The People’s Library creates community library outside the closed Douglass-Truth branch

Justin at Capitol Hill Seattle called it “one of Seattle’s most pitiful traditions.”

Seattle Public Libraries are closed city-wide all this week for a budget-saving unpaid furlough period. But a group of activists have stepped up to try to fill the void in the Central District, building the Seattle People’s Library on the steps of the Douglass-Truth branch at 23rd and Yesler.

“The cool part is, we don’t even need to explain the issue of the austerity measures to people,” said Yates Coley, one of the many People’s Library organizers. After all, most people find the idea of libraries closing for a week every year ridiculous, as demonstrated by the healthy victory of the recent Library Levy, which passed with 65 percent of the vote. The levy should prevent furlough weeks for the next several years.

Organizing for the People’s Library started just ten days ago, but people were able to pull together a respectable (and growing) book collection, a couple computers with Internet access, free public wifi and a packed schedule of music and children’s storytime readings.

Less than an hour after opening, several people were parked around the Douglass-Truth lawn reading books while others took advantage of the free computers. Library computers are one of the few dependable sources of free Internet access for many CD residents.

Coley said the project has received the support of several librarians, and several even helped hand out fliers to library users.

And don’t worry: Although their books were mostly donated by book stores, residents and some leftovers from the Occupy Seattle libraries, the books are not unwanted titles.

“A lot of people have donated books they like,” said Coley.

The library plans to be open according to the Douglass-Truth operating hours through Sunday (Mon-Thu: 10am–8pm, Fri-Sat: 10am–6pm, Sun: 1–5pm).

They could use some volunteers to staff the library during the week and to do children’s readings. They could also use more children’s and classic book donations. And if you have some cash to put toward their moving truck rental, you can donate online.

Below is the tentative schedule for Monday. Check the Due To Budget Cuts blog for daily schedules of events:

10am: OPEN!

1pm: Music by Seattle indie artist Thomas Starks

2pm: Children’s Storytime

3pm: Snacktime. Thanks to Eileen for bringing some Filipino noodles and eggrolls to share with everyone.

3pm- 5pm: Crafts for Kids (of all ages!). Make your own birdfeeder with pinecones and peanut butter. Materials provided.

6pm: Children’s Storytime

7pm: Acoustic set by Eric Richards of local band Podblaster

8pm: Close

9 thoughts on “The People’s Library creates community library outside the closed Douglass-Truth branch

  1. This looks like it turned out well and in public space. I was THRILLED to see that chalk, rather than spray paint, was being used. Can books just be dropped off in front? What will happen to the books when the project ends? Will they be sold (a certain bookseller on the hill will give you insulting peanuts for really nice, expensive books), with the money going to Occupy, or will they be donated perhaps to Friends of SPL? http://www.friendsofspl.org/donations.php

  2. I am sure they are open for ideas. I previously mentioned to Yates that there are book sales, nursing homes and shelters that I usually donate to.

    I think they are doing one day events at some of the other branches this week, and there is the idea of having neighborhood ‘drop a book, take a book’ swap kiosks around town in future.

    And yes, books can be dropped there.

  3. The library is setting up for the third day and is still going strong. A little heavy on the paperback romance donations, you guys gotta slow down on reading those things. All books are going to be donated to other book exchanges at community centers when the week is over, and no, I don’t think any $$$ is going to be made to donate to any groups.
    Coffee tomorrow at 9am to help with the set up. Any volunteers to help break down would really help the people who staff the table all day. Look for some permanent book exchange kiosks in the CD this coming year.

  4. I love the kiosk image – I think it’s the same one Knox posted a week or so ago. He asked if anyone was interested in helping to fabricate something similar, and I replied enthusiastically. We should all get together and talk about this.

  5. I got an estimate of about $5000 to do this properly! Holy smokes that seems like a lot of money. But these logs would ideally be cured, so hard to find and expensive and, of course, this is sitting on a metal base, etc).

    Still, I definitely think there’s a place for this on Jackson and could see some micro-libraries, being part of the Jackson landscape, particularly if we could get the kids at SNG, and Washington Middle involved as the curators/care-takers.

    I am interested in joining forces with people interested in working on this: jacksoncommons@gmail.com.

  6. Kudos to the People’s Library for identifying a problem and just solving it in such an awesome fashion and really by just taking a risk/trusting the simple lo-fi solution to work.

    Good job.

  7. The Leschi Community Council is having its annual book sale in early September. The proceeds are donated to local causes including Leschi elementary. If there are books you want to donate I am sure they would appreciate them.

  8. I got this and posted it on Facebook a month ago. We can contact SDOT of SPU and ask for them to save a section of tree when they cut, which they do, regularly. We specifiy the length and a staging area for them to drop it off. I am sure I and other interested people can fabricate it. Question? Where do we locate it, on private of public property. If public we need a right of way permit and approved plans to anchor it. Not hard to do but with pro-bono help we could have it up and running within a couple of months. Wanna see a similar thing but without books. Go to Trader Jons on Madison and walk a block norht. There is a similar concept on the corner.