mallahan and Mike McGinn in time for newsletter publication, but here’s a link to a Seattle Times article about their positions.

Call to Action! Please email undecided Councilmembers now to save library hours

Councilmembers Burgess, Harrell, and Licata are championing a restoration of 1.2 million dollars to the 2010 budget which will keep our libraries open next year with the same operating hours we enjoy this year.

Unfortunately none of the options Council put forward will stop our libraries from closing for a one week furlough, but we think a one week closure is more than enough.

We want no further cuts to hours but we need your help convincing undecided Councilmembers to vote for Option A, restoration of many hours the mayor’s budget caused our libraries to cut in 2010.  Join the final call to action in support of neighborhood library branch hours

Please send this email message and urge friends and family to send it too.



SUBJECT:  $1.2 Million Restoration of Library Funds

TEXT: Dear Councilmembers Clark, Conlin, Drago, Godden, McIver, and Rasmussen,

Please join fellow Councilmembers Burgess, Harrell and Licata and vote for Option A to restore the 330 weekly service hours to keep our libraries open normal hours in 2010.

OPTIONAL:  I use the XYZ neighborhood branch for XYZ. OR Share a more personal message about why your neighborhood branch is important to you.

Award Winning Seattle Author Richard Farr Emails in Support of The Seattle Public Library – Join Him!

Seattle Author Richard Farr

Emperors of the IceThe Friends of The Seattle Public Library had the distinct pleasure of featuring award winning-author Richard Farr at their 68th annual meeting this past Sunday.  Farr’s book, Emperors of the Ice: A True Story of Disaster and Survival in the Antarctic, 1910 – 13, has been named winner of the 2009 Scanduzzi Children’s Book Award (part of the annual Washington State Book Awards) in the category of Books for Middle Grades and Young Adults (10 – 18 year old readers). Not surprisingly, Mr. Farr is a serious user of The Seattle Public Library.

Mr. Farr shared with us the email he sent to the Seattle City Council on Monday, October 26th.  Please join Mr. Farr and help the Friends reach the goal of 500 emails to Seattle City Council!

Send your email to

The email can be short-

Subject line:  Restore branch library hours. Text:  My name is ____. I use the ____ library. Please restore branch library hours.

For your  inspiration, information and enjoyment, here is Mr. Farr’s email to the Seattle City Council.  Thank you, Mr. Farr, for allowing the Friends to share your words and for supporting The Seattle Public Library:

To the Seattle City Council:

Since I’m an author, permit me to tell you a (very) short story:

Once upon a time, in the year 2019, the City of Somewhere went through a Great Depression. There was so little money that few people even had enough to eat, and they had to heat their homes by burning old copies of the City Budget. Because of the crime wave, public safety was the top priority, and it was clear that some inessential service would have to be slashed. Luckily, one of these was a very expensive and not very important program called “schooling.” The city worked out that it could save a lot of money by shuttering all schools for a week, even more by closing them on Fridays, and more still by not opening most of them until eleven in the morning. Everyone was delighted to be able to save the money for things that really mattered. In fact, because the schools had closed, even some of the least important services, such as libraries, were able to keep operating.

Back to Seattle, 2009: times are tough, but we are not in a Great Depression, and it would take a Great Depression for the city to even consider closing its schools. So the question before you today is simply this: what makes libraries less important than schools? Why are they morally easier to close? Why is it easier to consider them inessential?

The Washington Center for the Book just awarded me this years Scanduizzi Prize, the Washington State Book Award for Young Adult literature, for my book “Emperors of the Ice.” I simply could not have written this book except by spending 15-20 hours per week in the Seattle libraries, constantly depending on the skill and dedication (and availability) of its staff. But I’m just an extreme case: every citizen needs libraries. More important still: every child who grows up in a great and (even today) wealthy city deserves a community that would simply be too ashamed to consider library closures as a budget-fixing option.

Please, for the sake of the city itself, let’s be too ashamed to do this. Do not cut the library’s budget. That Seattle “aspires” to be a “world-class city” is very nice, but the stark reality is this: as everyone has known since the Babylonians, a city in which you cannot go to the library is no kind of city at all.

With respect,

Richard Farr
Author, “Emperors of the Ice”

To purchase “Emperors of the Ice” click here OR To check out “Emperors of the Ice” from The Seattle Public Library click here

Seattle Mayoral and City Council Candidates Respond to Question about Library Issues


In election years, The Friends of The Seattle Public Library and The Seattle Public Library Foundation ask Mayoral and City Council candidates to answer questions of interest to those who use and value The Seattle Public Library.  This election year, all general election candidates were asked to respond to the same question concerning library hours, collections and the capital budget.

Given a  shortfall in city revenues and  additional budget cuts necessary for 2010, how important is it to a) maintain hours at current levels, b) improve funding levels for collections, which includes public computers and c) to restore the capital budget for building maintenance?

Click HERE to read all unedited responses received by the publication deadline of the Friends newsletter The BookMark.  Please note, “No Response” indicates either a late response or no response received.

The Seattle candidates for Mayor are: Mike McGinn and Joe Mallahan

And for Seattle City  Council:

Council Position No. 2:  Richard Conlin and David Ginsberg

Council Position No. 4:  Sally Bagshaw and David Bloom

Council Position No. 6:  Nick Licata and Jessie Israel

Council Position No. 8:  Mike O’Brien and Robert Rosencrantz

King County Election Ballots will be mailed October 14th and must be postmarked by November 3rd.  Don’t forget to vote!

Sign our online petition or meet us at branch libraries

Did you know that Friends of The Seattle Public Library has an online petition? Help us reach our goal for signatures.

If you’re impacted by or unsupportive of a reduction in the hours of 21 branch libraries and their closure on Friday and Sunday all year in 2010, then please sign our petition and pass this link onto friends and family. You might also meet us as we gather signatures and pass out information on the potential consequences of the proposed 2010 budget outside select branch libraries in October:

BROBroadview branch library- 12 p.m.- 2,  Sunday, October 11

CAPCapitol Hill branch library 1-2:30 p.m. Monday, October 12

COLColumbia branch library 3:30-5 p.m Monday, October 12—-cancelled


Fremont branch library 1 – 2:30 pm Mon, October 12


GWDGreenwood branch library 12-2 pm Saturday, October 17—rained out

Greenwood branch library rescheduled for Sunday, October 18 1:30-3:30 p.m


BALBallard branch library 12-2 pm Sunday, October 18


WALWallingford Branch 2-4 pm Monday, October 19


 Magnolia Branch 10 am to 12 noon, Thursday, October 22nd


NETNortheast Branch 1 pm to 3 pm, Saturday, Oct 24th

HIPHighpoint Branch 10 am to 11:00 am, Thursday, Oct 22–cancelled

DLRDelridge Branch 11:15 am to 12:00 pm, Thursday, Oct 22—cancelled


sbflogoXSSeattle Bookfest, Friends of The Seattle Public Library are at Bookfest. So is our petition against library closures and reductions to hours. Sign the petition at our Bookfest bookswap. We’ll see you there.