11 New or Unexpected Things to Do at The Seattle Public Library This Fall

Library card

Did you know that September is Library Card Sign-Up Month? It’s a good reminder not just to get or renew your Library card (available in minutes at www.spl.org/Card), but also to brush up on all that a Library card enables you to do.

With that in mind, we put together this sampling of interesting and useful things to do through The Seattle Public Library this fall, many of which don’t even require a card. For much, much, much more, see our giant list of 50+ things to do through the Library, which we’ve just updated at www.spl.org/50things.

  1. Revisit the iconic Central Library. Now that the Central Library’s  public spaces
    Don’t miss a visit to the Central Library’s iconic Red Floor (Level 4) reopened to the public in July 2022.

    are reopened,  it’s a great time to visit: Walk the innovative nonfiction Book Spiral from Levels 6-9, visit the Reading Room on Level 10 and gawk at the views (the Spiral and Reading Room are open Tuesday-Thursday during open hours), find the hidden murals, book a music practice room on Level 9 (Library card needed), and browse with your kids in the light-filled Children’s Center. And don’t forget the Red Floor. on Level 4. Check out this self-guided tour to get started.

2. Get free Homework Help from a trained tutor. After a 2.5-year pandemic pause, the Library’s free, drop-in afterschool tutoring program (www.spl.org/HomeworkHelp) has restarted at six branches: The Columbia, Douglass-Truth, High Point, Lake City, NewHolly and Rainier Beach branches. It’s available for all students in grades K-12, and you don’t need a reservation or a Library card to participate. Check each branch’s schedule on the Homework Help page. (Tip: Virtual tutoring is also available daily at www.spl.org/VirtualTutoring.)

Scan EZ machine for faxing and scanning
A ScanEZ machine for faxing and scanning in the Central Library’s Mixing Chamber

3. Scan and fax for free. The Library offers free high-speed scanning and faxing through ScanEZ kiosks at 16 Library locations (described by one Library staffmember as “Best. Machine. Ever”). You can also print up to 10 black-and-white pages and 3 color pages per week for free (all Library locations have printers).

4. Learn to paint, draw and dance  from your home. The Library partners with Silver Kite to offer virtual arts classes in everything from beginning drawing to essay writing. Explore at www.spl.org/calendar. These classes are geared towards people who are 50 and over, but all are welcome.

The Read-Along collection at the Central Library’s Children’s Center

5. Borrow a picture book that does the reading for you. Here’s a gift for tired parents. You can now borrow from the Library’s new collection of “Read-Along” picture books, which come with an attached (and very compact) MP3 player on the inside front cover that reads the book aloud to your child in a way that allows them to follow along. The Read-Along collection includes 50 titles and 500 copies; look for them in any branch’s children’s section, or ask a staff member.

Jekeva Phillips
Jekeva Phillips brings the page to the stage with Bibliophilia! every night from Sept. 27 to 30.

6. Get inspired by a performance or author reading. The Library has relaunched in-person author events, with many terrific events planned for fall 2022, including Biliophilia! literary / improv festival this week, and three events with Seattle Reads author Jose Luis Urrea from Oct. 19-20. Many events are also now livestreamed to make them more accessible. Find details and how to register at www.spl.org/calendar.

Museum of History and Industry, from above
Museum of History and Industry, from above. Courtesy of MOHAI

7. Rediscover local museums by reserving a free Museum Pass through our reactivated program. Museum Pass includes 11 museums, from family favorites such as the Woodland Park Zoo, the Museum of Flight and Seattle Aquarium to MoPop, the Museum of History and Industry, the Seattle Art Museum and the Wing Luke Museum. Tip: New museum passes are available at noon every day.

8. Prepare for NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month (November) is just around the corner. Get a jumpstart on your writing goals with inspiring lectures from local writers on Seattle Writes – YouTube channel. Or join a Virtual Writes session with the Richard Hugo House, which happens twice monthly. (Go to www.spl.org/calendar to find the next session and note that you have to preregister with Hugo House to get the link to the class.)

A woman in a restaurant wearing a mask9. Get free business help. You might know that the Library’s Library to Business program has a robust set of free programs and services for entrepreneurs, small business owners and nonprofit leaders, such as one-on-one virtual consults. But did you know they also offer services such as free legal consults, networking events, credit workshops,  and bookkeeping basics? Explore all services at www.spl.org/Business, and find upcoming events on the Business calendar.

10. Learn a new skill. The Library is a one-stop-shop for learning a new skill, from language learning through Mango to Northstar’s Digital Literacy lessons. You can also request a customized lesson plan from Your Next Skill; become an Excel spreadsheet or Word guru with Microsoft Imagine Academy; find a course through Linked-In Learning and more.

11. Escape into another world. Who needs Disney Plus? Cozy up with movies and TV shows that you can stream movies for free through Kanopy, Hoopla and Access Video. Find a fun list of family-friendly streaming titles recommended by Library staff in this blog post.

Bonus: Ask us anything: If you need help with any of these resources or services, or have other questions, our staff can help you in multiple languages. Just call 206-386-4636 or contact Ask Us, the Library’s email and chat service. You can also ask for help at your local Seattle Public Library branch.

Again, you can find many more ideas at www.spl.org/50things, and share your favorite Library service or program in the comments!

How to get a card with The Seattle Public Library

If you don’t have a Library card, it’s easy to get one online or in person. Apply for a card in minutes through an application at spl.org/Card. We offer applications in Spanish, Vietnamese, Amharic, Somali and Chinese, as well as in English; and there is a children’s application as well.

A Library card from The Seattle Public Library is free for anyone who lives, works, owns property or goes to school in the Library’s service area, which includes Seattle, Bothell and most parts of King County, through our reciprocal use agreement with the King County Library System. Cardholders from several library systems in Washington may also qualify.

– Elisa M., Communications

New Additions to our Northwest Photograph Collection

We’ve just wrapped up the addition of more than 800 historic images to our Northwest Photograph Collection thanks to grant funding from Washington State Library and Institute of Museum and Library Services. The collection now includes over 1300 photographs from Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Alaska.

The newly added photos include views of :

Group in regalia at Lummi Stommish Water Festival, 1949
  • The 1949 Lummi Stommish Water Festival. The celebration started near Bellingham in 1946 with activities including canoe races, salmon bakes, dancing and the selection of a festival princess.
Gov. Ernest Lister and admirals at Bremerton dry dock, 1913
  • Governor Ernest Lister and his family. Lister served as governor of Washington from 1913 to 1919, leading the state through the influenza epidemic and World War I. Lister died of heart disease while in office in 1919, shortly after many of these photos were taken.

Continue reading “New Additions to our Northwest Photograph Collection”

June 2022 Author Events: Quintard Taylor, Judy Heumann, Ottessa Moshfegh and More

The Library is bringing in June with amazing author evens. Learn about the history of Seattle’s Black community, hear poems inspired by video games and AI, meet the authors of one of the most talked-about comics of 2020, listen to award-winning fantasy authors, hear the story of leading disability rights activist Judy Heumann and more.

Registration is required for both in-person and online attendance; check the event description at spl.org/Calendar for registration and links. All events are free and open to the public.

Breakpoint coverThe Language of Machines: Asian Voices on New Poetics From Tech, Robotics and Video Games – online

Saturday, June 4, 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.  Poets Neil Aitken (“Baggage’s Dream”), Betsy Aoki (“Breakpoint”), and Margaret Rhee (“Love, Robot”), share insights about crafting award-winning poems from programming languages, video games, AI and robotics. This event is presented in partnership with Open Books: A Poetry Emporium and supported by The Seattle Public Library Foundation, author series sponsors the Gary and Connie Kunis Foundation, Open Books and Seattle City of Literature.

The Forging of a Black Community coverQuintard Taylor Discusses “The Forging of a Black Community” Central Library and online

Tuesday, June 7, 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Celebrate the release of the second edition of this seminal work by the Scott and Dorothy Bullitt Professor of American History and professor emeritus at the University of Washington. With a new foreword and afterword, “The Forging of a Black Community” is essential to understanding the history and present of the largest Black community in the Pacific Northwest. The author will appear in conversation with Dr. Quin’Nita Cobbins-Modica. This event is presented in partnership with the Northwest African American Museum, Elliott Bay Book Company, and University of Washington Press, and is supported by The Seattle Public Library Foundation and the Gary and Connie Kunis Foundation.

Continue reading “June 2022 Author Events: Quintard Taylor, Judy Heumann, Ottessa Moshfegh and More”

The Soul Pole Standing Tall Again at the Douglass-Truth Branch

Soul Pole being lifted up before being restalled On Tuesday morning, April 5, a small crowd of neighbors, Library staff and journalists gathered outside the Douglass-Truth Branch to see a very welcome event: A forklift lowering the carefully wrapped 21-foot tall Soul Pole artwork into its base on the lawn of the Library.

Soul Pole close-up
A close-up of the Soul Pole as it’s being lowered into its base
The Soul Pole standing tall again at the Douglass-Truth Branch
The Soul Pole standing tall again at the Douglass-Truth Branch

The Soul Pole has stood tall in that base since 1973, minus the last year, when it was temporarily taken down for conservation work. It was returning home.

By 1 p.m., the workers from Artech Fine Art Services finished unwrapping the Soul Pole and bolting it into its base.

At 2 p.m., under mostly blue skies, the Library hosted a short program to honor the Soul Pole’s history and conservation work, featuring speakers with deep connections to the Central District community and the history and significance of the Soul Pole.

Watch the whole program below or at SeattleChannel.org.

Chief Librarian Tom Fay presented welcoming remarks, noting how grateful the Library was to see the Soul Pole standing tall again at 23rd and Yesler. Continue reading “The Soul Pole Standing Tall Again at the Douglass-Truth Branch”

Visit Museums For Free Through the Library: New Partners

Museum of History and Industry, from above
Museum of History and Industry, from above. Courtesy of MOHAI

Seattle-area residents who have a card with The Seattle Public Library can visit more museums for free, courtesy of the Library’s Museum Pass program (www.spl.org/MuseumPass).

We are excited to share that five Seattle museums have rejoined the program: the Center for Wooden Boats, the Henry Art Gallery, Museum of History & Industry, the Seattle Art Museum and the Seattle Asian Art Museum (which share a pass).

Including these partners, the Library is now offering passes to 11 cultural institutions:

Burke Museum
Center for Wooden Boats
Henry Art Gallery
Museum of Flight
Museum of History & Industry
Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP)
National Nordic Museum
Seattle Aquarium
Seattle Art Museum & Seattle Asian Art Museum (shared pass)
Wing Luke Museum

Continue reading “Visit Museums For Free Through the Library: New Partners”