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Community Conversations : cc recap WST

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Community Conversations Recap: West Seattle Branch - Sept. 23

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 second of 12 Community Conversations was held at the West Seattle Branch from 5:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. Monday, Sept. 23 with about 17 people in attendance.


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:


You mentioned the Library is upgrading its printers and that wireless printing will be available. Will you be able to use wireless printing to print from an iPhone?


While we won't be able to offer wireless printing from an iPhone or tablet, we will be offering wireless printing from laptops by the end of the year.


In the past, the West Seattle Branch convened seniors to share oral histories. Will the Library be doing any work like this in the future? 


The Library is committed to capturing and cultivating a rich recorded history of our community. Seattle Culture and History is one of the Library's five service priorities. Recently, the West Seattle Branch helped produce and hosted the Southwest Seattle Historical Society-Log House Museum exhibit: "Telling Our Westside Stories: Land, Work, and Home." The exhibit was based on more than 40 oral history interviews and photographs from the society's collection. We expect to collaborate with community partners on projects like this in the future.


Recognizing the Library's commitment to free speech and intellectual freedom, is the Library looking at how to protect our youngest patrons from inadvertently viewing objectionable content on computer screens?


The Internet, while offering an incredible amount of educational information, also brings with it difficult issues around privacy, free speech and access by children. The Seattle Public Library, like other large urban libraries, strives to offer this extraordinary resource in a way that maintains an individual's right to constitutionally protected information, but also keeps inappropriate material from children.


The Seattle Public Library board of trustees believes it found a reasonable balance by filtering computers in children's areas, but allowing regular access in adult areas (since filters compromise freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment - including health, political and social information). Privacy screens are attached to all our computers, which helps protect confidentiality of patron viewing choices. We also try to locate and position computers in ways that help minimize inadvertent viewing as much as feasibly possible. At smaller branches, however, this is much more difficult. Because patrons are free to use all parts of the Library, inadvertent viewing cannot be 100 percent prevented.


How do you communicate with patrons and the community?  


We communicate with patrons in a wide range of ways, including our website, which receives more than 6 million visits a year, email notices,  E-News (the Library's electronic newsletter), Library stories in the media and local blogs, posters and fliers, Twitter, Facebook, local festivals and events and community meetings like this one. We continually evaluate our efforts and look for new and better opportunities to communicate effectively with you.


How do you sign up to receive emails from the Library? 


The fastest way is to call the Library's Borrower Services Department at 206-386-4190. If you are signing up for a Library card, just check the box that asks if you would like to receive email notices. Type your email address here to receive the Library's electronic newsletter, E-News, which gives information on new Library resources and services, as well as upcoming author events and educational classes. 


Has the Library ever considered expanding its collection to include "stuff" like tools?


There are libraries that do loan items like bicycles and tools, but that is not the mission of The Seattle Public Library. In smaller communities, there is often a need for libraries to play a broader role in meeting community needs. In Seattle, the Library doesn't need to provide overlapping services, such as those provided by the West Seattle Tool Library. What we can do is make sure we are a resource for directing patrons in need of specific items to the appropriate organization or business.


After the remodel of the West Seattle Branch, the Library eliminated the magazine recycling/sharing program it had hosted for many years. Why was it ended?


The magazine exchange was a popular program. Unfortunately, some individuals took advantage of the program, leaving boxes of damaged magazines at the Library's door. The magnitude of that problem eventually reached a point where the Library could no longer manage it.


Some libraries have digital signs. Has The Seattle Public Library considered adding digital signs?


Yes. We currently have two digital signs at the Central Library downtown on levels 1 and 3. Stephen Halsey, the Library’s new marketing director, is working on a systemwide digital signage program for 2014.


Can The Seattle Public Library’s Reciprocal Use Agreement with the King County Library System be changed to allow Seattle patrons to place holds on KCLS materials – both in print and online?


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.


Does the Library do outreach with the Seattle Public Schools?


Yes. The Library works with the Seattle Public Schools in several ways. At a neighborhood level, children and teen services librarians work with schools to support teachers, enroll students in the Summer Reading Program and encourage use of Library resources. At a citywide level, we work collaboratively with the superintendent and director of student instruction to support learning at every level.


In addition, the Library is currently running two pilot projects at the Sanislo and Roxhill elementary schools in West Seattle. Key elements include:

  • Creating a loaned collection of The Seattle Public Library books and materials that will support the Common Core State Standards and serve the needs of emergent readers.
  • Establishing Raising a Reader programs in Head Start and kindergarten classrooms in both schools.
  • Adding books and materials to each school’s collection as a reward for students in grades K-4 who sign up for the Library's Summer Reading Program and read at least five books.


The Friends of The Seattle Public Library also provides annual grants to teachers for classroom books in high need (Title 1) Seattle Public Schools. Teachers receive $100 in vouchers to purchase books for their students at the Friends' book sales. So far, over 300 teachers from 31 schools have received more than 20,000 books. These book vouchers are made possible through a grant from the Renee B. Fisher Foundation. If you would like more information about how to receive a voucher for the next book sale, contact friends@spl.org.


Library fines can be an obstacle to Library use by teens. Can you consider an amnesty?


The Library does offer a program called Fresh Start that specifically targets middle and high school students. Fresh Start is a one-time fines amnesty for students. It is available at any Library location. Teens who are not using the Library because of fines should talk with a Library staff member about Fresh Start.


The Library’s website is the biggest portal to Library services. Do you plan to revise or improve the site?


Yes. Stephen Halsey, the Library’s director of marketing and online services, is charged with redesigning the site to make it easier to use and help you find the resources you need.


Suggestions around Seattle Culture and History:

  • Collect oral histories.
  • Work closely with neighborhood museums like the Log House Museum in West Seattle and help connect the community to these neighborhood-based resources.
  • Provide technical assistance to local museums and historical organizations.

Five service priorities:

Community Engagement and Seattle Culture and History were voted the two most important priorities to participants (although Re-Imagined Spaces was a close third).


Suggestions around Community Engagement:

  • Bring more Library staff into the community to work with schools, organizations and individuals to create engagement opportunities.
  • Create a Museum Pass Program. Note: The Library created a Museum Pass program in 2012. Today, patrons can check out a museum pass to one of nine local museums. We continue to work to add museums to the museum pass program. Learn more about the Museum Pass Program here.