King County remains in Phase 3 of the Healthy Washington plan with the prospect of moving back to Phase 2. However, the King County Library System will continue to reopen libraries within public health guidelines. To date, 13 libraries have reopened for modified in-building services, including seven in April (Lake Hills, Boulevard Park, Snoqualmie, Enumclaw, Federal Way 320th, Woodinville and Vashon) and six other libraries in March – Kent, Muckleshoot, Fall City, Skykomish, Tukwila and Woodmont. Several more - Skyway, Lake Forest Park, Carnation and Black Diamond - will reopen in May. Some of the libraries offer a hybrid of both in-building and Curbside to Go services.
It has been wonderful to see our patrons’ enthusiasm as they browse shelves, chat with staff and access computers, printers and scanners.
We were pleased that Governor Jay Inslee proclaimed April 4-10 “Library Week in the State of Washington” in conjunction with National Library Week, and that some of our elected officials visited reopened libraries. Des Moines Councilmember Traci Buxton toured Woodmont Library on April 14, and King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert joined me at Fall City Library April 23. King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove visited the Kent Library in March. In addition to enjoying patron reactions to being back in libraries, they were reassured by our safety measures, including social distancing, mask-wearing and frequent sanitizing of library spaces.
You can read about our reopened libraries and patrons’ responses on our website.
In May, KCLS was invited to participate in an online forum hosted by the Book Industry Study Group. This national membership organization includes not only libraries, but publishers, retailers, service providers and many others who advocate for a more informed, empowered and efficient book industry. I will be among the panelists who will discuss ways to increase readership and build library-publisher relationships.
I also took part in the American Library Association’s effort to advocate for federal funding in fiscal year 2022. Along with KCLS’ Government Relations Manager, we met with congressional staff via Zoom to voice support for the Build America’s Libraries Act, which will provide funding to upgrade library infrastructures nationwide.
As we approach the end of a very different school year, patrons can look forward to KCLS’ All-Ages Summer Reading Program, which begins June 1 and runs through August 31. The annual reading challenge invites patrons ages five and up to track the minutes spent reading all summer long. There are also age-appropriate activities for our early learners.
We continue to explore and create opportunities to serve the residents of King County. As we forge ahead, I want to take a moment to express gratitude for our staff, who adapted to the unprecedented challenges of last year. Our 2020 Annual Report documents the innovative work that kept library services accessible to the public throughout the pandemic. You can find the full report at https://kcls.org/annual-reports/.