Impact on Student Success 2020

Supporting student success during a shift to virtual education

Global Reading Challenge goes virtual

  • For the Global Reading Challenge’s 25th year, 72 schools and 3,780 students participated in the reading incentive program with Seattle Public Schools, where teams compete in a reading trivia challenge.
  • In early March, when in-person programming shut down, the Library pivoted to host two virtual semi-final rounds before schools were closed.
  • For 2021, the Library began planning an all-virtual program, featuring seven books by #ownvoices authors, meaning authors from underrepresented groups.

Supporting remote learners

  • From January to March, Homework Help after-school programs thrived at 11 Library locations, with a 10% increase in drop-in visits from the previous year.
  • Following building closures, with more than 50,000 Seattle Public Schools students suddenly learning from home, the Library curated and promoted a wide array of remote learning resources for educators, caregivers and students.
  • We expanded Library Link access, a partnership with Seattle Public Schools to offer digital Library access, to include all K-12 students and staff. Digital Library access includes e-books, e-audiobooks, streaming services, research databases, newspaper archives and more.
  • We launched a free, one-on-one virtual tutoring service through, which provides students with live, multilingual academic support in over 300 subjects, seven days a week.

Virtual story times and physical books for kids

  • From January through March 2020, the Library held more than 270 story time sessions for a variety of audiences, with an attendance of more than 10,000. This included 92 world language story time programs.
  • Children’s librarians adapted in-branch story times to virtual story times on our Facebook page and our Kids’ YouTube channel to reach families during the pandemic. The Library created a total of 43 videos available for viewing on the YouTube channel, including some in Spanish or Mandarin, earning thousands of views and many positive comments.
  • We partnered with community organizations supporting BIPOC families to distribute nearly 26,000 books to youth and families through programs such as Summer of Learning and Raising a Reader.
  • We worked with partners to distribute more than 6,000 early learning cards, booklets and activity cards to over 19 organizations across the city.

Summer of Learning: Delivering virtual programs, physical books and teen leadership opportunities

    • With a theme of “Every Day is Earth Day,” the Library converted Summer of Learning into a virtual program for 2020. A reading log in 10 languages was available online or at Seattle Public Schools meal sites, and teens could download a challenge card they could submit for prizes. 
    • BIPOC teaching artists created more than 35 short, highly interactive videos for our YouTube channel that engaged kids in learning about topics ranging from birding to magic to music.
    • Through a partnership with the NewHolly community and Seattle Housing Authority, a virtual Learning Buddies program recruited 10 teens at NewHolly who mentored and read weekly to 20 children over a seven-week period.
    • Teen librarians in the Southwest region created and distributed 100 hands-on Bug Safari kits through community partners, and teens created videos that demonstrated the activities included in the kits.
    • In partnership with the Bureau of Fearless Ideas, the Greenwood Branch teen librarian facilitated a paid internship with three BIPOC teens who planned and hosted live story-times focused on Black joy, social-emotional learning, early literacy and mindfulness.