Up Close and Personal at the South Park Branch Library

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


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: advocacy@friendsofspl.org

Will Your Neighborhood Library Hours Be Cut on 2/3? What Can You Do to Help?

Due to budget cuts, operating hours at many Library branches will be reduced starting on February 3.    Click here to see how your neighborhood branch will be affected.

What can you do to help prevent further reductions in Library services?  Our elected officials are setting 2011 (yes, that’s right, 2011) budget priorities now, so here are 3 things you can do now:

1. Attend the Citizen’s Budget Conference 2010 on Sunday, January 31st at the Seattle Center House

Why: The Mayor, City Council members and City agency representatives will be there, and you can ask them questions and tell them why it is important to maintain funding for Library hours and collections.

How: Click here for more info.  There are two key times for speaking in support of The Seattle Public Library

  • 2 to 2:55 pm when The Seattle Public Library gives a presentation
  • 4 to 5 pm for a special meeting of the Seattle City Council Budget Committee to discuss the budget and take public comment

If you plan to attend, please email the Friends’ Advocacy Committee at advocacy@friendsofspl.org so we can keep an eye out for you.

2. Send  Mayor McGinn a comment in support of The Seattle Public Library today

Why: Mayor McGinn acts on community voices.  Please tell him why The Library is important to you and our community.

How: Click here for a link to the Mayor’s website, where you can give him your comments and suggestions.  Feel free to send him your own message, but here’s a sample you can use or adapt:

Topic/Subject Line:  No More Budget Reductions for The Seattle Public Library in 2011

Message:  I use [FILL IN YOUR BRANCH ] neighborhood library.  On February 3rd my branch hours are changing.  I want you to support The Seattle Public Library in the 2011 budget.  [PLEASE ADD A PERSONAL MESSAGE ABOUT WHAT THE SEATTLE PUBLIC LIBRARY MEANS TO YOU AND HOW YOU USE IT]

3. Email Councilmember President Richard Conlin today

Why: Councilmember Conlin now chairs the council’s Library committee, and needs to know how important continued funding is for the Library.

How: Email him at richard.conlin@seattle.gov.  See the sample message above, or come up with your own message.

If you’d like more information about the 2010 Library budget, click here.  And stay tuned to the Friends’ blog for more information about the 2011 budget.

Thanks for your support; your voices made a difference last year, and can make a difference again this year!

Seattle City Council Passes Option C Funding for The Seattle Public Library

council_header08Today, November 12, 2009, the Seattle City Council unanimously voted to increase the General Subfund (GSF) support for library services by $860,000 in 2010.  As described in the Seattle City Council’s green sheet Tab 94, Action 1, Option C, Version 1, “[$860,000] would restore 140 of the library operating hours that would be eliminated per the 2010 Proposed Budget.  Increasing GSF support for library services by $860,000 would also allow the Library Board to reinstate some of the 27 staff positions (18.8 FTE [Full Time]) that would be eliminated under the 2010 Proposed Budget.”

The new operating hours for The Seattle Public Library will look like this with Option C as per the Seattle City Council’s green sheet Tab 94, Action 1, Option C, Version 1


  • Hours remain at the current seven day, 62 hour weekly schedule

Ballard, Beacon Hill, Broadview, Capitol Hill, Douglass-Truth, Greenwood, Lake City, Northeast, Rainier Beach, Southwest and West Seattle:

  • Open 7 Days per week (60 hours per week): 
  • Monday – Thursday, 10 am – 8 pm;
  • Friday – Saturday, 10 am – 6 pm;
  • Sunday 1 pm – 5 pm

Columbia, Delridge, Fremont, Green Lake, High Point, International District/Chinatown, Madrona-Sally Goldmark, Magnolia, Montlake, NewHolly, Northgate, Queen Anne, South Park, University and Wallingford:

  • Open 5 Days per week (35 hours per week, closed Friday and Sunday): 
  • Monday – Tuesday, 1 pm – 8 pm;
  • Wednesday – Thursday, 11 am – 6 pm;
  • Friday:  CLOSED;
  • Saturday 10 am – 6 pm;
  • Sunday:  CLOSED

Art, Family, Playgrounds and Greenlake Library

“On a typical Sunday outing we’ll take our bikes and scooters down to the lake, have breakfast, play at the playground, go to the library and go home,” Greenlake patron Rebecca Albiani told us over morning coffee.  The library serves an important role in both her family and professional life. Her eldest son, 8, “is an avid reader; it would bankrupt us to keep him in books by purchasing them,” she said. His current reading list: Alcatraz and the Evil Librarians, Septimus Heap books,  and 39 Clues. The youngest son, 6, “memorizes books so he needs a constant flow of simple stories as he learns to read.”

Titian exhibit[1]In professional life, Rebecca “gives talks for general audiences at the Frye Art Museum.” For the past ten years she’s lectured on everything from ancient Egypt to Pop Art. “I couldn’t do that without the library. Every month I have a new topic. 95 percent of my research materials come from the public library,” she said. Wouldn’t the UW Art Library be a stronger resource, we wondered, but Rebecca said the public library’s catalogue is usually ample. “The public library has THE book on the Index of American Design, for instance, which is the New Deal program I’ll be lecturing on in December. I could get a UW library card but it’s so much more convenient to walk to my public library [Greenlake Walkscore: 89] where I know people who work there and I don’t have to worry about parking.”

“The library is a crucial leveling factor. Plus it is simply a wonderful community gathering place” she told us. “When I think about the proposed library budget I worry about Saturday hours and Sunday closures in particular. On Sunday I see people on computers or sitting in the magazine section—that’s where my husband goes. There are always a lot of families reading to kids or kids coloring. At the playground I often hear moms saying, “Shall we go to the library now?”


Please support Library hours in the 2010 budget.

Seattle Neighborhood Blogs Take Up the Final Call to Action to Save Neighborhood Branch Library Hours

Neighborhood blogs across Seattle are supporting the Friends of The Seattle Public Library!  Thanks to the Laurelhurst BlogRainier Valley PostWallyhoodMiller Park, Beacon Hill Blog, My Green Lake and Wedgewood Blog for getting your communities involved in this final email campaign and thanks to Blogging Georgetown, Capitol Hill Seattle, Fremont Universe, Greenwood, Magnolia Voice, PhinneyWood, Queen Anne View and West Seattle Blog for their earlier support.

West Seattle BranchWallingford BranchUniversity BranchSouth Park BranchBeacon Hill Branch

Your past emails have made a difference!  Councilmembers Burgess, Harrell, and Licata are committed to preserving the current hours of operations at all neighborhood branches of The Seattle Public Library.  We have launched this final e-mail campaign targeted at Councilmembers Clark, Conlin, Drago, Godden, McIver, and Rasmussen to urge them to join Councilmembers Burgess, Harrell, and Licata in preserving our present neighborhood Library hours.  Please send the email outlined below today:

TO: sally.clark@seattle.gov; jan.drago@seattle.gov; tom.rasmussen@seattle.gov; richard.conlin@seattle.gov; jean.godden@seattle.gov; richard.mciver@seattle.gov

CC: tim.burgess@seattle.gov; bruce.harrell@seattle.gov; nick.licata@seattle.gov

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.

On Nov. 2, Seattle City Councilmembers began discussing four options to partially restore the 5% reduction in the endorsed Library budget. None of the options will prevent another one week furlough in 2010, but the best choice, Option A, does preserve Library hours in your neighborhood branch at their current level and prevents the loss of 27 Library staff positions.

The proposed hours reduction would mean that Beacon Hill, Broadview, Capitol Hill, Columbia, Delridge, Fremont, Green Lake, Greenwood, High Point, International District / Chinatown, Madrona-Sally Goldmark, Magnolia, Montlake, NewHolly, Northeast, Northgate, Queen Anne, South Park, University, Wallingford and West Seattle would be closed on Fridays and Sundays, plus operate at reduced hours – all year.

Thank you Seattle Neighborhood Blogs and their readers for all your support and dedication to your neighborhood library branches.  Please ask your Seattle friends and family to join you in this final email campaign to save neighborhood branch library hours.

Columbia BranchMadronna Sally Goldmark Branch

MontlakeQueen Anne BranchNortheast BranchInternational District Chinatown Branch

Capitol Hill BranchNorthgate BranchNewHolly BranchMagnolia BranchHigh Point BranchBeacon Hill BranchDelridge BranchGreen Lake BranchGreenwood BranchFremont Branch