News & Stories

‘There’s a lot of love’: Legendary Children celebrates queer community at SAM

Photos by Naomi Ishisaka

Wella recently moved to Seattle from Kansas to seek a more robust queer community. And she found one earlier this month – thanks in part to the Library.

She says she’s still finding her place as a young queer woman in a new city, but after a friend invited her to Legendary Children at Seattle Art Museum, she found the first place that felt like home.

“I’m surrounded by people who are just like me,” she said standing next to the Jeffrey Gibson: Like a Hammer Indigenous-inspired art exhibit. “There’s a lot of love in this building.”

Legendary Children, a free event sponsored by The Seattle Public Library Foundation and SAM, is a sublime celebration of QTBIPOC communities (queer and trans Black, Indigenous, and people of color). Initially inspired by the house and ball culture featured in the 1990 documentary, “Paris is Burning,” the event features fashion, catwalks, dancing and thought-provoking performance art – a multifaceted joyful affair punctuated with social justice.

Photos by Naomi Ishisaka

“Legendary Children is the centerpiece of Public Engagement programs on art, social justice, and civics,” wrote Davida Ingram, one of the organizers who works for the Library as the public service programs and events manager. “Community is in the driver’s seat. Art is at the center. And social justice rings loud and clear. We get to celebrate the brilliant civic leadership of Indigenous, Black and Brown people who are queer and transgender in museums and libraries and that is phenomenal.”

Wella’s friend, Reilly, said Legendary Children changed her view of the Library – that it’s not just a staid warehouse of books.

“This is my first perception of it being this active force in the community,” Reilly said.

This year, the event also allowed patrons to check out the last weekend of Jeffrey Gibson’s exhibit for free. His mixed media works – including glass beaded works, abstract paintings, and punching bags – explore Indigenous and queer identity and is influenced by popular culture, fashion, and design.

That was meaningful to Wella, who had never been to SAM before. She said that moving to the Pacific Northwest helped her learn more about Indigenous cultures and was glad to see that reinforced at Legendary Children, where hosts acknowledge that Seattle is built on Indigenous land.

Matt Lawrence, a Seattle hairstylist who grew up on the Makah Reservation on the Olympia Peninsula, styled an Indigenous-themed runway show featuring hair pieces made from cedar, representing cleansing and protection. The jewelry, clothing, and makeup were all made by Indigenous creators.

Matt said that Legendary Children not only offers a space for people who have historically faced marginalization to celebrate each other, but brings people to SAM that otherwise might not have access – and likewise exposes culture fostered by queer and trans people of color to SAM and Library patrons that might be new to such events.

Photos by Naomi Ishisaka

“You’re kind of merging these groups and allowing them to enjoy each other’s presence and understand each other a little bit better,” he says.

Randy Ford, a dancer, choreographer, and actor who’s been involved in Legendary Children for four years as a curator and performer, recruited performers.

“It’s one of the only free queer-, trans-, nonbinary-, gender non-conforming-, Black-, Indigenous-, POC- inclusive spaces in Seattle,” she said.

And next to inclusivity, what’s top of mind when she’s shaping the lineup of performers: that people have a good time.

“It’s really awesome to know that people really did have a good time and felt seen and felt beautiful and amazing,” she said.

If you didn’t make it this year, get as close to the action as you can by perusing the photo booth shots on Facebook. Photographer Jessica Rycheal and designer Roldy Ablao made every attendee feel like a star.

Spring campaigns proving successful for Seattle kids

Thank you for your fantastic support during Library Giving Day and GiveBIG!

More than 2,000 library supporters have stepped up to support the Foundation during Library Giving Day (April 10) and GiveBIG (May 9), helping to fund the purchase of more than 11,000 books to give away to kids and teens throughout the summer. The Summer of Learning program will keep our youth engaged in reading and offers more than 250 free activities and programs that promote STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) learning.

Between GiveBIG and Library Giving Day, community supporters have helped us achieve a successful spring campaign, allowing us to meet our match for Library Giving Day and support the 100th anniversary of the Summer of Learning program.

Our supporters make The Seattle Public Library the world-class institution it is today, helping people from every community and bringing our neighbors together.

If you haven’t had the chance to give yet, it’s not too late. Give here to help raise money for 1,000 more books for kids this summer.


Help us supply 12,000 books for kids with #GiveBIG!

Seattle’s annual spring fundraising campaign, GiveBIG, is underway!

This year, we’re celebrating the 100th anniversary of Summer of Learning. Between now and May 8, The Seattle Public Library Foundation aims to raise $75,000 so we can help fund more than 12,000 books for Seattle children in opportunity communities. Not only does Summer of Learning help prevent the learning lapse during the critical months between school years, but it prioritizes communities with the greatest barriers to opportunity and learning.

And you can help! Make a gift here to support summer learning.

A $25 gift = 4 books
$50 = 8 books
$100 = 17 books
$250 = 41 books
$500 = 83 books
$1,000 = 165 books

Your generosity can help inspire thousands of children and teens. Help make The Seattle Public Library a vibrant, welcoming, and fun space for kids this summer.


THANK YOU! You made Library Giving Day a massive success!

You blew us away with your fantastic support for Library Giving Day this month!

You rallied to raise more than $219,000 for this inaugural online fundraising event, exceeding our goal! Your gifts help guarantee that the community will continue to enjoy educational and culturally enriching programs, as well as continually updated books and materials.

What started as an idea right here at The Seattle Public Library Foundation grew into a movement of 190 library systems across North America, just in its first year! These libraries represented 39 U.S. states and four Canadian provinces.

We are thrilled with the turnout of not just donors, but the other libraries who participated, and hope this effort will continue to grow in coming years and amplify libraries’ profile among the public.

Global Reading Challenge: ‘It lights a fire’

John Rogers Elementary School’s team, The Puppies, discuss a quiz question at the March 19 Global Reading Challenge finale at Seattle Central Library. Fifth grader Saron, center, was her team’s captain.

Young readers who packed the the Central Library March 19, culminating months of reading and quizzing, said the best part of Seattle Public Library’s Global Reading Challenge isn’t just the competition – it’s making new friends.

“It’s good to get to know other people,” said 11-year-old Saron, a fifth-grader from John Rogers Elementary School. “It’s kind of a new adventure.”

The Global Reading Challenge challenges teams of fourth- and fifth-graders from 70 Seattle public schools in a competitive quiz tournament after they read 10 books from culturally diverse authors. School librarians say they assign teams deliberately to unite children who might not otherwise socialize with each other.

The citywide finale last month hosted nine teams and filled the Microsoft Auditorium with fans.

The annual program, supported by gifts to The Seattle Public Library Foundation, engaged 4,300 children this year, prompting them to read books that some said they wouldn’t have picked up if not for the challenge – but were glad they did so.

“All the books are good,” said Evvi, another 11-year-old fifth grader from John Rogers. She and Saron both picked “The War That Saved My Life” by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley as their favorite of the 10 selections.

“It taught me some history and lots of British words,” Evvi said. “It was a powerful story and a really fun read.”

Parents Candice and Kevin, whose daughter Karissa is a 10-year-old fourth-grader at Cascade Parent Partnership Program, said the program helped their child make friends at her new school and turned her on to reading for pleasure.

“She wants to read more now to prepare for this event,” Kevin said. “She’s excited about reading. She’s doing more on her own.”

The culturally diverse book selections help children understand different viewpoints and boosts their empathy for others.

The winning team from Bryant Elementary School shows off their trophies.

“It really makes them go beyond their comfort zone and they love the books, said Pat Bliquez, school librarian at McDonald International School.

It also helps children for whom English is not their first language and makes them excited to learn, said Nancy Fisher-Allison, librarian at John Rogers.

Kids shared high-fives and pumped each other up throughout the finale, keeping the contest positive and encouraging.

The team from Bryant Elementary School – called “Unusual Students for the Exceptional Librarian” – ultimately took home the trophy, for the second consecutive year. They earned a pizza party with Seattle Public Library’s Chief Librarian Marcellus Turner.

But perhaps Fisher-Allison put her finger on the ultimate victory of the Global Reading Challenge: “It lights a fire.”

You’re invited: ‘Death and Taxes’ estate planning seminar on Tax Day

Join us on Tax Day for an estate planning seminar where attorney John Creahan will discuss “death and taxes” and the sometimes difficult decisions individuals and families face when planning their estates. The seminar will focus on taxation issues that may arise through the administration of an estate in the event of a death. The event will also provide a general overview on the broader estate planning process and the importance of charitable planning.
Whether you are just beginning to think about writing your will or want to make sure you are up to date with your existing plans, this FREE seminar will help you identify what you need to ensure peace of mind about your legacy.

Choose between two sessions:

Session I
When: 11:30 – 1:00 p.m.
Where: The Seattle Public Library, Douglass-Truth Branch
2300 E. Yesler Way, Seattle, WA 98122

Session II
When: 4:00 – 5:30 p.m.
Where: King County Library System, Bellevue Branch
1111 110th Ave. NE, Bellevue, WA 98004

Light refreshments will be served.

Space is limited!
RSVP Now »

About the speaker: John Creahan is the founder of Cairn Law, a Seattle law firm serving the legal needs of families, individuals, businesses, and nonprofits throughout Washington. He provides practical and cost-effective legal services related to estate planning, probate, charitable gift planning, and business transition.

SPLF leads international Library Giving Day

The Seattle Public Library Foundation is leading an international movement to raise the profile of local libraries with the April 10 Library Giving Day.

More than 110 library systems in the United States and Canada, including 20 in Washington state alone, are working to raise funds to support our libraries.

The Seattle Public Library Foundation supports the purchase of about one in every four books at The Seattle Public Library. It also funds programs such as Summer of Learning, Raising a Reader, Story Time and Library to Business – all with a focus on equity.

Help spread the word! Join our Library Giving Day Facebook event page and invite your friends. Share, in person and on social media, how the Library helps you in your daily life and why you give. Then, on April 10, make a gift to The Seattle Public Library Foundation.

Each gift up to $45,000 will be matched, dollar-for-dollar, until our match pool is exhausted. There is truly no better time to give!

Use the hashtag #LibraryGivingDay on social media.

Inaugural Discover Your Library Luncheon a wild success

730 guests united to support The Seattle Public Library Foundation with more than $440,000 raised at the March 5th Discover Your Library luncheon – a jaw-dropping display of generosity that exceeded our goal of $250,000!

Donors’ support will help fund programs for children and teens, such as Homework Help and the centennial Summer of Learning. These programs keep students engaged in reading all year round and help them excel in the classroom.

The luncheon gave attendees the opportunity to learn about how The Seattle Public Library benefits 9-year-old West Seattle resident Halima with Homework Help each day. Watch her story here.

We also heard from Franklin, 18, who moved to Seattle from Nigeria and not only learned English at the Library, but picked up coding skills that inspired him to pursue a career in computer science after just 3 ½ years in the United States. Check out Franklin’s speech.

Thank you for your incredible generosity and for helping our next generation’s dreams come true.

Michael B. Maine


Thank You to Our Sponsors!

Civic Engagement Sponsors
Cultural Enrichment Sponsors
Literacy Sponsors
A Very Special Thank You to our Storytelling Sponsor

$10,000 in Scholarships Available – Deadline 3/15

Want to help a friend, neighbor, or loved one earn $5,000 for college? You can! Make them aware of the Stim Bullitt Civic Courage Scholarship Contest. $10,000 in scholarship funds are available to three Seattle students! Grand prize scholarship is $5,000 and two runners-up receive $2,500. Simply write an essay on civic courage! Submit your essay by March 15, 2019! For information on eligibility and submission details, click here.