A new year at KCLS | Guest editorial

Library director recounts successes of first year at helm.

On Jan. 16, I will celebrate my one-year anniversary as executive director for the King County Library System (KCLS), a wide-ranging job in more ways than one.

Coming from New York City, where I rarely needed a car, I’ve been struck by the sheer size of King County during visits to our community libraries. From Skykomish and Richmond Beach in the northeast and northwest corners of the county, to Federal Way, Enumclaw and Muckleshoot bordering Pierce County to the south, KCLS covers a lot of territory in providing library services to our residents.

As I look back on 2018, here are a few of the many highlights from my first year:

KCLS received a 5-Star rating from Library Journal. In the category “Libraries with Annual Expenditures Exceeding $30M,” KCLS was one of only five libraries nationwide to receive five stars — the highest rating — and received one star higher than the previous year.

Supported by a $100,000 grant from Google, IdeaX Makerspace at the Bellevue Library opened in April to provide opportunities for hands-on STEAM learning for youth and adults. Further reinforcing the importance of programs that teach science, technology, engineering, art and math skills, The Boeing Company awarded KCLS an $80,000 grant that will support the ideaX Makerspace at the Federal Way Library, which is scheduled to open in 2019.

In 2017, the state Legislature approved a bill to increase the size of the KCLS board from five to seven members. Two new members were appointed in 2018, fulfilling a commitment to provide greater representation from more areas of the county.

Looking ahead at what promises to be another busy year for the King County Library System, there are many reasons for excitement. In the spring, KCLS will reopen the renovated Boulevard Park Library and a new Kent Panther Lake Library — KCLS’ 50th. Staff and patrons look forward to celebrating the opening of this highly-anticipated library for the Panther Lake community, as well as the culmination of a successful capital bond program that was approved by voters in 2004.

The American Library Association will hold its midwinter meeting in Seattle Jan. 25­–29. I have been invited to be a panel speaker at the conference, which focuses on “The Future of Libraries.” I truly believe public libraries are more relevant than ever in this digital age, where inequities still exist and the need for assistance in finding a job, learning to speak English, filing taxes, accessing social services, studying for exams, or exploring new careers is greater than ever. New and continued partnerships with community leaders and organizations will help us provide cost-effective programs and services that best address our local communities’ needs and interests.

From all of us at KCLS, happy New Year. We look forward to seeing you in 2019.

Lisa Rosenblum is the director of the King County Library System.

More in Opinion

Got your grill on?

Hot coals – great for burgers, bad for garbage.

State’s new voting system passes key test

Whew. Tuesday’s primary marked the electoral debut of VoteWa, and the sparkling… Continue reading

Remembering to be proud | Windows and Mirrors

“The Art of Alzheimer’s” features work by artists who have Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia.

Publisher’s decision to limit eBook access is bad news for library patrons

What’s at stake is the issue of digital equity and access.

Government should consider existing residents | Letter

Satisfied with Redmond, vote for incumbents: David Carson, Hank Meyers. Angela Birney… Continue reading

Vote ‘yes’ to Prop. 1 | Letter

Please vote to approve the revised Prop. 1 for EvergreenHealth to provide… Continue reading

Fields has experience, vision and commitment | Letter

Everywhere I go, someone complains to me, as former 16 year mayor… Continue reading

Fields to guide Redmond | Letter

Steve Fields’ leadership style sets him apart. In Redmond’s “Strong Mayor” form… Continue reading

Birney for an inclusive, collaborative city | Letter

Angela Birney is the candidate for mayor with the broadest sense of… Continue reading

Reporter publishes new letters policy

Letters policy is meant to provide direction and transparency.

We’re better than this | Windows and Mirrors

The effects Trump’s words can have on us.

Koeppen a clear choice for Redmond | Letter

Andrew Koeppen is the clear choice for mayor of Redmond. As an… Continue reading