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?


Speak Out For Libraries At Youth And Family Community Engagement Meetings

On Feb. 22nd, our elected officials began a civic process that will shape our city. The Seattle City Council announced their ambitious and action oriented 17 priorities for 2010 in the afternoon.  Then, in the evening, Mayor McGinn commenced the first  community engagement meeting on his Youth and Family Initiative.  Citizen input from this and four other community engagement meetings  will guide the development of Mayor McGinn’s important Youth and Family Initiative funding. The City Council will also be watching this input closely, so it will inform their actions as well!

The Youth and Families Initiative is a major initiative that will shape the Mayor’s agenda (and undoubtedly, funding) on issues affecting youth and families from a child’s birth to a successful career track.   We need your help in letting the Mayor and the City Council know what an important role libraries play in helping youth and families.

We know that libraries offer foundational support for youth and families.  Our young people depend on libraries for afterschool visits, study support, storytime, homework help, and afterschool computer access. The partnership between public libraries and schools is well documented, yet people might not think to mention what a critical role our libraries play in our community.  For example, the online form for Youth and Family input doesn’t  list full library access as a possible priority!

How can you help ensure that  our libraries are recognized as priorities for the City and for the Youth and Family Initiative?   Fill out the online form. In the answer to questions 1 and 2 please tell Mayor McGinn that free access (for all) to public educational support is critical and we need to restore library hours for children and families.  Then, please bring your voice for our libraries to a Monday meeting in March. These meetings will not only determine how libraries are perceived, they’ll also influence how the City addresses challenges in the education system.

This is a city powered by community input. These meetings are stimulating and well attended. Speaking out for libraries, right now, will help the Seattle Public Library weather the likely mid-year budget adjustments and help its position in the 2011 budget. Supervised childcare is available at the meetings, and translators are available on-site.   Please attend, and help us restore library hours for schools, families, and children.

These meetings start at 7 and end at 8:30 pm and are at:

March 1 – Northgate Elementary School
March 8 – Van Asselt Elementary School
March 15 – Denny Middle School
March 22 – Garfield Community Center

For more on the Youth and Family Initiative, go to the Youth and Families homepage.

RSVP advocacy@friendsofspl.org if you can attend or can help us rally support for libraries.

Children and Libraries Need Your Help

In community conversations last year, many of you told us how much you and your family use the Seattle Public Library.  Libraries are gathering places and  learning places, not just places to borrow books.  In our library value survey, 28% of you cited kids as the primary reason libraries will remain relevant.  From storytime to homework help, the librarians and volunteers at our Seattle Public Library branches actively help patrons (young and old) learn more about themselves and the world.  It’s time to include libraries in our conversations about youth and family initiatives.

During his inaugural address, Mayor Mike McGinn announced a Youth and Family Initiative.  He’s hosting five community engagement meetings.  Mayor McGinn acts on community input. Your voices at these meetings will make a difference. The first meeting is Monday, February 22nd, at Rainier Community Center, 7-8:30 pm. Can you help?  Please come.  Please tell the panel how libraries play an important role in our children’s lives.

There will be four more community engagement meetings on Mondays in March. But right now you can help by emailing Mayor McGinn about children and libraries.  Please encourage your friends and family to email too.

Sample emails:

Dear Mayor McGinn: My name is —-. I live in —–neighborhood. Children need libraries. Please include our libraries in the Youth and Family Initiative.

Dear Mayor McGinn: My name is—  My family and I use —-library. Children need to be able to use libraries after school, and it is harder to do that now that after school hours have been reduced at libraries in 15 neighborhoods due to budget cuts.  Please help by including libraries in the Youth and Family Initiative.

Dear Mayor McGinn: My name is—. I use the —library.  Libraries are important for families and kids. Please include libraries in the Youth and Family Initiative.

Questions? advocacy@friendsofspl.org

Visit our website.

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!

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.

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

Preserve library funds petitions presented to City Council

Library supporters: Anne, Jennifer,John, Susan, Ali, and Kevin
Library supporters: Anne, Jennifer,John, Susan, Ali, and Kevin

Much of the public testimony before Seattle City Council’s budget meeting , April 20, 2009, was about the importance of our libraries.  Friends of The Seattle Public Library Vice President, Jennifer Johnson-Fong, presented petitions signed by more than 800 library supporters at: Wallingford, Northeast, Ballard, Queen Anne, Douglass Truth, Central, and Lake City Libraries  as well as from independent booksellers and the Friends of The Seattle Public Library Book Sale.

She told Council, “All of us who collected signatures on these petitions heard from people who recognize the value of The Library, not just in these hard economic times, but as a steadfast, egalitarian neighborhood institution that anybody in Seattle can visit.

Branch  patrons, book lovers from the Friends Booksale and Independent bookstores, and Seattle neighborhood residents are thanking you all for your past support and urging you to continue to preserve Library funding as you begin to think ahead to the budget for 2010.”

Friends of The Seattle Public Library thank all of you that helped with this Spring Campaign drive or who signed our petitions for preserving library funds. Thanks to many of you that emailed your elected officials with library support. Thanks as well to booksellers that graciously hosted a petition. Each and every one of you made a difference for The Seattle Public Library by bringing attention to the important ways it stabilizes families, individuals, and neighborhoods.

Library supporters who came to the budget meeting today are patrons from: Queen Anne, Highpoint, West Seattle, Mt Baker, Northeast, Central, and Douglass Truth libraries. If you’d like to help Friends of The Seattle Public Library keep our library system strong and vibrant contact us at advocacy@friendsofspl.org.