King County Library System: continuing to build connections in 2020

From a green initiative, to census 2020 work, to an increasing emphasis on STEM, there is a lot on KCLS’s horizon.

As King County Library System winds down another busy year, the new year promises to be just as robust, with several major initiatives planned for 2020.

Participating in a larger, statewide initiative, KCLS is collaborating with The Center for an Informed Public at the University of Washington, which engages industry leaders, government, nonprofits and other institutions to confront the spread of misinformation and strengthen democratic discourse. Supported by funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, KCLS will provide programs and services that foster the center’s mission. Launched in December, the Center will address how misinformation and disinformation creates divisions in society and diminishes trust in democratic institutions.

KCLS’ Green Initiative, which ramps up in 2020 with a new pay-to-print system, promotes more economical and environmentally sustainable practices by reducing paper and plastic waste, and curbing paper, toner, and hardware maintenance costs. It will improve service by streamlining older printing systems into self-service kiosks where patrons will be able to print or make copies in a variety of sizes, and pay fines and fees in a single transaction using a credit card. The new system reduces the equipment footprints in libraries by one-third and allows patrons to scan and send electronic documents in line with growing cloud-based communication practices.

KCLS continually works to increase equity and create communities of inclusion and belonging. In anticipation of the upcoming 2020 Census, KCLS is partnering with King County in its efforts to achieve an accurate count. Conducted every 10 years, the census provides important demographic data that drives congressional representation, and critical state and federal funding for schools, roads and other vital public works programs. As a member of the King County Regional Census Committee, KCLS will offer its libraries as counting places, providing free computer access for census participation. A grant from the Seattle Foundation will support radio promotions to inform residents in traditionally underserved communities that they can visit the library to be counted, whether they have a library card or not.

Speaking of library cards, KCLS has just released its “Best Books of 2019” list. Selected by KCLS librarians and staff members, the annual list includes 25 titles from four categories: Children’s, teens, fiction and nonfiction. It’s a wonderful compilation. You’ll find our best books list online at www.kcls.org/best-books. And don’t forget to check out all the programs and services that await you at the library in 2020.

KCLS will continue its emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programming with the opening of a second ideaX Makerspace at Federal Way Library. Research shows that STEM education enhances cognitive functioning and builds valuable life and workforce skills. The new space will offer hands-on activities, including electronics, robotics, game design and digital media. Supported by funding from the KCLS Foundation and the Boeing Company, ideaX Makerspace at Federal Way aligns with KCLS’ strategic initiative to provide responsive, inspirational service.

All of us at KCLS wish you a Happy New Year full of great reading, discovery and community connection.

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


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