January 16, 2018
Hello and Happy New Year from The Seattle Public Library! As I reflect on 2017 and look forward to our year ahead, I am filled with gratitude for a community that believes in the value of a strong public library system. We are proud to have been designated, once again, as one of the top-rated libraries in the nation, according to the Library Journal's Index of Public Library Service. It is the hard work and dedication of our staff and volunteers, the leadership of our board of trustees and generosity of our Library Foundation and Friends that contribute to our continued success.
Many of the wonderful services and resources you value are made possible from the 7-year, $123 million levy approved by Seattle voters in 2012. The community voted overwhelmingly to increase our open hours, grow our collections and digital services, and maintain our physical spaces. We've been able to accomplish those goals and so much more, which you can read about on our website.
I wanted to take this moment to share some of our accomplishments in 2017 and give you a preview of some exciting activities planned for 2018.
GROWING AND INNOVATING FOR THE NEXT GENERATION
The Library engages the community in listening sessions to ensure we innovate thoughtfully and deliver the right resources that meet the changing needs of Library patrons today and into the future. Thanks to your input, the Library developed a new three-year Strategic Direction, which will serve as the foundation for planning and decision-making throughout the remainder of the life of the levy.
In 2017, there were more than 16 million visits to the Library. In addition to hosting nearly 11,000 free educational programs and outreach activities, answering over 740,000 patron questions, and circulating over 11.6 million items we also:
- launched our new online classic movie collection, Kanopy.
- developed an in-house laptop and tablet lending program at nine Library locations with the help of Google technology grants.
- renovated and re-imagined the physical spaces at the Greenwood and Beacon Hill branches.
- hosted gallery exhibits exploring topics such as Baseball: Culture in Cuba, world-class bookbinding designs, and local jazz history.
- developed the Fake News Survival class to help you better evaluate the day's news.
- launched the new, expertly curated Peak Picks collection that offers current popular titles without any waiting.
- grew our Seattle Room culture and history collection thanks to three wonderful acquisitions: a complete set of Edward Curtis' "The North American Indian" donated by Harriet Bullitt; an 1802 Arrowsmith map, used to help guide the Lewis and Clark expedition, donated by the Fox Rothschild law firm; and the Richard Hugo House Zine Archive and Publishing Project.
In 2018, you can expect even more, including a major renovation to the Lake City Branch, a levy-funded overhaul of our website at spl.org, and a year-long series of gallery exhibits reflecting on Native American representation in art and photography and the work of historical photographer Edward Curtis.
SOCIAL SERVICE PARTNERSHIPS AND CIVIC ENGAGEMENT
As a trusted and welcoming public space for all, patrons often turn to us for help connecting to community resources, social services and social connection. In 2017, with the help of our wonderful community partners, we were able to offer our community:
- one-on-one help for veterans who have very low incomes or are experiencing homelessness.
- free tax preparation services.
- drop-in programs for young adults experiencing homelessness in the University District.
- nutritious after-school meals at three Library locations.
- local candidate forums and debates.
- citizenship classes and workshops for immigrants and refugees.
- civic conversations around complex social issues such as racial and economic inequity, intellectual freedom, housing availability and affordability, ending the school-to-prison pipeline, addressing climate change impacts and more.
We look forward to serving you and talking with you even more in 2018 and for generations to come. Be sure to visit our calendar often for opportunities to engage and don't forget to pick up our Seattle Reads 20th Anniversary selection, "Homegoing" by Yaa Gyasi before her author visit in May!
Marcellus Turner, Executive Director and Chief Librarian