It’s a wonderful word, and describes what patrons experience when they visit the King County Library System, even during a continuing pandemic.
Libraries have always been safe and welcoming spaces. Recently in September, we were particularly responsive to events felt around the globe.
With news that King County may help relocate refugees from Afghanistan, KCLS is uniquely positioned to help. Our libraries are open to all, and new arrivals, many of whom worked as translators or in other positions alongside Americans, can take advantage of our services and resources. KCLS' The Welcoming Center offers online help, connecting immigrants with housing, health services, legal assistance and other important community resources.
Welcoming Week (September 10-19) was particularly timely. The national initiative brings people of all backgrounds together to create strong connections, and to affirm the importance of inclusive communities in achieving collective prosperity. Through a network of hosted events across the United States, Welcoming Week partner agencies worked to make their organizations places that are more inviting for all. KCLS offered Welcoming Week Reads and online library events such as author talks to explore the experiences of local immigrants and refugees.
KCLS also kicked off Hispanic History Month September 15 with a Latinx romance reading series. Other KCLS events during the annual celebration, which runs through October 15, include a family book club in Spanish and an Author Voices discussion with Mexican Gothic author Silvia Moreno-Garcia.
Meanwhile, patrons of all backgrounds are visiting their local libraries in large numbers. As students and teachers return to classrooms for the first time in over a year, they are making the most of KCLS in-building resources as well as online programs. One of those programs, Study Zone Plus, saw a 124% jump in attendance during the summer. The program, which offers one-on-one virtual tutoring in a range of subjects, logged 2,259 student visits in the summer months and is going strong this fall.
KCLS was also visited this past month by elected officials to see first-hand how libraries are doing. At the Snoqualmie Library U.S. Congresswoman Kim Schrier, Department of Commerce Deputy Secretary Don Graves, and Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson held a lively discussion around library broadband needs and internet connectivity for more residents.
KCLS patrons also are welcome to access a wide variety of materials that offer many diverse viewpoints. Libraries celebrate intellectual freedom—the right of everyone to seek out information, ideas and expressive content of any kind within the law—all year, but Banned Books Week, September 26-October 2, particularly highlights the importance of open access to information and ideas. Each year, the American Library Association lists book bans and challenges, as reported in the media and submitted by librarians and teachers across the country. This year, the Banned Books Week theme is “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.” You can see a list of the top 10 banned books on the KCLS website, or go to https://bannedbooksweek.org/.
Feel free to visit us! You are most welcome.