News & Stories

Microsoft Grants New Software Licenses to the Library

In 2016, Microsoft made a generous donation of computer software licenses to the Library through The Seattle Public Library Foundation. The grant will allow the 625 public computers throughout the Library to be upgraded to Windows 10 and Office 2016. It will also improve the Library’s internal computer operations, making its systems faster, more stable, and more secure.

Use of the Library’s public computers is projected to reach more than 1.2 million sessions in 2017. With these upgrades, patrons will be able to learn and use the full functionality of Microsoft computers and the latest Office products — skills that are necessary to be part of today’s workforce.
Our thanks to Microsoft for this amazing gift that will empower so many people in our community!

You Make the Gift, We Send the Card!

card and notebookThe Seattle Public Library Foundation offers you an easy way for share your love for books and lifelong learning by making a contribution to the Library in honor of a friend or loved one. It’s a great gift that will warm the heart of someone dear to you and help make the Library a richer resource for everyone in our community.

Simply use our safe and secure online form to make your tribute gifts. We’ll send a personalized holiday card acknowledging your thoughtful donation to each recipient. Make a donation of $100 or more per recipient and we’ll send them a card plus a matching pocket notebook, perfect for keeping track of books read and titles you want to read next!

Cards and notebooks will be mailed in mid-December unless otherwise requested.

New Community Resource Specialist

Like most urban public libraries, The Seattle Public Library serves a number of patrons whose needs go beyond books and materials.  Our Library staff are trained to provide excellent reference and customer service, but are not thoroughly knowledgeable about the wide array of social service agencies that can help patrons with complex needs related to housing, employment, legal matters, financial literacy, immigration, health and mental health care, and substance abuse.

To address the need for information about social services and provide meaningful support to our patrons and staff, the Foundation is funding a two-year pilot project to place a Community Resource Specialist at the Central Library.  In order to find an individual with the right experience for the job, the Library contracted with the Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC), one of the community’s largest and most respected agencies serving vulnerable populations.

Hallie Cronos, a DESC employee, currently works 30 hours a week at the Central Library meeting with patrons who need help with basic services, housing, health care, and employment.  She keeps regular office hours on Level 5 and provides referrals to patrons dealing with personal challenges.  She also works with Library staff and security staff to create a safe and comfortable atmosphere throughout the building.

Since beginning work at Central in April, Hallie has assisted more than 200 patrons, providing them with information and referrals that helped them move forward with their lives.

Library To Business


Though there are many organizations that can help people succeed in business, most don’t offer the Library’s information access and expertise.  Business information is critical to entrepreneurial success, but it can be expensive and it can be difficult to find.

Whether you’re a new entrepreneur, an experienced business owner, or managing a company, the Library has services that can help you succeed. And, it’s generous donations to the Foundation that make this program possible!

Specially trained librarians can help you conduct research and find the right resources for your business. Contact the Library and learn how to:

  • Size up your industry
  • Discover customer demographics
  • Find information about markets
  • Improve your business skills
  • Find referrals to other business assistance organizations

You can even schedule a one-on-one appointment with the librarians. Call the Library at 206-386-4636 or reach them online through the Ask a business question form.


Buying Books is a Balancing Act

Building a library collection used to be a lot easier. You just bought books. But today, creating a library collection that meets the needs and preferences of a tech-savvy community like Seattle is a real balancing act. Many popular titles are purchased across many formats in order to maintain broad access and appeal for our diverse community of readers. For example, when Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air became a runaway bestseller, the Library purchased many copies of regular print and large print books, audiobooks on CD, e-books, and e-audiobooks.

Story of a title across formats

Each of these formats had different price points and rates of use. Due to licensing terms, e-books and e-audiobooks are three or four times more expensive, per item, compared to other formats. This disproportionate cost is represented above, as percentages of total cost and total circulation.

E-books and e-audiobooks are the fastest growing formats in terms of demand at The Seattle Public Library. So as we celebrate the increased use of e-content and the way it expands our reading culture, we also experience budgetary challenges purchasing enough copies across formats.

In addition, readers increasingly use more than one format to fit their lifestyles. For example, someone might check out a print book to read at home and the same e-book to read on the bus. Even though it’s costly, the Library’s ability to meet the community’s interests and preferences with e-content is a true success story. To serve one of the country’s most literate and tech-savvy cities, The Seattle Public Library has among the highest e-content circulation per capita in the country.

Your gifts to The Seattle Public Library Foundation play an important part in the collection balancing act, helping us keep our collection robust in all forms and formats. Last year, Foundation donations added $1.1 million to the Library’s collection budget. That’s thousands of books in every form and format for our community to enjoy!

Donor Dollars at Work: Digital Learning Programs at the Library

Juan and kid smileyIn the Library’s new digital learning programs, leading-edge robots and engineering kits are put in the hands of kids in our community who probably would not have the chance to work with them otherwise. Students have a chance to attend workshops to learn how to use the kits after school or during the summer where they problem-solve, troubleshoot, and design projects of their own.

“Kids today are immersed in technology; it’s where their interest is,” says Juan Rubio, The Seattle Public Library’s Digital Media and Learning Program Manager. His mission, part of a two-year pilot project funded by donors to The Seattle Public Library Foundation, is to add a new dimension to the Library’s youth programs.

“The key is giving them access to resources to play with and then linking the learning to academic skills and potential careers. The programs also provide an opportunity to demystify technology and move the kids from mere consumers to creators and producers using technology.”

Workshops with littleBits, Finch robots, game design and even 3-D design and 3-D printing are opening new opportunities for learning at the Library. “These kits and materials are costly and it would be hard for the average family to afford one,” says Juan. “By making these resources available in our libraries we can give kids the chance to have hands-on experience with design and engineering.”

Juan’s work is one more example of how donors to The Seattle Public Library Foundation are helping the Library go beyond books to bring exciting learning experiences to children in our community.

2016 Stim Bullitt Civic Courage Scholarship Winners

The Seattle Public Library Foundation congratulates Ellis Simani, Luisa Moreno, and Sarah Tocher, recipients of the 2016 Stim Bullitt Civic Courage scholarship.


Ellis Simani, age 20 – $5,000 scholarship

“In Search of a Home: The Fight for Open Housing in Seattle”

Ellis grew up in Seattle’s Rainier Valley neighborhood using the Columbia City Branch. He attended the Lakeside School and will graduate from Claremont McKenna College in 2017.








Luisa Moreno, age 18 – $2,500 scholarship

“The Four Amigos: Uniting Cultures and Crossing Boundaries”

Luisa uses the Green Lake Branch and graduated from Roosevelt High School. She is attending the University of Washington as a freshman in 2016.









Sarah Tocher, age 18 – $2,500 scholarship

“A Legacy of Justice”

Sarah uses the Green Lake Branch and graduated from Holy Names Academy. She is attending Claremont McKenna College as a freshman in 2016.






The Seattle Public Library Foundation thanks all the students who submitted essays. Thanks also goes to the many volunteers who helped us read and judge the essays submitted.

Karen Joy Fowler Shares Her Seattle Reads Story

Karen Joy Fowler
Karen Joy Fowler shows off tiny dinosaurs, with tiny copies of her books in hand and mouth, at the West Seattle Branch. (Photo Credit: Katrina Shelby Photography)

The very first reading I did on my very first tour with my very first novel was at the beautiful Elliott Bay bookstore in Seattle.  My editor flew in from New York City to support me.  At her urging, I had my very first crème brulee.  (What more could you ask for in an editor?)  I fell in love with the city, but was warned that it was already full to bursting with Californians.    The year was 1991.

So when I learned that my sixth novel, We are all completely beside ourselves, had been selected for the storied Seattle Reads program – brainchild of superheroes, Nancy Pearl and Chris Higashi – I saw something in my life that I seldom see.  I saw Return and Renewal.  I saw Plot.

Nancy Pearl is a longtime heroine of mine.  Chris Higashi has been newly added to that list.  At night when I can’t sleep because of the endless presidential election, I try to tell myself that things can never go too horribly wrong with women like this in the world.

Because Chris was still recovering from a serious fall, I was given into the care of librarians, Linda Jones and Andrea Gough.  No one takes better care of you than a librarian.  You are always returned in mint condition and in good time.

My three days in Seattle were packed.  I spoke at six branches – Northeast, Beacon Hill, Capitol Hill, West Seattle, Queen Anne, and the Central library, and each event was as pleasant as the last.  I love doing Q and A and these events were mostly that.  I was asked about my attachment to science fiction, my work on the Tiptree Award, my personal history with animals, my daily routine (I need a better daily routine, if only to have a better answer to that question), my research methods, and my vocabulary.  I was asked what I really thought of psychologists?  I was asked what I really thought of science?  (For the record, I am pro both of those.)  Special thanks to the West Seattle Branch where my book was also apparently chosen for their Dinosaurs Read program and two plastic dinosaurs appeared, tiny copies of my book in their tiny hands.  When my own extinction event arrives, I hope I am reading a novel.

The Book-It Repertory Theatre production of We are all completely beside ourselves was a once-in-a-lifetime thrill.  The cast was wonderful and the young woman who played my Rosemary a stand-out.  Bryan Burch’s adaption did a wonderful job compressing and illuminating the piece, as did Kelly Kitchen’s direction.  I was a bit embarrassed to find myself in tears during a couple of the speeches.  Poor Fern!  Exiled from her family!

One of the unexpected advantages of being a writer has been how often I find myself in the company of the bookish, who are the best sort of people.  Seattle has uncommonly beautiful libraries and uncommonly beautiful librarians and uncommonly beautiful patrons and writers and readers.  All this and also Elliott Bay Bookstore.  To be there is to remember that books matter and that I’m not the only person who thinks so.  Thank you, Seattle, for every minute of it.

Your Next Skill


Librarians at The Seattle Public Library are ready to partner with you in your pursuit of lifelong learning. What new skill would you like to learn? A computer programming language? Cooking a new cuisine? A new craft or hobby? Perhaps a new language? The possibilities are as endless as your curiosity.

Just as librarians can help you find Your Next Five books, they now can help you learn Your Next Skill. All you need to do is fill in an online form letting them know what you would like to learn and how you would like to learn it. Within a few days, librarians will provide you with a personalized learning list with books, videos, websites, and interactive apps. For Seattle-area users they can also recommend in-person classes or workshops.

Check out some of the examples of skills they’ve helped patrons learn. Be one of the first to try out this new Library service, and visit again and again to develop Your Next Skill!

A New Bookmobile Hits the Streets


The Library has rolled out a brand new bookmobile that’s dedicated to serving children throughout the city. The new bookmobile will visit 42 child care facilities and preschools that serve low-income families, providing books to over 2,200 children each month. On the weekends, it will drop by community events and festivals. Your donations to the Foundation made this much-needed purchase possible!

As we celebrate this exciting new road warrior for early literacy, here’s a look back at Bookmobile service in Seattle.

The first bookmobile in Seattle took to the road on May 4, 1931.  Seattle’s first bookmobile delivered library services to schools and neighborhoods that did not have their own branch library. The truck was specially designed with revolving shelves to allow access to books from inside or outside, depending on the weather.

The bookmobile was staffed by a librarian and a driver and could carry 600 books. It ran on five different routes each week. The last stop on Mondays was at Boeing!

Budget cuts in the wake of the Great Depression caused the library to halt bookmobile service in August 1932, and the truck was later sold. Bookmobile service resumed in 1947 and has run continuously in various forms since then.

Today, the Library’s Mobile Services operates a small fleet of vehicles delivering books, movies, music, and more to people across the city who are unable to visit their neighborhood library.  Your gifts to the Foundation help keep this important special service rolling.