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October 9, 2015

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Message from the City Librarian regarding the proposed rebranding

Sept. 25, 2015


On behalf of the staff and board of The Seattle Public Library, we are honored and privileged to serve you by providing important educational resources, services and classes. We strive every day to meet your needs and expectations.

As you may know, we’ve launched a survey to get your comments on a proposed rebranding of the Library – an initiative that speaks to the changing work and image of the Library.

It’s generated a flurry of interest and opinions from media representatives and the public. A recent exchange with a passionate Library supporter got at the heart of the concerns voiced by many around the Library’s proposed rebranding. That supporter didn’t see the need for changing the library name or brand.

This hit home because it showed that we didn’t do a good job setting the stage for why we need to do this, and in turn, why we wanted and needed to hear from you. Our apologies. We were just a step ahead in the process and failed to recognize that we did not prepare you to participate and assist us. So I'd like to set the stage for our interest in this effort.

Libraries are in the business of providing access to information. In the past, much of that information was provided in print format. With advances in technology, libraries have adapted by offering computers, Wi-Fi and digital content – including downloadable books, movies and music – to facilitate and enhance access to the collection and other electronic resources.

Continued changes in technology and the publishing industry, however, has made access to information more readily available to the public.

It's no surprise that these changes are contributing to the decline in the circulation of print materials and an increase in digital use in libraries across the country. While use of Library computers is also trending slightly downward, Wi-Fi use continues to grow, as more people acquire smartphones, laptops and tablets.

The Seattle Public Library has been thoughtful in planning for these shifts in order to better serve the next generation of users.

We’ve followed our Library’s Strategic Plan, and focused on five Service Priorities that support our mission of bringing people, information and ideas together to build community:

  • Youth and Family Learning
  • Technology and Access
  • Community Engagement
  • Seattle Culture and History
  • Reimagined Spaces


The Library's role and value is very strong among our patrons, supporters and city. Here and in libraries across the country, our work is changing. Nationally and internationally, our professional organizations are working with think tanks and agencies to understand what is happening in libraries, how our role and value can be strengthened, and how to rebrand the profession accordingly.

Here in Seattle, we are assessing our work and image to ensure we are doing what we can to support the reading and informational needs of our city in a rapidly changing world.

The proposed name change and new brand mark are a result of that work. That is why we are asking you to take a few minutes to read the information and take our survey. It provides more detail around this work and also provides background information about the need and process.

As the leader of this wonderfully valued institution, I know that this information may not change all minds. But I hope it gives you the context behind what we are doing and why.

Marcellus Turner signature


Marcellus Turner
City Librarian

Marcellus Turner, city librarian

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Seattle, WA