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Community Conversations Recap: Douglass-Truth Branch - Nov. 6

What are we hearing at the City Librarian's Community Conversations?


Background: City Librarian Marcellus Turner has invited Library patrons to join him at informal meetings in libraries across the city to talk about service improvements. The sixth of 12 Community Conversations was held at the Douglass-Truth Branch from 3:30 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.  Wednesday, Nov. 6. This meeting was scheduled earlier in the afternoon to encourage participation by the large number of teens who frequent the branch after school.


Recap: Turner first shared information about increased Library hours, collections, technology and building maintenance made possible by the 2012 voter-approved Library levy. He also discussed the Library's five current service priorities: youth and learning, technology and access, community engagement, Seattle culture and history and "re-imagined spaces," which he described as redesigning service areas to accommodate changing patron needs. Turner spent the majority of time listening to suggestions and answering questions from the public. He reserved the last 15 minutes for getting input on the five service priorities. Outlined below is the Q&A in brief, followed by highlights of the service priority discussion.

Questions and Answers:


Can you provide more activities for teens? Can you provide more assistance finding books teens will like? Can you provide more competitive activities for teens (or youth over the age of 10)?


The Library currently provides a range of programs and resources for teens including teen advisory groups, book groups, online and in person homework help, the teen blog called Push to Talk, Teen Space programs, teen podcasts, and Your Next 5 (customized book suggestions), just to name a few. However, we're interested in expanding programs and opportunities for teens. In October, the new Youth and Early Learning manager, Linda Braun, joined our staff and one of her first tasks will be to evaluate our programs and determine how we can provide more programs and resources that teens want and need.


Can you create a space in the Library just for middle and high school students with comfortable seating?


Many branch libraries across Seattle have teen areas. However, we recognize these spaces may not have the resources, seating or set-up that teens want. As part of the Library's Re-Imagined Spaces service priority, we will be looking at Library spaces - including teen areas - to determine how we can improve these spaces to make them more welcoming and useful for all patrons.


Can you offer a program in August before school starts to help middle and high school students get ready for the new school year?


We don't currently offer such a program, but we will share this idea with the new Youth and Early Learning manager and her team.


Can you offer homework help earlier? Our school gets out at 2:20 p.m.  


Currently, homework help is offered as early as 3 p.m. at some locations and as late as 5:30 p.m. at others. It begins at 3:30 p.m. at the Douglass-Truth Branch. If you arrive early and homework help has not yet started, you can start with online homework help. However, we will share your request with our staff members who manage the homework help program.


Can you create a competition for kids versus parents in reading? 


We don't currently offer such a program, but we will share this idea with the new Youth and Early Learning manager.


Can you provide textbooks at the Library for grades seven and higher? Specifically, can you provide more textbooks in the area of world languages?


Our collection is heavily geared toward helping students succeed in school and includes numerous subject-based study guides and online resources for homework support. It currently includes over 2,000 language-learning audio kits covering 45 world languages at the beginning, intermediate and advanced levels in addition to print materials covering grammar and drills. We also offer four online language learning programs covering 80 languages. However, with the advent of the Common Coreopens in new window, a national set of state-adopted standards for what students are expected to learn, we are continuing to assess how to support classroom and textbook needs of students and what those needs will be.


Can you purchase more new DVD releases - specifically horror and comedy?


We add thousands of new DVDs to the collection each month for adults, teens and children. New acquisitions include popular blockbuster, foreign films, documentaries, and independent films and television series. As with books, many patrons place holds on these DVDs while they are still on order and the DVDs continue to circulate through the reserve system for many months before arriving at their assigned branch for browsing. It is not unusual for the Library to purchase over 300 copies of mega-blockbuster DVDs and titles like these may have as many 2,500 holds at their peak of popularity. If you are interested in a specific DVD, ask the Library staff to show you how to place a hold on it. You, too, can be one of the first to see it!


Can you provide tables outside the building where teens can eat?


This is a great suggestion. Our staff members are looking into the feasibility of adding tables this spring.


Can you do more to let kids know about homework help?


Yes. We want to do more to let everyone, including teens, know about the wide array of resources and programs at the Library. This year, we hired a director of Marketing and Online Services, and he is focused on helping the Library more effectively reach everyone in the community. In addition, we have shared your request with Linda Braun, the recently hired Youth and Early Learning manager.


Can you provide workshops to help with college essays, more advanced school work (chemistry, pre-calculus, writing) and job search assistance?


Recently the Library hired Joshua Sadow-Hasenberg as the Student Success project manager. His focus is on helping young people in kindergarten through 12th grade.  Currently we offer periodic events to help high school students who are applying to college. The Youth Services Management team is investigating a multiweek workshop approach providing support on college applications. We will pass on the request for more advanced homework help to Josie Watanabe, the project manager for Homework Help.


Can you provide opportunities to work part time or volunteer at the Library (e.g. tutoring younger students)?


Yes. We currently run the Student Assistant Program for high school, vocational/technical school and undergraduate college students. Eligible students apply in April of each year. Learn more about the program here.


In addition, teens age 14 and older are eligible to become Library volunteers. Teen volunteers develop new skills and gain practical library experience as well as learn about the Library's mission and services. Teen volunteers are asked to provide volunteer services for two to eight hours per month for at least three months. The time commitment will depend on the Library's needs and the volunteer's availability. Volunteers are assigned to branches and the Central Library during public hours. Learn more about volunteering here.


We do use volunteers for the Homework Help program, but volunteer tutors must be 18.


Can you add a visual aid at the entrance so we know where the books, materials and meeting spaces are in branch libraries?


This is a great suggestion. Stephen Halsey, the Library’s new director of marketing and online services, is currently evaluating our signage and we will share your suggestion with him.


Can we recommend a book for the Library to purchase?


Yes. Currently, the Library receives an average of 1,800 purchase suggestions each month. To make a recommendation, you can visit the Library’s website.


Can the Library work with more neighborhood partners to provide services and market programs?


The Library works with a variety of community organizations to promote its services, as well as develop new services. For example, we work with local organizations to provide health care enrollment services, early childhood literacy support, Jobs skills classes and support for academic success. We are working on new ways to communicate with local partners to help us spread the word, and to learn more about our communities and their needs. In 2014 our Marketing office also will be exploring a variety of campaigns to reach new audiences who might benefit from Library service.

Five service priorities:

Community Engagement, Youth and Early Learning, and Seattle Culture and History were identified as the three most important priorities to participants.


Suggestions around Community Engagement:

  • Provide the same programming at the branches that is provided at the Central Library
  • Partner with more community agencies
  • Host Seattle Parks and Recreation's West Lake Park chess program at the Central Library over the winter 


Suggestions around Seattle Culture and History:

  • Provide large section on Washington state history in the branches


Suggestions around Youth and Early Learning:

  • Provide more outreach to schools, students and parents about resources at the Library
  • Provide dedicated teen area
  • Align the collection to support the Seattle Public School curriculum