Library Levy

The 2019 Library Levy supplements city funding to support core Library services, including open hours, collection development, technology services, children’s programming, and building maintenance. It also provides funds for seismic retrofit projects at three Carnegie libraries.
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About the Levy AccessProvide More Books and MaterialsTechnology and Online Services​Programming for ChildrenMaintain Buildings
About the Levy
In 2020, a year that included a global pandemic, an economic crisis, widespread social and political unrest, and the closure of all Seattle Public Library buildings starting in March, we directed levy resources to where they were most needed. Due to Library closures we were unable to expand open hours as promised in 2020. However, we used levy funds to meet the levy’s stated priorities of improving access, collections, technology, children’s programming and maintenance. As libraries reopen, restoration of General Fund support for the Library will be critical in order to meet our Levy promises to voters. The 2019 Levy funded $19.9 million (24%) of the Library’s total spending of $84.7 million in 2020.
Levy Progress Reports
2019 Library Levy Renewal
We promised to make Library resources and services accessible to patrons when they need them.
2020 Accomplishments
2020 Levy Spending on Access: $9.2 million
Leveraging Levy Investments: In September, using savings from levy program deferrals, the Library hired a project manager to support K-5 remote learning. In direct response to community needs, and with financial support from The Seattle Public Library Foundation, in October, we launched, a free, one-on-one virtual tutoring service for Seattle students.
We launched Curbside Pickup Service for books and other physical materials.
Provide More Books and Materials
We promised to provide a robust collection of books and materials.
2020 Accomplishments
2020 Levy Spending on Collections: $6.4 million
Leveraging Levy Investments: The Library began processing and digitizing portions of our African American Ephemera Collection, formerly housed at the Douglass-Truth Branch, with additional staff support funded by The Seattle Public Library Foundation.
We launched the COVID-19 Community Collection, our first community crowdsourcing project, to document the local impact of the pandemic.
Technology and Online Services
We promised to promote digital equity and improve our computer and online services.
2020 Accomplishments
2020 Levy Spending on Technology and Online Services: : $1.7 million
Leveraging Levy Investments: The 2019 Levy is the primary funding source for the Library’s HotSpot program. In 2020, the Library was able to leverage levy funding with additional resources from The Seattle Public Library Foundation to offer 160 additional hot spots in the community.
We provided access to the internet through 675 Wi-Fi hot spots checked out to the general public and 325 distributed through community partners for longer-term use.
Programming for Children
We promised to provide additional early learning programs for children 0-5 years old.
2020 Accomplishments
2020 Levy Spending on Programming for Children: $0.1 million
Leveraging Levy Investments: One of our partners, Chinese Information and Service Center, completed 14 early learning videos in several different languages (Russian, Vietnamese, Japanese, Mandarin and Cantonese) as part of a project to support access to multilingual early learning programming online. These videos will be available on the Library’s YouTube channel for kids after editing and captioning are complete.
We began recording virtual story time programs and created 24 virtual story time programs available for viewing on the Library’s YouTube channel for kids, including 16 story times in Spanish and Mandarin.
Maintain Buildings
We promised to maintain buildings for the next generation.
2020 Accomplishments
2020 Levy Spending on Maintenance: $2.2 million
Leveraging Levy Investments: With the support of Federal CARES Act funding, in April, the Library reopened restrooms seven days a week at five locations to support the community’s hygiene needs during the pandemic, as most indoor restrooms across the city were closed to the public. Our custodial team cleaned restrooms three times each day and disinfected them overnight.
In April, the Library reopened restrooms seven days a week at five locations to support the community’s hygiene needs during the pandemic.
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