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Library Collections and Materials

Donor support provides more than 100,000 new books and materials each year, 1 in 3 new items at the library.

The need: Seattle loves to read. We are consistently ranked among the most literate cities in the country, and our library is one of the most-used in the world for digital books and materials. Keeping up with patron demand is expensive — particularly for e-materials, which often cost the library three to five times more than print books. Meanwhile, increasing censorship threatens the fundamental library value that everyone should be able to read what they want.

The Foundation’s role: Free access to a deep, diverse collection of books and materials is essential for our society. Foundation funding provides the library with the resources necessary to purchase physical and digital materials for the general collection, invest in books in more languages, furnish special collections, give away books at community programs, and increase access for people facing restrictions on reading.

Beyond adding 1 in 3 new items at the library each year, Foundation support includes:

African American Collection
Enhancing one of the largest collections of African American literature and history on the West Coast, housed at the Douglass-Truth Branch.

Books Unbanned
Standing up for the right to read by making the library’s digital collections available for young people nationwide, fully funded by donors to the Foundation’s Equity & Access Fund.

LGBTQ+ Collection
Building a selection of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer fiction and nonfiction books on diverse topics at the Capitol Hill Branch.

Lockers for Holds Pickups
Making access to the collection more convenient with 24-hour lockers located at several branches.

Seattle Room
Providing a window into Seattle’s diverse and complex history through thousands of items housed on Level 10 of the Central Library.

World Languages Collection
Offering materials in languages other than English, from Amharic to Vietnamese, and collections to improve literacy skills and English as a Second Language learning.