News & Stories

Welcome Seattle Reads Author Angela Flournoy

The Seattle Public Library is excited to host Angela Flournoy, author of The Turner House, this year’s selection for Seattle Reads, May 8-11.

The Turner House was a finalist for the National Book Award, nominated for an NAACP Image Award, and named a New York Times Notable Book of 2015.


For a full schedule of events click here.

Harriet Bullitt Donates Edward Curtis’ ‘The North American Indian’ to the Library

Philanthropist Harriet Bullitt has donated her rare collection of Edward S. Curtis’ “The North American Indian” to The Seattle Public Library.

Curtis (1868-1952) was an American photographer and ethnologist whose work focused on the American West and Native American peoples.

“The North American Indian” is a collection of 20 informational books and 20 books of large images, written and photographed by Curtis and his collaborators over the course of nearly 30 years, detailing the traditions and customs of more than 80 of North America’s native nations.

“I treasure this collection, which was given to me by my mother,” Bullitt said. “The Seattle Public Library is the perfect place for it. I am absolutely thrilled to know this incredibly important body of work will be well preserved and appreciated for generations to come. I believe everyone should have a chance to see it.”

Curtis felt a deep sense of purpose in documenting the cultural customs of Native American tribes, which he believed were facing extinction, in the early 20th century. Each published set was accompanied by 20 large portfolios containing over 2,200 photogravure prints of the people, places and customs Curtis came to know. The set is considered a remarkable publishing feat and an invaluable historic and artistic resource. There were 222 complete sets published and it is unknown how many exist today. Most known sets can be found in libraries and museums.

Bullitt’s set of “The North American Indian” will become the second complete set in the Library’s Special Collections. The Library will be able to create public displays with the books, as well as the information and images contained within them. With two sets in its possession, the Library may also consider loaning portions of its first complete set to other Northwest institutions to leverage the reach of the collection.

The Library’s Special Collections staff also plans to make the new set an important part of the Curtis150 sesquicentennial celebration of Curtis’ life’s work in 2018. Throughout the year, images from the collection will be on display in the Level 8 Gallery of the Central Library. The Curtis150 celebration is a multi-institution project that includes the Library, Seattle Art Museum, the University of Washington, American Friends Service Committee’s Seattle Indian Program, The Edward Curtis Foundation and more.


Norcliffe Challenge Completed!

We did it!  Thanks to more than 500 generous donors, The Seattle Public Library Foundation completed the Norcliffe Challenge—raising $3.5 million for the Library’s Program Endowment for Children and Teens!

In 2014 The Norcliffe Foundation promised that if the Library Foundation could raise $3.5 million for that endowment by December 31, 2016, they would donate an additional $1 million to help fund the many children’s programs the Library offers.  The community responded generously to the challenge and by the end of the year, more than 500 donors made a gift to the campaign.

The Library Foundation sends a special thanks to The Ginger and Barry Ackerley Foundation for their long-term involvement and support.  In 2002, a $1 million gift from the Ackerley family created the Program Endowment for Children and Teens.  And another generous gift from them capped off this campaign a few weeks ago!

This is a wonderful accomplishment for our Library and the community. Completing this challenge goes a long way toward the Library having stable, predictable funding for children’s learning programs year after year.

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.