Council adds to Library Levy, then votes it out of committee

This afternoon, the City Council approved three additions to the Mayor’s proposed renewal of the Seattle Library Levy, then advanced it out of committee. It’s now scheduled for final approval on Monday, which would place it on the August 6th ballot.

The Mayor’s original proposal was for $213 million over seven years. The Council’s changes this afternoon added nearly $5.8 million more to the total:

  • $2.12 million to expand Play and Learn programming in libraries aimed at children ages birth through three years and their caregivers. It provides developmentally-appropriate learning experiences that engage children, their peers, and their caregivers together. Here is a video about one highly regarded Play and Learn program. Council member Gonzalez sponsored this amendment. She and her staff win the award today for “best researched amendment;” they provided an extensive packet of information on the existing Play and Learn program, including attendance figures (106,000 attendees in 2,866 programs last year).

  • $2.51 million to keep the 26 branch libraries open one hour later Monday through Thursday. Council member O’Brien sponsored this amendment, in part to make the community meeting spaces in branch libraries more easily accessible for weekday evening meetings. O’Brien also offered an option to keep the Central Library open an extra hour those same evenings, but at the cost of $4.2 million more his colleagues balked at that, claiming that they were trying to keep the total cost of the levy to an amount that voters will deem acceptable.
  • $1.15 million to expand the Community Resource Specialist program. It’s no secret that many homeless and otherwise disadvantaged people in our community sometimes access the city’s libraries during the day, particularly the Central Library. Sponsored by Council member Mosqueda, this amendment added funding for an additional full-time social worker and half-time case manager (in addition to existing staffing) who will be able to connect those folks to human services programs and other resources available to help them.