Updated July 14, 2020

Executive Director and Chief Librarian Marcellus Turner
Executive Director and Chief Librarian Marcellus Turner

Dear patrons,

As Mayor Jenny Durkan recently announced, the city is facing a severe budget crisis due to the impacts of COVID-19.

Drastically reduced tax collections and increased costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in a $210 - $300 million gap in the city’s current general fund, which helps fund our libraries, as well as other essential city services. The economic challenges associated with the pandemic has meant the city must make changes in order to balance the current budget. Every city department was asked to rebalance their budget, and as part of that effort, the Library’s general fund allocation has been reduced by $2.8 million.

Having to rebalance our budget has been a very difficult and painful process, particularly knowing how essential our services are to the community during hard times. Protecting our core services and supporting Library values around equity were key priorities. The Library will make up the $2.8 million general fund reduction by:

  • Deferring planned increases in levy-funded Library hours and programs until 2021
  • Reducing printing, staff training, building maintenance, consultant contracts and technology replacements
  • Keeping open positions vacant
  • Utilizing an annual grant award from The Seattle Public Library Foundation

In addition to the general fund reduction, the Library’s major maintenance budget has been reduced by $100,000 due to the significant drop in real estate excise tax collections.

I know this difficult news comes on the heels of our wonderful Library of the Year Award, but we are in unprecedented times and our libraries are not immune to the current economic conditions. Please know Library staff members continue working hard to meet your needs remotely. You can find out more about our current programs and services at spl.org/RoadtoReopening or at spl.org/StayingHome. Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to welcoming you back to our locations when it is safe to do so. 

Executive Director and Chief Librarian Marcellus Turner Signature

Marcellus Turner, Executive Director and Chief Librarian