I know that maybe a 1500-word essay on Seattle Public Library isn't your first reading choice on a Friday afternoon, but if you use the library, you should take the time to read my story on the battle for the future of Seattle Public Library:

  • Christine Marie Larsen
When asked about the corporate tone of the events (which were designed by consulting firm Berk & Associates for $120,000 and paid for by SPL's supporting nonprofit the Seattle Public Library Foundation, which mostly supports free public programming and new acquisitions, to the tune of about $2 million per year), [SPL City Librarian Susan] Hildreth responds that she wanted it to be less of a time commitment than, say, a town-hall format. Many people only stayed for 15 or 20 minutes, focusing only on subjects that interested them. SPL spokeswoman Andra Addison added that the businesslike format was a way "to think outside the box" and to provide "interesting service models. If it felt businesslike, we wanted it to be accessible. That's why we used the Post-it notes."

Hildreth can't say yet just what ideas have come from the "Citywide Conversations" program, but two weeks ago, she appointed a 19-person volunteer Strategic Planning Advisory Committee to interpret the program's results and present strategies based on the findings to the library board. Hildreth says she intended the advisory committee to feature a wide variety of city leaders. It does read like a who's who of Seattle's business community, with executives tied to Amazon, Vulcan, Safeco, Microsoft, dot-com start-ups, and real-estate firms. There are also representatives from University of Washington (a student and a teacher) and leaders of charitable organizations (such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Seattle Lighthouse for the Blind).

This is your library. You should know what's going on.