Seattle voters say 'yes' to more library hours, books and services
Seattle voters overwhelmingly approved a seven-year, $122 million levy to increase hours, purchase more books and materials, upgrade computers and improve building maintenance at The Seattle Public Library.
The levy had the support of 62 percent of the voters. A simple majority was needed to pass. The primary election was Aug. 7.
"It is clear that citizens in our community want their libraries open and the shelves filled," said City Librarian Marcellus Turner.
Four years of budget cuts due to the prolonged down economy have eroded Library services. In that time, the book budget has been cut by 13 percent, the majority of branches are closed two days a week and the entire system has shut down for a week to save money.
"The people of Seattle understand libraries provide access to lifelong learning and economic, social and cultural benefits for all," said Library Board President Marie McCaffrey. "Libraries are the safety net for our residents. They are where people show up for opportunity. They are where students get homework help, unemployed residents come for job resources and those without access to technology learn how to use computers."
Turner said the levy plan, "Libraries for All: A Plan for the Present a Foundation for the Future," grew out of a two-year process that involved the thoughtful contributions of tens of thousands of Seattle residents.
"The levy was the product of those discussions," he said. "It reflects four critical areas of need: Keeping libraries open when people need them, providing a robust collection of books and materials, improving computer and online services and maintaining our buildings for the next generation of users."
Patrons will see improvements to services beginning in 2013. For the first time in the Library's history, all locations will be open on Sundays starting in January. The busy Columbia and Northgate branches - currently open five days a week - will operate seven days a week.
With levy money going to the book budget, patrons will soon notice more copies of popular materials available, which should reduce wait times for materials.
In addition, readers will see an increase in the number of items they are allowed to place on reserve. Patrons are currently restricted to placing a maximum of 25 items on hold at any one time. That number will increase to 50 in January.
Computer users will also notice improvements to computer technology next year, when the Library begins replacing or upgrading computers. In addition, the Library's maintenance budget for 27 buildings - which had been cut by 50 percent - will be fully funded.
"With a stable budget for the first time in many years, access to high quality library resources will be available in every neighborhood," Turner said. "We are looking forward to assisting the public with better services in January. The Library extends its heartfelt thanks to the voters."
For more information contact:
Andra Addison, communications director
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