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Community Conversations : cc recap SWT

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Community Conversations Recap: Southwest Branch - Dec. 9

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 eighth of 12 Community Conversations kicked off at the Southwest Branch from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m. Monday, Dec. 9, 2013.


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 think that Youth and Early Learning is the most important service priority. My son has too much screen time. We need Library programs that move kids from games to more productive computer use and reading.



Our new youth and early learning manager, Linda Braun, is working on developing an engaging program of service for children and youth that supports important learning objectives. The Library will host a symposium on youth and early learning in March to learn about best practices in order to help us develop programs that are built on the latest research about how youth learn and on how to connect activities, such as gaming, to learning opportunities.


This summer, we will begin transforming the Library’s Summer Reading Program into a Summer of Learning and embed learning, reading, and science, technology, engineering, and math into a wide array of activities hosted throughout the city.


In December, the Library hosted six "Hour of Code" workshops during Computer Science Education Week (Dec. 9-15). "Hour of Code" is a one-hour introduction to computer science designed to demystify "code" and demonstrate that anyone can learn the basics to be a maker, a creator and an innovator. These workshops were open to all, but focused on teens. We hope to continue our participation in 2014.


You and your son can look forward to more exciting new programs for teens in the coming year.


Can you change the 90-minute computer limit for using the Library’s public computers?



The Library set the time limit in order to allow the maximum amount of time for the maximum number of users. However, with increasing use of the Library’s free Wi-Fi, the Library’s management team is scheduled to review the time limit this year and propose changes if we feel the current model is not meeting the needs of our patrons.


Will there be a link between the Seattle Culture and History Service Priority and HistoryLink? I have limited access to the Seattle Room.



Yes, in several ways. First, Library Board member Marie McCaffrey and co-founder, trustee, and executive and art director of HistoryLink.org, is serving on the advisory committee for this effort. In addition, our goal is to connect seamlessly with all the institutions providing and preserving Seattle culture and history in our community.


With regard to access, the Library is using levy funding to digitize more of the Seattle Room Collection. The most recent addition is the Neighborhood History Project. We encourage you to visit the Seattle Room online and see what is available.


Also, the “Ask a Librarian” service provides excellent reference support for patrons. You can submit online inquiries and usually we can make materials available as digital files.


I use your DVD collection frequently, but many of my friends don’t know about it. Can you market your DVD collection more?



Yes. DVDs are just one of many Library resources we hope to market more effectively in the coming year. In 2013, levy funding allowed us to hire Stephen Halsey as the director of Marketing and Online Services – a new position at the Library. We want every Seattle resident to know about the full depth and breadth of programs, materials and resources available at the Library.


Can you provide more public library access in the schools and through the children to the families?



Each year children and teen services librarians visit Seattle public schools to promote the programs and services of the Library. Our Mobile Services division serves eligible child care centers as a way to connect children and families with materials. We also sponsor the Raising a Reader program, which provides those in low-income communities with opportunities to connect with books and reading.


In addition, the Library is currently running two pilot projects at the Sanislo and Roxhill elementary schools in West Seattle. Key elements include:


  • Creating a loaned collection of books and materials from The Seattle Public Library that will support the Common Core State Standards and serve the needs of emergent readers.
  • Establishing Raising a Reader programs in Head Start and kindergarten classrooms in both schools.
  • Adding books and materials to each school’s collection as a reward for students in grades K-4 who sign up for the Library's Summer Reading Program and read at least five books.


The Library also offers the Global Reading Challenge, a battle of the books program for fourth- and fifth-graders enrolled in Seattle Public Schools. (We also have a pilot third-grade program in a few schools.) The program encourages children to have fun and enjoy reading. After reading 10 books, children participate in semi-final and city final rounds of a "Quiz Bowl" game to determine Seattle's champion team. In 2014, the program will be expanding by adding four new schools to the program.


The Friends of The Seattle Public Library also provides annual grants to teachers for classroom books in high need (Title 1) Seattle Public Schools. Teachers receive $100 in vouchers to buy books for their students at the Friends book sales. So far, over 300 teachers from 31 schools have received more than 20,000 books. These book vouchers are made possible through a grant from the Renee B. Fisher Foundation. If you would like more information about how to receive a voucher for the next book sale, contact friends@spl.org.


We plan to do more, and the new youth and early learning manager, Linda Braun, and the soon-to-be hired community engagement manager will be looking to see how we can expand the Library’s presence in the community to support these efforts.


I can’t access my book lists from the Library’s mobile app. Is there a way to add it?



Unfortunately, we are unable to provide your Library catalog book lists through the Library’s app. However, we continue to evaluate the app and are looking for ways to improve patron experience on it.


Is there a way to improve the search tool in the catalog? When I search on the topic “JFK” as part of researching the assassination, items related to JFK don’t always show up. This is also true if you look for the British R&B specialist, Omar.



If you ever encounter a problem searching the catalog, librarians are available in person, online and via phone to provide help. The Seattle Public Library catalogs materials according to Library of Congress subject heading standards. Frequently, a search strategy using these subject heading terms will yield more relevant and complete results than a keyword search. In this example, a keyword search for “JFK” will have different, less relevant results than a subject search using the designated subject heading of “Kennedy, John F.” Including additional subject headings and other criteria (such as format, genre, or date) in the advanced search feature may have more precise outcomes. Search results can also be adjusted using these same tools and criteria in the left panel of the search results screen. Please don’t hesitate to contact Library staff for help if you have questions.


With regard to the long-term future of the Library, have Seattle and King County considered merging the two library systems?



First, this would not be possible under current law. In addition, these two library systems are funded very differently – Seattle through the city’s general fund and a Library levy while the King County Library System has its own taxing district. Perhaps more importantly is that KCLS is a regional library system while Seattle is a neighborhood-based library system.


The Seattle Public Library and KCLS have a strong collaborative relationship, but merging these two systems in the near term is unlikely.


Please keep physical materials – not everyone has access to technology.



While the Library is investing in e-books and other digital materials, we still invest much more in books, DVDs, CDs, and audiobooks. In 2013, the Library bought and deployed 223,173 new print books, 91,102 media items (CDs, DVDs and audiobooks) and 49,664 e-book licenses.


Please consider bringing back the magazine exchange.



The magazine exchange was a popular program. Unfortunately, some individuals took advantage of the program, leaving boxes of damaged magazines at the Library’s door. The magnitude of that problem eventually reached a point where the Library could no longer manage it.

Five service priorities:


Youth and Early Learning and Community Engagement were identified as the two most important priorities to participants.