From Chief Librarian Marcellus Turner

Posted June 3, 2020

2020 Library of the Year

Dear patrons,

Once again, thank you for your continued patience and understanding as our Library buildings remain closed in accordance with Governor Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order.

We look forward to the day we can safely offer in-person services again. When the time comes, we will celebrate not only our reopening but also some news I am excited to share with you today:

The Seattle Public Library has been named the 2020 Gale/Library Journal Library of the Year!

Just announced this week, this prestigious award recognizes the Library’s exceptional commitment to community service, innovation and centering equity in our work. If you’ve heard of Library programs such as Wi-Fi hot spots that we loan to tiny home communities, our partnership with the Clear Sky Native Youth Council, or our new fine-free borrowing policy, you’re familiar with aspects of this work.

Our exceptional staff have led these efforts with the help of hundreds of partner agencies. Their intense focus has been on listening to and learning from our community, and adapting our programs and procedures to best serve the evolving needs of our city.

Beyond our staff and partners, we could not have accomplished the work that led to this award without the leadership of our Library Board of Trustees and the support of the Seattle Public Library Foundation, The Friends of The Seattle Public Library and our many volunteers. And we are grateful to you, our community of patrons, for your steady support of our mission. This is your award, too.

You can read more details about the Library of the Year honor and the work that was recognized by visiting Library Journal's website.

How We Are Serving Seattle During Our Closure

During our closure, we are using the same approach that led to this tremendous honor to navigate how we serve our community – adapting our skills and resources to creatively meet emerging needs, while continuing to prioritize the health and safety of patrons and staff.

  • Expanding Our Digital Resources: Homebound Seattle residents can explore our vast inventory of learning and entertainment resources, including e-books (see expanded “Always Available” lists), streaming services, learning resources and more. To help meet community interest, we are investing in more e-materials.
  • Virtual Story Time, Help for Businesses and More:  We have started delivering more programs and services virtually, including virtual story times for children, virtual classes and discussion forums for older adults (see, and one-on-one consultations for nonprofit leaders and small business owners. Learn about these and other resources at
  • Instant Library Access: Within days of our closure, we began working on a way to expand digital access to Seattle residents who were not already Library card-holders. A talented team of Library staff quickly deployed an instant digital Library card solution that allowed Seattle residents access to our collection of e-books and e-audiobooks. Now, residents can sign up for a full-access e-card.
  • Supporting Parents, Students and Teachers: With remote-learning resources more important than ever, the Library has expanded its collaboration with Seattle Public Schools (SPS) to ensure all Seattle public school students have free, instant digital access through our Library Link program. This includes access to e-books, animated picture books and nonfiction through Bookflix, movies and graphic novels through Hoopla, research databases and much more. We will continue working with SPS to support summer learning efforts with our Summer of Learning program.
  • Supporting Our Most Vulnerable Patrons: To serve our insecurely housed and homeless patrons, we worked with the city of Seattle to provide safe and hygienic access to public restrooms at five staffed Library locations. We’ve also worked with partner agencies to expand reliable internet access by loaning more Wi-Fi hot spots to locations such as tiny home villages and city-run emergency shelters.

We know that the closure of our buildings has been a hardship for the whole community, and we thank you for your support and understanding.

Please stay tuned to our website and our social media channels to learn more about when we will be able to safely offer you in-person Library services once again.

Executive Director and Chief Librarian Marcellus Turner Signature

Marcellus Turner, Executive Director and Chief Librarian