The Seattle Public Library

Your Account | Print-Friendly

February 19, 2018

About the Library

Community Conversations : cc recap RBE

Header Image
Support your Library

Library Locator

Map of Library Locations

Community Conversations Recap: Rainier Beach Branch - Oct. 27

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 fifth of 12 Community Conversations  was held at the Rainier Beach Branch from 1:30 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27, 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:


How can you alert teens that the Library is a place of learning and encourage them to read more and take advantage of the educational opportunities the Library provides? (Several participants asked similar questions.)


We work to engage teens through Library programs such as homework help, teen space, teen advisory groups, and other teen-focused events. We want more students to be excited and engaged with all types of resources for learning and recreational reading. Going forward, Linda Braun, our new youth services manager, will help evaluate and expand programming to engage teens both in the Library and in the community. At the Rainier Beach Branch specifically, we will be looking at ways to enhance the teen area so it is more inviting and engaging, and highlights teen-specific resources available at this location.


A few years ago, there was a large set of shelving at Rainier Beach featuring new books, which is now gone. Where are all the new books?


The Library adds approximately 30,000 new books a month so there are lots of new books in the system. Patrons often put "holds" on the most popular titles so new books often go directly into circulation through the holds list, though some books do get to the branches. At Rainier Beach, the shelving capacity for new books is the same, but we stopped labeling new books to shorten the processing time and reduce the time patrons wait for access to new books. Once patrons check out and return these new books, they are interfiled with the rest of the books instead of returning to the New Arrivals section. Library staff can help you find new books, place holds on new books that are on order, and request that we add specific books to the collection.


I enjoy online services such as holds and a chance to comment on books. Have you considered adding online book discussion groups?


The Library is interested in expanding opportunities for engagement with the community. In 2011, the Library operated a pilot online book group with mixed results. In 2014, we will look at book groups with the goal of determining how best to engage patrons, expanding the existing program and improving the process. With regard to online opportunities, we will be hiring a community engagement manager later this year who will focus on creating new opportunities for patron engagement. We also will work on overhauling the Library's website in 2014, which also may lead to new online engagement opportunities.


Can you provide Library programs at the Southeast Seattle Senior Center?  


The Library is interested in creating new partnerships and providing more Library services in the community. Librarians in the region have visited Southeast Seattle Senior Center and talked to staff there about possibly offering computer classes or other services to seniors. As noted earlier, we will be hiring a community engagement manager later this year who will focus on creating new opportunities for patron engagement in the Library and in the community.


What is growth in digital books? What is the Library purchasing now? 


The growth in circulation in digital books is impressive. Beginning in 2005, the circulation of digital books has doubled each year, as have purchases of digital titles. Today, e-books account for about 10% of circulation of books and materials. We expect to add over 48,000 digital books this year, and we continue to make substantial investments in physical books and materials. We currently add approximately 30,000 books a month to the Library collection.


Our goal is to meet the interests and needs of the reading public regardless of format.


Can you make it easier to download e-books?


We have! It has gotten easier over the last several years. However, we recognize there remain challenges. Some of these challenges are specific to the device you are using. Some may be related to the vendors we use to manage our catalog, and some may relate to the licensing of digital materials. While it's gotten better, we are committed to doing what we can to make this a more seamless experience.


What is the process for choosing books for children and teens?


Many factors contribute to book selection for children and teens. We regularly add newly published releases from standard publishers, who send weekly publication notices to our major book suppliers. Staff members charged with selecting books receive published reviews from a variety of professional journals including School Library Journal, VOYA, Horn Book and Publisher's Weekly. Staff members monitor publishing blogs and reader discussion lists to ensure that we are aware of books that are currently being discussed. We also receive several hundred purchase suggestions from our patrons each month. Librarians for children and teens also recommend titles needed specifically at their locations.


The DVD selection in the Library is limited. Why don't you purchase more new releases?


We add thousands of new DVDs to the Library collection each month for adults, teens and children. New acquisitions include popular blockbuster, foreign films, documentaries, independent films and television series. As with books, many patrons place holds on these DVDs while they are on order and the DVDs continue to circulate through the reserve system for many months before arriving at their assigned branch for browsing. It is not unusual for the Library to purchase over 300 copies of mega-blockbuster DVDs and at the peak of their popularity those titles may have as many as 2,500 holds. If you are interested in a specific DVD, ask a Library staff member to show you how to place a hold on it. You, too, can be one of the first to see it!


How can the Library show children and youth the value of libraries?


We work on outreach to our youngest patrons in many ways. Librarians go into the schools. We have teen advisory groups. We provide a very popular Summer Reading Program and we are looking to expand that concept to a broader commitment to promote summer learning opportunities that connect to youth interests. We provide homework help, assistance with college applications, and access to free digital resources. With our new marketing director and our new youth services manager, we are also committed to learning more about what youth want from the Library and marketing new and existing resources more effectively to this age group.


Five service priorities:

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


Suggestions around Youth and Early Learning:

  • Think creatively in outreach to teens (e.g., mobile apps targeting teens).
  • Engage youth where they are in the community.
  • Provide more programming to encourage learning and discovery.


Suggestions around Community Engagement:

  • Provide programs outside the Library (e.g., senior centers).
  • Provide more opportunities for book discussions online.
  • Communicate the role and value of libraries to residents who might not have previous experience with libraries.
  • Provide more outreach in the community.
  • Create more partnerships to reach more people in the community.