It’s a busy time at the King County Library System, as we look toward another school year while continuing to adhere to public health guidelines concerning the pandemic.
This long, hot summer saw our reopened libraries used as cooling centers; we opened buildings on days they are typically closed, providing relief from unprecedented temperatures. People flocked to our buildings, thrilled not only for the air-conditioning, but also to be able to access our collections and computers in person.
Our Summer Reading program, which runs through August 31, has been a big hit, inviting people of all ages to track their reading minutes toward a 1,000-minute goal. As of mid-August, patrons had tallied 4,156,325 minutes read. Equally impressive are the numbers of free books and STEM kits distributed to kids in our communities, thanks to the KCLS Foundation and 100 partner organizations. Over 24,000 books and 5,000 kits in total!
As a new school year begins, KCLS continues to offer online support to parents, teachers and students with literacy, homework help, college prep and many other educational programs.
Our Student Accounts program recently added three new schools – Washington Technology University, Rainier Prep and Woodinville Montessori. In total, the program now numbers thirty K-12 public schools and eight colleges, including technical schools and community colleges. It serves 400,000 students and teachers, who have instant access to all KCLS online resources. The program has caught the attention of the Urban Libraries Council. The national organization has invited KCLS to contribute to a best practices website focused on how libraries support children’s education through powerful partnerships.
KCLS also has forged partnerships to ensure greater accessibility to COVID-19 vaccines and to transportation services.
The Library System has teamed with Public Health–Seattle & King County to ensure COVID-19 vaccinations are convenient and accessible. Free vaccination clinics staffed by healthcare providers were held at a number of KCLS library parking lots in August and will continue in September.
At Skyway Library, KCLS helped local elected officials launch a new Metro Transit service called Via to Transit. It provides an on-demand public transit option linking riders in four community service areas–Skyway/Rainier Beach, Renton Highlands, Tukwila and Othello–to transportation hubs such as light rail stations and bus transit centers.
We are proud to be part of this joint effort to remove transportation barriers and improve access to information, technology, services and resources. Via to Transit offers an innovative and convenient way to help connect King County residents to the vital spaces, services and programs they need.
In other news, KCLS received a Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the 1,700-member Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA). The award is a significant achievement and reflects KCLS’ commitment to meeting the highest standards of governmental budgeting and transparency.
Throughout the pandemic, KCLS has delivered innovative services while buildings were closed to public access. Now that our buildings are open, we invite residents to take advantage of all that their community libraries have to offer!