Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Another public service hit by the recession - Seattle public libraries

The poor economy has hit Washington’s city services hard, and Seattle’s public libraries could also feel the blow. The city of Seattle must cut $72 million dollars out of its budget in order to fix a large revenue shortfall, and its public libraries are one of the likely casualties.
Under the proposal, 21 out of 27 branches in the city would be closed Fridays (when all branches are now open) and Sundays (right now, 16 out of 27 branches are open).

On Wednesdays and Thursdays, these 21 branches would open an hour later (11 a.m.) and close 2 hours earlier — 6 p.m. instead of 8 p.m. On Saturdays, they would open an hour later, at 11 a.m., closing at 6 p.m. (the way they do now).
If you don't like these proposed cuts, you won't like Initiative 1033.

If passed, I-1033 - on your November 3 ballot - would make restoring these lost hours even harder, since it would freeze spending on public services like libraries at these reduced 2009 levels. Citizens might think that they will get their libraries back when the recession passes and the economy is back to normal, but in the reality of I-1033, 2009 would be the new normal.

Starting in 2010, I-1033 would only allow city budgets to grow larger than they were the previous year in proportion to inflation and population growth, which wouldn't provide the revenue necessary to catch up to the level of service the public received before the recession. Basically, will stay stuck in the recession.

Libraries have always been popular in a city that loves to read, but current high unemployment has made them an even hipper hangout. Across the state, libraries are seeing a big increase in usage since the onset of the recession. Attendance has increased more than usual and library Internet usage has skyrocketed.

When readers and job hunters can’t afford to shop at Barnes and Noble anymore, and they cancel their magazine and Internet subscriptions, libraries fill the void so that people can continue learning and job hunting. Our tax dollars support community services like libraries that make a world of books and information available to citizens that they could never afford to provide for themselves.

You have one last chance to tell the city council in person how these cuts would affect you at tonight’s city council meeting at 5:30 p.m. at the Seattle City Hall council chambers - 600 Fourth Ave., Floor 2. You can also contact the Seattle City Council by email.

Perhaps the biggest thing you could do to ensure that these proposed cuts don’t become permanent is to vote no on I-1033 and tell your friends to do the same thing.


Blogger J said...

Thank you Northwest Progressive Institute Advocate for highlighting the budget issues facing The Seattle Public Library. Although the public hearings are over the Friends of The Seattle Public Library are working to generate 500 emails to Seattle City Council. Here's how your readers can help out:
The Friends are running a challenge that will be active through the first week of November. We need 500 emails to council in their box. Right now we have 107. If you could support that goal we’d appreciate it. The email can be short: subject line-restore branch library hours. text-My name is ____. I use the ____ library. Please restore branch library hours.

Thank you for your reporting,
Jennifer Johnson-Fong
Vice President, Friends of The Seattle Public Library

October 26, 2009 10:14 PM  

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