From Chief Librarian Tom Fay

Posted December 30, 2022

Chief Librarian Tom Fay
Chief Librarian Tom Fay

Happy New Year from The Seattle Public Library! We have a lot for you to look forward to this year!

Last year, we were glad to bring back several popular in-person programs and events at the Library, including author events at the Central Library and our annual Summer of Learning celebration. We were especially thrilled to bring back Homework Help after-school tutoring support for students this school year, while also continuing to offer virtual support through And we’re getting ready to offer even more programming in 2023, including story times beginning in the spring.

We were also proud to receive project grants in 2022 to support teen mental health in educational programming in partnership with the University of Washington, the American Library Association and other library systems; as well as to advance racial equity in American archives in partnership with Seattle arts organization Wa Na Wari.

In 2023, we have several improvements planned, many of which are commitments we made in the seven-year, $219.1 million Library Levy, overwhelmingly approved by Seattle voters in 2019.

  • Expanded open hours: We will expand Library open hours systemwide, as part of our 2019 Library Levy promises. Due to COVID-19 closures in 2020 and reopening activities in 2021, we were unable to expand our open hours until now, but we look forward to making progress on this commitment in 2023.

  • Green Lake Branch improvements: We will conduct seismic retrofit work at the Green Lake Branch, which will make the building safer in the event of an earthquake and will give us the opportunity to install air conditioning in this historic and landmarked Carnegie library to keep our patrons and staff comfortable during hotter summer weather. We have similar plans for the Columbia and University branches in future years, supported by the 2019 Library Levy. The Green Lake Branch will be closed for much of 2023 to conduct this work, and we thank patrons of that branch for their patience.

  • Improved technologies: We will launch new materials handling technology in 2023 that will help us distribute books and other materials faster, and we will develop a new Library app solution so you can connect with us more easily on your mobile devices.

  • SPL lockers: We will launch contactless lockers for 24/7 holds access at three more branches. Patrons of the High Point and Rainier Beach branches can already pick up their holds outside of Library hours using these lockers.

  • New strategic plan: We will begin the development of a new strategic plan for the Library, which we expect to have ready by the end of the year. In preparation for this work, we have been holding Community Conversations in branches, conducting surveys to understand our community’s changing needs and interests following the pandemic, and working with a strategic foresight consultant to envision what our future might look like. I look forward to talking with you more in 2023 about your vision for how we can best serve you and your community in the future.

For announcements about these projects and more, follow us on our social media channels, on Twitter @splbuzz and on Facebook at

We also have many programs and events you and your family won’t want to miss in early 2023, including:

  • the Global Reading Challenge, which is back in person this year for all Seattle Public Schools fourth- and fifth-graders;

  • Seattle Reads, our annual citywide book group program, which will be celebrating its 25th anniversary this spring;

  • and, of course, the many events we are always adding to our calendar, including, this month, our popular annual Pictures of the Year event with the Seattle Times, and a Lunar New Year celebration event with music, dancing and more at the Central Library.

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

Tom Fay

Executive Director and Chief Librarian