a Community Values
2003 Annual Report
King County Library System
Letter from the Director
Revenues and Expenditures
Board of Trustees
King County Library
System Foundation Annual Report
What a Community Values
For more than 60 years the King County Library System (KCLS) has served
area communities, providing lifelong learning opportunities for children,
youth, adults and seniors. Our communities value the King County Library
System, and expect us to continue to meet their needs over time. KCLS
plans to meet the growing demand for library services and exceed patron’s
expectations for relevant information resources far into the future.
Defining Community Expectations
We asked you—the residents, homeowners and library users of
King County—to tell us your priorities for library services.
?Here’s what we heard from you:
- You believe the Library System plays an important role in the
lives of children, youth, adults and seniors.
- You value lifelong learning for everyone.
- You understand the importance of the educational resources KCLS
provides to help children succeed.
- You expect high-quality facilities, expanded collections and
excellent access to information resources.
- Sustaining the quality of the Library System is an important
- You want the Library System’s collection to continue to
grow and technologies to remain current.
- You want us to take good care of the libraries we have now, and
to operate a cost-effective and efficient Library System that meets
the expectations of children, families and neighborhoods over the
from the Director
Over the past year the King County Library System has examined
the important role the library plays in the lives of children,
youth, adults and seniors in our communities. We’re here
because we support what our community values—access to lifelong
learning opportunities and information and resources that enrich
lives. We do this through a cost-effective system-wide approach
that emphasizes the appropriate use of technology, the distribution
of a great collection across all 42 libraries, an excellent delivery
system, and friendly, accessible staff.
In 2003, we served a record number of residents at our 42 locations,
expanded education and outreach programs to touch more lives in
the community, and enhanced public access to information through
24/7 electronic resources. We continue to fulfill our vision by
providing an intellectual adventure for all of our patrons.
Serving as the heart of our diverse communities has never been
as important as it is now. Our continuing success depends on our
ability to meet the needs of the patrons and communities we serve
today, while preparing for the growing needs of the future. Through
the support of the community, the commitment of our library staff,
and our dedication to free and open access, KCLS continues to
be one of the finest libraries in the United States.
Wealth of Information
Libraries Provide an Intellectual Adventure
Opening minds, sparking curiosity and building knowledge are key principles
of the King County Library System. Our libraries are dedicated to
intellectual growth—providing cultural events, reading activities,
classroom and life enrichment programs for people across the age spectrum.
Inspiration for Children
Children who read succeed. That’s why the King County Library
System is committed to fostering the love of reading in all children,
providing both library-based programs and community outreach. More
than 30,000 participants in 2003 enjoyed an amazing variety of programs
promoting books and reading. The Summer Reading Program alone provided
learning-based fun for 12,676 children in 2003.
- 2003 saw an 8% increase in the number of Story Time programs,
and an 11% increase in Story Time attendance. We also brought Story
Times to 2,605 children in preschools and childcare facilities,
and 224 toddlers and families enjoyed them in Spanish and Chinese.
- Children’s Librarians helped 4,079 children learn to love
reading through 204 visits to ECEAP and Head Start classes.
- 2,098 low-income preschool children received books and finger
puppets through the Reading Buddies Program, helping to develop
their emerging literacy skills.
- We launched ABC Express—a van stocked with exciting new
books, music and movies for children from birth through age five.
The van will visit 50 low-income, federally-funded childcare facilities
monthly, serving more than 2,700 children throughout King County.
Support for Schools
The Library System works closely with educators in 438 public and private
schools, grades K-12 and several thousand home-schooling families to
meet the academic needs of 230,000+ students each year. Community libraries
are full of collections that provide exciting ideas and study support
for students. Study Zones in 24 libraries offer tutoring assistance
to students in need of extra help. More in-depth support is available
through the online “Live Homework Help” service from Tutor.com,
sponsored by Verizon SuperPages, Washington Mutual and the King County
Library System Foundation.
- 135 library programs supported school curricula in 112 area schools.
- Library staff visited 2,100 classrooms during the year, encouraging
117,000 students to find resources at their local library.
- Librarians distributed 20,000 library cards in 822 second-grade
- Our Ready-Set-Read program promoted reading in 280 elementary
- Lively reading enrichment programs enhanced 46 elementary school
assemblies and online resource demonstrations were provided to nearly
Student groups enjoyed 541 library tours during the school day.
- 1,500 students in grades 4 through 12 received 20-minute tutoring
sessions in math, science, English and social studies through our
live online tutoring service.
Motivation for Teens
The Library System encourages teens to discover and explore their potential
with special teen areas in libraries full of materials that reflect
their interests. We also offer learning resources to help them reach
their potential, and special programs to spark their interest in exploring
- The Page Fellowship career development program provided work experience
to a diverse group of youth across King County.
- New Music and New Reads alert services on www.kcls.org helped
teens and kids to find interesting new materials appropriate for
their age group.
- KCLS expanded participation in Northwest Bookfest by sponsoring
a Teen Writing Area. The System’s presence at the two-day
literary event promoted KCLS to nearly 15,000 reading enthusiasts.
Resources for Adults
Libraries help adults reach their life goals. Computers, online databases
and other resources are available for those seeking employment and job-search
assistance. Expansion of the “Good Reads” offerings on kcls.org
provided inspiration for many new and continuing book groups. The Traveling
Library Center (TLC) and Techlab continued their customized service
to seniors with visits to retirement centers, assisted living and nursing
- Job seekers continued to use our free career and employment resources
through unlimited access to information resources and technology,
including wireless Web access, computer workstations and on-site
- 60+ online databases offered a wealth of information to adults
and business professionals who accessed them more than one million
times in 2003.
- TLC regularly served residents in 148 retirement, assisted living
and nursing home locations.
- 100 volunteers and staff brought library materials and friendship
to 350 homebound patrons through the Words on Wheels program.
- “Authors in Conversation” programs featured Jacqueline
Mitchard, Erik Larson, Harriet Scott Chessman, Bharti Kirschner
and Curt Colbert. Author events with Tom Robbins at the Kirkland
Performance Center and Mitch Albom at Bellevue Regional Library
played to “Standing Room Only” audiences.
Enrichment for Communities
Libraries are the Heart
of Our Communities
KCLS libraries are vibrant community assets, fulfilling a dynamic role
and enhancing the neighborhoods they serve. As one of the top circulating
libraries in the nation, KCLS operates 42 community libraries, open
52 weeks a year, providing person-to-person service in each community.
More than 90% of area residents have and use their library card, and
checked out 16 million library materials—a record number—in
- King County Library System continued to be one of the busiest
in the United States, with a 7% increase in circulation.
- 94,091 area residents became new registered borrowers.
- Nearly 2,000 computer classes at KCLS libraries offered a 7%
increase in service from 2002. Volunteers now teach more than 75%
of the classes at KCLS community libraries.
- KCLS coordinated 49,000 hours of AmeriCorps service to King County
residents via Talk Time, ESL and family literacy instruction. ESL
students received standardized curriculum materials though 22 Talk
Time classes. Nearly 7,000 adult and family learners took part in
more than 1,000 literacy events at KCLS, a 31% increase over 2002.
- 14,184 people attended programs celebrating Black History Month,
Dr. Seuss’ Birthday, Poetry Month, Teen Read Month and Children’s
Book Month in community libraries.
- Nearly 6,000 people attended StoryFest, a three-day festival
celebrating storytelling from cultures around the world.
- KCLS continued its volunteer partnerships with United Way of
King County, Retired and Senior Volunteer Services, Washington Assistive
Technology Alliance and Boeing Blue Bills, providing support to
these vital services.
Libraries Make it Easy
Libraries provide an atmosphere where all people can expand their horizons,
explore new ideas and discover new inspirations. Over the course of
2003, At-A-Glance Plasma Screens were placed in three KCLS libraries,
presenting world-renowned art collections and memorabilia, building
public knowledge about the world of art, and promoting interest in art
within our libraries. Food for Thought Cafés, funded by the KCLS
Foundation, provide busy patrons an opportunity relax, refresh, and
get back to their studies without leaving the library.
Staff, Efficient Operations
With a passion for customer service, library staff are at the heart
of KCLS, skillfully guiding patrons through an unparalleled collection
of books, computers, CDs, reference materials, services and programs.
New Self-Checkout stations free up staff to provide more one-on-one
service, and we began the process of streamlining internal systems to
reduce time-consuming materials handling chores.
- 20+ libraries now have Self-Checkout stations.
- Virtual reference services continued to expand, providing patrons
with convenient access to information 24 hours a day, every day.
- Community library staff answered more than 1.3 million reference
questions, and regional library staff provided added reference support,
answering 1,040 in-depth, research-oriented patron questions.
- Community library staff answered 442,500 reference phone calls,
answered 454,100 directional questions and assisted 398,200 patrons
with computer questions.
Unity and Innovation
Libraries Operate as One System
Our investments in technology enhance our ability to meet patrons’
needs faster, comprehensively and economically. The entire library
collection—more than four million items—is available to
any patron in any community library through our online catalog. And
new technologies continue to extend access to library resources around
the clock. Patron use of our online resources has increased 400% in
the last three years. Through www.kcls.org, patrons can use library
resources and services to reserve books from home, search databases
from school or work, or get immediate answers to questions 24 hours
a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
Linked by Technology
- Patrons used library online services a record 24 million times
- Patrons placed holds on materials an astounding 3.8 million times.
- KCLS staff received and answered more than 11,800 questions by
- With an average of 225 calls per week, KCLS staff answered more
than 75% of live chat calls.
- Online reference services expanded with a new after-hours service
“Librarian By Request.”
Bill Ptacek, Director
Bruce Adams, Associate Director
Kay Johnson, Associate Director
Facilities Management Services
Jed Moffitt, Associate Director
Information Technology Services
|Bruce Schauer, Associate Director
Collection Management Services
Denise Siers, Associate Director
Nancy Smith, Associate Director
Charlene Richards, Manager
Julie B. Wallace, Manager
Community Relations and Graphics
Jeanne Thorsen, Executive Director
Board of Trustees
Tobias Washington, Jr.
Judge Richard Eadie
President Elect 2004
Wai-Fong T. Lee
Charlotte B. Spitzer