From Interim Chief Librarian Tom Fay

Posted October 15, 2021 

Interim Chief Librarian Tom Fay
Interim Chief Librarian Tom Fay

Dear patrons,

Hello and happy fall from The Seattle Public Library! With schools back open for in-person learning and all Seattle libraries once again open to the public, we’re feeling optimistic that our community is turning a corner with the COVID-19 health crisis. While the challenges are not yet behind us, we’ve got much to be thankful for this fall and much to look forward to.

Reopening all libraries: Have you had a chance to visit your local library since they reopened? Yes, with the reopening of the NewHolly Branch on Oct. 13, every branch of our system is now reopened to the public. We’ve seen many families loading up on books and people visiting our spaces to work remotely, to study or read, to use our computers and Wi-Fi to stay connected, or to simply spend time in a comfortable and welcoming space. While we are not yet open as many hours as we were before the pandemic, we have good news there, too…

Restoring funding and expanding hours: If passed by City Council, Mayor Durkan’s proposed 2022 Budget will restore Library funding, allowing us to return to full pre-pandemic service hours. In 2021, budget reductions were made citywide, including $5.8 million from the Library’s budget, due to COVID-19 impacts on City revenues. The proposed 2022 Budget fully restores the $5.8 million reduction using $5.1 million from the City’s General Fund and $700,000 of accumulated salary savings in 2021. This restored funding and return to pre-pandemic service hours will position us well to keep our Library Levy promise of adding even more hours in 2022.  

Surveying the community about open hours: As we assess how best to expand our open hours, we are reaching out to the community to learn about your current needs. Be sure to take our short survey to let us know what you’re hoping for with expanded Library open hours:

Delivering new programs and services: We continue to deliver new offerings for our patrons. Most recently, this includes auto-renewal of materials and great new virtual programming, including the Radical Self-Acceptance series and What the World Needs Now: A Dreamathon. We’re piloting a pickup locker at the High Point and Rainier Beach branches, which will allow patrons the opportunity to pick up their holds 24-7. And we are also growing the scope of our Shelf Talk blog to share more updates with you more often.

Staying committed to health and safety: With cold and flu season around the corner, we continue to stay diligent about our health and safety practices. Masks remain a requirement for anyone in Library buildings, and Library staff continue to maintain physical distance and participate in daily health screenings. The health of our staff, our patrons and our city are important to us. We appreciate everyone doing their part to keep our community safe by following these COVID-19 safety measures. 

With restored funding, increased staffing and expanded hours on the horizon, we’re excited about the future. As always, we look forward to seeing you at the Library.


Tom Fay
Interim Chief Librarian
The Seattle Public Library