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Library News Release

Release Date: 06/03/2009

The Seattle Public Library system to close Aug. 31 through Sept. 7

The Seattle Public Library system will close Monday, Aug. 31 through Sunday, Sept. 6 due to citywide budget cuts. Please note Monday, Sept. 7 is the Labor Day holiday and all libraries will be closed. Regular Library operations will resume Tuesday, Sept. 8.

All city departments identified reductions to address a $43 million gap in the 2009 city budget. The Library is funded from the city general fund.

The systemwide closure, along with other cuts, will help the Library meet a 2 percent budget reduction - about $1 million. The closure will save approximately $655,000.

The closure will mean salary reductions for about 700 employees who will not be paid, or accrue vacation or retirement benefits during those weeks. An additional $350,000 in cuts - which include management and administration layoffs, extending the staff computer replacement schedule and reducing the training budget, are also being implemented.

No Library services will be available during the one-week closure and will have the following impacts:


  • No materials will be due and no fines will be accrued.
  • The last day to check out Library items before the closure is Sunday, Aug. 30. Visit www.spl.org, or call 206-386-4636 for more information on which Library locations are open on Sunday and their hours of operation.
  • No book drops will be open. Customers should keep books and materials at home until the Library system reopens. No fines will be charged during the closure week. Customers will be responsible for theft, loss or damage to Library materials left outside buildings.
  • No access to the online catalog. You will not be able to search the catalog or databases, place holds on materials, or check your Library record.
  • No access to the Web site (www.spl.org). No staff members will be working to maintain and troubleshoot problems. This means online computer sign-ups, the online reference service and other features will not be available.
  • No Library computers will be available. You will not be able to reserve a computer for the week the Library system is closed.
  • No access to Wi-Fi
  • No programs or events in Library meeting rooms.
  • No Telecirc, the Library's automated telephone service.
  • No Quick Information telephone service.
  • No mail will be received during the closure. The Library will have the U.S. Post Office hold all mail until the Library reopens. There will not be staff available to accept deliveries.
  • No book club books will be sent, received or returned during the one-week closure. Book club books will be sent to libraries as usual on the last Wednesday of the month, Aug. 26. Books not available then will be sent as soon as possible after Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 7. Contact your library, or the Washington Center for the Book at bookgroups@spl.org or 206-615-1747 if you are part of a book group and have questions.
  • No Mobile Services.
  • No book donations will be collected at Library facilities during the closure. If you have book donations to make during the one-week closure, please contact the Friends Book Sale office at (206) 523-4053 or email booksale@spl.org.
  • The underground, independently operated parking garage at the Central Library will remain open, as well Neighborhood Services Centers co-located with branch libraries with separate entrances. Service Centers located within branches will continue to provide assistance by appointment only.


Aug. 31 through Sept. 6 was the week was selected for the closure because general Library use at that time is not as high as other times during the year, school is not in session and there are fewer Library programs scheduled.

Other options, such as a rotating schedule of closures so that some Library service was available were examined, but did not produce the magnitude of savings necessary. Closing all branch libraries on Fridays for the second half of 2009 would have produced the same savings as a one-week closure, but service hours would have been reduced by 5,408, in comparison to the 1,437 hours lost by closing all operations for a one week. Also, a Friday closure of all branches would have resulted in an estimated 22 staff layoffs.

"While there were no good options, temporarily closing will have the least impact on public service for the long term," said City Librarian Susan Hildreth.

The Library's $50 million operating budget is mainly allocated for personnel who run the libraries and provide direct public service, books and materials, and fixed costs, such as telecommunication and Internet services and utilities.

For more information contact:

Andra Addison, communications director

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