Recap: Future of the Library November 17
Marcellus Turner, Executive Director and Chief Librarian, has invited everyone to join him at informal meetings at locations across the city to talk about the future of The Seattle Public Library. This Community Conversation was focused on our innovative services that meet the public's changing needs and interests, and our goals and priorities that support learning for everyone. The conversation was held at the Northeast Branch from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018. About 25 people attended.
Turner shared an overview of our Strategic Direction, which guides planning and decision-making for the Library. The Strategic Direction focuses on three things: what we're doing to promote individual growth and learning, how we're impacting the greater community and how efficiently we're performing as an institution.
Turner discussed Library service and resource improvements that were made possible by the 2012 Library Levyincluding:
- increased hours - now all Library locations are open on Sunday
- improvements to Library collections, digital services, and building maintenance
Turner also shared two budgeting charts to help patrons understand where Library funds come from and how they are spent. He said our budget concentrates on the "three B's: books, bodies and buildings"
At the beginning of the levy, the Library expanded and refurbished the Northeast Branch's children's area. We did this to support early learning activities and add furniture that allows families to read together.
Turner discussed the importance of developing regional programs and services with neighborhood needs and equity in mind to make sure we are meeting neighborhood needs and helping to level the playing field for Seattle’s underserved communities.
One out of every eight Lake City Branch patrons speak a language other than English, including Amheric, Spanish, Russian, and Chinese. We offer Chinese and Somali story times in this region.
He described how our Fresh Start program, funded by The Seattle Public Library Foundation, has cleared fines and fees for over 700 teens so that they can continue reading and learning.
Rules of Conduct
Turner pointed out the Rules of Conduct poster on a nearby bookcase, and gave a brief overview.
You can now walk into a Library and pick up a bestselling book with no holds and no wait, thanks to our Peak Picks program. Turner mentioned that just before this presentation, he'd been at Magnolia Branch to pick up a copy of "Becoming Michelle Obama."
The Changing Needs of Library Patrons
Turner mentioned that the Library is constantly evaluating the community’s needs and interests in order to provide the most relevant services and resources possible. Some recent additions to Library services include:
- FlexTech devices – tablets and laptops that are available for in-library use
- Free Wi-Fi at every location
- Wi-Fi hotspots that you can check out and take home for three weeks
- Kanopy a free Netflix-style video streaming service.
- PlayBack, an online local music collection featuring free music by Seattle artists that you can stream or download.
Questions from Patrons
Do the Library and community centers talk to each other about programming? I'm worried that the Library will expend precious resources by offering too many programs that might be better offered by a community center, like woodworking. I'm also worried about too many special taxes/levies.
The Library has been asked to offer many different types of Library collections, including seeds, tools, instruments, and ties. We’ve also been asked to create “Maker Spaces.” In a survey this spring, we asked the public what programs & services we should offer. The public overwhelming said to concentrate on Library services like open hours and books.
We've looked at the idea of a tax district, but it has not made sense for us as of yet. The Library is currently a city department primarily funded through general funds with help from the 2012 voter-approved Levy. We have also receive some private funding through our Foundation.
The Library regularly partners with city departments. Recently, the Library has started a conversation with the Parks department and Seattle Center about standardizing best practices for public safety.
Are digital books getting more funding than print books?
Our formats include print, digital, audiobooks e-audiobooks and world languages.
Yes, we're buying more digital books, and they're more expensive than print. Most print books get 50-75 checkouts before they're worn out and require us to purchase new copies. But, for e-books, publishers charge more because the books don't get worn out.
Are CDs fading out?
We are buying fewer CDS because fewer publishers have them available. We have also seen less demand from Library patrons.
Can you make the holds list bigger than 50 items?
The holds list used to have a 25-item limit before the 2012 levy. If we did that, we would need to make space for all the extra holds. It's definitely something we can consider.
Can you place 50 holds on one title?
No, you can place holds on 50 different titles at the same time.
When you say the Library "builds community," what kind of community do you mean?
A couple of aspects:
- An informed and engaged community, with information on local and national interests.
- A literate community.
- An open and welcoming community.
Francesca Wainwright, regional manager, added that patrons say the Library is one of the few places you can engage with people outside of your usual circles, like work or church. She also mentioned the potlucks that the Lake City Branch hosts for neighbors to celebrate holidays together.
Turner added that we bring people together around Seattle in a variety of ways, like showing Seahawks games or hosting candidate debates.
I was volunteering at a taco truck/ballot drop event in front of a King County Library. Immigration enforcement drove by right before the event. How does the Library handle immigration situations? Also, what is the Library doing to provide Spanish services/materials?
We're always looking to hire candidates who speak a language other than English. Library assistants and student assistants, especially. Also, we focus on what language needs a neighborhood has so we can tailor our services and resources to those needs. If a staff member isn't available at that branch, we can often connect the patron to a staff person on the phone who speaks their language.
Regarding the Library's response to ICE, we know families make decisions on where/when to use the Library based on immigration. We haven't had an ICE issue happen yet.
Who does the Library partner with?
In the Northeast region, the Library partners with Literacy Source, North Seattle Helpline, North Seattle College, the Elizabeth Gregory Home and many others. We have a person whose job it is to connect with organizations and nurture our partnerships, and many of our branch Library staff develop local relationship with neighborhood partners. Let us know what partnerships and connections you'd like us to make!
Comments from Patrons
- I think we should only offer story times in English, so that children who aren't getting English at home can learn it better.
- I just canceled Audible – thanks for saving me money!