KCLS-SPL Reciprocal Use Borrowing AgreementWhen the modified reciprocal use agreement with the Seattle Public Library (SPL) went into effect on October, 1 2006, it was agreed that KCLS and SPL would re-measure cross-use in 2007 and evaluate the impact of the policy change by which patrons who live within the Seattle city limits could no longer place "holds" on KCLS materials.
In early 2008, staff from KCLS and SPL met to look at usage data gathered during 2007. The data showed that:
- In 2005, SPL usage of KCLS was about 80,000 transactions per month. In 2007, that figure dropped to the 30,000-35,000 transactions per month.
- In 2005, KCLS usage of SPL was about 25,000 transactions per month. It has since increased to about 30,000-35,000 transactions per month.
These changes in usage are attributed to both the holds restriction and SPL's increased investment in collections.
Since library usage has equalized, staff from both library systems proposed continuing the reciprocal use agreement as it currently exists (with SPL patrons restricted from placing holds) with plans to review cross-use every two years. The KCLS Board of Trustees approved this recommendation at their March 25, 2008 meeting.
Effective October 1, 2006 a modified Reciprocal Use Borrowing Agreement between the King County Library System (KCLS) and The Seattle Public Library (SPL) will be in place. City of Seattle residents will retain full access to KCLS libraries and online resources, including the ability to checkout KCLS materials; however, under the new agreement, they will not be able to place “holds” on KCLS materials.
What is the KCLS-SPL Reciprocal Borrowing Agreement?
For many years, the King County Library System (KCLS) and Seattle Public Library (SPL) have operated under a Reciprocal Borrowing Agreement allowing residents served by each system to cross-use the other library system’s resources at no charge to the user. That agreement has worked well, providing seamless service to meet the needs of patrons who live in one system’s area but work in the other, or need resources the other system offers. Part of the agreement has been to conduct regular cross-use studies to determine usage by each library system’s residents. When there is an imbalance, one system reimburses the other to make up the difference.
Are KCLS and SPL two separate library systems?
Yes. Most people are unaware that SPL and KCLS are two separate systems, each with a totally different funding source. SPL is a department of the City of Seattle and is supported by City revenues. Although people living in Seattle are residents of King County, they do not pay taxes to KCLS. The opposite is also true. The funds that support KCLS come from King County taxpayers living outside the Seattle City limits and are not used to pay for SPL.
What has been the history of cross-use and reimbursement?
Since 1999, Seattle residents have consumed more KCLS services than King County residents have of SPL. The Seattle Public Library has paid KCLS $104,000 each year for the past six years to partially offset the imbalance.
Why the modification now?
In 2005, a new study was jointly conducted to determine the status of the imbalance. It showed that 6.1% of KCLS’ services go to Seattle residents with an imbalance valued at
$1 million. SPL would have to pay KCLS $1 million annually to cover the use of KCLS by Seattle residents.
While KCLS believes the best service allows library users to have free access to all library systems regardless of territorial boundaries, wise stewardship of King County taxes requires that KCLS not provide unreimbursed library services to Seattle residents.
Has SPL committed to reimbursing KCLS for the imbalance or explored other options?
SPL has determined it cannot pay the $1 million imbalance without doing harm to SPL’s own operations and services. Since the results of the study were released in late 2005, both library systems have explored numerous options to re-balance the cross-use costs, but have been unable to find a solution that made fiscal and operational sense for both systems.
Restricting Seattle residents from placing holds at KCLS is an activity that contributes significantly to the cross-use imbalance.
Did KCLS considered selling library cards to SPL patrons?
Many years ago KCLS sold individual library cards to residents of non-participating cities, but that option was stopped in 1988 because residents in unincorporated areas and participating communities felt the practice was unfair to those whose tax support made KCLS resources possible. The selling of cards is also counter to KCLS’ mission of providing free and open access to library services for all, regardless of one’s ability to pay. In addition, input from local KCLS Friend’s groups and Advisory Boards indicated strong opposition to this option.
Why don’t the two library systems merge?
State Law prohibits the King County Library System and the Seattle Public Library from merging due to the population size of the City of Seattle. RCW 27.12.360 enables “any city or town with a population of one hundred thousand or less at the time of annexation [to] become a part of any rural county library district…” The current population of the City of Seattle is more than 500,000.
Other Specific Questions You May Have:
What happens to holds placed prior to October 1?
All holds placed prior to October 1 will be filled.
What will I see when I try to place a hold in the KCLS catalog after October 1?
Hold was not successfully placed
Problem: Hold rules reject this item as unholdable
Can I call a KCLS library and ask if an item is on the shelf?
Staff will check for you to see if the item is at the library, but staff will not be able to put the item on hold for you and there is no guarantee the item will be on the shelf when you arrive.
May I call a KCLS library and ask that an item be held for me behind the desk?
No, items will no longer be held behind the desk with handwritten slips.
Does this impact my access to Inter-Library Loan (ILL) and the ability to suggest new titles?
You will no longer have access to ILL through KCLS. Requests for ILL should be submitted to SPL.
Will I still be able to suggest titles to KCLS?
You may still suggest titles, but will not be able to place a hold if the title is selected. You can however do this through SPL.
Will I still be able to use eBooks?
Seattle patrons are eligible to make use of KCLS downloadable Audiobooks available through OneClickDigital. Seattle patrons are not eligible to make use of KCLS eBooks and downloadable Audiobooks available through OverDrive and Axis 360 - both services include a holds component.
If I own property in King County (outside Seattle City limits), can I retain full privileges?
Yes. If a SPL patron lives in the City of Seattle, but can show proof of owning property within KCLS’ service area, they will retain full privileges.
What can I do if I disagree with the tax coding of my property?
For patrons that live on the border between the City of Seattle and unincorporated King County and disagree with the coding of their property, they should contact the King County Department of Assessments.
Last Updated: April 30, 2013