FOLLOWUP: Seattle Public Library says ‘ransomware event’ keeping its online services offline

Commenters pointed out this morning that the Seattle Public Library‘s online outage – which we mentioned on Sunday – continues. SPL has just explained why:

In the early morning hours of Saturday, May 25 — just one day before we were prepared to take our systems offline to conduct planned maintenance on a server over Memorial Day weekend — the Library became aware of a ransomware event affecting our technology systems.

This disruption began impacting access to staff and public computers, our online catalog and loaning system, in-building Wi-Fi, and our website at

The Library quickly engaged third-party forensic specialists, contacted law enforcement, and took our systems fully offline to interrupt and better assess the nature and impacts of the event. With our external partners, we continue to investigate the source of this disruption and are working as quickly and diligently as we can to confirm the extent of the impacts and restore full functionality to our systems. Privacy and security of patron and employee information are top priorities.

Until we can ensure the security of these systems, they will remain offline. We do not yet have an estimated time of resolution but will update you here as we are able to bring systems back online.

We are an organization that prides itself on providing you answers, and we are sorry that the information we are can share is limited. At this time, securing and restoring our systems is where we are focused. We will update you in this space as we make progress on that work.

We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate this difficult situation.

We are still open and lending print books and other physical materials!

Despite these challenges, we intend to keep opening our doors as scheduled to welcome you in. You are invited to enjoy our spaces; check out our physical books, CDs and DVDs (using paper forms); and get your reference and referral questions answered to the best of our ability.

Our hard-working staff, whose jobs have become more challenging without technology access, are ready and able to assist you to check out materials and use our spaces and amenities. Although you cannot currently place holds, you are welcome to pick up holds already on the shelves. (One tip: When you visit, please bring your physical library card or library card number.)

Please hold on to your materials a little while longer

Because we cannot currently check physical materials back into our catalog, we encourage you to hold onto them a bit longer. The Library does not charge daily late fines for overdue materials. Once we get back online, we will update due dates for materials.

We apologize in advance that wait times will be impacted as we work to manage a backlog of returned and newly delivered items.

Many explanations of ransomware are available online – here’s one from a company specializing in security.

31 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Seattle Public Library says 'ransomware event' keeping its online services offline"

  • Ws May 28, 2024 (10:07 am)

    A question I have been unable to get an answer to is what is happening with ebook holds?  Im unable to download and soon the date to download by will pass.  Will these be extended or do i need to get back on a long ebook hold list.  Has anyone else been able to get an answer?

    • Mellow Kitty May 28, 2024 (10:35 am)

      You can try using the Libby app. I use it a lot and it’s a great app for eBooks and audiobooks. 

      • Amy May 28, 2024 (1:15 pm)

        The Libby app with Seattle Library isn’t working. It’s asking you to verify your library card pin number, which also isn’t available.

    • JK May 28, 2024 (10:53 am)

      You can update the hold to let the “next in line” take it and you will go back near the top of the list after a period of time you can set in the Libby app. 

      • Ws May 28, 2024 (6:14 pm)

        @jk. How did you do that?  I cant log in to see my holds.  

    • K May 28, 2024 (11:34 am)

      I had a hold come up as ready this weekend too and it’s now expired. It kept me at the front of the line but bumped me to a “deliver one week later” hold status. 

      • ARPigeonPoint May 29, 2024 (1:54 pm)

        Same thing just happened to my hold. I had been waiting six weeks for it. Glad I didn’t completely lose my place in line, though. 

    • Sandra May 29, 2024 (10:36 pm)

      Sadly no, they are unable to extend Libby holds; however if you don’t check it out, it will keep the item on hold.  You also can pause holds or place them in the future when access is restored.  Also if you want access sooner to an ebook, the Seattle Public Library has reciprocal agreements with many neighboring libraries and you can often apply online for free access to their collection (e.g. Pierce, Sno-Isle, Enumclaw, etc.)

    • Shiza June 2, 2024 (5:33 pm)

      Be patient with this most excellent library system getting hacked. Losing an eBook hold ain’t gonna kill ya. 

  • Kt May 28, 2024 (11:09 am)

    Sounds like they jumped right on that to prevent a big disaster!

  • Marco Behar May 28, 2024 (11:34 am)

    These ransom ware groups are terrorist! They should be treated as such❤️

  • onion May 28, 2024 (12:18 pm)

    As taxpayers and donors, know that these jackals are stealing directly from our pockets! That applies to the cost of investigation and recovery, and maintaining operations — and exponentially more if SPL actually ends up paying any ransom!

  • Ken May 28, 2024 (12:24 pm)

    Patience is a virtue.

  • also k May 28, 2024 (12:27 pm)

    I think the decision to do away with late fees just paid for itself.  Imagining the countless hours of labor to reverse fines, when instead they can just say “return it later”.  Such a bummer that this happened to the Library.  Hopefully they can get it sorted out soon.  The poor library staff is already at max capacity as it is.

  • HH May 28, 2024 (12:29 pm)

    All e-book holds that were not checked out before this ‘episode’ should be honored!!  I got the notification it was ready on Saturday afternoon, but obviously have not been able to log in!

    • RC May 28, 2024 (12:54 pm)

      Ebooks are managed through a third party platform. It should still work.

      • JTinWS May 28, 2024 (3:50 pm)

        Alas, not for me. On that website I get the same error Libby has been giving me:The library authentication server is overwhelmed due to high volume. Requests will be denied until it recovers.

      • Amy May 28, 2024 (6:30 pm)

        Wrong. You use your SPL card on that 3rd party site. If that 3rd party site can not contact SPL to verify your card-it won’t work. 

  • Hillary May 28, 2024 (1:18 pm)

    My company was targeted by a ransomware attack which resulted in months upon months of nightmarish logistics: damage control, training staff on new protective technology, working with a 3rd party to regain access, restoring lost data, paying the ransom, etc. etc. Our IT and frontline staff were put to the test, in an already extremely high-stress environment (a non-profit social service). I hope we can all give SPL a lot of grace and patience during this time!!! I too have ebooks available that I cannot access, but I’m going to assume in these early days, the SPL staff don’t have many answers. It takes a while to assess what damage was done, and how to bring things safely back online. If I had a lot of money, I’d be sending my local branch a bunch of pizzas or something!! I really feel for them, but I think the best I can do for them right now is to not bug them lol. Hang in there everyone!!

  • Alicia May 28, 2024 (1:37 pm)

    In the meantime people can check out ebooks and other digital resources from the King County library, It is often faster to get access to new books from there.

    • Crow May 28, 2024 (9:57 pm)

      All the local library systems have slightly different collection development approaches (which is why I have cards from multiple systems)

    • Marla June 11, 2024 (8:43 am)

      I was denied a King  County library card as I have a Seattle address!

  • Jay May 28, 2024 (2:30 pm)

    Two things that you can do to protect your business are to keep Windows up-to-date with the latest updates and use immutable backups. Immutable backups are those that use object storage and version control. If you have a backup drive that functions as a regular file index drive, that can be compromised too. Examples of immutable storage are Box, Drive, and DropBox. They can be rolled back to a specific time and date before the hack. Have IT reformat all the hard drives and reinstall Windows and log back into the backup software that has been rolled back to before the hack. Immutable backups can have desktop software with an interface that looks and feels like part of your computer’s file system for ease of use but is actually a different type of storage on the server side. Also use cloud applications and databases where possible. Since SPL uses overdrive, it appears as though service wasn’t disrupted. Hospitals, schools, and government institutions get hit so hard and so frequently because they tend to be out of date when it comes to security.

  • Aaron Anderson May 28, 2024 (2:42 pm)

    Thanks very much for all your hard work, SPL staff! The library is such an important part of our community and your hard work and dedication is very much appreciated!

  • Bibliomaniac May 28, 2024 (3:47 pm)

    Kudos to SPL staff. Picked up a couple of books and checked out manually at the Southwest branch. We reminisced a bit about stamping the due dates in the books, way back when.

  • Actually Mike May 28, 2024 (6:02 pm)

    Looks like the SPL Website is back up and running again. Whew!

    • Ws May 28, 2024 (6:13 pm)

      Its running now but still cant log in.

    • Bibliomaniac May 28, 2024 (6:48 pm)

      Website is up but can’t log in yet.

  • Suzy May 29, 2024 (8:50 am)

    Kudos to our West Seattle librarians.  Grateful for all you do.  Fingers crossed that investigators resolve situation soon.  Hang in there, staff and patrons!

  • WSB May 29, 2024 (9:50 am)

    I will repost separately momentarily but for everybody following. this thread, SPL has *just* added an update to their original post:

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