Updated September 29, 2020

Executive Director and Chief Librarian Marcellus Turner
Executive Director and Chief Librarian Marcellus Turner

Dear friends,

Mayor Jenny Durkan shared her proposed 2021 City Budget on Sept. 29, 2020, which includes $77.7 million for Library operations and $9.2 million for major building maintenance.

This proposed budget reflects a $5.8 million cut to Library General Fund support and a $360,000 cut to Real Estate Excise Tax resources for capital maintenance. I should also share that this comes on the heels of our recently rebalanced 2020 budget. The Library provided $2.9 million in savings to help address an over $300 million gap in the 2020 City budget.

While the mayor understands that our Library system is one of the most vital, well-loved parts of city government, the ongoing pandemic continues to have a significant impact on city revenue collections and all city departments face major cuts in city General Fund support next year. The largest savings in the proposed Library budget would come from reduced Library hours.

Although there is much uncertainty as to what impact COVID-19 will have in 2021, the budget follows the directive of the city and assumes that Library facilities will not fully reopen to the public for in-person services until at least July 2021.

The proposed 2021 Library operating budget includes reductions in the following areas: 

  • Library operations (Library hours) and staffing support: $3,082,000
  • Books and materials and staffing support: $1,396,000
  • Building and facility maintenance and staffing support: $348,000
  • Technology purchases and staffing support: $293,000
  • Staff training: $117,000
  • Other administrative and staffing support: $601,500

With the anticipated continued closure of Library buildings through the middle of 2021, the proposed operations budget includes a one-time emergency use of $1.3 million in 2019 voter-approved Library levy funds to help support core Library operations next year. These levy funds were originally planned for expanding hours and programming for youth in 2021.

The mayor’s proposed 2021 Library budget can be viewed at www.seattle.gov/budget. The mayor’s budget is currently being reviewed by the City Council. The council will hold public hearings on the budget at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 6 and Oct. 27. The City Council is scheduled to adopt a final 2021 budget at its 2 p.m. Monday, Nov. 23 meeting.

The Library Board will review options to address 2021 budget cuts over the next several months and will take action on the Library’s 2021 operations plan in December. I will update you again on the Library budget at that time.

I hope you have been exploring the many online resources and programs we have available for all ages on our website, and enjoying our physical collection of books, movies and music using our Curbside Pickup Service. Please take care and know your Library is here with resources to help you get through these challenging times.

Executive Director and Chief Librarian Marcellus Turner Signature

Marcellus Turner, Executive Director and Chief Librarian