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Community Conversations Recap: Youth and Family Learning – Oct. 8, 2015

What are we hearing at the Chief Librarian's Community Conversations?

Background: Chief Librarian Marcellus Turner has invited Library patrons to join him at informal meetings at locations across the city to talk about the Library's five service priorities. This first Community Conversation was focused on the Youth and Family Learning Service Priority and was held at the NewHolly Gathering Hall from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015. The meeting was co-sponsored by Seattle Public Schools and Seattle Housing Authority. About 50 people attended and were offered interpretation services in Somali, Chinese, Vietnamese and Spanish. We also checked out 46 Wi-Fi hotspots as part of a part of a community engagement program with the NewHolly community to offer extended borrowing periods to targeted populations.

Recap: Anne Fiske Zuniga, deputy executive director of Seattle Housing Authority, welcomed attendees and described a recent partnership grant to develop more learning opportunities for students and families at the NewHolly campus. The "Race to the Top (Deep Dive 3) Community Partnership grant" includes the following community partners: Seattle Public Schools, Seattle Housing Authority, The Seattle Public Library, Catholic Community Services, East African Community Services, and The Somali Family Safety Taskforce.

Carri Campbell, director of school and community partnerships at Seattle Public Schools (SPS), affirmed the school district's commitment to work with Seattle Housing Authority, the Library and other community partners to expand student and families' access to learning opportunities, including learning related to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). SPS and community partners will offer tutoring supports, summer learning, internship opportunities for secondary students, and expanded and culturally responsive family engagement at the NewHolly campus and at five area schools.

Turner shared information about increased Library hours, collections, technology and building maintenance made possible by the 2012 voter-approved Library levy. He briefly described four of the Library's service priorities: technology and access, community engagement, Seattle culture and history and "re-imagined spaces," before more fully explaining the fifth priority, the Library's commitment to serving youth and families. He talked about the Library's areas of focus for youth and families and mentioned some of the Library's educational support programs such as Homework Help.

Turner and Rekha Kuver, managing librarian for the Library's Youth and Family Learning Services division, spent the rest of the meeting listening to suggestions and answering questions from the public. Outlined below is the Q&A in brief, followed by patron suggestions.

Questions and Answers:


Are college and job prep services available at every Library location?


Yes. All Library locations offer help with college and job prep via the Library's online resources and Library staff. Free job search and career development classes are offered at the Central Library, and at the Northgate and Rainier Beach branches. Special job search computers are also available at these locations.


What about entrepreneurship? We have a lot of teens who want to start their own businesses.


The Library supports entrepreneurs with free classes on how to start your own business, offered in partnership with the Seattle district office of the U.S. Small Business Administration. There are also a number of online tools and resources collected on the Library's website in the Articles and Research section, listed under Business, Finance and Fundraising.


Does the Library have any connection with Hack the CD? (Students get together over a weekend and come up with business ideas.)


Not at the moment, but the Library is interested in forming community partnerships with local organizations.


Thank you for adding Somali story times. Could we also get computer access in Somali and more resources and books in Somali?


The Library is working to increase its Somali collection, but is having trouble locating publishers. At present all Somali books come from one North American publisher. Please contact us at 206-386-4636 if you have suggestions about how to expand our ability to order resources in Somali.


Cheryl "The Lady" Glass (1961-1997) was a local race car driver. I would like help finding a VHS tape that I haven't been able to locate. Also, I would like the Library to capture and archive Seattle history events, especially the Black Panther organizations in Seattle.


We'll connect you with a reference librarian on the VHS tape. The Library has been digitizing Seattle history on its Special Collections page, and we'll be talking about the Seattle Culture and History Service Priority at our next Community Conversation at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23 at the Central Library. The Library is partnering with the Association of King County Historical Organizations (AKCHO) on that meeting.


I would like to propose that librarians and volunteers speak to children about math at an early age, so children have those words in their vocabulary.


The Library does include math and science vocabulary in its story times, and focuses on science, technology, engineering, art and math in its Summer of Learning program.


You should add the book "Gang of Four" to the collection


This book is already part of the Library's collection, as is a streaming video about the group. There was also an author reading at Central Library on July 22, 2015, featuring two of the four members of the Gang of Four.


Suggestions from patrons


  • Longer open hours at the NewHolly Branch, especially on the weekend. As a working mother, I don't want my child going far away from the house by himself to get help with homework.
  • I would like the NewHolly community to be more cohesive, with more communication between strangers on the street and neighbors.
  • Work with the schools and community groups to stop disproportionate punishment in schools and to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline.
  • Please provide more security guards at the Rainier Beach Branch.
  • Come back and speak with us again!