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March 23, 2018

listen to spl voices

SPL Voices celebrates the history, meaning and impact of The Seattle Public Library in Seattle’s past and future. We partnered with StoryCorps to begin collecting personal stories and conversations from a variety of perspectives.

Sharon Griggins & Suzanne Hittman

Suzanne Hittman, Library Foundation board member and long-standing supporter of The Seattle Public Library, talks with Sharon Griggins, Director of Development for the Library Foundation, about their early memories of going to the library.


Sharon Griggins & Suzanne Hittman


Sharon Griggins: [00:00] You know we have these sports stadiums in Seattle that show our support for football and baseball and soccer and everything else, and I guess what I’m proudest of with The Seattle Public Library is, you know, we have a beautiful place for reading and learning downtown.

Suzanne Hittman: Well, that’s great; and the library has become the community center. People coming together to exchange ideas and thoughts and to pick up new ideas and thoughts, through books, through hearing people, through exchanging with each other --

SG: And I think it also stands for, really for equity.

SH: Yes. Very much. I mean it’s the most democratic thing in the world. And you can go in and it’s free.

SG: Right

SH: That’s the amazing thing. And when you talk to some people from other countries, they always ask, “Can anybody go?” Because in some places libraries are only for the more elite. But everybody doesn’t go in.

SG: I was walking one time in the library, and this young man came up to me on the first floor and he just said, “What is this place?” And I said, “Well, it’s a library.” And he said, “Oh. Here. Could you help me? I have a poem. Could you read it?” And I said, “Well, sure, I’ll read your poem.” (laughs) It was man, obviously English was not his first language, and he had written a poem. And he wanted someone to proofread it before he turned it into some magazine, and it was a beautiful little poem about struggling and keeping going and whatever. And I don’t even know how he found his way to the library. But somehow he knew that there were people there that could help him express himself, help him learn how to write a poem. So we kind of worked on it and changed a couple of adjectives and whatever. But it was so amazing that then he was on his way. That was it. That’s all he needed, was someone to read his poem.

SG: The libraries have to be seen as a vital community service. Because this is where democracy happens. It doesn’t make any difference if you’re started a huge company that’s known all over the world, as we have several of them here in our area, or if you are the janitor at one of their companies. Everyone can go to the library. Everyone. And people are going to need that, I don’t care how sophisticated technology becomes. We need one another.

SH: Right

SG: I think you know it all goes back to somebody around the campfire telling a story and --

SH: You can’t beat it.

SG: You can’t beat a good story at all.

SH: No. And life is nothing but stories.

SG: Yep. [03:23]



Produced by The Seattle Public Library with interviews recorded by StoryCorps, a national non-profit whose mission is to provide American of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives.