LEAPing through time: a history of serving patrons with disabilities and special needs at the Seattle Public Library

2016 marks the 125th anniversary of The Seattle Public Library. After it was adopted as a department of the city in 1890, the Library opened its first reading room in Pioneer Square on April 8, 1891. To honor this milestone, we will be posting a series of articles here about the Library’s history and life in the 1890s. We also encourage our patrons to share their favorite memories of SPL on social media using the hashtag #SPL125. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. 

Imagine your most recent library visit… all the treasures you found! Browsing… this book here, a CD there, a movie. And your holds have come in! A stack full of media you’ve been awaiting and you are glad the weekend is around the corner so you can devour it all.

Now imagine you can’t see… Or hear… Or can’t get to the library easily. What would your library experience be like then? Just as amazing because of the services provided by the Seattle Public Library (SPL) through the Library Equal Access Program (LEAP) and other accessible services that the library has provided over the years.  Continue reading “LEAPing through time: a history of serving patrons with disabilities and special needs at the Seattle Public Library”

Libraries Where You Least Expect Them: Library Stations of the 1920s

2016 marks the 125th anniversary of The Seattle Public Library. After it was adopted as a department of the city in 1890, the Library opened its first reading room in Pioneer Square on April 8, 1891. To honor this milestone, we will be posting a series of articles here about the Library’s history and life in the 1890s. We also encourage our patrons to share their favorite memories of SPL on social media using the hashtag #SPL125. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest

Library Deposit Station No. 1, Weeds Pharmacy
Library Deposit Station No. 1, Weeds Pharmacy

Imagine being able to check out your next library book at your neighborhood pharmacy, candy store, or even your local department store. In the early 20th century, the library depended on exactly this model. They were referred to as deposit stations to reach underserved populations who weren’t able to make it to an official library. These stations were scattered across pharmacies, fire stations, schools, hospitals and other locales throughout the city and offered mini-library collections catered to each location. Continue reading “Libraries Where You Least Expect Them: Library Stations of the 1920s”

125th Anniversary Series: Librarian Spotlight on Roberta Meredith (1927-1958)

2016 marks the 125th anniversary of The Seattle Public Library. After it was adopted as a department of the city in 1890, the Library opened its first reading room in Pioneer Square on April 8, 1891. To honor this milestone, we will be posting a series of articles here about the Library’s history and life in the 1890s. We also encourage our patrons to share their favorite memories of SPL on social media using the hashtag #SPL125. Be sure to follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest. – editor

Over 50 years ago, University Branch (UNI) was the largest branch of Seattle Public Library, with the highest circulation, number of registrations and visitors. Roberta Meredith – one of SPL’s longest-standing Head Librarians – presided.  Through 30 years of community growth, the Depression, wartime and modernization, Meredith witnessed many changes. For example in 1944, nineteen new staff were hired at University Branch and 22 left! Building and technology improvements of this time included flashy items like a new typewriter, a cash register (1951), the book drop (1952), and natural gas heating (1957).

roberta meredith recordak
Roberta Meredith (second from left) observes patrons using the Recordak checkout station, 1951. University Herald

During the Depression, Meredith witnessed extensive layoffs across the system (62 full time employees), reduced salaries (of up to 21%) and benefits, with a reduced book budget of 47%. Work weeks increased to 44 hours, and WPA workers were hired to do Page and Maintenance work. At the same time, massive unemployment brought in more patrons, with a University Branch 1933 peak circulation of 355,234 books. Meredith reported a 63-foot long line of borrowers waiting at the Circulation desk. To give you a comparison, in 2015 UNI’s circulation was 194,669 books. Continue reading “125th Anniversary Series: Librarian Spotlight on Roberta Meredith (1927-1958)”

Celebrating Seattle’s Bookmobile

Bookmobile 19312016 marks the 125th anniversary of The Seattle Public Library. After it was adopted as a department of the city in 1890, the Library opened its first reading room in Pioneer Square on April 8, 1891. To honor this milestone, we will be posting a series of articles here about the Library’s history and life in the 1890s. We also encourage our patrons to share their favorite memories of SPL on social media using the hashtag #SPL125. Be sure to follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest. – editor

This month, Seattle Public Library is launching a brand new Bookmobile. Continue reading “Celebrating Seattle’s Bookmobile”

Lady Librarians of Seattle

2016 marks the 125th anniversary of The Seattle Public Library. After it was adopted as a department of the city in 1890, the Library opened its first reading room in Pioneer Square on April 8, 1891. To honor this milestone, we will be posting a series of articles here about the Library’s history and life in the 1890s. We also encourage our patrons to share their favorite memories of SPL on social media using the hashtag #SPL125. Be sure to follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest. – editor

How have you been celebrating Women’s History Month? Before March draws to a close, we wanted to take a moment to highlight a few of the amazing women who played an important role in the library’s history. Continue reading “Lady Librarians of Seattle”