Now is the time to help set the Library up for success for the rest of 2021 with GiveBIG – and for a limited time, your gift to the Library will be DOUBLED!
GiveBIG, May 4-5, is an annual statewide online giving campaign that elevates your favorite local charities.
This year, five generous library champions will double each gift up to $25,000, letting your gift work TWICE as hard toward supporting books, free programs, and equity-focused community services that enrich our city.
Summer of Learning is approaching quickly, which helps students continue learning in the crucial off-school months. Your gift today can help us achieve our summer goal of putting 9,800 books in the homes of children and teens.
Your matched gift NOW will not only support Summer of Learning, it will help fund interactive online programs, author events, and access to technology that will connect people of all ages to information, ideas, and inspiration.
Thanks to its amazing donors, the Foundation helps the Library expand its services by funding more than 45 free educational programs and about 1 in 4 books on the Library’s shelves – that’s above and beyond what public support provides. Your contribution is critical to keeping the Library strong throughout 2021.
Thank you for boosting the Library that thousands rely on each day for education and opportunity. Chip in now!
The COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affects communities of color, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – not just because of limited access to health care alone, but because people of color are more likely to be essential workers and bear the economic burden of the pandemic, among a litany of other longstanding factors exacerbated by the crisis.
Working with racial justice in mind, local BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) community partners have shown the Library how community-designed solutions can address COVID in a meaningful way: with joy and affirmation.
The Library’s Public Engagement series is designed to focus on “well-being in communities of color as one solution to racism,” says Davida Ingram, the Library’s public engagement program manager.
“I’d like to be painting a picture of what institutions can do in a moment of crisis,” she says. “As we listen to communities lead, how can we be a place of safe harbor and connection and affirmation? Our goal was to watch how communities of color were doing things through mutual aid efforts and uplift that work.”
Ingram says highlighting the strengths of communities of color can be a salve for the collective trauma people of color have experienced in the past year.
Here are examples of the programs supported by the Library:
Innovative community-led events have streamed online in 2020 and 2021. Along the way, they have showcased a rich array of local artists and provided much-needed social connection.
A November dance festival called “Reflections” was performed at the newly-reopened Pier 62 on the Downtown Seattle waterfront, featuring Black and Indigenous performers. It showcased Indigenous and Black artists and cultural groups sharing a “love letter” with the city. You can watch it here on YouTube.
The annual “Legendary Children” event also came alive online. This QTBIPOC (queer and trans Black, Indigenous and People of Color) event celebrates the house and ball culture and its long history of offering safety, solace, love, and beauty to artists. You can check out Legendary Children 2020 here.
“LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID” is an ongoing virtual series addressing social justice solutions such as abolition and mutual aid, intended to bring hope through constructive community conversations. Two events last year drew more than 500 viewers.
Working with community and city partners, the Library co-created BLOOM (Beginning Leadership for Organizing and Orchard Management), a program engaging young adults in a college-level urban farming fellowship designed to promote food security.
Eleven people ages 17 to 25 gained in-the-field experience, even picking more than 300 pounds of apples that they pressed into cider at a healing event celebrating BIPOC communities.
“The most memorable part of BLOOM 2020 was meeting other youth like me who are dedicated to building community around this idea of food justice, around loving each other and loving our food and loving the land,” says Cara, one of the participants. “These are the kinds of connections I want to keep with me in moving forward in building a world I want to see.”
Ingram says the program will resume this year in partnership with Wa Na Wari, Black Farmers Collective, and BIPOC food sovereignty and food justice groups.
Art Club celebrates children as civic leaders in training. Its child-led interviews with lawyers and public health advocates have occurred online throughout the pandemic. They feature dance performances and conversations, and will culminate in a zine with a child’s view of the pandemic.
Art Club participants interviewed public health leaders from African American Health Board, Fred Hutch, and UW Medical Center about the pandemic. They also met Seattle Black Panther co-founder Aaron Dixon, who discussed the Black Panthers’ historic Breakfast Program and public health campaign with Estelita’s Library co-founder and historian Edwin Lindo.
“The behind-the-scenes intention is to celebrate brilliant young people as leaders and to create space for them to meet leaders who look just like them who are doing community-centered work in careers they may not be exposed to, like arts, law, public health, mutual aid, communications,” Ingram says.
The Seattle Public Library Foundation is proud to support public engagement and arts programming at the Library. The Library as a cultural institution seeks to ground its work in racial and social justice while serving as a place where our neighbors can express themselves, learn, and grow.
Genealogy librarians Mahina Oshie and John LaMont joined us for an insightful episode of “Inside Your Library” April 2, walking us through everything The Seattle Public Library offers for genealogy research.
Supporters submitted so many questions that we couldn’t get to them all, so Mahina and John graciously answered some additional inquiries for us to share with everyone.
Thank you to everyone who attended this fun program and for your insightful questions! Read on to learn more from Mahina and John:
Q: What’s the best way to ask John and Mahina questions about our genealogy research?
A: During the pandemic, the best way to reach us is to submit a question via the Library’s Ask Us email form. If the question is related to genealogy, it will end up in the Special Collections Department queue for Mahina or John to work on. We usually try to send a reply within 48 hours.
A: You can access U.S. Census records from 1790 through 1940 online with your library card and PIN using the Library’s subscriptions to Ancestry Library Edition (remote access currently through June 2021) and Heritage Quest Online (always available remotely). You can also access these Census records at FamilySearch.org by creating a free account.
Q: FamilySearch.org tells me that SPL has a book that I would like to view. Is there a way to do that while the Library is closed due to the pandemic?
A: If you find a book in our collection, via FamilySearch.org or elsewhere, send us a request via Ask Us. Most of our genealogy collection is available for reference use only at the Central Library, but we’re happy to do look-ups and provide scans of selected pages. If we find that the book is available online, we’ll send you a link, as well.
Q: What message boards would you suggest?
A: Message boards can be great, and there are many posts to be found from the past 20 to 30 years. Personally, I tend to spend more time now on specialized Facebook groups. They’re typically more active than some of the older message boards and often you’ll find a specialist who can answer your questions. That said, you can read more about message boards and find a few links at this somewhat dated FamilySearch blog post:
FamilySearch Blog: Collaboration: Message Boards and Forums
Q: Any suggestions for retracing a soldier’s movements in WWII?
A: For information on an individual soldier, you can visit the National Archives (NARA) website and request records from the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis. You can read more on the NARA site below, but currently they say, “Please refrain from submitting non-emergency requests…until we return to pre-COVID staffing levels.”
Q: Is the National Archives on Sand Point Way still open and available for Census research?
A: According to the site, the National Archives at Seattle (located on Sand Point Way) site, they are currently closed: “The Research Room at the National Archives at Seattle, remains closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic….” They have microfilm of the U.S. Federal Census from 1790 to 1940, and likely also have access to Census records through subscription databases such as Ancestry.com. NARA has partnered with Ancestry and other to help digitize materials in their collections. For more information on the National Archives at Seattle (Sand Point Way), take a look at their website:
Q: I paid for Ancestry this year. Will I have to begin with a new tree again when I shift over to Ancestry Library?
A: Your family tree and your login will remain even after you stop paying for a subscription. You can continue to add to your tree at Ancestry with your unpaid account, but you’ll no longer have the ability to automatically add linked records to your tree from Ancestry search results. If you make your tree public and searchable, you’ll be able to access it via Ancestry Library Edition, but you won’t be able to edit it there. Ancestry Library Edition will only give you access to the content of Ancestry databases, rather than tree building, messaging, etc.
Q: Are most of the in-library resources limited to the downtown main branch? What are the major library resources that are available online from home? Are any genealogy materials available for check-out?
A: The genealogy collection at The Seattle Public Library is available on the 9th floor of the Central Library. While it’s largely a reference collection to be used at the Central Library, we do have a large collection of genealogy handbooks / guides that are available to check out. Also, we’re happy to do lookups in our materials and scan selected pages to send via email. If that doesn’t get you what you need, we will lend some family histories (call # 929.2) and local histories (call # 974-979) for reference use at your local branch. If the requested items are scarce, in poor condition, part of a multi-volume set, or unlikely to travel well, we’ll let you know the book is not available for loan.
Q: Would Daughters of the American Revolution be a possible resource? My grandmother was a member of the DAR but I don’t currently have any records.
A: The DAR Library in Washington, D.C. has a large collection of genealogy materials and they also have copies of member applications. If you don’t have copies of your grandmother’s records and research, it’s worth requesting a copy of her application and supporting materials. If you’re interested in joining the DAR, you might also contact a local chapter to see if they can help. I believe state regents and/or registrars at DAR have digital access to member applications. You’ll find additional details on their website: https://www.dar.org/library
Thank you, Mahina and John, for taking the time to offer additional expertise!
On a Wednesday afternoon in March, Siman Nuurali, the Somali-American author of “Sadiq and the Desert Star,” spoke openly with roughly 50 kids about what it’s like to come from an immigrant family.
“I don’t want Somali kids to feel they have to choose an identity – being Somali or being American, like they’re two different things,” Nuurali said.
Of her main character, Sadiq, she added, “The life he has at home is the same life he has at school and with his friends. I wanted Somali kids to see themselves in the book.”
Such representations were an intentional feature of this year’s Global Reading Challenge, which presented Seattle’s fourth- and fifth-grade public school students with seven books to read for the citywide trivia contest, all of which were written by Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) authors.
But Global Reading Librarian Jenny Craig and Interim K-5 Program Manager Ayan Adem also wanted to reach more of the kids reflected in these books.
In partnership with Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) and East African Community Services, the Library hosted three virtual talks with Global Reading Challenge authors throughout March. The intent was to increase access to the program and reach youth furthest away from educational justice. Expertise from SHA staff led the guidance on the program design and marketing, fulfilling the Library’s goals of delivering services by centering equity and community input.
“We really relied on their direction on how to engage families,” Craig said of the community partners. “And it was really effective.”
The author talks were promoted to families in the High Point, Lake City Court, NewHolly, Rainier Vista, and Yesler Terrace locations of SHA, as well as families that receive tutoring and support from East African Community Services.
According to the Library, about 62 percent of Seattle Housing Authority residents identify as Black or African – with Somali being one of the more frequently spoken languages – making for an audience that could see itself represented in authors like Nuurali.
The talks were hosted and moderated by paid teen interns – all of whom are also SHA residents – who were trained to present the program to the audience of younger kids.
Nuurali read chapters from two of her eight books in her Sadiq series and tackled questions from the kids.
Because of her experience as a Somali-American, much of the discussion centered on racial and cultural representation in children’s literature.
“I had not seen a book where main characters and supporting characters are all Somali,” Nuurali said of her childhood, adding that she wanted to reflect her five children in her books. “I wanted them to know they were present and they were seen.”
A teen moderator, eighth-grader Japhia of Aki Kurose Middle School, chimed in that people of color in media are typically comic relief side kicks or characters carrying heavy burdens.
“There’s this person of color and that person is always hurt or has a terrible background,” she said to Nuurali, thanking her for instead writing about everyday BIPOC experiences.
Nuurali also shared her favorite author – J.R.R. Tolkien – and shared her advice on writing.
“Whatever is important to you, whatever is valuable to you, what ever is true to you, that’s what you write about,” she said, adding, “Literally just write!”
Additionally, the Library worked through SHA to distribute Global Reading Challenge books – and other promotional Library materials – to about 800 fourth- and fifth-graders, allowing them to own two of the three books discussed in the author talk series.
“This partnership was very unique in the sense that this was the first time we were able to partner with SHA (locations) throughout the city,” Adem said. “That’s really, really special.”
Typically, the Global Reading Challenge engages thousands of students across Seattle Public Schools in a citywide trivia competition based on selected books, culminating in a final contest at Central Library. This year, the Library selected seven books to read and contests occurred online, only at the individual school level.
Adem and Craig estimate the virtual author talks reached more than 165 youth and families, with more to come when the events are ultimately posted to the Library’s YouTube page for kids.
“What we saw was joy, what we saw was connection, and it was because of our intentionality from the very beginning that we were able to have such a joyful program,” Adem said.
Donors to the Foundation supported the purchase and distribution of the books, the stipends for the teens, and the operation of the Global Reading Challenge program. We’re proud to celebrate 25 years of the Global Reading Challenge’s impact on fostering early reading habits and thank the Mannix Canby Foundation for being early and longtime investors in the program.
The Seattle Public Library Foundation will join more than 350 library systems across North America to celebrate Library Giving Day, a national online giving event focused on library philanthropy.
Libraries continue to provide essential services our neighbors rely on, including curbside check-outs and printing, eBooks, job search assistance, online tutoring, and mobile book delivery. The Seattle Public Library has transformed the way it hosts educational classes and inspirational programs to enrich our community and entertain people of all ages.
And you can help!
Your gift can be put to work now to meet soaring eBook demand, help people build skills through online programs, and provide books to children to develop early literacy skills.
And now is a great time to give because every gift to The Seattle Public Library Foundation will be doubled up to $25,000, thanks to a generous donor. We’re also adding new match sponsors weekly.
The Seattle Public Library Foundation can help you plan ahead.
As spring approaches, here’s one more item you can check off your to-do list: creating a will.
If this is something that you’ve been putting off, you’re not alone. Nearly 70% of American adults don’t have an estate plan in place. Did you know there’s a simple, cost-free way for you to create one in just 20 minutes?
We invite you try FreeWill, a free will-writing tool sponsored by The Seattle Public Library Foundation that helps you plan for your family and your favorite charities alike.
The collection is composed of photos, community newsletter, and leaflets documenting local African-American history. In the last few months, Joe Bopp, Special Collections librarian, has scanned more than 240 pages, allowing material to be readily accessible on any digital device.
“It runs the full gamut of civil rights to community celebrations,” Bopp says.
Included are materials dating back to the 1950s, photos from Northern Lights Neon Naturals events – hosted by the Library to feature Black women performing and lecturing for the public in the early ‘80s – and a poster for the first known citywide Juneteenth celebration at Seattle Center in 1980. And Bopp has only scanned about 10 percent of the Library’s collection so far, with the intent of digitizing the entire trove over time.
The African-American collection occupies a unique place at the Library, having been officially launched with a donation of books by the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. to the Douglass-Truth Branch (formerly known as Yesler) in 1965. Located in the heart of Seattle’s historically Black neighborhood, Douglass-Truth has housed the African-American Collection ever since. It has since grown to include the historic materials scanned in recent months, contributed by members of the community throughout the decades.
“It’s a reflection of the public’s trust in The Seattle Public Library as a historic repository for their culture and history,” Bopp says.
BHS also collects and preserves items from Washington’s Black history. Johnson-Toliver herself is a fourth-generation Seattleite whose great-grandparents migrated here from Mississippi and New Orleans. Preservation and digitization work often face barriers in funding and labor, she says – obstacles also reflected at the Library.
Johnson-Toliver says that BHS and the Library share a special relationship. BHS puts on an annual Black history display at Douglass-Truth every Black History Month – the display from February 2020 is still there, she says, noting that the pandemic shut down branches before they could disassemble the exhibit.
Additionally, BHS is working with King County Metro to add historical information to eight bus stops along the 23rd Avenue corridor in the Central District, including information about the history of the Douglass-Truth Branch at the bus stop across the street.
Local Black history is in high demand from area teachers and students, Johnson-Toliver says.
Bopp agrees, adding that the newly scanned items will show researchers that many of the issues debated today – policing, gentrification, and housing affordability to name a few – are “nothing new” and have been discussed for generations.
“When people come across this material, they are going to find a lot of conversations, celebrations, and issues within the greater Seattle community that are very relevant to conversations that we’re having today,” he says.
This digitization work is made possible in part by donors to the Foundation.
The Foundation expresses its gratitude to the members of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Delta Upsilon Omega Chapter and the Dynamic Urban Opportunities Foundation for their unwavering support helping build the African-American Collection at The Seattle Public Library.
The Board and staff of The Seattle Public Library Foundation wish to thank outgoing Chief Librarian and Executive Director, Marcellus Turner, for his nearly 10 years of admirable leadership at The Seattle Public Library.
Turner, known to most at the Library and Foundation as “MT,” will leave his post March 31 to become CEO and Chief Librarian of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library in Charlotte, N.C.
“MT’s love of community, fervent belief in libraries’ power, and vision of libraries of the future have inspired us during a pivotal 10 years for The Seattle Public Library,” said Pat Walker, Board President of The Seattle Public Library Foundation. “We are thrilled for the new chapter in his career and wish him the very best.”
During his tenure in Seattle, Turner and the Foundation have partnered in securing two successful Library levy measures to increase the Library’s capacity to meet the community’s needs. The Library and Foundation have also collaborated on addressing the “digital gap” by building up the Library’s Wi-Fi Hotspot lending program, steering the Library through the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and deploying the equity-based programs and services that secured the Library its 2020 Library of the Year recognition from Gale/Library Journal.
“We have shared a wonderful journey with MT making The Seattle Public Library the best it can be for our community,” said Jonna Ward, CEO of the Foundation. “We at the Foundation have been proud to support his vision of a library that centers equity in its service delivery and continually innovates to meet emerging challenges in our city.”
The Foundation will host a virtual donor reception with MT at 10:30 a.m. March 24. An invitation will follow.
The Seattle Public Library announced that Executive Director and Chief Librarian Marcellus Turner, who has led the Library since 2011, is accepting a new post as Chief Executive Officer and Chief Librarian for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library in Charlotte, N.C.
“I am so grateful and proud to have led a passionate and creative team of people at The Seattle Public Library who deliver library services to one of the greatest cities of literature in the world,” said Turner. “I am confident the Library – with its dedicated board, strong leadership, committed staff and community support – will make a smooth transition, and I personally can’t wait to see how that unfolds. Thank you, Seattle, for the opportunity to be a part of your story.”
In a statement, The Seattle Public Library Board of Trustees president Jay Reich praised Turner’s leadership and accomplishments during his nearly 10 years of service, which he says leaves the Library in an ideal position to make the transition.
“While the Library Board of Trustees is very sad to see Chief Librarian Turner leave, his leadership has created a foundation of excellence that I know will sustain us through this transition and beyond,” said Reich. “Under his watch, the Library has earned national recognition and has underscored and reinforced its commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion. He leaves the Library well prepared for continued success. We wish him well in his new role.”
Customers of The Station coffee shop on Beacon Hill can now grab a free story to read with their cup of joe.
The Seattle Public Library’s first short-story dispenser, produced by French publishing company Short Édition and supported by donors to the Foundation, was installed at the café near the Beacon Hill light rail station in December.
Users can choose between a 1-minute, 3-minute, or 5-minute story by waving their hands over the buttons, producing a free story on eco-friendly BPA-free paper in a contact-free experience.
“As a beloved community space in the heart of Beacon Hill, The Station is the perfect location to test-drive this new way of connecting people to literature,” says Andrew Harbison, the Library’s assistant director of Collections and Access. “We hope that it will introduce an element of surprise and delight in Seattle residents’ days during this difficult time and remind them of the Library’s role in bringing literature to the community.”
The Library aims to move the short-story dispenser to different locations throughout the city over time in areas where a bit of literature can inspire and entertain. More than 300 machines are installed throughout the world in places such as airports, train stations, and museums. The one at The Station is the first in Washington state.
“We are excited to share stories with our community,” says Luis Rodriguez, co-owner of The Station. “Every human has a story, my community is my book, and every day is a new chapter. We are all a poem in the making.”
The Station is a well-known community hub in the heart of North Beacon Hill, at 1600 S. Roberto Maestas Festival St., near El Centro de la Raza and right off popular bus and light rail stops.
The kiosk now generates contemporary and classic adult fiction, but the Library may change or add genres to fit its various locations. Writers can also submit their own stories for consideration at Short Édition.
“At a time when we are more isolated, finding stories and creative expression in unexpected places can help connect us,” says Jonna Ward, CEO of the Foundation.
The short-story dispenser isn’t the only way Library lovers can find literary delight on demand – anyone can find new stories by calling the Library’s Lit Line, which launched last summer, or seek new book recommendations with Your Next 5 Books.
Growing up in Tracyton, Wash. on the Kitsap Peninsula, going to the library was a way of life for Jody Crow.
“In our community, everyone I knew went to the library,” she says. “It was kind of life, I guess.”
Back then, the library was in an out building at a local Methodist church, then moved to a space in the volunteer fire station just a block from her house.
“If you needed to know something, you went to the library,” Jody says.
As a teen, Jody worked at the Tracyton library as a page and a cleaner to earn extra money. Jody spent her career in the fashion industry, which has taken her across the world – first as a patternmaker and then as a project manager.
Today, she’s a 23-year donor to The Seattle Public Library Foundation with her partner, Lisa Johnsen, and a volunteer project manager for the Foundation’s Stim Bullitt Civic Courage Scholarship.
Jody uses her organizational skills to shepherd the Foundation’s launch and operation of the scholarship that awards $10,000 in tuition aid to students each year. The 2021 contest will be her third year assisting the Foundation with this effort.
The Stim Bullitt essay contest challenges students to write about a figure or group in Washington state history who ushered in positive societal change at personal or political risk. Three winners each year not only win scholarship money, but have their essays cataloged in the Library’s Seattle Room.
This isn’t Jody’s first time helping award scholarships to the leaders of the future – she had also served on the scholarship committee for the Seattle chapter of the Fashion Group International.
“In so many cases a scholarship can get you over that edge so you can actually go (to college),” she says. “For the effort we put in to make it happen, it can change a life.”
The Foundation extends its gratitude to Jody for her ardent support of the Library and her part in securing access to a college education for Seattle’s youth.
“I think the youth of our country are the providers of a lot of hope these days,” she says.
If you are interested in volunteering for the Foundation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We have occasional opportunities for special events, donor stewardship, administrative needs, and project support.