Shelf Talk
Not Your Mother’s Gone With the Wind

I just finished reading the horror book When the Reckoning Comes by LaTanya McQueen.  It is a horror novel set in modern times on a plantation that has been refurbished to an amusement park that reenacts Antebellum times through the eyes of white people, but what they don’t know is that it is haunted by the ghosts of the slaves that worked the plantation.  While I was reading this book it made me think of other media that are more honest in their representation of the Antebellum South than Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.

If science fiction is more your thing, I highly recommend Octavia Butler’s  Kindred.  It is the story of a black woman who moves into a new place with her white husband.  While they are unpacking she starts to be sent back in time to rescue a white boy from near-death experiences but is thought to be a slave every time she goes back.
For a great TV show, I recommend Underground.  This is exciting series had 2 seasons.  It tells the stories of slaves that have escaped from the plantation and how they survived while they are on the run. Jubilee by Margaret Walker is a classic novel that is hailed as a truer account of the civil war than Gone with the Wind.  It is told from the perspective of the daughter of the plantation owner and his black mistress.  Margaret Walker used her own family research to tell this story.
     ~ posted by Pam H.
October 16, 2021
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The NewHolly Branch Reopens… and That Makes All of Them.
The Seattle Public Library reached a major milestone this week. On Wednesday, Oct. 18, we reopened our NewHolly Branch, the last remaining Library branch to reopen from the systemwide closure that began March 2020. With the NewHolly Branch once again open to the public, all 27 of our library branches are now serving patrons in person.
The NewHolly Branch is open from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. We look forward to expanding these hours later in the year as staffing levels permit.
We love all our libraries, but this branch is unique and dear to our hearts. It was the first Library branch rebuilt with funds from the 1998 “Libraries for All” Levy, a measure that funded new and renovated libraries in every neighborhood in Seattle. The branch serves one of the most vibrant and culturally diverse areas in the region. It is situated in a “Campus of Learners” in the heart of the NewHolly neighborhood, a development operated by the Seattle Housing Authority.
Along with our branch, the campus includes a branch of South Seattle Community College, a K-12 tutoring program, child care centers and more. For almost 25 years, the NewHolly Branch together with its campus partners have been an amazing resource for parents, children and learners of all ages.
The NewHolly neighborhood and broader community has missed this small but vital library over the last 18 months. Our patrons, particularly local students and families with younger children, have come to rely on the youth-focused services and support, the easy computer and Wi-Fi access, the expansive children’s literature section, and the wonderful Library staff who welcome patrons into this warm and inviting space to relax and recharge.
Asked how it felt to reopen the NewHolly Branch after such a long closure, a Library Associate noted how the branch had always provided a safe place for kids to come and read, study, play games and be around their friends. Over the last several months, she has heard from students in the neighborhood who have been trekking to Columbia, Rainier Beach and other locations until the NewHolly Branch could reopen. She was excited that they could return and that she would get to see them again.
We are all excited to invite the community back inside the NewHolly Branch and each of our 27 locations across Seattle. See for yourself in the video playlist below, which features Library staff from other branches sharing how it felt to welcome patrons back inside on their reopening days.
Play video on original page
For current schedules at your local library, please visit​.
~ posted by communications
October 14, 2021
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Almost 40 Years in Libraries: Meet Interim Chief Librarian Tom Fay
As you may know, The Seattle Public Library has a high-profile job vacancy right now: Chief Librarian.
When Marcellus Turner – who led the Library for almost 10 years of distinguished service – left that role earlier this year to helm Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, The Seattle Public Library’s Board of Trustees initiated a national search for our next Chief Librarian. The position profile is posted on our website and the search for our next Chief is well underway, with a selection expected early in 2022. (Read more about the search process on our website.)
In the meantime, we wanted you to get to know our interim Chief Librarian, Tom Fay, who stepped into the role on April 1 from his regular position as director of Library Programs and Services.

“My local library was a constant in my life”- Interim Chief Librarian Tom Fay
How did you get into Library work?
I moved from Las Vegas to a small rural community in Nevada when I was 11 and grew up in that little town. My local library was a constant in my life. I loved to read. I used to do odd jobs and construction as a teenager. About the time I turned 16, the town librarian asked me if I wanted to work in the library in the late afternoon and evening. I would make $3.25 per hour as a page. At that time, I was working construction jobs and we were generally done by 2 p.m. due to the heat in the summers. So, I was pretty excited about a job with air conditioning in a part of the country where summer days ranged from 105 to 120 degrees. That was 38 years ago. I spent over 30 years in Nevada libraries ranging from the largest system to the State Library. When I retired from Las Vegas-Clark County Library as the Chief Operating Officer/Deputy Director, my wife and I had looked at either Seattle or Denver as places that we might like to live and explore in our next phase of life. Happily I was offered the position of Director of Library Programs and Services at this Library and started in July 2015.
What are you most proud of in terms of how the Library has navigated the pandemic and its related challenges?
Our Library staff’s ability to adapt to the conditions imposed by the pandemic. Even with all the stress of the pandemic in both their personal and work lives, the quality of their customer service has never diminished, and this is a testament of their commitment, passion and compassion in providing Library services to Seattle residents.
What ways have you found to motivate yourself during this unprecedented time?
The pandemic has created a sense of isolation. While many of us may adapt to that, others in our families may really struggle with that. So, I start my day talking with my wife and texting or calling my daughter, who just started college. This reminds me to put family first and to leave something for the end of my day so that I can actually be present. As far as work, I really focus on the creativity, adaptability and great customer service that our staff is exhibiting on a daily basis. Not only do I see it when I’m onsite, but I hear about it from patrons when they send in kudos to the Chief Librarian.
Are there changes to Library work during the pandemic that you hope to see continue?
During the pandemic, like many other organizations, we started offering virtual programming, and transformed most of our physical programs such as story times, author programs, job workshops and classes into online events. As we re-introduce in-person Library programs, I’m sure that we’ll continue to explore virtual programming and how, in some cases, it can allow more equitable access and bigger audiences. We are also exploring other ways of making Library services available in new ways, such as pickup lockers – which allow patrons to collect their holds while the Library is closed – that we will pilot soon at a couple of locations.
During the pandemic, we also worked closely with many community partners on projects like distributing physical books to children. These kinds of partnerships are critical to our goal of enriching lives and building community, and keeping equity at the heart of our work. The efforts of our staff in this regard is noteworthy. Whatever the challenges, they never gave up on getting physical materials in patrons’ hands or information services to them in unique and safe ways.
What’s brought you joy lately?
Stopping by our reopened libraries and seeing patrons once again happily browsing and checking out books, reading together with their kids, using the computers to find jobs or just catch up on email, and seeing our Library staff working so hard to serve our patrons in person again.
Reading has been such a solace and escape for patrons and staff alike during the pandemic. What are a couple of titles you’ve read or listened to that have been helpful to you?
Caste by Isabel Wilkerson and The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (which was our Seattle Reads book this year) both had a big impact. I also read a lot of history:
On Desperate Ground by Hampton Sides and A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II by Sonia Purnell are two of my favorites.
And I read a lot of Sci-Fi.
What are one or two of your favorite under-the-radar services at The Seattle Public Library?
There are so many. Your Next Five was started many years ago and is a patron favorite. Our librarians do an incredible job expanding our patrons’ joy of reading, and also expanded this idea to the service Your Next Skill, which offers customized learning plans. Most recently our workforce development program, Your Next Job was created during the pandemic and marshals the resources of three library systems and several community partners to help people find employment and increase job skills. With school back in session, I’ve got to mention our free online tutoring service,, which offers one-on-one tutoring seven days a week in three languages.
Kids and families are still recovering from a very inconsistent and problematic year of learning, so services like this are just one more tool to recovery. And I have to give a shout-out to our volunteers: in non-COVID times hundreds of volunteers make programs such as Homework Help happen, and while we have not been able to invite them back in, they stay engaged with us and ready to lend a hand once we can return to in person programming.
Earlier this year, you hung out at the Central Library with an owl. Is that the most unusual companion you’ve had at a library?
For my time at The Seattle Public Library, the owl opportunity – which also resulted in this one-of-a-kind virtual story time — was probably the most unique, although I have met a number of other animals in libraries over the years, including birds, lemurs, raccoons and alpacas (my daughter’s favorite animal).
Oh, and Madagascar hissing beetles… those were interesting. OK, maybe a bit creepy. I’ve been in libraries a long time, so I’ve had lots of unusual tasks or experiences in 38 years. I’ve met presidents, celebrities, artists, authors and so many more over the course of my career and I’m thankful for all the experiences. I’m also incredibly fortunate to work with really smart, creative and innovative people every day in libraries.
Is there anything else you’d like to say to the Library’s patrons now that all our Library locations are reopened?
I am so grateful for our patrons’ patience, support and flexibility as we embarked on the ultimate learning adventure of how to safely operate a Library during a pandemic. Every day brings fresh challenges and joys, and we are looking forward to the “next normal” and know that you are, too.
~ posted by communications
October 12, 2021
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly World of Germs
One thing I was not prepared for in this new thing called mom life, was that once you put your kiddo in daycare they will be sick FOREVER! To be fair, I was warned, but I had no idea the endless days of snot, coughing, and laundry would be this intense. As we all battle with sick days for a myriad of reasons, here are some books to help your own kiddos understand how germs, bugs, and viruses get to work.
Germs: Fact and Fiction, Friends and Foes by Lesa Cline-Ransome – An introduction to the good and bad bacteria in our bodies. (K-Grade 2)
A Germ’s Journey by Thom Rooke M.D. and Anthony Phillip Trimmer, Read by Jared Kaelber – Perfect book for a sick kiddo at home! A read along through Hoopla to explain what’s going in their tiny body. (K-Grade 2)
The Good Germ Hotel: Meet Your Body’s Marvelous Microbes by Sŏng-hwa Kim – A reminder to all of us that it’s not all bad. Get ready to meet your happy gut flora! (Grade 2-5)

The Germ Lab: the Gruesome Story of Deadly Diseases by Richard Platt – Takes a look at some pretty nasty diseases that have paid humankind a visit. If you have a kiddo that loves all things dirty and grimy this is an entertaining read for sure! (Grade 2-6)
Do Not Lick This Book: it’s Full of Germs by Idan Ben-Barak – With my little one, I’d say the main culprit of his sick days come from putting everything in to his mouth…they learn eventually, right? (Age 2-K)
The Secret Life of Viruses: Incredible Science Facts About Germs, Vaccines, and What You Can Do to Stay Healthy by Mariona Tolosa Sistere – It’s a confusing time for little ones: mask wearing, school online, and for some, vaccine questions. Here’s a read to give you a hand in explaining how to stay healthy and calm their fears. (Grade 2-4)
My kiddo’s recommendation: Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes by Skye Silver
~posted by Kara P.
October 11, 2021
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Horror Comes Home
Alright, it’s spooky season people! Horror has a long tradition of scary houses and liminal spaces, and this year’s horror novels feature a great slate of haunted properties: from a former plantation in the American South to a condo in Chicago and cabin in Colorado, from an ancestral home in an historic England-like country to an abandoned mansion in Malaysia, to a seemingly quaint town in upstate New York.

This Thing Between Us by Gus Moreno
Mexican American couple Thiago and Vera move into a Chicago condo beset by unexplained occurrences: cold spots; scratching in the walls; an unruly smart speaker. After Vera dies in a freak accident, Thiago moves to a remote cabin in Colorado, where once he realizes he‘s facing something cosmically sinister it’s already too late. Check this out for a dose of Lovecraftian horror, where the malevolent unknowable is knocking on the door of our reality. Continue reading
October 8, 2021
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