As the holidays approach, I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to King County residents for making KCLS one of the top library systems in the country.
And there is much to be thankful for in 2019. The King County Library System reached a major milestone, received grant funding for new programs and services, bolstered partnerships and continued to serve our diverse communities with strong support from library patrons and advocates.
With the opening of the new Kent Panther Lake Library and the reopening of the renovated Boulevard Park Library this past spring, KCLS officially concluded its $172 million capital bond program, resulting in 50 new, expanded or renovated libraries. We are grateful for the public support that made this milestone possible and the patronage that keeps these beautiful buildings busy every day.
KCLS has more than 700,000 regular cardholders, plus 370,000 student accounts that provide access to online resources for homework help. With library visits exceeding 10 million annually, patrons are taking full advantage of library resources and KCLS’ extensive collection of more than four million items. Checkouts are likely to top 21 million in 2019, and we anticipate being a top digital-circulating library in the United States once again, hoping to extend our streak to six consecutive years in a row.
Strong partnerships with local governments, schools, businesses, nonprofits and other organizations enable KCLS to expand much-needed services throughout the county, such as Summer Meals and Community Court. And our focus on inclusion ensures that our diverse communities have access to programs, classes, resources and community connections at places like the Welcoming Center at Kent Library, which opened in May to serve immigrant and refugee populations.
Each year, the KCLS Foundation’s generous donors fund a variety of children’s, teen and adult programs. Grants from Google, The Boeing Co., and the Moccasin Lake Foundation supported the creation of the IdeaX Makerspace at Bellevue Library, and an IdeaX Makerspace at Federal Way Library opening in early 2020, which will expand important STEM programming to children and adults alike in South King County.
A grant from LYRASIS will allow KCLS to explore ways in which artificial intelligence can improve patrons’ experiences with library services, and the Why Not You Foundation provided funding for teens to create their own programming that helps them develop the skills and confidence to be the leaders of tomorrow.
KCLS is proud of the breadth of its programming, made all the more possible through the advocacy, volunteerism and fundraising efforts of our Friends of the Library. We are equally grateful to our Library Advisory Board members, who work in partnership with KCLS to ensure that library services meet the different needs of our communities.
We look forward to another exciting and busy year ahead in 2020. On behalf of all of us at King County Library System, thank you for your continued support.
Lisa Rosenblum is executive director of the King County Library System.