About the Levy

In 2020, a year that included a global pandemic, an economic crisis, widespread social and political unrest, and the closure of all Seattle Public Library buildings starting in March, we directed levy resources to where they were most needed. Due to Library closures we were unable to expand open hours as promised in 2020. However, we used levy funds to meet the levy’s stated priorities of improving access, collections, technology, children’s programming and maintenance. As libraries reopen, restoration of General Fund support for the Library will be critical in order to meet our Levy promises to voters. The 2019 Levy funded $19.9 million (24%) of the Library’s total spending of $84.7 million in 2020.

Access

We promised to make Library resources and services accessible to patrons when they need them.

2020 Accomplishments

  • Waived all fine balances and stopped charging fines on late materials (Jan.).
  • Opened all Library branches one hour earlier on Sundays (Jan. – March).
  • Launched a new instant digital Library card for electronic access (March).
  • Expanded electronic access to all Seattle Public School students, teachers and staff through Library Link (May).
  • Resumed Mobile Service deliveries to homebound seniors, people living with disabilities and preschool children living in low-income households (Aug.).
  • Launched Curbside Pickup Service for books and other physical materials at six locations (Aug.).
  • Expanded Curbside Service to 11 locations by year end. Offered material return service at 13 locations.

2020 Levy Spending on Access: $9.2 million

Leveraging Levy Investments: In September, using savings from levy program deferrals, the Library hired a project manager to support K-5 remote learning. In direct response to community needs, and with financial support from The Seattle Public Library Foundation, in October, we launched Tutor.com, a free, one-on-one virtual tutoring service for Seattle students.
 

Curbside service
We launched Curbside Pickup Service for books and other physical materials.

Provide More Books and Materials

We promised to provide a robust collection of books and materials.

2020 Accomplishments

  • Circulated over 6.1 million digital items in 2020, a 30% increase from 2019. Over 137,000 Library users checked out at least one e-book or e-audiobook title.
  • Added 34,000+ titles and 108,000+ copies to our digital collection.
  • Offered “Always Available” access to popular anti-racist e-books and e-audiobooks. The e-audiobook version of Ijeoma Oulo’s “So You Want To Talk About Race” was checked out over 11,000 times in 2020
  • Library users checked out our no-holds, no-wait Peak Picks books over 60,000 times. Over 22,800 people checked out at least one Peak Picks title.
  • Added 100,000+ copies to the physical collection, including 13,000+ copies of Peak Picks titles.
  • Launched the COVID-19 Community Collection, our first community crowdsourcing project, to document the local impact of the pandemic.

2020 Levy Spending on Collections: $6.4 million

Leveraging Levy Investments: The Library began processing and digitizing portions of our African American Ephemera Collection, formerly housed at the Douglass-Truth Branch, with additional staff support funded by The Seattle Public Library Foundation.
 

COVID-19 Community Collection
We launched the COVID-19 Community Collection, our first community crowdsourcing project, to document the local impact of the pandemic.

Technology and Online Services

We promised to promote digital equity and improve our computer and online services.

2020 Accomplishments

  • Provided access to the internet through 675 Wi-Fi hot spots checked out to the general public and 325 distributed through community partners for longer-term use.
  • Purchased equipment and developed in-house expertise to stream hundreds of Library programs through social media and other online platforms.
  • Updated Library technology for staff and patrons by replacing outdated servers and improved technology at the Central Library.

2020 Levy Spending on Technology and Online Services: : $1.7 million

Leveraging Levy Investments: The 2019 Levy is the primary funding source for the Library’s HotSpot program. In 2020, the Library was able to leverage levy funding with additional resources from The Seattle Public Library Foundation to offer 160 additional hot spots in the community.
 

Wifi Hotspots
We provided access to the internet through 675 Wi-Fi hot spots checked out to the general public and 325 distributed through community partners for longer-term use.

Programming for Children

We promised to provide additional early learning programs for children 0-5 years old.

2020 Accomplishments

  • Supported existing Kaleidoscope Play and Learn partners who moved their weekly programs from in-branch locations to online venues after our buildings closed.
  • Began recording virtual story time programs and created 24 virtual story time programs available for viewing on the Library’s YouTube channel for kids, including 16 story times in Spanish and Mandarin.
  • Updated Library technology for staff and patrons by replacing outdated servers and improved technology at the Central Library.

2020 Levy Spending on Programming for Children: $0.1 million

Leveraging Levy Investments: One of our partners, Chinese Information and Service Center, completed 14 early learning videos in several different languages (Russian, Vietnamese, Japanese, Mandarin and Cantonese) as part of a project to support access to multilingual early learning programming online. These videos will be available on the Library’s YouTube channel for kids after editing and captioning are complete.
 

Virtual World Language Story time
We began recording virtual story time programs and created 24 virtual story time programs available for viewing on the Library’s YouTube channel for kids, including 16 story times in Spanish and Mandarin.

Maintain Buildings

We promised to maintain buildings for the next generation.

2020 Accomplishments

  • Completed the design work for the seismic retrofit of the Green Lake Branch.
  • Completed 99% of preventive maintenance work orders and service requests to keep the Library’s 27 buildings clean, efficient and in good working order.
  • Supported Curbside operations by relocating furniture, building and installing sneeze guards, and outfitting interior spaces for physical distancing.
  • Completed HVAC energy efficiency improvements at the Beacon Hill, Delridge, High Point, Northgate and Southwest branches.
  • Completed parking garage lighting enhancements at the Capitol Hill, Greenwood and Montlake branches.
  • Repaired the Fourth Avenue berm, replaced the parking garage door, and upgraded lighting controls to improve energy efficiency at the Central Library.

2020 Levy Spending on Maintenance: $2.2 million

Leveraging Levy Investments: With the support of Federal CARES Act funding, in April, the Library reopened restrooms seven days a week at five locations to support the community’s hygiene needs during the pandemic, as most indoor restrooms across the city were closed to the public. Our custodial team cleaned restrooms three times each day and disinfected them overnight.
 

Restrooms
In April, the Library reopened restrooms seven days a week at five locations to support the community’s hygiene needs during the pandemic.