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March 18, 2018

listen to spl voices

SPL Voices celebrates the history, meaning and impact of The Seattle Public Library in Seattle’s past and future. We partnered with StoryCorps to begin collecting personal stories and conversations from a variety of perspectives.

Dana Pigott & Lynn Mowe

Lynn Mowe talks with her sister Dana Pigott, both supporters of The Seattle Public Library and Library Foundation, about how inclusive the library has become.


Lynn Mowe & Dana Pigott


Lynn Mowe: [00:00] It is an amazing community space. It is there of course, for learning and for accessing information. But it is also really, kind of, the heart and soul of the city, as well. And most importantly free and open to everyone.

Dana Pigott: When this was all going on, when they were designing and doing all this, we had talks from people who described libraries in different countries. And that was so eye-opening because of the fact that at that time they were using a term “The US library system is a small 'd' democratic institution,” meaning it’s free and open to all to enter, where in other countries, it’s not. And so what I really liked is the fact that they also have done a lot of work to get other communities, people who are immigrants or refugees, who may have a completely different idea of the library, that this is your resource, as well. So they do programming in Spanish and Mandarin, different things like this. And in the main, Central Library on the floor where there’s the different collections and the different languages, how they have all the different words in the different languages. What an amazingly inclusive thing. So you come in, and you say, “Hey, here it is, right on the ground floor at the entrance. It’s not just all English.” It is representing all the different languages, not all the different languages --

LM: But a large number --

DP: But a large, yeah, there’s a lot of Vietnamese language things, a lot of Spanish.

LM: Right

DP: I think it’s interesting from our perspective, but if you came from a background where the library was not a welcoming place and to have that kind of welcome, I think that’s one of my favorite places in the Central Library.

LM: They have a really, a good selection of books in actually four languages: English, Spanish, Russian, and Vietnamese.

DP: Yeah

LM: They go out to the schools when they’re working to introduce the summer programs to the public schools, and try and have a librarian who goes out who speaks each language and introduce the concept of the Summer Reading Program and other tutoring programs, and other enrichment programs that are held at the various branches in the Central Library during the summer, so those students who don’t have the opportunity elsewhere can participate in the reading and enrichment programs at their local branch.

DP: You ask anyone, what does a library mean to you, and depending on who they are, their age, their background,, it’s a whole different experience, and that’s why it’s so fun to talk to people and learn what they see the library provides them, because then it broadens your own appreciation. I thought I knew what a library was, and by being fortunate to be involved, you know during this whole big campaign and part of the dialogue, I have gained a much deeper and broader appreciation of what an asset it is. So, I have been thrilled and this conversation’s kind of made me re-energized about the library. So I appreciate the opportunity.

LM: (laughs) [03:16]



Produced by The Seattle Public Library with interviews recorded by StoryCorps, a national non-profit whose mission is to provide American of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives.