From story time to summer learning programs to adult learning classes, The Seattle Public Libraryadvances equity, education, and opportunity for all who call Seattle home. We are lucky to have 27 safe, welcoming locations throughout Seattle for residents of all ages and backgrounds. And we know that when we invest in libraries, we invest in opening doors to opportunity and equity.
In 2018 alone, The Seattle Public Library locations:
- Hosted more than five million visitors;
- Circulated almost 12 million items;
Helped more than 13,000 people through adult learning programs like English as a Second Language, Adult Education Tutoring, and Ready to Work;
Helped more than 45,000 kids who participated in last year’s Summer of Learning; and,
Hosted more than 1,100 homework help sessions.
With the 2012 Library Levy set to expire at the end of this year, we must act to sustain and enhance our libraries. If we are going to build a city of the future, we need to build libraries of the future.
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That’s why today at the Lake City Library Branch, I announced the new “Libraries for All” plan.
Guided by community input and in collaboration with The Seattle Public Library Board of Trustees, this plan would make seven years of investments in critical areas to:
– Maintain Existing Services: Our plan would fully fund current SPL services, including free access to libraries, which see more than five million annual visits by Seattle residents.
– Increase Library Hours: System-wide, The Seattle Public Library would receive an additional 5,000 hours. All 26 SPL neighborhood branches would be open for an additional hour on Sunday. Seven libraries around Seattle would receive expanded hours, including: the Delridge, Green Lake, High Point, International District/Chinatown, NewHolly, South Park, and Wallingford locations.
– Eliminate Overdue Fines: Higher average balances and blocked accounts occur in greater numbers in lower-income and historically underserved neighborhoods. Our plan would invest $8 million over the next seven years to provide fine-free access to books, materials, and resources for all residents and correct a historic inequity.
– Help Close the Digital Divide and Promote Digital Equity: To promote digital equity, our plan would invest $4 million to maintain high-speed internet at library facilities. The proposal also includes $5.3 million to provide internet access through programs such as short-term check outs of WiFi hotspots – for residents who may otherwise have no access. This includes providing internet access at low income housing developments, and longer-term access at permitted villages for people experiencing homelessness.
– Support Safer Buildings through Seismic Upgrades: Three SPL locations have been deemed high-risk unreinforced masonry buildings. To make them safer, we would invest $13.8 million in seismic retrofits for the Columbia, Green Lake, and University branches.
I recognize that many families in Seattle are stretched thin, and I know we’re asking the people of Seattle to do more to make shared investments in our communities. But I believe that this additional investment is so important and will have an enormous impact on Seattle.
I am excited about our opportunity to invest in The Seattle Public Library, in equity, and in opportunity. As always, please continue to write me at Jenny.Durkan@seattle.gov, reach out via Twitter and Facebook, and stay up-to-date on the work we’re doing for the people of Seattle on my blog.
Mayor Jenny Durkan