King County Library System has a long history of strong support from its community. As an independent taxing district, KCLS provides citizens who live within the district a direct voice in library funding. That voice has sent a consistent message that libraries are valuable and dynamic community institutions, and continuing support over the years has demonstrated that residents want it to stay that way.
Public libraries were founded as public-private partnerships, beginning with Andrew Carnegie and continuing today. Locally, the KCLS Foundation accepts tax-deductible contributions, raising funds that enable your library to deliver innovative and creative services and expand the library’s reach throughout the community. Your donations support programs like IdeaX that delivers STEM learning to youth throughout the county, and the annual Summer Reading Program, which keeps thousands of kids and teens reading and learning all summer long.
Friends of the Library, Library Guilds and Library Associations comprised of grassroots volunteers also raise funds for library programs for all ages, including the Everyone’s Talking About It adult programming series, magic shows, exciting hands-on activities and more.
When it comes to public resources, KCLS receives a small amount of funding through state and federal government programs. Washington allocates a portion of its timber tax revenue to libraries. KCLS also benefits from free or reduced-cost access to several online resources through the Washington State Library, as well as access to grant funding for special projects. The government offers a rebate program for technology in public and school libraries.
All of this funding is critical to support the work of your library. However, nearly 97 percent of KCLS’ Operating Budget is funded by property tax revenue. The budget keeps buildings open, provides access to great books on library shelves and online and pays for the amazing staff who serve you every day. With your support, KCLS operates 48 community libraries and the King County Youth Services Center Library.
Last year, we welcomed nearly 10 million visitors, circulated over 20 million items and loaned over three million eBooks, ranking first in the nation in this last category for a second year in a row.
KCLS anticipates another busy year for the library system.
In 2017, the budget will focus on six strategic areas: Early Childhood Literacy, Serving Youth, Welcoming Diversity, Community Engagement, Emerging Technology and Operational Improvements. We are excited to expand our STEM learning opportunities to all ages, and continue to develop new programs and services for the growing number of seniors in our area.
As a steward of taxpayer dollars KCLS takes our fiduciary responsibility very seriously. You have invested in the library and we give careful thought to ensure that your tax dollars are wisely spent. You can view details of the proposed budget at www.kcls.org/budget.
All of us at KCLS thank you for your support, and for your input.
Here are a few great books that reflect on the wonders of public libraries. Happy reading!
• “Andrew Carnegie” by David Nasaw
• “The Library of Congress: America’s Memory” by Carol M. Highsmith
• “The Public Library: A Photographic Essay” by Robert Dawson
• “Art in Libraries: A Visual Journey of Possibilities, Knowledge and Imagination” by King County Library System
Gary Wasdin is the director of KCLS.