Programs and Services to Support Cultural and Civic Engagement in 2019

Summary of Cultural and Civic Engagement Programs

Seattle Reads 

  • The 2019 selection for Seattle Reads, the Library’s pioneering “one book, one city” reading program, was Thi Bui’s "The Best We Could Do,” the program’s second graphic novel.
  • More than 1,200 people attended Seattle Reads events related to the book.
  • The Library distributed 1,500 uncatalogued copies of “The Best We Could Do” to the community through book clubs kits, at our 27 locations, and through prioritized engagement with the Vietnamese and Asian Pacific Islander communities.
  • Catalogued copies were also circulated 2,700 times
  • Of 300 audience members surveyed, 98% rated the program an 8 out of 10, or higher.
  • Of those surveyed, nearly 50% of respondents had not participated in Seattle Reads in the past.

Peak Picks

  • 43,000 people checked out Peak Picks books 217,000 times. Peak Picks, one of the Library’s most popular programs, allows patrons to check out high-demand titles with no wait.


  • More than 11,000 people visited the Level 8 Gallery space at Central Library.
  • “We’re Still Here” showcased Native art, cultural preservation and traditional knowledge by members of the Chief Seattle Club, with 1,000 visitors.
  • The exhibit “The Space Needle:  A 21st Century View” drew 1,200 visitors to an exhibit that highlighted the history, impact and symbolism of the Space Needle.
  • Our summer exhibit showcased highlights from the ZAPP zine collection, which explored zines as tools of personal expression, engagement and representation.
  • Two virtual reality exhibits – created with the help of University of Washington interns from the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation – drew more than 2,000 visits, exploring topics such as the Great Seattle Fire.

Other key 2019 initiatives

  • More than 23,000 people reserved passes through the Library’s very popular Museum Pass program, allowing more than 90,000 people to access cultural institutions for free.
  • We continued to work with local organizations and community members to offer programming centering LGBTQ patrons, communities and allies, including Library staff at Pride Month events; and discussions on LGBTQ issues and resources.
  • Through our public engagement program’s emphasis on civic leadership, indigenous youth from the Clear Sky Native Youth Council worked with the Library on oral histories that supported efforts to make Licton Springs Seattle’s first-ever Native landmark.
  • Legendary Children, a civic leadership project with queer and transgender artists of color, drew an attendance of 1,600, the largest in its six-year history. This evening of art, dance and music is offered in partnership with QTBIPOC (queer, trans, Black, indigenous People of Color) artists and the Seattle Art Museum.
  • Twice-monthly public engagement programs used community events and art programs to speak to a wide range of race and social justice topics, including the Black Panther party, abolition and transformative justice. These events attracted an inclusive audience, who rated the events 9.5 out of 10, when surveyed.
  • Seattle Writes, a year-round creative-writing series with a special fall program, had an attendance of 1,250 at 60 classes and programs around the city.
  • Booktoberfest, our annual celebration of books, beer and good cheer, returned for its fifth year.