From Chief Librarian Marcellus Turner

Posted August 31, 2020

Executive Director and Chief Librarian Marcellus Turner
Executive Director and Chief Librarian Marcellus Turner

Dear patrons,

The other day, a Library patron who was chatting online with one of our Quick Information Service staff members asked the question of our times: “Are you a real person?”

The staff member understood the sentiment and assured the patron she was, indeed, speaking to a real person who could provide real-time customer service. The patron expressed her appreciation for that human connection and the digital services the Library provides, but she also expressed how much she missed going to Library buildings — specifically her home branch in South Park — which is an experience that cannot be replicated virtually. As our staff member acknowledged, Library patrons and staff simply miss seeing each other in person now six months in to our COVID-19 closure.

This longing for normalcy and connection is why I am pleased to share with you the progress we have made in bringing back core Library services and in supporting the changing educational needs in our community.

Check Out Our New Curbside Service

Curbside Service, which allows you to borrow books from the Library once again, is now available at seven Library locations. Patrons were eagerly lined up for the service on day one, and staff were glad to be serving the public once again and to see one another after months apart. With Curbside Service, you can place up to 25 new holds on physical items and schedule a time to pick them up. Please note, the 25 item hold limit is temporary while we are working in a limited service environment. I’ve been personally waiting for this moment so I can finally get a copy of “We Need New Names” by NoViolet Bulawayo.

Not every branch is a curbside branch, but all Library patrons, regardless of their home branch, can now place holds on materials and pick items up at one of our curbside locations — even those new cardholders who signed up for our new digital access e-cards. In selecting locations, we were sure to open a curbside library in each region of the city that is accessible by car, bus or on foot.

Visit to learn more about how to place your holds, schedule a pickup, get assistance from our staff or find a location offering Curbside Service.

Book Returns Are Open at 12 Libraries

Book returns are now available at 12 Library locations throughout the city. After our last open day on March 13, we had over 400,000 items checked out into the community — a circulation record! A significant portion of those items have been returned and processed (part of our new protocol is to quarantine all materials for three days) — and are now ready to be checked out once again.

Visit to learn where you can return your checked-out materials.

Supporting Students, Families and Teachers

Over the last six months, a significant area of need has presented itself: Supporting our city’s students, their families, caregivers and teachers in a challenging new world of virtual instruction. Here is some of the work we are doing toward that goal:  

  • Supporting remote learning: We now have a Remote Learning Resources section where you can access many helpful resources for online learning, including academic resources, reading and language resources, and learning activities you can do at home. Library staff have also created Exploration Guides for youth in grades 3-12 that allow these learners to explore books, videos, resource guides and more on topics of interest to them. Students can learn about the lore behind the Kraken, how athletes are activists, the intersection of COVID-19 and race, cooking dumplings from around the world, and much more.
  • E-books, research databases and more for every SPS student: During our COVID closure, we have expanded the LibraryLink program with Seattle Public Schools to provide digital Library access to all K-12 public school students and teachers. They can log in for free and hassle-free access to e-books, animated picture books, movies, graphic novels and research databases.
  • Getting books to students who need them most: Through our Summer of Learning and Early Learning and Literacy programs — and with the help of over 100 amazing community partner organizations — the Library distributed more than 26,000 free books this summer to one of our prioritized audiences: youth and families furthest from educational justice and digital equity. In addition, this week, The Friends of The Seattle Public Library is distributing thousands of books to teachers from Title I schools who were able to sign up to receive 100 free books each through the Friends’ Books for Teachers program.
  • Working to close the digital equity gap: To help close the digital equity gap and fuel success in remote learning, the Library has distributed hundreds of Wi-Fi hot spots throughout the city to low-income housing communities, tiny home villages, and other locations such as the Seattle World School, one of only a few schools in the country designed for immigrant children.
  • From magic shows to Mandarin story times: From story times in multiple languages to art classes to book talks, our staff has developed an impressive array of virtual programs for kids (and adults!) since our closure. Find them at our kid-focused YouTube channel at
  • Teens lead the way: The Library has also been supporting service learning projects for some amazingly talented teens, including: High Point teens who developed a virtual “Bug Safari” learning program for kids (check out their YouTube videos!); a group of 18- to 24-year-olds who are learning about food justice and developing a learning event for the community; a partnership with Seattle Housing Authority where teens and kids read together; and a partnership with the Bureau of Fearless Ideas that led to a wonderful series of live-streamed story times called “Black Joy and Mindful Movements.”

As you can see, though our buildings are not yet open to the public, our staff are staying very busy supporting the community in new and creative ways. We are delighted to be serving you face-to-face once again — while safely distanced and wearing masks, of course! And while we don’t know what this fall will bring, we do know the Library remains committed to the safety of Library patrons and staff and to the learning and information needs of all Seattleites.

Thank you, and see you at curbside!

Executive Director and Chief Librarian Marcellus Turner Signature

Marcellus Turner, Executive Director and Chief Librarian