Seattle Public Library system shutdown starts 1 week from today

One week from today, the Seattle Public Library‘s systemwide money-saving closure begins, and since it precedes the Labor Day holiday, that means branches will be shuttered for eight days. The library has just sent its official announcement detailing exactly what’s closed and which services will be inaccessible during that time – along with which ones will be accessible, including more online services than during previous closures:

Users of The Seattle Public Library take note: a weeklong systemwide budget closure begins Monday, Aug. 27. Regular Library operations of the Central Library, 26 branches and Mobile Services will resume Tuesday, Sept. 4, after the Sept. 3 Labor Day holiday.

Now is the time to stock up on Library books, music CDs and movie DVDs and pick up any items on hold. No Library materials will accrue fines or will be due during the one-week closure.

City departments have made significant cuts to address a continuing budget shortfall. The Library is funded from the city general fund.

The systemwide closure will produce approximately $613,000 in savings. The Library closure will mean salary reductions for nearly 620 employees who will not be paid during that week. The closure week was selected because general Library use is not as high as other weeks of the year, school is not in session and there are fewer Library programs scheduled.

“While there were no good options, closing for a week will keep us from having to make further cuts in operating hours or the book budget,” said City Librarian Marcellus Turner.

The Library’s $50 million operating budget is mainly allocated for personnel who run the libraries and provide direct public service, books and materials, and fixed costs, such as telecommunication and Internet services and utilities.

Library service impacts

Most Library services will be unavailable during the one-week closure and will have the following impacts:

No materials will be due and no fines will be charged.

The last day to check out Library items before the closure is either Saturday, Aug. 25, or Sunday, Aug. 26, depending on which library you use. Visit or call 206-386-4636 for more information on Library locations and hours.

No book drops will be open. Do not leave books and items outside Library locations during the closure. You will be responsible for theft, loss or damage to Library items left outside buildings.

There is no need to return items during the closure because no items will be due and no fines charged.

· Limited access to the online catalog. Patrons will be able to search the catalog and check their Library record, but will not be able to place holds on items.

Limited access to the website ( The online calendar, databases, downloadable books and media, digital special collections, podcasts, SPL Mobile app and blogs will be available, but other online information and features will not be available. No staff members will be working to maintain the site or troubleshoot problems.

No Library computers will be available. You will not be able to reserve a computer for the week the Library system is closed.

No access to Wi-Fi.

No programs or events in Library meeting rooms.

No TeleCirc, the Library’s telephone circulation service that provides patrons with information on their Library account.

Quick Information telephone service will not be available.

No mail will be received during the closure. The Library will have the U.S. Post Office hold all mail until the Library reopens. Staff won’t be able to accept deliveries.

Email a librarian or chat with a librarian will not be available.

Mobile Services deliveries will not be made.

No parking in Library garages. The Central Library, Capitol Hill Branch, Montlake Branch, Greenwood Branch and Ballard Branch garages will be closed.

Some electronic services available

Some electronic resources will be available for patrons to access remotely during the closure. Patrons should understand that staff will not be available to help them use these online services. The online services available by going to will include:

· Calendar of Events. Patrons will be able to see information about upcoming Library programs.

· SPL Mobile page. Patrons will be able to view information about using the Library’s app for Web-enabled phones, called SPL Mobile.

· Online databases. Patrons will have access to more than 95 premium databases, including Britannica Online,, Mango Languages, Consumer Reports and Morningstar Investment Research Center.

· Downloadable media. Patrons will have access to more than 34,000 items in the digital collection, including e-books and audiobooks, song titles and downloadable movie titles. There will be links to instructional videos on how to download digital media.

· Digital collections. Patrons will have access to special collections that have been digitized, including: photos from the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition Collection; the Northwest Art Collection and The Seattle Historical Photograph Collection; the Seattle City Directory Collection; and the Century 21 Exposition Digital Collection.

· Adult blog Shelf Talk and teen blog Push to Talk.

· Library podcasts.

Online payment of fines/fees.

18 Replies to "Seattle Public Library system shutdown starts 1 week from today"

  • jiggers August 20, 2012 (2:39 pm)

    Why? They just passed a property tax levy to keep it open.

    • WSB August 20, 2012 (3:33 pm)

      That money will be raised in future years – this shutdown already is part of this year’s budget, without the levy revenue having kicked in yet.

  • RG August 20, 2012 (2:58 pm)

    My family will really miss our library staff at Admiral. Will this furlough ever be lifted?

  • datamuse August 20, 2012 (3:36 pm)

    According to SPL’s Facebook page, there will be no closure next year. (Jiggers, I’d guess that levy will apply to next year’s budget, not this year’s. It’s not like the money magically appears as soon as the levy passes…)

  • Silly Goose August 20, 2012 (3:52 pm)

    @jiggers because they always put the money in a general fund and use it for everything, hence the reason everyone should read the latest iniative on the ballot, that is exactly where that money will go as well it is not ear marked specifically for the library!

  • happy August 20, 2012 (3:57 pm)

    Oh, I *hate* the closure week! That forced “vacation” (no pay) week for library workers just stinks.

  • miws August 20, 2012 (3:59 pm)

    WSB & datamuse are correct.


    The recent passage of the levy doesn’t take effect until next year.




    But so very glad it passed! :-)



  • jiggers August 20, 2012 (4:12 pm)

    I get it.. They have to wait to collect the money first from property owners?

  • Karl August 20, 2012 (4:36 pm)

    A furlough is not a vacation for those workers. Additionally, the wifi is “off” during the closure week.

  • metrognome August 20, 2012 (4:56 pm)

    Silly Goose — I believe you are incorrect about this new tax being part of the general fund; I’m fairly sure that since this a property tax, the revenue is dedicated to library operations:
    …”WHEREAS, the Library Board recognizes the need for additional revenue to support, maintain and improve core Library services, understands the current constraints on the City’s General Fund and REET revenues and, therefore, supports a property tax levy lid lift that would provide the Library with a new revenue source that could be used in combination with General Fund and REET; NOW, THEREFORE,
    “Section 1. Findings. The City Council makes the following findings and declarations:
    “C. A new dedicated and stable source of funding would diversify the Library’s existing funding base. A stable source of funding, in combination with the City’s General Fund and REET revenue, is needed if the Library is to continue to provide the operating hours, collections, services, technology and programs valued by Seattle residents, and preserve the recent capital investments in Library buildings that were supported by Libraries for All.

    “Section 4. Application of Levy Proceeds. Unless otherwise directed by ordinance, Proceeds shall be deposited in the Library Levy Fund…”

  • cj August 20, 2012 (5:43 pm)

    Well at least its just a short closure. Libraries and sharing knowledge is very important to maintaining freedom.

  • Tuesday August 20, 2012 (9:28 pm)

    One week closure? Hilarious over-exageration with the use of the word “shuttered.” We had the same thing happen the last place I worked and although it was a slight inconvenience, it wasn’t a huge deal. I bet more people are inconvenienced in one day by forgetting their reusable shopping bags.

  • AE August 21, 2012 (9:26 am)

    The much bigger problem than users having to plan around it (hey, I timed it so I can keep my books an extra week) is that works are all losing income. Terrible that this is where the anti-tax crowd got us. “Fixing bloated government” is more just taking people’s livelihoods away than anything.

  • CJ August 21, 2012 (10:40 am)

    The main issue is not our inconvenience but library workers forced and unpaid week off. If you feel it’s not a big deal, maybe you could give over your job to them for the week.

  • Librarylover August 21, 2012 (2:26 pm)

    I agree with CJ. Those library workers are loosing a week of income because of this closure.

  • Librarylover August 21, 2012 (2:27 pm)

    Looking at a bright side there won’t be any furlough since the levy passed

  • Tuesday August 21, 2012 (10:31 pm)

    Excellent summary CJ. If publicly funded labor goes unchecked, other people are giving over their time and therefore money to pay for it. So yes, although it’s not me personally giving my job over to them for a week. It’s everyone doing a small portion of just that. Why should public employees be immune to economic fluctuations? It isn’t fair for the private sector to always bear all the burden. Not one person anywhere is guaranteed uninterrupted employment for life, nor should they be.

  • Karl August 28, 2012 (9:43 am)

    In response to the closures, neighbors in the Central District Community established a “People’s Library” to provide reading materials, kid’s activities, live music, and internet access during the closure.

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