The Seattle Public Library Named 2020 Library of the Year
release date: 06/03/2020
The Seattle Public Library has been awarded the prestigious 2020 Library of the Year by Gale/Library Journal. The Library is featured on the cover of Library Journal’s June 2020 issue, which is available in print and online, and will be honored during a live webcast at 11 a.m. Wednesday, June 3. The Library also receives a cash award of $10,000.
The Library of the Year Award was established in 1992 to celebrate the library system that most profoundly demonstrates service to the community, creativity and innovation in its community programs and leadership in developing services that can be emulated by other libraries.
“This incredible honor goes to all the staff at The Seattle Public Library,” said Executive Director and Chief Librarian Marcellus Turner. “This is well-deserved recognition of their commitment to involving community voices in programs, reducing barriers to access and actively pursuing key partnerships. It’s our staff that has been leading the way.”
Turner said the award recognizes the Library’s work to reach underserved communities, including low-income children, the insecurely housed and immigrants and refugees. “It also acknowledges the leadership from our volunteer Library Board and the wonderful support from our Library partners – The Seattle Public Library Foundation and Friends of The Seattle Public Library, as well as our public,” Turner said. He noted the recent support by Seattle voters for a Library levy, which removed fines for overdue materials and included funding for a social worker to help support at-risk youth.
Seattle is known for being a city of readers. The Seattle Public Library circulated over 12.5 million books and materials and there were over 17 million visits last year. In addition, over 275,000 people attended more than 9,000 free educational and cultural programs.
The Library has been innovative in re-envisioning traditional library programs, including Bookmobile Services and a summer reading program for children, to serve more low-income and underserved populations. It developed partnerships with Seattle’s Somali community to offer needed computer classes, and publish two Somali children’s books.
“Seattle Public Library consistently wowed the judges with its thorough, concrete methodology for making sure the library walks the walk on equity and the way the library team brought that toolset to the field as a whole,” said Meredith Schwartz, editor-in-chief of Library Journal. “Personally, I’m particularly impressed with how Turner and his team acknowledged, apologized for, and moved forward from their mistakes in deeper conversation with the affected communities. It’s impossible for anyone to always get this work right the first time, so a willingness to learn and not get defensive is crucial.”