Save neighborhood library hours in 2010. Here’s how you can help.

The City Council is now reviewing Mayor Greg Nickels’ proposed 2010 budget, which includes $2.8 million in cuts to the Library budget. Proposed cuts include a reduction in branch operating hours and a one-week closure of the entire Library system. The proposed hours reduction would mean that 21 Library locations  would be closed on Fridays and Sundays – all year. In addition, those branches would experience a significant reduction in their remaining open hours and would be open after six only two days per week. Overall, the Library would lose about 23 percent of its open hours compared with 2009.  Here’s the list of libraries that will be closed both Sunday and Friday and with reduced operating hours if the proposed budget is adopted by Seattle City Council in November:

Northgate, Broadview, Greenlake, Greenwood, University, Montlake, Northeast, Capitol Hill, Fremont, Wallingford, Magnolia, Queen Anne, Madrona Sally Goldmark, International District/Chinatown, West Seattle, Columbia, Delridge, Highpoint, Beacon Hill, New Holly, and South Park.

The proposed budget will impact all of our communities and neighbors who are relying on our libraries for computer access, job search resources, educational support, gathering spaces, and librarian assistance. In 2008, more than 13 million customers visited the Library and so far this year, visits are up another 8 percent.  Circulation of books and other items was up 20 percent in 2008; this year it is up an additional 11 percent.

How Can You Help?  Councilmembers can change the budget if they hear public concern. The most important thing you can do now is to attend public hearings and email councilmembers.

Public Hearings all start at 5:30. To speak sign up begins at 5:00:

Oct 7, Wednesday, Whitman Middle School Auditorium.  9201 15th Ave NW, Seattle.

Oct 14, Wednesday, Northwest African American Museum, Legacy Gallery, 2300 S Massachusetts St, Seattle

Oct 26, Monday, City Council Chambers, 600 4th Avenue

RSVP and we’ll send you preparatory information.

Your councilmember’s emails.

Subject line: restore library hours. Suggested text: My name is ________. I use the _______library. Please restore library hours.


Seattle Free School Started in Meeting Rooms of Public Libraries Says Founder

Jessica Dally
Jessica Dally

“Libraries create a space where groups can meet to do community building without having to pay anything,” Jessica Dally told us when we met up with her in a Belltown coffeehouse. She reads a lot and regularly uses Greenwood library to check out books, but her role as the founder of Seattle Free School makes libraries even more important in her life. “Seattle Free School wouldn’t have been able to start or at least wouldn’t have started so strong without the library’s free meeting rooms. We now have alternate meeting spaces but those opportunities came along because we were able to gain credibility over time,” she said.

Seattle Free school is completely free. The school doesn’t take donations and is run by volunteers. “We’re unique among free schools. Most have a political affiliation or they take donations.” The library’s philosophy of providing free resources  fit well with the model of Seattle Free School.  “It’s easy for us to use the library system and it helps us spread our classes out across the city. For us it’s about getting people in lots of neighborhoods involved and offering convenient class locations. We’ve had classes in the meeting rooms at many public libraries: Ballard, Montlake, Greenlake, Greenwood, Highpoint, West Seattle… ” Most of Seattle’s new and renovated libraries now have public meeting spaces which host a wide variety of uses and are always busy.

Have you attended a Seattle Free School class at your neighborhood library? Have you been to a meeting held in the library? Let’s talk about it.