The Seattle Public Library has released its 2019 Impact Report, an annual accounting of the Library’s performance and impact on the community through statistics, program updates and patron stories.

“The Library’s 2019 Impact Report is testament to how much we were able to accomplish with the support and guidance of our community,” said Executive Director and Chief Librarian Marcellus Turner. “From large-scale programs, such as our STEAM-focused Summer of Learning, to targeted efforts such as one-on-one help for entrepreneurs in underserved areas, we work closely with community partners to give everyone the opportunity to learn and excel.”

The report shared performance statistics as well as highlights in five areas: adult learning, cultural and civic engagement, local businesses, student success and people in need. For the 10th consecutive year, the Library received the highest a five-star rating by Library Journal’s Index of Public Library Service.


  • Increase in digital circulation. Digital Library items circulated 4.8 million times in 2019, a 23% increase from 2018; this figure includes e-books, e-audiobooks and digital and streaming and downloadable media. The Library’s digital collection increased by 14%, from 463,000 to 530,000.
  • 4 million visits. The Seattle Public Library received 17.4 million visits from patrons in 2019, counting both online sessions (12.5 million) and visits to physical locations (4.9 million). In addition, nearly 56,000 new Library cards were issued in 2019, 5.2 million holds were placed on items in the collection and the Library answered 695,000 questions.
  • More than 9,000 programs. 9,200 Library programs and events had a total attendance of 275,000 in 2019, including author events, technology skills classes, English-language classes, citizenship classes, children’s programs, programs for seniors and much more.
  • Connecting people in need. The Library’s pioneering Wi-fi HotSpot program circulated 675 hot spots nearly 8,000 times in 2019. 250 additional hot spots were checked to people most impacted by the digital divide, including 36 that were installed long-term in tiny house villages. Other digital equity-focused programs included computer classes for Somali women at the NewHolly community.
  • One-on-one help for entrepreneurs. The Library to Business program reached 1,700 entrepreneurs with one-on-one help sessions, business workshops and networking events in 2019. We expanded one-on-one business meetings, already available at Central Library and five branches, to Ballard, Green Lake and Lake City branches. ​
  • Empowering youth to lead and learn. The Library reached youth with flagship programs such as story times in multiple languages, the STEAM-focused Summer of Learning and after-school Homework Help, offered at 11 locations in 2019, while also working with community partners to offer small, targeted programs. Indigenous youth from the Clear Sky Native Youth Council, for example, worked with the Library on oral histories that supported efforts to make Licton Springs Seattle’s first-ever Native landmark.
  • Volunteer power: 695 people volunteered almost 22,000 hours to Library programs such as Homework Help in 2019.

“It is an honor and a joy to help residents from all ages and walks of life discover stories, learn skills, find opportunities, connect to services and realize their dreams,” said Chief Librarian Turner in the report.

The complete Impact Report is distributed online at, and in a limited number of print copies.


The Seattle Public Library bring people, information and ideas together to enrich lives and build community. Visit the Library’s Road to Reopening page for more information on book returns, Curbside Service and other Library services being offered while Library buildings are closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Seattle Public Library also has many free online programs, services and resources while its physical buildings are closed. You can find out more on our website or by contacting the Library by phone at 206-386-4636. Staff are ready to answer questions and direct you to helpful resources and information during this challenging time.