History

Explore the 70-plus-year history of the King County Library System (KCLS).

2015

  • 49 libraries, totaling 739,788 square feet
  • 756,000 registered cardholders, 112,000 new patrons
  • 566, 087 people attend programs
  • We check out 20.4 million items
  • Borrowers check out 3 million downloads, making KCLS the number one circulating library in the U.S. for Overdrive downloads
  • Our patrons have access to 4.7 million items in our collection
  • kcls.org receives 42 million hits; the catalog receives 60 million hits
  • 67,247 people are visited through mobile outreach
  • KCLS implements Student Library eCard pilot, giving school-based access to digital materials
  • River-spanning Renton Library opens

2014

  • 48 community libraries
  • 9,975,580 people visit our libraries
  • Summer Learning programs incorporate STREAM-based content
  • We pilot free summer meals with summer learning to provide nutrition for kids in low-income areas
  • 144% increase in summer learning participation
  • New Vashon and Fairwood Libraries open
  • Bellevue Library Parking Garage receives 2014 AIA|WA Civic Design Award
  • Federal Way 320th Library receives 2014 AIA Seattle Award of Merit
  • Newcastle Library receives
    • 2014 GE Edison Award for Environmental Design Winner
    • 2014 Illuminating Engineering Society, Regional Award of Merit

2013

  • 48 community libraries
  • 9.9 million people visit our libraries
  • Kcls.org gets 47.6 million visits
  • Cardholders check out 22 million items
  • Our patrons borrow 1.7 million eBooks and downloadable audiobooks
  • Bellevue Library Parking Garage and New Federal Way 320th Library open
  • AIA Washington Council, 2013 Civic Design Merit Award for Newcastle Library
  • The American Institute of Architects, Northwest and Pacific Region, Citation Award for Kenmore Library

2012

• 48 community libraries include a new facility in Duvall, the first-ever, new library for the new town of Newcastle, and the annexed Enumclaw Library
• 10.1 million visitors come to our libraries
• 22 million items are checked out
• We lead the U.S., Canada, and Australia in eBook circulation

2011

• We're named Library of the Year
• More than 21.8 million items are checked out; We continue to be one of the busiest libraries in the U.S.A.
• eBook use increases by 355%; We hold the record for eBook use
• 10.3 million visits are made to our 46 libraries
• Web traffic reaches more than 40.3 million
• New Kenmore and Newport Way Libraries open

2010

• 22.4 million items are checked out; We're the busiest public library in the U.S.
• We transition from a proprietary integrated library system to an open source system called Evergreen
• 84.5 million visits are made to our catalog
• 31 million visits are made to kcls.org
• New Federal Way, Sammamish, and Lake Hills Libraries open to record crowds
• Renton annexes to KCLS with a narrow approval rating

2009

• 10 million visits are made to our libraries
• Record 21.3 million items are checked out
• 88.6 million visits are made to our catalog
• 26.8 million visits are made to kcls.org
• Award-winning Look to Your Library outreach effort guides users to free library and community resources during tough economic times; wins John Cotton Dana PR award
• New Library Express @ Redmond Ridge and the expanded Kirkland Library open

2008

• More than 20 million items are checked out; We are the second busiest library in the U.S.
• New library card registration increases 10%
• 9.6 million people visit KCLS libraries
• Expanded Covington and Woodmont Libraries and new libraries in Black Diamond, Fall City, Muckleshoot, and Greenbridge open

2007

• More than 19.3 million items are checked out; We are the second busiest library system in the U.S.
• African American Achievement collection opens and diversity outreach to new employees, vendors, and contractors expands
• Tutor.com names us "Innovator of the Month" for a tutorial on Live Homework Help
• Fall City, Black Diamond, Muckleshoot, and Greenbridge Libraries groundbreakings take place
• New Snoqualmie Library and Shoreline Library parking expansion open

2006

• 19.1 million items are checked out; We're still one of the busiest libraries in the nation
• Self Check Out reaches 73%
• Summer Reading Program closes with 14,000 finishers
• KCLS-SPL Reciprocal Borrowing Agreement is modified due to $1 million cross-use imbalance; Seattle residents can no longer place KCLS holds
• Snoqualmie Library groundbreaking takes place

2005

• Patron Experience Transformation Project helps us define and deliver the gold standard for patron experiences
• Organizational restructure gains staffing and management efficiencies and addresses service issues
• We earn the PRSA Silver Anvil Award for Excellence for our 2004 Capital Replacement Bond Information Campaign
• Record participation in our Summer Reading Program- over 13,000 finishers
• About 18.3 million items are checked out
• 98 million transactions take place on kcls.org

2004

• ABC Express, a mobile library serving childcare facilities throughout King County, launches
• Library Connection @ Southcenter, funded by the KCLS Foundation, opens
• $172 million bond to fund KCLS libraries for the next decade passes with 63.57% approval

2003

• More than 22 million visits are made to kcls.org
• Over 15 million items are checked out
• Self Check Out begins at several libraries

2002

• Levy lid lift measure on February ballot passes with 64% approval
• Nearly 15 million items are checked out
• Holds continue to increase monthly by 20%
• Over 22 million visits are made to kcls.org

2001

• New Richmond Beach and Issaquah Libraries open
• Library Connection @ Crossroads opens
• More than 14 million items are checked out
• Over 19 million visits are made to kcls.org

2000

• Woodmont, Auburn, and Maple Valley Libraries open
• KCLS headquarters (Service Center) relocates to new facility in Issaquah
• Nearly 13 million items are checked out
• Over 11 million visits are made to kcls.org
• Library card campaign increases number of residents with a KCLS library card to 90%

1999

• Redmond Library opens
• Kenmore votes to annex to the district with 92% approval
• 12.8 million items circulate
• 5.2 million visits are made to kcls.org

1998

• Sammamish Library opens
• Lake Forest Park votes to annex to the district with 85% approval
• 13.1 million items are checked out
• 1 million visits are made to kcls.org

1997

• Auburn votes to annex to the district with 70% approval
• Two new cities vote to annex to the district: Covington (92% approval) and Maple Valley (93% approval)

1996

• Foster Library opens
• Lake Forest Park Library opens new location in the mall
• Measures pass to establish Library Capital Facility Areas in Redmond (68% approval) and Issaquah (71% approval)
• Bonds to pay for new buildings also approved (Redmond 64% approval; Issaquah 65% approval)

1995

• Kirkland Library opens
• Bothell Library opens
• Shoreline votes to annex to KCLS with 91% approval

1994

• North Bend Library opens
• Algona-Pacific Library opens
• Des Moines votes to annex to the district (87% approval), as does Newport Hills/ Newcastle (93% approval)
• We celebrate our 50th anniversary of service
• The Internet comes to KCLS
• Over 12 million items are checked out

1993

• Library openings: Woodinville, Covington, Burien, Bellevue, Shoreline, and Skykomish
• Mercer Island votes to annex to the district with 78% approval, as does Duvall with 73% approval, Kent with 71% approval, Burien with 91% approval, and Woodinville with 96%
• InfoNet, an online service featuring our catalog and other information services, launches

1992

• Four cities vote to annex to the library district: Tukwila with 82% approval, Normandy Park with 75%, Carnation with 67%, and Clyde Hill with 61% approval
• More than 10 million items are checked out

1991

• Answer Line is introduced
• Renovations are completed for 15 libraries
• KCLS Foundation is established to provide support beyond public funding
• Two cities vote to annex to the library district: Beaux Arts Village with 58% approval and Medina with 56% approval
• Kent Library opens
• Federal Way Library opens

1990

• Ten cities vote to annex to KCLS with the following approval percentages: Federal Way (90%), SeaTac (87%), Black Diamond (83%), Algona (75%), Issaquah (75%), Kirkland (79%), Pacific (75%), Redmond (85%), Skykomish (88%), and Snoqualmie (80%)
• Dynix is selected for our online catalog

1989

• Mercer Island votes to approve a city bond issue for a new library, passes at 66% approval

1988

• $67 million bond issue for capital improvements passes in September with 63.9% approval
• North Bend votes to annex to KCLS with 84% approval
• More than 9 million items are checked out

1987

• The Library District works on the Capital Plan, "Looking to the Year 2000"
• Capital improvement bonds from 1966 are paid in full
• 8.4 million items are checked out- double that of 10 years earlier

1986

• Communities county-wide request more library services, many seek new or expanded facilities
• Bothell votes to annex to the library district with 84% approval and Des Moines voters pass a city bond issue for a new library at 72%
• Fairwood Library opens
• About 7.86 million items are checked out

1985

• Bellevue votes to annex to KCLS with 83% approval

1983

• Issaquah and Vashon Libraries open

1982

• More than 4.7 million items are checked out
• ULISYS automated circulation system is implemented
• Valley View Library opens

1980

• A second levy lid lift is approved by 67%; funds in part new libraries for Valley View, Vashon, Fairwood, and Issaquah
• Computerized circulation system is installed
• 4.15 million items are checked out

1977

• More than 4 million items are checked out
• Levy lid lift is approved by 67.8% of voters

1966

• $6-million bond issue passes with 63% approval
• Federal funds from the Library Services and Construction Act grant and matching funds from some cities builds new libraries during the next 10 years: Bellevue, Bothell, Boulevard Park, Burien, Carnation, Fall City, Federal Way, Foster, Kingsgate, Lake Hills, Maple Valley, Newport Way, Redmond, Shoreline, Skyway, Snoqualmie, Vista, and White Center
• Former United Parcel Services building in Seattle is remodeled to become the KCLS Service Center
• Four potential library sites are purchased

1960-1966

• Full or partial library service is offered at 39 libraries in quarters frequently rented, none more than 5,000 square feet
• Use of our collection grows
• Need for new and expanded buildings and more books and other materials becomes apparent

1943

• Tax revenues begin accruing and the Library System starts to grow

1942

• Voters establish the King County Rural Library District to provide library services to people in rural areas with no easy access to city libraries
• Library System funding is provided from the property tax base of unincorporated areas ($.50 per $1,000 assessed valuation) and from contracts with cities and towns for the provision of library services
• Small community libraries run by volunteers, including the Richmond Beach and Boulevard Park Libraries, are the first to join the Library System

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