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Community Conversations Recap: Northeast Branch - Feb. 8

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


Background: City Librarian Marcellus Turner has invited Library patrons to join him at informal meetings in libraries across the city to talk about service improvements. The 11th of 12 Community Conversations was held at the Northeast Branch from 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014.


Recap: Turner first shared information about increased Library hours, collections, technology and building maintenance made possible by the 2012 voter-approved Library levy. He also discussed the Library's five current service priorities: youth and learning, technology and access, community engagement, Seattle culture and history and "re-imagined spaces," which he described as redesigning service areas to accommodate changing patron needs. Turner spent the majority of time listening to suggestions and answering questions from the public. He reserved the last 15 minutes for getting input on the five service priorities. Outlined below is the Q&A in brief, followed by highlights of the service priority discussion.

Questions and Answers:


I like the increase in the number of holds we can place on books and materials, but sometimes I am listed very far back in the queue. How does the holds process work?


As part of levy funding, the Library received funds to buy more popular materials in order to reduce the wait time for holds from one hold per six copies to one hold per five copies. Our automated system alerts us when the holds-to-copy ratio exceeds 5:1 and we acquire more copies to maintain the 5:1 ratio. Reports on holds are run every two weeks and these reports are used to buy additional books as needed to reduce the holds ratio. However, when books are out of print there will be a longer wait time. Also, if a book receives significant media attention (a particularly glowing NPR review, for example), demand can unexpectedly surge and it may take longer to reduce the holds ratio.


We are part of the Ravenna Bryant Neighborhood Association. While we provide information online, not all residents can access that information. Would you be willing to host a notebook with materials from our neighborhood group at the Northeast Branch?


We support neighborhood organizations in a variety of ways including providing free meeting space. We appreciate your question. Francesca Wainwright, Northeast regional manager, will work with you to determine if the Library can host these materials.


The Library provides really great online services such as Consumer Reports, but people don’t know about them. How are you going to make people more aware of these resources?


The Library levy passed in August 2012 provided funding to hire a marketing director. Stephen Halsey, director of Marketing and Online Services, joined the Library in 2013 and is working to promote the wide range of Library resources available to our community.


I love the Library, but I don’t use the Northeast Branch anymore as it is too loud. Also there are no art magazines, and Interlibrary Loan is now $5.


Thank you for sharing your concerns. We try to accommodate a wide range of users at the Library – those who need quiet work and reading spaces as well as parents and children and those who need to work collaboratively. As we move forward with our Re-Imagined Spaces program, we will continue to do our best to accommodate the full range of spaces patrons need.


If you would like to request a magazine be added to the collection at your branch, please talk with your local branch staff.


The Library recently evaluated the fee structure for interlibrary loans. The average cost for one Interlibrary Loan transaction is in the $20-$30 range. The current $5 Interlibrary Loan fee is still a good bargain.


You should let Seattle residents know they are eligible to get a free card at the King County Library System.


The King County Library System is a good neighbor to The Seattle Public Library and our patrons. Many patrons do have library cards for both systems. We have that information on our website and we will look at how we can further share it with our patrons.


I use four branches of The Seattle Public Library and I would like to object to the quietness. We live in a vibrant community. Where’s the diversity and activity that we find in the community?


As part of our Re-Imagined Spaces initiative, we want our libraries to reflect the many ways patrons use our spaces with quiet areas for some, collaborative work areas for others and programming for all ages. As we make this transition, we will all have to recognize that the Library serves all patrons interested in all those uses and that each of us might define “quiet” in a different way.


I enjoyed the Sundays are Special celebrations. Are you thinking of other events and activities to encourage people to visit all the Library locations?


As you may recall, the Library sponsored a Passport Program to celebrate the successful completion of the “Libraries for All” building program to rebuild and renew our libraries. The Sundays are Special celebrations included a contest that encouraged patrons to visit all 15 branches that received new Sunday hours in 2013. We are interested in building on these programs in the future, but we do not yet have a specific plan.


The Library’s meeting rooms are an important resource for neighborhood groups, but we need them to be open later for community meetings. Have you considered allowing longer hours for meeting spaces?


As part of the LFA building program, many branch meeting rooms were designed with exterior doors. Unfortunately, we have not had the resources to staff additional evening hours on request. However, we are aware this is an important community need and hope to resolve it in the near future.


Do you work with nonprofits to let them know about all the early learning resources and programs at the Library (e.g., United Way)?


We have a number of initiatives that help get the word out to various communities and nonprofits about the services the Library offers. The Library’s Early Learning program manager, CiKeithia Pugh, participates in meetings of a variety of nonprofit community groups and agencies. When Library staff participate in outreach events hosted by schools and other community agencies they connect with a wide range of people and as a result help get the word out about what’s available for young learners.


We do partner and coordinate with other agencies and we plan to do more. The new Youth Services manager, Linda Braun, and Chance Hunt, assistant director for Partnerships and Governmental Relations, are looking to see how we can expand the Library’s presence in the community and build more partnership opportunities.


Why doesn’t someone at the Library write a regular column in The Seattle Times to promote the Library?


Great idea! We hope The Seattle Times will agree. We do work with the media on a regular basis to profile Library resources.


It would be great if there was a central calendar for all environmentally related community meetings. Can the Library help?


The city of Seattle currently maintains a citywide calendar of community events that can be sorted by category, including nature/environment. Your organization can submit your environmental event to the calendar here.


Have you ever considered bringing the Code Academy to the Library to encourage youth to learn programming?


Yes, we are interested in providing more skill-building opportunities in this area for youth and adults. Last year, the Library participated in the “Hour of Code,” which gave us the chance to engage people of all ages in coding and the critical thinking and problem-solving skills required to learn to code. In 2014 we are initiating several projects in branches related to programming and skill-building. These include LEGO Robotics programs, music making programs, and more.


Have you ever considered bringing the Writers Read program at the Columbia Branch to other branch libraries?


Writers Read program is presented in partnership with the African-American Writers’ Alliance as a local program at Columbia Branch. We have many other programs across the system where writers read from their works, including the It's About Time Writers' Reading Series at the Ballard Branch. You can find out about other similar programs on the Library’s online calendar.


Five service priorities:

Community Engagement, Technology and Access and Youth and Early Learning were identified as the three most important priorities to participants.