From Chief Librarian Tom Fay

Posted January 12, 2024

Chief Librarian Tom Fay
Chief Librarian Tom Fay

Happy new year from The Seattle Public Library!

We had a great year at the Library in 2023, with newly expanded open hours funded by the 2019 Library Levy; the return of in-person story times and early learning programs; the expansion of Homework Help after-school tutoring; the launch of Books Unbanned to offer access to our e-book collection to teens and young adults across the U.S.; hundreds of wonderful author events, classes and community programs; and of course, a whole lot of great reading!

In 2023, we also expanded our collections to include a newly added Hawaiian language collection for children, a new Blu-Ray disc collection, and newly expanded access to digital newspaper subscriptions for the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal. For nonprofits, we have expanded access to foundation and grant databases that provide valuable information for identifying fundraising opportunities. This popular resource is now available to access at all Library locations.

In 2024, we are on track to celebrate our one millionth checkout from our popular ‘no holds, no wait’ Peak Picks collection. And we have a lot more to look forward to this year!

The much-anticipated reopening of the Green Lake Branch, following significant improvements and renovations funded by the levy, is expected this summer. Improvements to the branch will include:

  • seismic retrofit work to increase building safety in the event of an earthquake;
  • accessibility improvements, including a new ADA parking stall, new restrooms, a new ramp, elevator, and more;
  • a new electric HVAC system that will bring long-awaited air conditioning to the historic Carnegie-era building, and will reduce our reliance on fossil fuels; and
  • interior renovations that will include two new study rooms, a new service desk, and new lighting and furniture.

We look forward to celebrating its reopening later this year and welcoming Green Lake Branch patrons back to their home branch!

Following that reopening, we will prepare the University Branch for similar improvements. We expect to close the branch in the late 2024 through early 2026 to accommodate this work.

The Columbia Branch will be the third Carnegie location to undergo major renovations, and we will share our timeline for closure and construction as it gets closer.

In 2024, we are also looking forward to developing a new Library mobile app that will enhance the online patron experience.

There are many programs and events we are looking forward to hosting this year, and you can learn about those by visiting Two exciting upcoming events in January include an author talk with local chef and cookbook author J. Kenji López-Alt on Wednesday, Jan. 17, and our annual Pictures of the Year event with the Seattle Times on Thursday, Jan. 25. Both events will be held at the Central Library’s Level 1 Microsoft Auditorium.

In 2024, we will also launch a new long-term strategic plan to guide our work for the next decade, and we will revise our Rules of Conduct. Both of these projects look to build on our commitment to equity and intellectual freedom, in ensuring that all Seattle residents feel welcome, supported, and celebrated at The Seattle Public Library. We want to thank all of the patrons and community partners who have provided their feedback for these projects and helped us think in long-term, strategic ways about the impactful and positive ways we can serve our community.

In 2024, be sure to also check out one of the great book sale events hosted by the Friends of The Seattle Public Library. And if you are interested in supporting Library programs and collections, learn how to support your Library through donations to The Seattle Public Library Foundation.

Thank you, as always, for being a valued patron. I look forward to seeing you at the Library!

Tom Fay

Executive Director and Chief Librarian