Seattle libraries closed for week to save money
Seattle's main library is well known for it's tourists visiting the architectural landmark, it's a relaxed place to read and is also recognized as one of the most heavily used libraries in the country.
Just don't try checking anything out, returning an overdue book or even logging onto the online catalog this week. The city's entire library system -- from its branches to book drops to Web site -- is shut down to save money
Nancy Pearl, the city's ex-librarian superstar and the author of "Book Lust", comments about the "immediate sorrow of how people can't go in and check out or find a good book to read" in time of economic trouble.
All city departments have been told to reduce spending to make up a $43 million gap in Seattle's 2009 budget. The public library is trying to cut 2 percent, or about $1 million, and the weeklong closure of its downtown central library and 26 branches aims to save $655,000. About 700 library employees are forgoing a week of pay, with the system to reopen the day after Labor Day
American Library Association President Camila Alire said that "libraries have been targets for branch closures, reduced hours and job cuts as cities scramble for cash during the economic downturn" and then added that their group didn't have statistics on similar closures across the country.
Dallas, Philadelphia, Hawaii, Providence, R.I., and Norwich, Conn. are other places where cutbacks and closures have been proposed for libraries.
In western Washington, where gray, damp winters lead to introspection, books and the Seattle Public Library have always been a popular escape
"It seems so bizarre for a city so steeped in its literature and cultural roots for its library to be closed," said Scottish tourist Cameron Burt, an architecture student at Glasgow's University of Strathclyde as he gazed at the building from the sidewalk outside its locked doors
Burt had hoped to stroll through the Rem Koolhaas-designed central library, whose angular, steel-and-glass walls enclose large, airy spaces that Seattleites have adopted as downtown's de facto living room since it opened five years ago
The Seattle Public Library has closed for a couple weeks at a time in 2002 and 2003 because of the past economic downturns.
Others seemed resigned to yet another consequence of the bad economy.
"It's more of an inconvenience than anything else," said Matthew Greenham, who had tried to drop off books and DVDs