Features Oct 14, 2015 at 4:00 am

Nobody is judging the Seattle Public Library by its cover.

Several library insiders do not believe a rebrand is a good idea, internal correspondence shows. KELLY O


Stronger together? Guess they want to get sued by the SF Giants.

Corporate nonspeak is usually employed when someone is trying to hide the real story. So the real question here is what kind of programming or mission changes is Marcellus Turner considering for the library? I have to believe there's something else going on here, perhaps a more significant and fundamental change that SPL is envisioning for itself. It's probably not anything good if it's being hidden like this. But we also have no idea what the fuck it is.
The Stranger needs a rebrand.
the stranger needs journalists. this is blogging. you call this a front page feature? come on.

the re-brand is to attract new visitors to the library in an effort to raise awareness and be able to pass funding measures so they can do things like stay open later and remodel older locations.

your article is basically complaining that people pay designers to design things. but then again, The Stranger doesn't pay writers to write things, so I could see how you'd think getting paid is strange.
But why not engage the community by announcing that the library is looking for a new logo, and then hold a competition and have the demographic you’re trying to reach dream one up?

Because asking people to send you spec work for free under the guise of a "competition" is a shitty thing to do, even for a nonprofit. Pay for design work, you cheapskate.
You know a government program is too much when not even the Stranger can swallow it.
Sounds to me like someone at Hornall Anderson has a friend on the library board or Turner himself. It's ridiculous that every government agency, not matter how big or small, has to waste money on branding these days. The library is not the only example of this -- even little water districts and health departments pay consultants for logos. Government agencies are not businesses. In most of their duties, they have no direct competition and the need for "branding" serves no purpose other than to glorify administrators who are ever fearful that their bloated budgets will be cut if they don't keep their "stakeholders engaged" and to give work to the countless Photoshop-jockeys that call themselves "graphic designers" these days because there aren't enough truly productive jobs in our economy.
#6 is right, plus, the idea of crowd-sourcing a free logo to undercut skilled professionals also does nothing to reduce the cost of switching all the library materials, right after arguing that would comprise more than half the expense! That kind of undercuts the thesis, can an editor chime in on this?
So all of you criticizing this article are in favor of SPL spending $2M on this?

I wonder how many of you have actually contributed to Friends of the SPL? I have for many years running and I can tell you that I will again this year, but only a dollar - so that they know I didn't forget, I simply refuse to be a part of it.
This is what happens when you let Business school graduates into important jobs like Library administration.

@8 is probably right, personal connections lead to public moneys being blown on bullshit.

@4 is on crack. The SPL is doing very well with it's current logo and their image in the city is stellar. Rebranding would be like switching to New Coke.
There's an elephant in the room holding a sign in its trunk that says "Libraries are going the way of book and record stores."

@1: Corporate nonspeak is usually employed when someone is trying to hide the real story.

See the above elephant.
Rebranding in the non-profit world seems to tend to be not about the people they are serving, but bringing in more/bigger donors. My guess is, Turner believes, or has been convinced by someone, that a fancy new rebranding will roll in the moola from some deep pockets. What we or the rest of the public think be damned, we're not the target audience. Which, I guess, is why we all think that mission statement and the whole "s" BS is so fucking awful.
@12 it doesn't seem that way: http://www.spl.org/about-the-library/lib…
Even though Seattle, like Kent, is part of King County, Seattle has its own library system.

And the branches of Seattle are piss poor compared to any King County branch which is typically modern, spacious, technology oriented with lots of open meeting space and child reading sections.

You'd be doing yourselves a favor to fold into KCLS and let them try and fix your libraries for you.
@12- SPL is a information portal of vast significance to Seattle's population. Their buildings are packed with people, they're online and physical collections are well used, and they're beloved. Libraries (especially the SPL) have smartly done what most bookstores didn't, which is get digital quickly.
Did they hire the same firm as Seattle Cancer Care Alliance who shelled out, likely millions, to change their slogan to "Better Together?" http://www.seattlecca.org/
I really don't get why you're so against a rebranding effort. A one-time $2M re-brand seems reasonable, and if it makes the library more appealing to more people, then that's money well spent. Extra hours, as the woman you interview noted, requires stable funding year-over-year.
I sat down to read the one book, out of 5 searched for, available at the local branch.
Nobody even tries to keep the kids and riff raff quiet anymore.

It's no wonder people prefer bookstores, and no small bit of irony that in a city of angry schoolmarms, none of them can be bothered to "shush" anyone except online. Even the commies in Asia know how to maintain a little peace and quiet.
This is like when Aer Lingus decided to blow 12 million quid on a "rebranding," and all they got for the money was a swept shamrock on the tails of their planes.
While I think the library doesn't necessarily need to spend nearly 2 million dollars on a rebrand at this time. Asking that they crowd source that for free?

Seriously? Didn't we just have a community debate about income in this state and decide people were getting screwed?

You know ho many designers need work in this town? Yeah. Fun-uuuck you, Smith.

I suggest the Stranger also crowd source all it's news for free.
I have a hypothesis - it may on-point or it may be utter crap.

Perhaps this re-branding effort was initiated by concerns about Folio, the new Seattle private library opening in downtown? Perhaps there is fear that a subscription library would somehow erode upper-class or institutional support for the public library, and the re-branding is a way to garner/keep the attention of those users/supporters?
It's time for Marcellus Turner to go back under whichever corporate rock he climbed out from under. He can't be trusted with Seattle library PATRONS' money. Yes, we actually patronize this foolishness with our levy money and donations to the Seattle Library Foundation.

Anybody up for mic checking and giving Turner the full bullhorn treatment him on Oct 28? We can remind him of the YEARS of reduced service we went through in the recent past and force him to account for the number of FTE's who get raises were it not for this labish waste of money.

Rich, please post the time and location of the meeting where we can blast this stupidity.
It's a totally lame-ass idea to spend money on a re-brand just for the sake of something new. It was just a short few years ago that the library was struggling to keep its doors open and they had forced budget closure days with reduced hours at all libraries. $395,000 would go a long way towards buying more materials and towards upkeep of facilities. Maybe we need a new head librarian.
I can't believe I get to be the first to use the phrase "stupidest goddamned thing I have ever heard."
This is why we have cost overruns. What's the worth of $2 mill? A lot. Certainly enough to fund 25 SPS teachers. Enough for more books, more for summer literacy outreach, expand ESL/citizenship/homework support in more libraries. Hope that answers some questions on what you can do with chump change like 2 million dollars in Seattle.

$2 mill for branding. What is that old adage?

"All that glitters is not gold...
Gilded tombs do worms enfold"
@14, @16: From the article: "Circulation numbers and visits to the library are declining in Seattle and across the country, and guests are using digital sources more than print sources."

The public library system was created by Ben Franklin, who as far as I'm concerned is a superhero. Still, I don't see who wins when you ignore the elephant.
@tkc: I suggest the Stranger also crowd source all it's news for free.

Uh, how much are they paying you for your contributions here?
"Your respect and admiration for librarians might even exceed your respect for police officers"

I have never seen a statement on respect for police officers in the Stranger until now. That was refreshingly civic minded, thank you.
@27. Bear in mind that is a quote from internal emails. It would be good to get a fact check on this claim, as these are hard numbers, and do exist. And to see how any decline in print circulation (I believe it is minor, per @14) relates to preceding increases in fines and fees cuts in maximum check out limits (as reported in these pages in 2009: http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/not-k… ) , as well as large cuts in open hours across the system that have yet to be restored. You cannot check out a physical item when the library is closed. I suspect if someone does this fact checking, they will find a sharp correlation between the Library's self-imposed policies limiting access to materials, and the mild decline in their circulation. (As for what is happening in other cities, I really couldn't care less. Literacy levels vary greatly from city to city: Seattle has for years been consistently rated as being among our nation's two or three most literate cities; we certainly don't need to be taking our cues from Fresno and El Paso.)
First Jorge Carrasco at City Light and now Marcellus Turner at SPL. Embarrassment after embarrassment.
Trust me the big media, book companies like Amazon--hate the act that you and I get free stuff--that is what is behind this,ultimately this is a conservative attack on the fundamental nature of the library. We are going to have to stand together and fiercely protect the very nature of what a library is in this ever-loving city of ours.
The brands they came up with are horrid--they would have done much better to open it up to local artists. These are really very unimaginative.


Oh fuck you, Mr. Wells. Every comic that Callan draws is a statement of respect for officers. The profile of the Umpqua detectives rushing into danger was a statement of respect. Every post about a mass shooting, or a gay-bashing, or a horrible accident is a statement of respect for officers. Send a catered dinner to every precinct each weekend if you're so hung up on giving absolute support to police.
"Circulation numbers and visits to the library are declining in Seattle and across the country, and guests are using digital sources more than print sources." This is simply not true--you have to add dvd's and cd's to get a number that competes with books and magazines. The truth is that e-books are a fad and the goal is to force readers to have to buy everythng--it all comes down to an attempt to cripple the idea of the library in the same way that the government has been attacked and that the post office is currently being undercut. Seattleites love their libraries and it appears that for he time being--they are going to have to start fighting to protect them. This is a direct attack on libraries and it has worked in other cities--don't let it happen here. Period, Call the Central public library--let them know that you do not want them to redefine, restructure or otherwise take steps to reconfigure the essential tenets of what a library has been since the days before Alexandria. Don't let libraries die in Seattle on your watch!
@30: I remember hearing a lot of these kinds of desperate arguments made about book and record stores.

Physical books are a niche market. Other forms of physical media are an even smaller niche. The world is moving to digital. These are facts.

That leaves us with millions of dollars in newly renovated buildings with fancy architectures in search of a purpose. This whole branding controversy is symptomatic of a much more profound identity crisis.

The $2 million would be better spent on an improved web presence combined with an aggressive digital marketing campaign. Even fierce defenders like @Encaustic_Rabbit understand that libraries are in the same business as Amazon, not Elliott Bay Books. As for the new signs, fuck 'em, they don't matter.

This is the best "branding" advice SPL will get, and it's free.
And don't think that this is anything less than a move to make private companies more money and to do away with lending libraries.

Record stores are practically non-existent. Libraries can be too--and their buildings can be used to build new condos--its a win-win for everyone! I mean, everyone but the 99%.
@36. This is an upper middle-class outlook that,like all conservative memes--ignores children, the poor, college students and comes from a point of view that says that only those that can afford it--should have access to information, news, music, information, education. The biggest sin of this supposed "rebranding" is that it is actually an attempt to "rebrand" the library out of one of its most important goals--and that is to equalize access. It was designed over a thousand years to enable the poorest among us to have access to the things that they would not otherwise have access to--Dreams. We must guard everyone's dreams and libraries are the last bastion of a society that once believed that we all deserve access to the tools that can carry a young Hispanic child out of the economic pit that the rest of our culture simply allows them to become trapped in. Libraries give access to those who would otherwise be culturally ghettoized to read about the things that they would otherwise never have access to. We need libraries--for all the things that they do--all the things that they give access to--books are symbolic of the walls that will be torn down--once all libraries are replaced by the library channel--or library website--where, for a price you will be able to download all the episodes of the Simpsons--but don't try to get one of the five copies of Naked Lunch that that database has--because the site will be controlled to make sure that only approved information is easily accessable--and William S. Burroughs, Jean Genet, Rimbauld, Derrida and Maupin are all considered to be too deviant and their feeds will be slowed down--or at the very least only available to those over 21. Think I'm joking--this is a very slippery slope and once you have all the information in all of the libraries in one location--it will be very easy to control that information and who has access to it.
The truth though, if the long-term goals are to deconstruct the idea of the library--to cripple it, to make it no longer an effective lending institution--to make sure that it is no longer competition for the Amazons and Walmarts of this world--this is something that can only happen if we let it and could only happen concealed in the darkness and secrecy of boardrooms and backrooms--so I am thankful and grateful for the Stranger for bringing this into the light--and I hope that they will continue to make sure that we are fully aware of every step that the library intends to take--for the darkness fears the light and we are all going to have to come together to protect--not just the books, not just the walls of the library--but also the very principles of the library--in order to ensure that libraries continue just as they have for a thousand years before this and for a thousand years into the future--not as Library.com--but as a physical repository of our hopes and dreams.

@36. No, spend money on a better collection--I have many friends who work for SPL and every day they tell me that they have to send people away because SPL--does not have text books, does not collect its magazines into book form and simple allows its old books to die--rather than binding them--SPL wastes tones of money every day by denying that they have any history. And denying that they are a library--but you have to realize that SPL has been attempting to self-destruct for a very long time, step-by-step. Conservative action is achieved by eating an organism from within, little by little, hiring more and more like-minded individuals unrtil it builds unstoppable momentum--SPL has stopped being a hegemonic ally-sustaining library a long time ago and is attempting to force change in a particular direction by no longer functioning in the ways that it is essentially supposed to--as a good place to get the books that a city of readers needs--not just the newest best-sellers, but a deeper collection--that is what I believe--I don't agree with anything that fool seandr has to say--I personally think he has been sent as damage control on this topic. That is just going to get bigger before it ever begins to blows over.
OK. Some bad journalism in parts but as a (recently) former employee of SPL, I'll say we are adrift in a sea of corporate nonspeak and total identity crisis, and all for an institution that has many brilliant and caring employees but treats them like cattle. Not just sour grapes. Inside knowledge. How about this for a brand "Keeping it real. Old skool. Fuck corporate mentality. "
I just sent the following. Feel free to adapt it for your own emails. (Or quote it in full (but please attribute it, so they don't get confused why multiple people are sending the same text)).
The proposed rebranding/renaming (and update of signage and materials) of the Seattle Public Library is a foolish and unnecessary waste of money. The money could be better used on actual outreach programs and capital improvements (e.g. buying more computers, books, shelves).

I live a few blocks from the Central library, and check out books there weekly. I'm a strong supporter of the library, and hope to continue to be. This rebranding effort is not what I want to see my library doing.

Please don't support it, and vote it down on Oct 28th.

Jesse Weinstein
Thank you for this. The rebranding survey on the library website alerted me to the fact that the institution had caught some sort of crazy virus. It was completely nuts, like some kind of joke. I loved the library just the way it was, extraordinary. If they have lots of money to spend, I have a suggestion. Spend it on books or librarians to keep the libraries open for more hours, and to help kids with their homework. Not the sort of changes that make a super-star career for someone. Just simple things that serve the people who pay taxes for the library and live in this city.
I wish the author of this article had done a little bit of research on libraries before writing this. Libraries are more than books. They are also more than watching a game, which is pretty irrelevant. They are adapting to the changing needs of society by broadening definitions of literacy beyond just reading but also technological literacy and STEM literacy. In most libraries now library employees spend a good part, in my case at least half of the day, helping people with resumes, navigating job application websites, printing their emails, and learning how to download books onto their tablets. It may seem absurd to someone who has had the privilege of technological access from an early age but the reality is this is what people need. The library is there to help bridge technological literacy gaps. Rebranding is something done by libraries not after a flyby decision by one librarian, but after community needs analyses are performed, and strategic plans are created to address issues brought up by the community. In the survey I took that SPL put out about rebranding they asked for patrons to give input about whether changing from the Seattle public library to Seattle Public Libraries would help get across the message that they are an entire network across the city that exists to support patrons. This helps break down the image of the library as the single large library downtown. It is your neighborhood library, which is more likely to cater to your specific needs. As other commenters have mentioned rebranding is a step in staying modern to appeal to patrons who don't already use the library, and who could benefit from its services.
We need a world-class rebranding to go with our world-class central library. Only that will keep it vibrant and walkable, even if we can't keep the windows clean.
@36 "These are facts."

@36: Those, in point of fact, are facts, or point to them. (Oh, also - indie bookstores are making a comeback. Google it).

I'm not arguing against digital formats: that would be silly - they're wonderful, and many people use them, including myself. This isn't an either/or - most new media seems to add to the mix rather than simply replacing it, but it does seem that for reasons we're still figuring out (see links) print technology seems to have some real staying power, simply because it is very good technology for the purpose. To call print a "niche market" is simply to ignore the current state of things - e.g. the facts.

However, whatever happens long, mid and short term in how people (all kinds of people, with and without disposable incomes) read and which technologies they use to do it, none of these necessarily alters the fundamental role of the public library in supporting the reading life of its community, the basic rationale of which is democratic: the feeling that just like education, access to information, ideas and cultural products should not be strictly pay-to-play. At heart, public libraries are all about creating and enhancing that access as best we can, in the real world where things cost money, technologies and preferences shift with increasing rapidity, and we seek to meet the needs and better the lives of real people facing real challenges.

Of course public libraries are "more than just (e)books," - in fact, they always have been an important part of both the social safety net, adult education and vital aid to newcomers to our shores - but it is also I feel accurate to say that supporting and promoting literacy (at all ages) and reading is at the core of our existence, and a fundamental part of our contract with the public, who still believe that a literate populace is a more enlightened and reasonable one (lots of studies to support that too, which I won't cite here).

I'm not offering any opinions on this whole branding thing: what I do think needs more careful consideration (by the likes of @36, and in general) is just what this "changing role" of libraries truly is, reflecting the complexity of the shifts we're seeing, and honoring what seems to me our public's unwavering belief in, commitment to, and usage of the library as the one center of the reading community. People associate libraries with books. (ebooks, digital audiobooks, large print books, whatever). I don't think that is a bad thing, for people or libraries, in Seattle anyway.

The library exists as a public trust, for promoting the public good: it is essential that we're doing what our public and our actual users feel we should be doing, and they seem to be saying pretty loud and clear that in Seattle, whatever else we do, we want a Library that supports, celebrates and enhances our city's robust interest in the written word.
@17 You must have insider knowledge. The Library and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance did, in fact, hire the same design firm for their respective rebrands. "STRONGER TOGETHER" for the Library. "Better Together" for SCCA.
The "______ Together" tagline template seems infinitely versatile. I wonder how many other companies it could work for?
Trojan. Climax Together.
Westboro Baptist Church. Hate Together.
Red Lobster. Vomit Together.
The possibilities are endless.
(PS - please translate any and all "we's" with reference to the library (@47) to "they's" - speaking purely as a lifelong SPL user, and not on anyone's behalf by my own. thx.
@45 - Totally agree, but like Rich said, it's hard to see what a rebranding will do to forward the mission of bridging the technological literacy gap. Is the library at risk of losing the unemployed to Worksource or any of the other number of charity groups that do similar work? What is their competition that they are trying to beat with this re-branding?

It's quite obvious that this is more of a feather in the cap of some managers' resumes ("we brought SPL into the 21st century!") rather than something aimed at a specific goal.
If the rebranding does go through, I wonder if this will force Friends of the Seattle Public Library and the Seattle Public Library Foundation to buy new stationary, too: Friends of Seattle Public Libraries and Seattle Public Libraries Foundation. In all seriousness, as a card-holding user of the SPL since grade school, I think rebranding is a colossal waste of resources and (bureaucratic) energy and fails to meet even some of their nebulous goals.
You had me until: "But why not engage the community by announcing that the library is looking for a new logo, and then hold a competition and have the demographic you’re trying to reach dream one up?"

Because that's not how brand design at this scale works. Graphic designers and brand marketers are creative professionals, and it's high time we stopped pretending that their work can be accomplished by anyone with a Creative Cloud subscription, or even any ol body with an arts degree. If SPL is going to go about this process, then selecting a group of professionals is the only way to do it.

Whether or not SPL needs to go through this process right now, and whether or not they're going through it for the right reasons are totally valid questions for public discussion -- in particular if they intend to spend public money to do it. But if they are going to go through it, we don't get to shit on the idea that they hired experienced professionals to get the job done. Rolling out a new brand across an organization the size of SPL is not something best left to amateurs... if you think Hornall Anderson's rates are high, you should see what it costs to fix something that some fool fucked up trying to do it on the cheap.

As an aside, also: this weird fetish Seattle has with letting "community members" (as if the professionals working at Hornall Anderson aren't community members) have a say in every little detail of every little thing is gross. Some of you folks need better hobbies.
Wait so, the library is trying to stay relevant in an increasingly digital world by...investing in updated physical signage? What? Sigh. Is the meeting open to the public? If so, please provide time and location.
Public Lending Libraries were a fad--We're over it now.
The library is trying to evolve into the future in the same way that the Post Office is--by strangling it at its base.
@52 Perhaps, professionals would be the way to go with it--but these logos are so poor that they look like logos for energy companies from the seventies. They are really very bad.
The library as a group of caring and passionate employees is a wonderful thing. The few managerial types at the top have no clue what the library really is. It's all conjuring ideas to make themselves feel relevant.
well now we know who the out of work "designers" are.
@15 - sorry but state law prevents SPL being annexed by KCLS. It has to do with population and Seattle is way over the allowed threshhold.

Otherwise, I am just shaking my head at the stupidity of this project. I have sent an email to the Bd of Trustees - library.board@spl.org - saying so. I hope everyone will take a moment to do so as well. Better yet, plan on being at the Board meeting on the 28th @5.
The numbers posted for a simple logo change are stunningly small. I helped the design for the bigger overpasses leading to the new Olympic sites in Atlanta in 1996, and even then for one buildings little on-glass changes, let alone manufacture of small in-building signs just ridiculous. With that sort of suggested budget? You might get a logo and a (copyrighted) symbol that a company might RENT to the library system. This guy suggesting these thing is either wanting to get involved in a Bertha-like quagmire, or is a MUCH better under-the-table-negotiator than I, or I should REALLY hire him...for what, I'm not sure, salesman?
The Multnomah County Library system in Portland is also undergoing an unnecessary rebranding. It must be the fad among library systems these days.
The subtle name change will be lost on the many, many people who routinely text and post to social media (and in Stranger comments) without capital letters or punctuation. Spell check is bound revert the library's name to its original form, anyway.
@48 "Vomit Together." LOL
Retro is in right now. What logo were they using in the 1950s? Can we re-use that one?
Remember "Say Wa" or "Metronatural?" Exactly. These failures of branding for public entities failed, at least I believe, because they were treating public entities like a box of cereal. Well, and they were really poorly done and insensitive to how they would be perceived. Our relationship with our library is deep, even if we don't visit them often. We support them because we feel they represent the best part of us, the part that values knowledge. The fact that the money at least for the initial part of this is not public money is a bogus argument. Money is money. Hornell Anderson is a good design firm. But when they do work for a corporation it's not our money that is being spent, and it's not part of us. Our library is part of us. Instead of changing the logo or adding an "s" to the name, time and money should be invested in developing programs that will demonstrate how they are adapting to the changing needs of libraries. Not creating a logo that implies something new is going on here. Their view of branding seems to be a coat of paint. This is not branding. Branding is actually articulating what it is you do in a way that people care about.
Physical books are a niche market. Other forms of physical media are an even smaller niche. The world is moving to digital. These are facts.
Yes, well, for you and your hip and trendy PBR swilling bromiesters... Many others still read books.
The library is broken. Think for a second if there was no library and today we were asked to design one, what would it look like? Assuming it is not a historical repository, there would not be stacks of books. The media would be digital. There would not be large buildings. Rather the absence of stacks would mean smaller spaces as most borrowing would take place off-site and online. There would not be overly paid librarians to answer questions that are now found via search engines in minutes. Rather there would be people who are trained to sift through and make sense of the massive data that now exists, curators of information perhaps.

They might be gathering places for people to read and talk together, for literacy related activities like children's stories. They ought not in my view be a place to get resumes done, to get in from the cold, or serve as a place for the unbathed.

Those of us who are many, who rarely visit because it is not relevant to our lives, but who pay the bills to keep them open, are stakeholders who need to see that their money is being meaningfully spent. If asked today to fund the library for current purposes, I would pull my money. Branding is meaningless if there is not a respected product/service that backs up the brand. The library is lost in its no longer relevant past, and trying to fulfill political and personal agendas that don't resonate with many of us who love writing, books and learning.
Harassing public officials because you can't understand the immediate value of every single one of your tax dollars is what tea partiers do. I would hope that the Stranger, if not Seattle, would be better than this.

Seriously—why is this the mantle you've chosen to take up? Why is this such an important issue? $365,000 is pocket change for an organization with a $65 million annual operating budget. It uses zero public funds, and it's a one-time investment in the long-term viability of the SPL with serious potential return on investment. You're manufacturing controversy where this is none.

Here a few things to consider before your next angry letter to the city librarian:

This is not unusual or remarkable at all. Non-profits and government organizations that interact with the public have brands, and it's very common to undergo projects that refresh those brands, even if those organizations sound mundane. The Seattle Police Department just hired DEI Creative, one of the trendiest design firms in the city for a rebranding project, and I guarantee you they spent at least that much (didn't hear any outrage there). City governments have brands. Tourism boards have brands. Every branch of the military has a (very expensive) brand). USPS underwent a multi-million dollar rebrand a few years back. These projects might sound like corporate bullshit, but those design firms stay in business because the value of a brand is well understood by people who don't work for the Stranger.

The reason a brand is valuable to SPL has nothing to do with its immediate ability to serve its patrons—it's about maintaing its long-term solvency and vitality. SPL is at all times beholden to the whims of voters, lawmakers and donors. In order to survive, it's incredibly important that the library be able to market itself and control public perception. As books become less and less of a priority in people's lives, they need to be able to appear current, relevant, and important, so that when the next funding levy comes around, Seattle voters (who are fucking idiots) are excited enough about the library that they vote yes.

You can't just dismiss this—marketing is important. That's why non-profits spend millions on advertising campaigns and fundraising galas. Dollars that aren't spent immediately on the people they serve aren't necessarily dollars wasted. Investing in the long-term future of the library is just as important as serving patrons today.

Seriously. Every word of this sounds like republicans whining about how the .001% of the federal budget that goes to NPR and Planned Parenthood are going to bankrupt the country. There are better progressive causes to trumpet. Get your shit together.
When it comes down to it--I don't believe the City Librarian actually has the best interests of the library at heart--at a time when only blocks away from the central library--conservatives are singing the praises of "Folio"--a privatised pay for play library--whose main selling points are that you can read the books without having to deal with the rabble of poor people--I believe it becomes obvious that this is a direct attack on what progressives call the "commons"--those things that we share in common--like post offices, fire departments, parks, etc. And the reason that books become so important in this equation is that once you get rid of the books--there is no need for the buildings to handle these books--then it is a simple, hop, step and jump to doing away with the libraries all together. Truthfully, my advice to SPL and to the City Librarian is this--rather than wasting our time with a strategic first step toward doing away with libraries that, like all conservative causes are believed to be better done by private enterprises--get back to basics and give us a better library system. Repair the books that you have rather than throwing them away or selling them via the "Friends of the Library," Collect the magazines in hardback collections--start getting a deeper collection--your art collection sucks, your theoretical collection is pathetic, students eschew the library because its collection is so light. Get back to the basics of what a library is and quit wasting all of our time with this "Rebranding." You had your shot--and the people have spoken. You are not going to demolish libraries in Seattle--one of the most literate cities in the world--not today, you aren't going to turn the libraries into digital outlets in order to sell more e-readers for Amazon--at least not today. Go back to the drawing board--Seattle has spoken--you asked us to respond and we have--now abide by what we have decided. We want our library just as it is--only better and yes, that includes safe-guarding our books from those that only see them as something to do away with--E-books are a fad--deal with it. They were always just going to turn into more portable computers, anyway.
I had a checked out book stolen from me on a bus. I offered to replace it. They refused. Against policy. Along with fines, I now owe $50 and my library card is suspended... FOREVER. There's a statute of limitations on RAPE, but at the Seattle Public Library, fines never go away, and they have never had any form of amnesty. The book is in my hand. They don't want it. They want the money. They can go fuck themselves.
Turner is typical of today's modern a-go-go librarian: corporate-minded, vain, haughty, smug, and unimaginative. His entire blabbing is, in the Library World, about 70 years old. (e.g. how the profession is 'changing', etc.) Microforms were supposedly going to make books obsolete, and on and on, through to the Internet, of course. The bottom line is that a library is a continuum, an additive element of civilization you can rely on, not some flaky entity based on insipid 'strategic planning'. There's no big deal about running a library. You just take care of it, guard it, and add to it. Funding is the big deal, of course. But a library doesn't need gestures made by every new CEO who wants to advertise how big their dick/tits is/are. I worked in a large library for 22 years, and while I am pro-library in my sentiments, I know that the 'new' crowd running them are uninspiring, to say the least. BTW, it's library staff (as opposed to librarians) who actually make libraries work. Talk to them for the real story, not some poseur at the top. All forms of library materials are valid, and all must be maintained, especially for an upcoming era when patience and curiosity return to the world.
I lost all respect for Seattle Public Library when I witness one 'roided-up Ballard Librarian abuse and degrade the poor and the homeless, including bullying a paraplegic man to tears for using 'too much' of an otherwise empty table. I could not find anyone at the library or City Hall who gave a damn. Fuck them. Especially Marcelus Turner. Mayor Murray, too.

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