Bibliophiles rejoice. If voters approve the library levy on the Aug. 6 ballot, the Wallingford library will be open seven days a week, including the now-closed Fridays.
And it will open at noon on Sundays, an hour earlier. While the levy takes effect Jan. 1 (which will include the Sunday changes and an extra hour Monday – Thursday), the Friday changes likely won’t take effect until mid-2020.
Last year the Seattle Public Library had over 17 million visits, lent materials to nearly 400,000 borrowers and hosted more than 11,000 free education events.
This is not a new levy, but replaces the one that expires this year. If it fails, it would erase a quarter of the library budget and reduce hours and materials. Ballots will start showing in in mailboxes this week.
One controversial part of the levy proposal if the elimination of overdue fines on books. Library research shows that overdue fines impact some low-income neighborhoods more than others, and many users have their accounts blocked because of overdue fines.
Borrowers would still have to pay a replacement fee for lost items. According to the city, “Overdue fines act as a financial barrier to Library access for many in our community. We believe communities are stronger and healthier when everyone has access to the materials they need to pursue life, career and family goals. Research shows that eliminating the practice of charging fines on overdue materials has no significant impact on return rates.”
The Library collects about $1.1 million a year in overdue fines. This has declined by $226,363 since 2012 as more patrons use digital formats, which are fine-free.