From Chief Librarian Tom Fay

Posted October 14, 2022

Chief Librarian Tom Fay
Chief Librarian Tom Fay

Happy fall from The Seattle Public Library (though September and October have felt a bit like extended summer)! This time of year, our days get a bit shorter and temperatures get a bit lower, which makes it a great time to go inside your local library and rediscover all it has to offer.

This fall, we invite you to join us for programs of interest to many audiences. Some of these are new at the Library and some are long-time favorites returning in person for the first time since the pandemic:

  • Homework Help: Homework Help, our after-school tutoring program for K-12 students is available in person once again at the Columbia, Douglass-Truth, High Point, Lake City, NewHolly and Rainier Beach branches. We expect to add more branches in 2023. We also offer live virtual tutoring through Tutor.com, offered seven days a week in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.

  • Seattle Reads: Seattle Reads, our popular citywide book club, invites Seattle residents to read this year’s selection, “The House of Broken Angels,” by Luis Alberto Urrea. Copies of the book are available at your local branch. Urrea will be speaking at an in-person, Spanish-language event on Wednesday, Oct. 19, at the Centilia Cultural Center and at two in-person, English-language events on Thursday, Oct. 20, at the Central Library and the Lake City Branch. Get to know the author by checking out our Q&A with Urrea on our Shelf Talk blog.

  • Southwest Arts Showcase: Each year, we display artistic works by local artists in a variety of media at the Southwest Branch. This showcase is a free, non-juried exhibit you can browse at any time during open hours at the Southwest Branch through Sunday, Oct. 30.

  • Día de los Muertos / Day of The Dead: At the South Park Branch, this Thursday, Oct. 20, from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., kids and families can “Make A Nicho,” a decorative altar box that can be designed using a variety of art supplies, photos of loved ones, etc.

  • Civic Coffee Hour for older adults: Civic coffee is a monthly discussion space for older adults. This month, we are discussing World Food Day on Thursday, Oct. 20, from 10:30 a.m. to noon This event will be held in person at Neighborhood House High Point Center and streamed online.

When you visit your local library, don’t forget to browse our current collection of Peak Picks. This is the Library’s “no holds, no wait” collection of popular fiction and non-fiction titles, available to borrow for two weeks at a time. There is a Peak Picks display at every branch!

We also continue to provide virtual programming of interest to many, including:

All of these programs and more can be found on our calendar at www.spl.org/Calendar.

I’m also happy to share we’ve begun restoring hours at branches with reduced summer hours, including the Ballard, Capitol Hill, Douglass-Truth, Madrona-Sally Goldmark, Montlake and Rainier Beach branches. We were also able to increase access to the Central Library’s non-fiction Book Spiral on Levels 6 through 9, as well as the Level 10 Betty Jane Narver Reading Room. These floors are now open Sundays through Thursdays during Central Library open hours.

We will restore hours to more locations as staffing levels allow. In 2023, we will also work to begin fulfilling our 2019 Library Levy promise of expanding open hours across the system, which was delayed due to the pandemic. Earlier this year, we conducted a survey to learn how the pandemic changed patron needs related to Library hours, and those results will help guide our hours expansion.

Lastly, we know the pandemic has changed our community and our work as a public library. To better understand those changes and how we can best respond, I have hosted Community Conversations at neighborhood branches, including Greenwood, High Point and Rainier Beach. The last Community Conversation this year will be at the Lake City Branch on Tuesday, Oct. 25, from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Look for more in 2023 and help shape the Library’s long-term strategic planning.

I always appreciate hearing your comments and ideas about current and future Library services. If you would like to share these online, you can visit our Community Conversation page.

See you at the Library this fall!

Tom Fay

Executive Director and Chief Librarian

The Seattle Public Library