April 27, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Locals Create ‘People’s Library’ During Seattle Public Library Closure

Just because citywide budget cuts have forced the Seattle Public Library to close its doors for a week starting Monday, doesn’t mean kids will be left without good books or fun things to do during that time.

A group is organizing a “People’s Library” in the Central District—and it needs children and YA titles.

The goal? To provide the public with kid’s activities, reading materials, and Internet access from Monday, August 27 through Sunday, September 2, when all 26 branches will be shut. Libraries will remain closed on September 3 for Labor Day.

The group, led by a local activist named Rebecca Yates Coley, has set up a Facebook page and blog calling for financial donations, as well as books, magazines—and just any reading material.

An August 22 blog post read, “Now accepting financial donations” with a link to a page to help reach a goal of $500 to help cover the costs of wireless hotspots, storage needs, transportation, and arts and crafts materials.

But as of August 23, there were no donations.

To set up a functional and welcoming library space, organizers are also asking for other much-needed supplies on its wish list, such as milk crates, pop-up tents or tarps, tables and chairs, wagons or dollies, and small generators to run laptops. They’re also seeking loaner laptops and hot spots for the week.

There are a total of seven donation sites set up throughout the city—and local book stores, such as the Pegasus Book Store in West Seattle,  have made large contributions.

In fact, people have been so generous that organizers are now faced with a storage problem. So they’re asking those in the construction, storage, or trucking business to help out.

“Come to the Library on Monday, Aug 27! Browse our collection. Lead arts and crafts activities or games with the kids” reads a recent blog post. “Bring your neighbors.”

Unlike Seattle Public, this library won’t have late fees—and people can even keep the books if they like.


About Debra Lau Whelan

Debra Whelan is a former senior editor for news and features at SLJ.