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Strategic Direction recap – Oct. 21, 2017

Saturday, Oct. 21, 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., Rainier Beach Branch



Chief Librarian Marcellus Turner has invited Library patrons to join him at informal meetings at locations across the city to talk about how to improve Library services. This Community Conversation was focused on the Library's new Strategic Direction and was held at the Rainier Beach Branch from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. About 20 people attended.


Turner shared information about the Library’s new Strategic Direction, which is helping guide planning and decision-making for the Library. The Strategic Direction focuses on three things: what the Library is doing to promote individual growth and learning, how the Library is impacting the greater community and how efficiently the Library is performing as an institution. He also discussed increased Library services and resources made possible by the 2012 Library levy: increased Library hours, collections, technology and building maintenance. The levy expires in 2019.

He spent the rest of the hour taking questions and suggestions from patrons.

Questions from patrons


Congratulations on offering great Library programs, especially Booktoberfest. Also, why isn't printing free at Seattle libraries like it is at the King County Library System?


Turner said that the Library is not yet able to offer free printing, but is aware of this interest and continues to look at how free printing could be funded.


The Rainier Beach Branch is my favorite library. I'm concerned about security here. Can you talk about how the Library is addressing this?


Keeping the public and staff safe is of prime importance. Turner said the Library currently has funding for a 14 security officers for the Central Library and 26 branches. Two of those positions were made possible through the 2012 Library levy, while two others came on board this year thanks to funding by the City Council. Officers who work in the branches are now organized into regional teams and rotate time between the branches in their region. Turner said the Library has a new head of security who is analyzing how best to deploy the officers.


Can there be charging stations and furniture with charging ports at all libraries?


Turner said that the Library is definitely working on this. He looks to other industries that serve large groups of people, like airports and malls, to see what innovative ways they are using to address this issue.


How will the Library respond to the technology needs of the rapidly growing population with hearing loss?


Turner replied that we offer streaming films with closed captioning and offer some assisted listening devices for use in some of our meeting rooms, and invited the patron to share her ideas with the Library.


What is the overall status of the Library's budget?


Turner said that the current budget is approximately $70 million. About $52 million comes from the city general fund, which is mainly used for staffing to run the libraries. Approximately $15.4 million comes from a Library levy that helps support our core services, including collections, technology, building maintenance and open hours. Approximately $4 million comes from the Library Foundation and Friends of The Seattle Public Library, which helps pay for Library programs. In addition, Library building major maintenance is funded through a $5.6 million capital budget, of which $3.7 million comes from the Library levy. The Library levy expires in 2019. The Library Board will be approving its 2019 operating plan in December, and meetings like this - where you tell us what services you enjoy or want - help us prioritize funding needs.


Should we go to City Council meetings to advocate for more Library funds?


The Library has two support organizations. The Seattle Public Library Foundation, which raises funds to support Library needs, as well as the Friends of The Seattle Public Library, whose mission is to raise awareness and advocate for Library needs. If you are interested in advocating for the Library, you might want to contact the Friends.


Peak Picks is totally brilliant! I'm a voracious reader, and really have to compliment the Library for starting this program. 


Turner described how the program offers immediate availability of popular books that often have long holds lines. Patrons can just walk into a Library location and pick up a copy. He noted that Peak Picks, which to date has been a pilot project in eight locations, will be rolling out to all Library locations in November.


Suggestions from patrons


  • Catalog sortability. With so many items to utilize, including the link to KCLS, using the "for later" shelf is great, but sorting through the items on it can be daunting. Being able to sort by "availability" would make using the feature far easier. Perhaps on the new website!
  • More programs for seniors. Performances by Northwest Tap Connection, or other local youth groups or ethnic organizations. Classes with introductions to different local cultures, such as Nepali, Somali and Filipino.
  • The Library needs all meeting rooms to have hearing-assistive technology, like mics, speakers and hearing-aid loops. The City Council Chambers and Bertha Landes room are hearing-aid looped. Asking for hearing-loss accommodations to attend a library program can take over a week.