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!

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Congratulations to City Librarian Susan Hildreth!

The Friends would like to congratulate our City Librarian, Susan Hildreth, on her appointment as Director of Museum and Library Services by President Barrack Obama.  On December 22, 2010, Hildreth was confirmed by the Senate and she will begin her tenure at the end of January.  Although she will be missed here in Seattle, we are proud that Susan was honored with such a prestigious appointment.  Good luck, Susan!  We know you will be able to help libraries and museums all over the United States in your new role!

Collections Funding “stable” in proposed 2010 Library budget

The recession has caused the proposed 2010 budget to be downsized. On 5 Oct, Friends of The Seattle Public Library were in City Council chambers to hear The Seattle Public Library present its plans for coping with downward adjustments. City Council will now hold three public hearings for comment on all 2010 proposed budgets. They will then deliberate and adopt a budget on 23 November. You can view the library’s budget presentation online at Seattle Channel.  Select “council briefing Oct 5” and start watching at 83:00.

Some highlights: Council member Licata introduced The Library’s presentation by stating that the original 2010 budget for The Library was $52.7 million but the downward adjusted 2010 proposed budget allocates $50.1.   “A substantial cut,” he said.

Susan Hildreth, City Librarian, explained that “the good news in this budget is that materials is held stable at approx $6 million but we’re still not ideally where we’d like to be, which is $8 million.”  She said, “It’s a challenge to reduce library hours when demand is soaring.”  She said furloughs and closures are not sustainable but she hoped when the economy improved that the city-wide infrastructure taxpayers invested in would again be strongly funded.

Council member Burgess led questioning. “What was the public’s reaction to the furlough in Sept?”  If we wanted to restore some funding (to The Library) “which would you choose, a furlough or reduced branch hours?” “How do our library open hours compare” with other libraries of our size? The City Librarian said that, if The Library’s proposed budget is adopted, “Seattle would drop to a much lower level than that of our peer libraries.”

Council member Clark acknowledged all the practical needs libraries meet and continued to pursue the questioning about how “a partial restoration of funds might be used.”

Dwight Dively, Finance Director for the City of Seattle, said The Library’s proposed capital budget “is not sustainable.”

In conclusion, Council member Burgess invited library analysis on scenarios involving partial restoration of  funding and said, “Right now, I lean heavily toward addressing the reduction in hours.”