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Community Conversations Recap: Greenwood Branch - Jan. 13

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 ninth of 12 Community Conversations was held at the Greenwood Branch from 5:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. Monday, Jan. 13, 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:


Are you pursuing more digitization of Library materials?



Yes. The Library levy funded a temporary part-time position to assist us in digitizing materials in materials from our Special Collections. While that position ends in June, we are looking at other ways to continue this process. All digitized materials are available via the website. Most recently, we added the Neighborhood History Project, which provides a starting point for accessing historical information about Seattle neighborhoods from the Library's Special Collections and elsewhere. In addition, you can access Special Collections online from the Library’s mobile app.


Did the Library change the gun policy in response to one email?



The Library made the change to reflect the current state of the law and reduce potential legal liability.


Can you prioritize local authors, including self-published authors, in your acquisition of Library books?



The Library already regularly adds works by local authors (local generally being considered to be Seattle residents) including those who self-published. The Library provides guidelines for authors and publishers on our website, which states “The Seattle Public Library is happy to consider recently published books and other items for our collection. We receive many inquiries from authors, publishers, and publisher's representatives and have created these guidelines to help you. The Library routinely acquires books published by commercial publishers that fit the Library's collection development plan and meet our selection criteria. We also may acquire self-published books when they include unique local content, fit the scope of the Library's collection plan and meet our selection criteria.”


Can you make it easier to find the form to request a new book?



The Library welcomes suggestions from the community for the collection and believes these suggestions add diversity and vitality. Currently, you can ask the Library to buy a new title through the website. However, we are looking at ways to streamline this process for patrons and staff.


Our community of active users submitted over 20,000 suggestions in 2013, and each suggestion is given serious consideration.


What is the library community doing to convince more publishers to sell e-books to libraries?



Over the course of the past year, there have been significant developments in the availability of e-books to libraries, with Penguin, Hachette, and MacMillan entering the library market. With HarperCollins and Random House already selling e-books to public libraries, and Simon & Schuster piloting e-book sales with a group of public library systems, the biggest six publishers now sell e-books to public libraries. This represents the lion’s share of the publishing industry and a wide span of reading interests. However, e-book licensing terms and pricing vary significantly by publisher, which can influence how the Library develops e-book collections. While e-book availability is largely determined by publishers, libraries and library-related organizations continuously advocate for broader access to content that patrons want, according to terms that are favorable for both patrons and libraries.


As part of your Seattle Culture and History Service Priority, do you have a plan to have a relationship with museums?



Yes. We do have relationships of varying levels with museums now, both through Special Collections and programming. As part of the Service Priority effort, all local museums are identified as stakeholders and will have a chance to participate in this effort; a few are actually part of our advisory committee.


In addition, we have a partnership program with many local museums called “Museum Pass” which allows cardholders of The Seattle Public Library to check out a pass to local museums.


We look forward to building on and expanding these relationships in the future, especially as part of our Summer Learning program.


Is it true that books are replaced after being checked out 25 times?



Physical library books are not systematically replaced after 25 checkouts, though the average lifespan of a book coincides with close to 25 circulations. The lifespan of a print library book depends on many factors, including the number of checkouts, material composition and binding of the book, the nature of its use, and topical interest. Library books are routinely evaluated for condition and relevance by Library staff. It is true that some e-book licensing agreements require re-purchase of a book after it has been circulated a designated number of times.


I don’t think your current book group process is very fair. Can you change the rules so other groups have a chance to participate?



Due to limited resources resulting from budget reductions, the Library has not been in a position to support new book groups. At this time, we are in the process of evaluating book group membership and the enrollment, reservation, and checkout process to determine improvements, as well as assess the capacity to support new groups.


I volunteer at 826 and one of the librarians came to hand out books before the winter break, which was great. Are you doing that with other community organizations as well?



Yes. Our teen librarians work with schools, community organizations and other groups to provide a variety of services to teenagers at libraries in the city and at other organizations that we partner and collaborate with. These services include periodic book giveaways as well as workshops on digital literacy skills and homework support.


Under the leadership of our new youth services manager, The Seattle Public Library is embarking on a project to determine the future of the Library’s services to Seattle youth and their families and caregivers as part of our Youth and Early Learning Service Priority. As a result of this effort, you can look forward to the Library engaging more broadly and effectively with the community on behalf of children and teens in the coming year.


The community is aging. As you work on these service priorities are you making the libraries and Library programs more accessible for seniors and the hearing impaired?



Yes. The Library has a demonstrated commitment to accessibility. With regard to our buildings, we work continually to ensure libraries meet standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act and are accessible to all patrons. The Library provides accommodations by request for physical access, communications or other needs to ensure services, activities and programs are available to people with disabilities. You can find more information here.


In addition, the Library Equal Access Program (LEAP) provides services at the Central Library for patrons with disabilities. This program provides adaptive equipment resources and other Library services for use by patrons with disabilities, including people who are blind, deaf, deaf-blind and visually impaired.


The Library’ s Mobile Services division provides access to Library materials for people who live within the city limits and cannot physically access libraries due to an ongoing disability or illness (including medical treatment) that will last at least six months. Eligibility for this program requires certification of eligibility by a health care professional. For additional information or to apply for this service, please call 206-386-4636.


Accessible Programming Resources**


Programming resources include: Sign language, oral, and cued speech interpreters for Library-sponsored classes, events, and programs. Orientation to and escort within the Library for blind and low-vision patrons. Assistive listening systems for hard of hearing audience participants.


**Please make arrangements at least seven calendar days in advance.


Please contact the Library Equal Access Program for details, leap@spl.org, or 206-615-1380 (TTY).


Can librarians have some discretion in enforcing the no sleeping policy that is part of the Rules of Conduct for the Library?



No. We try to be as respectful as possible in our dealings with all patrons. Selective enforcement of the Rules of Conduct would be perceived as unfair and puts staff in a very difficult position. The no sleeping policy keeps patrons safe and ensures equal access to Library resources.


As part of the reciprocal agreement with KCLS, can we have access to digital materials/digital holds?



No. The current agreement is based on balanced reciprocal use between the two library systems. The last study revealed an inequity in use at an added cost to the King County Library System. Seattle residents do not pay for KCLS services and resources. The reciprocal use agreement will be reviewed again in 2014. It will not include reciprocal borrowing of e-books due to contract and licensing restrictions with vendors.

Five service priorities:


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