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Mission Statement : Seattle Culture and History

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Seattle Culture and History


Connect our community with our diverse local culture and history through compelling collections, expert assistance, innovative partnerships and engaging programs.

Role of the Library

The Library will bring together the region’s local culture and history organizations to collaborate on future directions, collections growth, developing shared expertise and offering programs that work across our institutional boundaries.


The Library will proactively build its collection of local culture and history by engaging members of our community who have cultural or historical relevant collections in various formats that may strengthen our ability to serve our city’s diverse population. Continued growth of the digital collections is critical to our users and our regional partner institutions as it is often the preferred first point of access to special collections.

User experience

The Library’s local culture and history program will be designed for all users whether they are at the Library or visiting online. Patrons should expect a lively, thoughtful and interesting encounter with local history and culture through reference services, programs and exhibits.


The Library will offer timely programs on a variety of subjects and an exhibit schedule that reveals forgotten history or digs deeper into the past.


Many people don’t know about all our local culture and history resources, including the online collections. The Library will develop a marketing plan to let our community know what we’re doing. Community engagement and outreach will build our audience.

Model of staffing

The Library will seek to achieve staffing and expertise needed to support these efforts. This may include librarians, archivists, educators, journalists, photographers, oral historians, exhibit curators, outreach staff and digital collections professionals.


Achieving the Library's vision for the Seattle culture and history program will require a different configuration of physical space for this collection. The Library will embark on a planning process to explore the best options.

Programs, Activities and Resources

Collection growth includes:


Digital collection growth includes:


Exhibit and program growth includes:

  • The Folger Shakespeare Library’s exhibit “First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare” provided an excellent opportunity to explore the rich history of Shakespeare in Seattle and the history of printing
  • The “Streetwise Revisited” exhibit of Mary Ellen Mark’s photographs of Erin Blackwell, who started as homeless teenager in Seattle, let us look into the history of homelessness and try to understand its deeper causes and the long-term damage that can result.
  • Exhibit of Frank Kunishige’s photography, the first in an exhibit series called Discover Special Collections that will highlight important resources. The exhibit included a portion of the images owned by the Library and all the images are in the online collection.
  • Increased investment in digitization of collection materials to provide greater access to the community
  • We initiated a series of “Discover Special Collections” public tours that offered a deeper look into a particular subject.


Questions about Seattle Culture and History? Contact Jodee Fenton, Special Collections managing librarian.

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