From August 31--September 7, 2009, all Seattle Public Library branches will be closed due to budget cuts. No employees will be paid during this enforced furlough. Seattle is supposed to be one of the most literate cities in the United States. Library closures mock this claim.
While there used to be equal reciprocal borrowing between Seattle Public Library and King County Library System, that is no longer the case. Seattle residents may use KCLS databases and borrow KCLS materials when they go to a specific branch, but Seattle residents may not place holds on KCLS items. This change was implemented because more Seattle residents borrow from KCLS than KCLS borrows from SPL. This makes sense: KCLS has more money, and can purchase more materials. The reciprocal borrowing agreement states why Seattle residents can't buy KCLS library cards and why the two systems can't merge. KCLS gets much of its funding from property taxes while SPL gets its funding from the city's general fund.
The SPL website reciprocal agreement page says:
We deeply regret any inconvenience this change causes. Both KCLS and SPL look forward to continuing our long history of cooperation and commitment to excellent library service to all residents of King County, regardless of jurisdictional boundaries.
I am not interested in regrets unless they spur us on to fix what is broken. I want full reciprocal borrowing privileges reinstated. I want my elected officials to recognize libraries as providing core services relating to literacy and education. I want my libraries to remain open. If the current funding plan doesn't work (obviously it doesn't), then fix it. If KCLS can remain open by being funded by property taxes, then perhaps Seattle should get on board as well. As KCLS director Bill Ptacek said in 2004, "The primary thing a library does is be open." ("Libraries for All, Except When They're Closed" by Susan Byrnes)