What’s one thing you wish the Library could provide, or change? What’s the role of the Library in our community? What should the Library be doing in five to 10 years? How should the Library be using new technology?
You’ll have an opportunity to talk about these and other issues with Seattle City Librarian Susan Hildreth and members of the Library board of trustees at Citywide Conversations scheduled in March.
The Citywide Conversations are part of a year-long process to develop a strategic plan to guide its growth and services through 2015.
“The community was actively involved in helping develop the 10-year Libraries for All program to rebuild our facilities,” said City Librarian Hildreth. “Now it’s time to make sure the services and resources we provide meet the community’s needs.” Last year, more than 14 million people visited The Seattle Public Library.
As the Seattle Public Library trims branch service hours to help cut $1.7 million from its 2010 budget, the Ballard branch will see its hours of operations increase beginning Feb. 3.
Ballard is one of 11 branches that will gaining an additional five hours per week.
Starting Feb. 3, the Ballard Library will open at 10 a.m. instead of 1 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays. But, it will open at 1 p.m. instead of noon on Sundays.
The change increases Ballard's hours of operation from 55 to 60, while 15 other branches are seeing their hours reduced from 55 to 35.
Jennifer Patterson, assistant director of branches for the Seattle Public Library, said it is unclear if the reduction of surrounding branches' hours will have an impact on traffic to the Ballard Library, already one of the city's busiest.
It is hard to predict how people will react to the hour changes, she said.
Some people will stay loyal to their local branches and adjust to the new hours, while others may find the hour changes at their branches too inconvenient and stop using the library system altogether, she said.
The King County Library System's director proposed Jan. 14 an analytical process to determine library sites in the Highline area, but a White Center activist countered that a library's importance to a community cannot be dispassionately measured.
"Metrics don't mean anything without community," White Center Library Guild president Rachel Levine declared.
Library director Bill Ptacek also reported that with the transfer of Puget Sound Park to Burien, efforts to construct a library at the park site are dead.
"That issue is over with," Ptacek said.
In addressing the library system's planning committee at the Burien Library on Jan. 14. Levine said White Center guild members campaigned for passage of a library levy so a new 10,000 square foot library would be constructed at the current library's site.
She said the White Center and Greenbridge libraries in White Center along with the Burien and Boulevard Park libraries are doing a great job for their communities.
Levine cited the importance of current library programs for low-income White center residents.
What is a blue moon? What’s the difference between a donkey and a mule? When does the Central Library open on Saturdays?
The Seattle Public Library can now answer all these questions and more via cell phone text.
The library has joined more than 70 libraries from across the United States in providing the text reference service My InfoQuest.
To use My InfoQuest, type a text message with the code SEA and your question (up to 160 characters) and send to 309.222.7740. A librarian will text back a response in minutes.
Answers will be brief (320 characters or less). Answers exceeding 160 characters will be sent in two messages.
The library service is free of charge, but standard text messaging rates may apply depending on phone service provider.
Current hours of service are Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“Text a Librarian gives us another convenient way to provide service to the public,” librarian Toby Thomas said in a press release.
Library patrons already can get their questions answered by email, Web chat, telephone and in person.
Author and artist Peter Brown will present his new children’s book, “The Curious Garden,” from 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. on Jan. 19 at the Ballard branch of the Seattle Public Library, 5614 22nd Ave. N.W.
“The Curious Garden” is a picture book about urban renewal and perseverance. The book is geared toward children ages 3 to 8.
Brown is also author and illustrator of the children’s book “Flight of the Dodo.” He is a graduate of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., and now lives in Brooklyn.
The program is free and open to the public. No registration is required. Free parking is available in the library garage.
This program is presented in partnership with the Secret Garden Bookshop. Books will be available for purchase and signing.
For more information, call the Ballard branch at 206.684.4089.
With 2009 coming to a close, here is a look back at some of the biggest stories of the year. Click the image above for a slideshow of the year in photos.
Ballard thief arrested
By Michael Harthorne
A 46-year-old man suspected of stealing from numerous businesses in Ballard in the past weeks was arrested Dec. 31 near 20th Avenue Northwest and Market Street for an outstanding warrant in Missouri.
According to victims, the man is suspected of entering businesses on Market Street and Ballard Avenue during business hours and taking money from back offices, safes and employees’ purses.
“I’m glad he’s been caught,” said Kylee Harris, owner of Cugini Café on Ballard Avenue. “But, I think the real thing we need to figure out is how to bust him for what he’s stolen.”
Macefield house to be sold
By Michael Harthorne
The house once belonging to Edith Macefield that has stood empty in a cocoon of new development since her death in June will be sold by its new owner, Barry Martin of Ledcor Construction.
Seattle City Council member Tim Burgess, chair of the Public Safety, Human Services and Education Committee, showed support for increased police presence in the neighborhood and more services for homeless individuals at the Dec. 9 Ballard District Council meeting.
Burgess attended the meeting to discuss the progress of the city's Safer Streets Initiative, which the council passed in summer 2008. The initiative includes a dozen steps to address street crime and social disorder.
He said the city council has recently implemented an ordinance that allows the city to move against problem properties, such as drug houses and certain hotels on Aurora Avenue, with better efficiency.
The city council is taking an aggressive posture toward child prostitution by making Seattle only the fourth city in the country to provide a safe haven for the estimated 300 to 500 children younger than 17 being abused, Burgess said.
Most importantly, the city council is continuing to work toward staffing up the Seattle Police Department, he said. The city spends 54 percent of its budget on the police and fire department because public safety its its number one priority, he said.
Just before 11 p.m. on Oct. 10, James Imonti, owner of The Matador on Market Street, engaged in a verbal altercation with an individual at the bar and was stabbed in the back.
After the 911 call was placed, it took police 25 minutes to arrive at The Matador, Imonti said.
"I was standing outside thinking, "Where is everybody?" he said.
Imonti is starting to network with other bar and restaurant owners who have noticed an increase in crime in recent months to petition the Seattle Police Department and Seattle City Council for more patrols and better response times in Ballard.
Just in recent weeks, a server was mugged, the Wells Fargo down the street was robbed and a patron was removed from The Matador for using cocaine in the bathroom, Imonti said.
"This is stuff that would be deterred with a little bit of (police) presence in the neighborhood," he said.
Susan Ward is a partner at BalMar, which has been open on Market Street for four years. She said she has noticed more unwanted activities in the neighborhood in the past six months to a year than ever before.
Something is seriously wrong with our community when a perfectly capable and willing volunteer is not allowed to keep up the landscaping on the premises of our library.
Since when did rules and regulations override common sense?
Are you kidding me? We have to put up with weeds, scorched plants, and cigarette butts when we go to our library because it’s against the “rules” to allow a volunteer to lend a hand to the overworked union gardeners?
I happen to be the daughter of an amazing woman who has made it her project to beautify our whole industrial block! Union or not, she has never been denied permission to plant a few bulbs here, hang a pot there.
To the contrary, thanks and compliments have been showered upon her and I feel proud to pull weeds at her side in front of a once unkempt building, when the employees have all gone home.
Sure, there has to be some kind of volunteer procedure so that you don’t have 10 different volunteers doing their own style of gardening in front of the same library, but to nip it in the bud completely, c’mon now.