News & Stories

Meet the winners of the 2019 Stim Bullitt Civic Courage Scholarship

A panel of distinguished authors have selected the three winners of the 2019 Stim Bullitt Civic Courage Scholarship.

Ruth Tedla, Kristin Hong and Alex Huynh have each earned tuition support from this scholarship fund with their essays about local civic leaders.

Now wrapping up its sixth year, the scholarship honors the legacy of the late Library supporter, community leader, and activist Stimson Bullitt, who believed that courageous civic leadership could transform lives for generations. The scholarship contest challenges local high school and college students to write an essay about an individual or group of individuals from Washington state who demonstrated civic courage on an issue of importance to the community at great personal, political, or professional risk.

Each year, $10,000 is divided among three outstanding students and their essays are permanently cataloged in The Seattle Public Library’s Seattle Room.

We extend special thanks to our local authors who judged the essays: Jon Krakauer, Jonathan Raban, and Paula Becker.

This year’s three winning essays illustrated the accomplishments of the Gang of Four, a group of activists who fought for social justice and education for racial minorities in Seattle; Rep. Pramila Jayapal, an immigration activist who launched a nonprofit immigrant rights organization and was elected to represent Seattle in Congress; and Akiko Kurose, a Japanese-American teacher who used the lessons of her own internment during World War II to promote peace and education.

Congratulations to our winners!

Ruth Tedla
Shorewood High School
Entering George Washington University
$5,000 scholarship
“The Gang of Four”





Kristin Hong
Hazen High School
Entering University of Washington
$2,500 scholarship
“We are OneAmerica: Pramila Jayapal and the Protection of Immigrant Rights”




Alex Huynh
Garfield High School
Entering University of Washington
$2,500 scholarship
“The Island Amidst the Storm: The Story of Akiko Kurose”

‘Palaces for the People’ frames libraries as vital civic hubs

Penguin Random House

Foundation donor and Legacy Society member Janet Daggatt writes book reviews that are often published in The Readers Exchange. Recently, she read and weighed in on a recent favorite of The Seattle Public Library Foundation’s CEO, Jonna Ward: ‘Palaces for the People’ by Eric Klinenburg.

233 pages, Crown Publishing, 2018.

In July 1995, Chicago suffered a devastating heatwave, killing 739 people. In short order, questions arose and a team was formed to investigate the disaster and to see how future disasters might be avoided.

Janet Daggatt / Photo by Michael B. Maine

Women fared better than men. People living alone, particularly the elderly, fared badly. Latinos fared best of all, and that seemed because, even though they lived largely in crowded tenements without air conditioning, dying alone was seemingly impossible and that single feature proved most important. Three neighborhoods were particularly interesting in this study. These three with the lowest death rate were poor, violent, and primarily Latino. It’s hard to believe, but these same neighborhoods fared better than the affluent ones!

So, how? As ‘Palaces for the People’ points out, these three neighborhoods had a strong societal infrastructure: playgrounds, restaurants and bars, stores, and most importantly, a library. These were all places for neighbors to meet, socialize, and bond, but the library stood out as the only place attracting all age groups, and it is free.

This study expanded to other large cities around the world that had survived a disaster with an eye for similar patterns. In each case, the results were the same: Residents living in cities with a strong social infrastructure, including a library, fared the best. If infrastructure is this important, with libraries the cornerstone, it stands to reason that libraries should be maintained and continue to offer their free services that include not just loaning books – the original service – but the special section for infants and children, computers, help for those learning a second language, plus their ongoing programs and lectures. It’s an institution that offers plenty of time for learning, and recreation while developing friendships. If Palaces for the People has credibility, the need for maintaining libraries is obvious.

Between 1883 and 1929, Andrew Carnegie endowed 2,811 libraries. All would gradually need financial help to continue to provide the free and expanding services. This book is not a large one, but it certainly provides an inviolate case for widespread need for libraries.

If you review books and would like to submit a review for eNews consideration, please send it to We look forward to reading your thoughts!

Thanks to supporters like you, South Park Branch sports new look!

The view from the entrance of the South Park branch shows more open space and light than before the redesign.

Paulina’s three children counted down the days until the South Park Branch of The Seattle Public Library reopened June 10.

Living just a block from the branch, the South Park library is a near-daily part of her family’s routine. She goes there to get some work done while her kids read books and use the computers.

The branch was closed for eight weeks while undergoing a makeover, with financial support from donors to The Seattle Public Library Foundation, the 2012 levy approved by voters, and REET (real estate excise tax) funds. What had been a difficult space for the small branch to host its popular community events turned into a brighter, more open space with greater flexibility to adapt to the community’s needs.

“I think the Library looks more open, more beautiful,” Paulina says. “I like the new colors. It looks bigger.”

The welcome desk pops with bright colors.

A re-opening celebration will take place at the branch from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, July 21, as part of a community celebration complete with speakers, booths and activities for all ages.

To the left of the front entrance is an updated kids’ area with new furniture and a bright green bamboo motif painted on the wall. Ahead is a teen area, likewise furnished with new seating and a bold paint job. Imposing shelves throughout the building are replaced with movable shelves and comfortable seating areas with plenty of outlets for charging electronics.

“We really increased all of our seating capabilities,” says Lupine Miller, supervising librarian of the South Park branch.

The teen space features a fingerprint design on the wall and modern, comfortable seating.

The mobility of the shelves lets Library staff carve out unique spaces suited to each event hosted at the branch. Previously, popular programs for Dia de los Niños, Summer of Learning, and Dia de los Muertos attracted crowds that were crammed into the tight space, Miller says.

“It’s lovely,” she adds of her impression of the space. “It just feels a lot lighter. There’s just more of a flow.”

A regular patron named Israel worked at a computer last week, where the computer stations were turned from closed-off cubicles to a more open configuration in which everyone can see each other.

He said he likes the branch’s updates and is happy to visit again after spending two months visiting libraries farther from his home.

While the branch was closed, the nearby community center hosted Story Times and the Bookmobile to fill the void – activities that Paulina says she brought her children to attend while they waited for the library to open again.

The children’s room offers more flexibility for popular community events.

“This neighborhood doesn’t have a lot of other options,” Miller says of South Park’s amenities.

But as soon as the branch re-opened, people returned to read books, send faxes, and, for some children, try out every new seat in the building.

“People were really happy when we opened back up,” Miller says.

In 2019, the Foundation committed $250,000 for capital improvements at branch libraries, an initiative known as “Reimagined Spaces.” The effort uses cost-effective and efficient strategies to update a branch location with minimal disruption to the communities they serve.

The South Park Branch is located at 8604 Eighth Avenue South.

Summer of Learning nudges kids outside to ‘Explore Your World’

Children’s and teen librarians attended Bug Safari training in the spring at Woodland Park Zoo in preparation for leading Summer of Learning excursions. Photo by Amy Twito

In a world where kids can access infinite entertainment on screens large and small, The Seattle Public Library’s 100th anniversary Summer of Learning program asks Seattle’s youth to perform one seemingly simple task: look at the bugs.

The theme of this year’s Foundation-supported Summer of Learning program, which kicked off June 24, is “Explore Your World,” and programs will direct children and teens to use their power of observation to connect with nature.

And bugs are easy and plentiful critters that anyone can study, no matter where they live.

“Bugs are everywhere,” children’s librarian Jennifer Werner says. “They’re accessible. They’re a good tool to help kids interact with nature in a safe way.”

Children’s and teen librarians were trained at Woodland Park Zoo this spring to lead a program called Bug Safari, which engages youth in a process known as community-led science. Members of the public log their observations of plant and animal species wherever they are and add them to a global database that laymen and scientists can both learn from.

This summer, librarians will lead Bug Safari excursions throughout the city to teach children about scientific observation and show them that anyone can be a scientist.

Children’s librarian Beatriz “Miss Bea” Pascual-Wallace pets a Madagascar hissing cockroach as part of her Bug Safari training for Summer of Learning. Photo by Amy Twito

The Seattle Public Library and Woodland Park Zoo partner with the California Academy of Sciences to offer this hands-on learning experience.

“It’s having kids slow down and take in the world around them,” says Werner, who has undergone Bug Safari training and will lead some of the programs this summer. “It’s empowering kids to see that science is an accessible field and a desirable field to go into.”

The Summer of Learning activity guide, now available at all branch libraries, incentivizes children not just to read, but to fill out a “backyard bingo” with natural sightings, try cooking and eating certain bugs, and take detailed notes of the bugs they encounter.

Kids and teens who meet their reading goals can be entered to win a family membership to the newly revamped Burke Museum. Additionally, all Summer of Learning participants can turn in their completed Early Learner’s flier, Summer Action Guide, or Teen Book Bingo card to the Burke Museum for two free passes when it re-opens in November.

Check out The Seattle Public Library’s year-round museum pass program here.

Most importantly, Summer of Learning aims to combat summer learning loss and keep students prepared for the next grade level.

The Summer of Learning is one of the signature programs sponsored by The Seattle Public Library Foundation. Last year, more than 46,000 children and family members were engaged in the program. For more about Summer of Learning and all of its events, check out The Seattle Public Library’s page.

Also check out Seattle Public Library’s short video on this year’s theme:

‘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.