Seattle Libraries To Close For A Week To Save Money

If you live in Seattle, make sure you don’t plan any library outings between August 30th and September 6th, when all branches will be closed. As it did last year, the library system is shutting down services and not paying employees for a week to cut about $650,000 from its budget. Fortunately, you’ll still be able to access several electronic services that week, including ebook checkout and online databases.

“Seattle libraries to shut down for a week” [Seattle PI]

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  1. smo0 says:

    Sad…. all forms of “education” get the crap end of the stick when it comes to budget cuts… and they wonder why we’re so far behind….

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      It does sadden me that education is treated like a priviledge rather than a right. Even public schools are considered a convenience rather than a necessity.

      I would like to see education budgets guaranteed, like the military budget seems to be.

      • TuxthePenguin says:

        My wife is a long-time teacher, so I go in it from there…

        But have you looked at how much we spend on education per child now? Compare that to thirty years ago and tell me whether we’re having any real improvement for that additional investment? Look at DC… one of the highest per student spenders, yet some of the worst outcomes… I don’t want to even get into Higher Education and the bubble that is forming there with its costs.

        That being said – why not take a look at the library activity and figure out whether there are historically slow days – beyond just holidays – and shut it down those days? Then, figure out whether you have too many libraries – if they aren’t being used, look into combining them.

        • dragonfire81 says:

          We are spending more money per student these days, it does cost more to train them properly to do well on those standardized tests don’t you know? And don’t forget about No Child Left Behind, it’s certainly done its part to improve the academic levels of our graduates…

        • Rectilinear Propagation says:

          I don’t know what the classroom sizes are like in DC but where I grew up the classrooms were always overcrowded (probably still are). You could barely fit everyone into the classrooms and they had to bring in trailers to create more classrooms.

          • chancyrendezvous says:

            I have a relative who teaches in New Mexico and she said they’re seeing 40-50 students per classroom due to quite a few families leaving Arizona. They’re definitely overcrowded in that area.

        • craptastico says:

          a lot of libraries could probably be consolidated. as much as i support libraries, like encyclopedias, they aren’t as necessary as they used to be. education in general is not a problem you can solve by throwing money at it.

          • OnePumpChump says:

            The books are not as necessary as they used to be. The computers are more necessary than they used to be.

            In my town, there are no other public computers but those at the library. To my knowledge, there isn’t even any other public wi-fi.

            Many of the people who cannot afford their own computer or internet service are the ones who need it most. You pretty much can’t apply for a job without access to the Internet anymore.

            And books aren’t obsolete yet, and library books are still important for people who can’t otherwise afford them.

      • smo0 says:

        Honestly….

        F*ck health care reform… we need a reform in the education system.

      • Difdi says:

        There’s a reason why the military budget is guaranteed. A Constitutional one.

        When Congress passes a military spending bill every four years, they are stating, on the record, “We see a need in the national interest for a standing army.” If they don’t make that endorsement, every branch of the military (except the coast guard) must disband most of their personnel, cutting down to peacetime levels.

        In excess of 95% of all soldiers now in uniform would become civilians on the spot. They would lose the legal right to carry most of their weapons, and would lose the ability to legally commit violence on behalf of the USA. Those who refused would gain the status of felon (in the former case) and traitor (in the latter). If they continued to collect pay from the military, they would be guilty of a war crime under international law.

        Not funding a school simply closes it and the employees seek new work, while the students find another school nearby. Not funding the military will strand hundreds of thousands of people overseas, and hand over millions of tons of military equipment to whatever country it is currently sitting in.

        • smo0 says:

          You’re absolutely right… then where will all our under educated 17-18 year olds turn to?!

          Keep the military going, cut education.. keep feeding the farm and sending the cattle into battle….

    • OnePumpChump says:

      Don’t worry, though, there’s always money for prisons.

  2. catnapped says:

    The one in town was going to do that as well but they had to change plans because of state (PA) law.

  3. JMILLER says:

    Wouldn’t it be better to rotate these amongst the branches over their less busy times? Maybe each week in August 25% of the branches are closed. Same net effect.

    • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

      I think it would not work the same due to administrative costs; would rock in theory though, especially if they did it in such a way that if the local town library is shut down, the next town over would still be open.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Then overall they would have to be closed more, as some staff has to work as long as at least one library is open (this corporate-level staff, like HR, Payroll, etc.)

      This limits the amount of closure, but I think your idea is better from a customer perspective.

      • JMILLER says:

        Administrative staff could be staggered in the same way. Call it a one week unpaid furlough that could happen at any time during the year. Treat it like they currently do vacations. I am sure if an administrative staff takes a vacation the work still gets done somehow. Not really a tough solution.

        A former employer of mine did a similar strategy last December (generally our slowest month) Everybody was told they would take a one week unpaid furlough in the month. In many states you can collect unemployment on this. The company never shut down. I actually made an extended vacation with paid time off as well.
        No layoffs, no loss of business. Customers did not notice.

        • HogwartsProfessor says:

          We did something like that too here for a while. Now things are picking up a bit and the manufacturing workers are back on a regular schedule. They said the office workers would have to do it too, but we never did. The phone must be answered! (My job)

    • Ladybird says:

      I wondered about that too. The libraries here have staggered schedules. Mine is closed on Sunday and Monday, while Mr. Ladybird’s is closed on Friday and Sunday. It’s been that way for as long as I can remember.

    • Chris Walters says:

      My guess is that it’s more complex/expensive to do a rolling branch shutdown than a single system-wide one.

      Last year, I visited the central library in Seattle a few weeks before they closed and I talked to a librarian about this topic. He said that it costs the public library system a small fortune to shut everything down because of how interconnected and high-tech everything is (it’s a pretty amazing library system). I suppose the savings is still enough to justify it, though.

  4. Kia says:

    Wow…That’s um…Really depressing. Our library here in town just keeps getting worse and worse too. I remember when it used to be open til 8 every day, then only weekdays, then wednesdays it was open til 5…

    Now it’s closed entirely on sunday, open only untli 7 M-W, 5 on Th-F, and only til 2 on Saturday. *Sigh*

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      My closest branch still has pretty decent hours – I understand why it’s only open until 6 pm three days a week, though. I only go on certain days because I get off work too late to make it before it closes, and whenever I walk in (and it’s a brand new building, too) there are only about six people in the entire library. No wonder it doesn’t stay open that late on other days.

      I work with people my age who don’t really seem to know much about anything, not even current events. I always ask “what have you been reading lately?” It’s a shame that people don’t really seem to take interest in reading for education anymore.

      • Me - now with more humidity says:

        I guess we’re lucky… our branch is packed all the time. It serves three beach towns, so that could be a factor.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          I think mine is emptyish mostly because I go during the week and I’m sure there are more people there on the weekends. There are also at least two other branches relatively nearby so it’s not a stretch to say that the population is split between the three.

  5. NarcolepticGirl says:

    You know, I used to love the library… But maybe I was spoiled by the Boston Public Library or the Largo Library (Florida)…

    …but where I currently live – the library is pretty shitty.
    It’s small, the old librarians are not friendly and most of the books are 10+ years old.
    There’s 3 books on the holocaust, less than five on the Civil Rights Movement and about 10 shelves full of books on Christianity.

    • NarcolepticGirl says:

      Also, it has been closed on random days other than it’s usual Sundays and “every third Wednesday”.

      The landscaping outside is nice, though!

    • The Cynical Librarian says:

      The problem is that the people that use the library the most check out those christianity books. It’s a matter of supply and demand. Almost any public library would consider themselves a popular materials library and not a repository.

    • evnmorlo says:

      Inter-library loan? I put it to good use at my pretty well-funded but lame-book-buying library.

    • Willow16 says:

      My local library is small and I’ve pretty much gone through all the books I would want to read. I use inter-library loan almost exclusively now. The library also has borrowing privileges at other local libraries so I can go to better libraries in surrounding towns.

  6. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    Why close everything for a week straight? Couldn’t they just close on Fridays for a month?

  7. SG-Cleve says:

    Since people won’t be able to return their books that week the closure will also enhance revenue from overdue book fines.

    • Sandstar says:

      I’m sure they planned for that.

    • zuvembi says:

      Actually I do believe that fines are on hold for that week.

      /me looks at the spl.org site

      Yup.

      Services unavailable during the one-week closure

      Most Library services will be unavailable during the one-week closure.

      * No materials will be due and no fines will be accrued.

  8. Ladybird says:

    I’m always said to hear about library closings or reduced hours. I got my first library card when I was seven and have had one in each new city I’ve lived in.

    I would be OK with a slight increase in local taxes if it meant that libraries could stay open, purchase current materials and keep programs going. Right now my library is seeking book donations no more than 5 years old in order to keep the shelves stocked.

  9. Talisker says:

    Having the branch libraries in Seattle open 7 days a week is a fairly new thing in Seattle. There are enough branches that Seattle used to just run the five or six days a week and to rely on the branch a few miles away to pick up the slack. Why they don’t just go back to that I don’t know. It would save a lot more money.

  10. MaytagRepairman says:

    Any locals know if the Seattle libraries are separate from the King County libraries? I skimmed the article but didn’t see anything. Not that I will be affected either way since I currently live in Kitsap County.

    • El_Fez says:

      Yeah, they’re two separate beasts. In fact living in Seattle handicaps you when you try and use the King County Library since the two cant agree on funding and Seattleites cant get all the services as a result.

    • GameHen says:

      I was wondering the same thing. I just went to kcls.org to see. There aren’t any libraries in the city of Seattle proper in the king county system. Seems like Seattle could save a crapload of money by just turning their libraries over to the county.

  11. PsiCop says:

    This is an old governmental tactic … i.e. to implement cost-saving measures in very public, very tangible, and rather inconvenient ways. This accomplishes two things at once: First, it’s a public showing of “austerity,” and hits home that government is really trying to save money; second, it engenders a kind of push-back campaign designed to get the libraries “re-funded,” thus softening up the public for tax increases.

    In the meantime, REAL austerity measures that would save REAL money over a much longer period of time, are purposely avoided. Just one example would be all the extra layers of city bureaucracy that could probably be eliminated in a flash without hindering services in the least … and which would amass a healthy savings since all those laid off would be mid-level management who are making decent salaries and getting even better benefits.

    The city of Seattle is playing a very transparent game with its citizens and taxpayers. That this happened a year ago, and was tolerated then, is not to Seattle’s credit. But its people can always call a halt to these shenanigans, if they want, and not knuckle under this kind of crass manipulation.

    • smo0 says:

      Wonder why they aren’t attempting this with the post office then….
      I guess it puts the value in “Shock Value?” heh heh….

      • PsiCop says:

        Who’s to say the USPS isn’t playing this game? What did you think all the talk about eliminating Saturday deliveries was for?

        Then again, the USPS isn’t taxpayer-supported. At least, it’s not at the moment. It’s supposed to fund itself based on what it charges for the services it performs. So it wouldn’t immediately benefit from this sort of manipulation. There’s always a chance legislation could be passed which re-subsidizes it, though, which may be why the very-visible and very-tangible cut of Saturday deliveries was proposed.

    • evnmorlo says:

      So you’re demanding that teachers be laid off, destroying children’s lives?! Or police, causing anarchy!!

      • PsiCop says:

        I’m not aware that teachers are members of middle-management layers that could be clipped without anyone noticing their absence (certainly the students would notice them missing). That said, there’s a lot of that kind of rhetoric behind these tactics. All of it is just variations on the false dilemma fallacy.

  12. George4478 says:

    My county’s libraries started closing on Mondays last year to save money. I thought it was a great idea and not too inconvenient.

    Then the country got a property tax increase passed by promising to use the money to pay for “essential services” like police and fire salaries. One of the unmentioned “essential services” was Monday library access.

    • outis says:

      Every time they cut services at the local libraries I get incensed all anew over their constant bragging that they haven’t increased fines in 20 years. Five cents a day? Who cares! A dollar a day and maybe I won’t have to wait months for single-copy works.

  13. Whtthfgg says:

    Id have to ask why all the Libraries are uber-fancy now a days…..Its to consume media….wtf does that gargantuan monstrosity have to do with anything?

    • OnePumpChump says:

      “All the libraries?”

      I can assure you the photo for the article is the exception. Most libraries are a lot more economical. I’ve been to a local library that appears to be a double-wide. There are libraries that are in cramped old buildings that use every bit of accessible volume.

      Many libraries are large because they have to be, but even those tend not to be extravagant in their architecture.

      • Whtthfgg says:

        Where I live all new libraries are WAY larger and fancier than they ever need to be. Everyone wants to make a statement…..older libraries…not so much for the fancy-ness

  14. mydailydrunk says:

    Shows where this country’s priorities are. Sheesh, I guess when no one can spell deficit anymore, they won’t have to worry, a la Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.