American Libraries Magazine has written a blowjobby piece titled "Inspiration, Seattle-style" about how great Seattle Public Libraries are:
What makes a library inspiring to its users? The key component is the relationship it builds with the people it serves. Seattle Public Library is a showcase for this attribute...
But the comments thread immediately sets the author straight:
When putting together this article, did American Libraries talk to anyone besides The Seattle Public Library administration? Yes, the Libraries for All project put a lot of money and resources into buildings. However, with the library’s operating budget being at the mercy of the city’s general fund, there is not enough money to adequately staff them.
As another person commented, Seattle Public Library has cut back on librarians and branch staff in order to create more administrators, all at the cost of public services. [SPL City Librarian Susan] Hildreth has gutted the hard work of her predecessor and the library board has apparently given her free reign to drive the once great institution into irrelevancy.
I agree with the comments here regarding the dismantling of community that is currently happening at Seattle Public. Staffing changes were implemented with no input from actual front line staff members. Long time librarians have been taken from their communities and placed in other locations, and are being told it’s all a matter of "numbers". Employee morale is at an all time low, as far as I have seen in 10+ years. If this is an inspirational vision, it is an inspiration gleaned from corporate hacks whose bottom line is the dollar.
I am confused to read the misleading claim: "In addition, it is continuing to reduce administrative salaries…" Actually, the system is adding administrative positions, even as they cut back on branch managers and librarians, converting unfilled librarian positions into lower-payed paraprofessional positions which degreed librarians in the library’s candidate pool have been encouraged to apply for.
I've said it before, but something is very wrong at SPL. Librarians are taking to anonymous comment threads to air grievances that they are afraid to talk about with administrators. I urge you to check out the story and all the responses; almost every comment adds something new to the discussion.