Thursday, July 7, 2022

The Seattle Public Library's Summer 2022 Hours

Dear Diary,

Surprise!  I figured it was a question whether I'd first get to a water fountain hike of a large part of North Seattle, or finally finish with the law libraries.  But actually, the Seattle Public Library has gone and given me something else to do.

SPL (not very) recently announced an hours cut for the summer, because it's still short on staff and the staff it does have are, unsurprisingly, taking more time off.  In turn, the cuts are pretty obviously staff-influenced:  they're falling heavily on evening and weekend hours.  Another way to look at this is that SPL's librarians looked at your previous pages on library hours, which pointed out SPL as something of an outlier in restoring its previous hours and specifically its evening hours, and thought "Why should we have to work evenings, which all those librarians in other places don't have to nowadays?"  SPL claims that it hopes to restore those hours in the fall, but if this analysis is correct, it may find that hard to do.  I suspect evening hours for public libraries may become largely a thing of the past around here, because any library system that tries to restore them is going to face internal dissension.  But of course I could be wrong, could be under-estimating the true nobility and concern for human welfare of librarians.

Also, I previously told you, dear Diary, that SPL had gone from 14 schedules last October to 13.  I'm not sure what effects a set of expanded hours announced in May had on that list, but unfortunately, as of the latest cuts, SPL is back to 14 schedules.

The longer schedules

SPL before the pandemic had four schedules (not five, as I claimed somewhere in the page already cited).  Two of those schedules featured open hours per day of eight or ten hours most days, so were significantly longer than the other two.  Central Library was open 62 hours per week, and thirteen branch libraries were open 61.  The exact hours were 10 A.M. to 8 P.M. Mondays through Thursdays, 10 A.M. to 6 P.M. Fridays and Saturdays, and noon to 5 P.M. for the branches, 6 P.M. for Central, Sundays.

These libraries now have eight schedules:

  • Greenwood and Lake City branches are currently keeping their full previous schedules.  Greenwood already had been, but for Lake City this is actually an increase of eight hours per week compared to April.  If the news release from May is to be believed, Lake City has been cut four hours compared to then; it claimed Lake City was open until 8 P.M. Fridays and Saturdays as well.  (But that isn't what SPL's hours page said at the time.)  Ballard and Broadview branches had been open their full pre-pandemic schedules already in April, but no longer are.
  • Instead, Ballard and Broadview, as well as Beacon Hill, Northgate and Rainier Beach branches, are keeping schedules of 57 hours per week, closing at 6 P.M. Mondays and Tuesdays.  For Beacon Hill and Rainier Beach this is a cut of two hours per week.  For Northgate it's more complicated.  Northgate branch had been closed Mondays until May, and keeping short hours Wednesdays and Thursdays, so compared to that it's an increase of twelve hours per week.  But in May all that had been changed - Northgate had been back to its full pre-pandemic schedule - so compared to that it's a cut of four hours per week.
  • Northeast branch is also keeping a schedule of 57 hours per week, but instead closing at 6 P.M. Wednesdays and Thursdays.  This is an increase of four hours per week compared to April, but Northeast branch had been at its full pre-pandemic schedule since May, so it's a cut of four hours since then.
  • Central Library is keeping a schedule of 54 hours per week, by closing at 6 P.M. every day, Mondays through Saturdays.  This is a cut of four hours per week, Wednesday and Thursday evenings.
  • Capitol Hill and Douglass-Truth branches are keeping schedules of 53 hours per week, closing at 6 P.M. Mondays and Tuesdays, opening at noon Wednesdays and Thursdays.  This is no change for these libraries.
  • Columbia branch is also keeping a schedule of 53 hours per week, but instead opening at noon Mondays and Tuesdays, closing at 6 P.M. Wednesdays and Thursdays.  This is a cut of six hours per week.
  • Southwest branch is keeping a schedule of 45 hours per week, fewer than three branches that previously had shorter schedules.  Its schedule is similar to those of Capitol Hill and Douglass-Truth branches, as was true in April, but now it's also closed on Saturdays.
  • West Seattle branch is also keeping a schedule of 45 hours per week, similar to Southwest's except that it's open Saturdays but now closed Fridays.

The shorter schedules

The other two schedules SPL kept before the pandemic were shorter partly because they maxed out at seven open hours per day.  They were 1 to 8 P.M. Mondays and Tuesdays, 11 A.M. to 6 P.M. Wednesdays through Saturdays, and noon to 5 P.M. Sundays.  Four of the thirteen libraries in question were open Fridays, for a total of 47 hours per week; the other nine weren't, for a total of 40 hours per week.

These libraries currently have six schedules:

  • High Point, South Park, and University branches are keeping their full pre-pandemic schedules, 47 hours per week.  NB, dear Diary, University branch is thus up seven hours since April, but that happened in May, not July.
  • International District/Chinatown branch is now closed Sundays, so it's open 42 hours per week.  This is a five hour cut since April.
  • Delridge, Fremont and Wallingford branches are keeping their full pre-pandemic schedules, 40 hours per week, as they were in April.
  • Montlake and Queen Anne branches are now closed Sundays.  This was true of Queen Anne already in April and May, but for Montlake this is a cut.  35 hours per week.
  • Green Lake, Madrona-Sally Goldmark, and Magnolia branches are now closed Saturdays as well as Fridays.  Only Magnolia had this schedule in April.  33 hours per week.
  • NewHolly branch is still closed three days per week, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.  28 hours per week.


This isn't complicated.  SPL now is more like the neighbouring libraries:  These cuts increased morning hours by decreasing evening and weekend ones.

As a reminder, I compared library systems' hours by dividing them three ways.  Opening to 3 P.M., Mondays through Fridays, I treated as "morning" hours.  3 P.M. to closing, Mondays through *Thursdays*, I treated as "evening" hours.  And 3 P.M. Fridays to closing Sundays, I treated as "weekend" hours.

In April, SPL was keeping 1298 hours per week, of which 483 were morning, 449 were evening, and 366 were weekend.  This was 92.5% of the pre-pandemic total and morning hours, 92.0% of pre-pandemic evening hours, and 93.1% of pre-pandemic weekend hours.

Today, SPL is keeping 1267 hours per week.  492 morning, 436 evening, and 339 weekend.  That's 90.3% of the pre-pandemic total, 94.3% of morning hours, 89.3% of evening hours, and 86.3% of weekend hours.

SPL is mildly unusual because it has reduced weekend hours more than evening ones, while most neighbouring libraries have done the opposite, and a few have actually increased weekend hours.  But it's no longer any kind of outlier.

And we'll just have to wait and see whether it returns to being one this autumn.

I'll be back to you sooner than that, of course, dear Diary, but I'm not sure when.  Happy days and nights until then.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Crescent Place Yesterday

Dear Diary,

Wow, it's been a long time.  I've been hard at work, but not at a paying job, and also not on law libraries or the titles and artists of downtown parks' art works, to name a couple of outstanding obligations I have towards you.

But not at a paying job, anyway, and yesterday, fearing that that might continue a while (it's actually gotten through my thick head that the only occupation without a labour shortage in the US right now is mine, clerical work), I went to North Seattle College to sign up for food stamps again at the DSHS office there.  (I'm not in danger of becoming homeless for two more months, but would've run out of cash for food much sooner, in a week if I were really stingy.)  On the way there, I walked along E Green Lake Way and Drive for a while.  But although I'd planned my trip while looking at a map, I decided to take what appeared to be a shortcut.  It was, of course, not an actual shortcut; at least for someone going northwest, Meridian Ave off E Green Lake Drive connects only to Orin Court.

But this brought me to the only Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation park in North Seattle whose location I knew, but that I hadn't yet visited, because the only time I'd tried before, it was blocked by a block party.

So I took a picture of Crescent Place, which is basically a very big traffic circle with a very big bush in it, which turns out to have a clearing in its centre suitable for kids to play in.

I'm not sure how apparent it is in that photo, but the parks department is storing several items there, in that clearing, including a ladder.  My first reaction was that that was totally inappropriate for a space obviously meant for kids to play in, but then I realised that at age seven or so, I'd probably have found the signs and ladder part of the fun of being there.  Of course, some parents might think twice about giving their kids access to a ladder, but you can't have everything.

Anyway, I hope to get back to the law libraries in a week or two, but don't know when my impecunious state will enable me to hang around downtown checking up on art.  Nor when I'll be able to face the emotional toll finishing the downtown series actually properly - that is, by explaining Seattle's long and illustrious career of keeping the downtown parks devoid of restrooms - will require.  And also, I now lack cash to buy more than a few newspapers with which to date my water fountain and restroom door shots.  But until I return, dear Diary, happy times, and cheerful thoughts of Crescent Place.


Saturday, May 14, 2022

Wallingford Playfield, Meridian Playground and a Street Fountain Today

Dear Diary,

While I remain preoccupied with things Korean, I'm also trying to get ordinary things done, and today I had to go to my bank, well south of my house.  So I decided while I was there to visit two parks near it.

This was shortly after 6 P.M., and both parks' restrooms were open.  Both parks' water fountains were running, as was the street fountain on N 45th St.  However, the latter was running so feebly that it was pretty hard to drink from.  That said, Meridian Playground's water fountain had been a poster child for water fountain neglect from the first time I visited in May 2020 until late last year, so it's a good thing that the metal thieves haven't returned to put it out of commission yet again.

The difference between fully and feebly running water fountains:


All the photos are at the Google Drive folders:  Meridian, Wallingford, and the street fountain.

Good night and good days until we meet again, dear Diary.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Bryant Playground and View Ridge Playfield Tonight

Dear Diary,

Three weeks ago I walked to the Seattle Public Library's Northeast branch to borrow some Korean TV dramas, and tonight I walked back to return them.  Helpfully, the library was closed tonight when I got there - no, I don't memorise all these hours I tell you about, dear Diary, any more than anyone else does.  Last time I tried to find the parks nearby, but got confused, and by the time I'd vaguely remembered where they were, I was too tired to visit them.  Tonight, though, with no distractions in the library, it was earlier, and I had the sense to consult a map.


Bryant Playground's water fountain is running.  A man was playing basketball with, I assume, his daughter when I got there, which led me to entertain speculations about social distancing, but they were on the far end of the court by the time I made it down the hill to the fountain.  The water tasted slightly off.

View Ridge Playfield's water fountain that was removed, in the words of one of its visitors, "to not spread germs", has not been returned.

Its other water fountain, which is down a grassy slope, is running, and tastes more than slightly off.

View Ridge Playfield's restrooms were, I was told when you were a few months old and parks employees were speaking with me fairly often, open 24 hours for years without any publicity.  I was worried that by giving them publicity through you, dear Diary, I would give the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation an excuse to start closing them.  But at least tonight at 8:04 P.M. they were open:

So that's good.

I've emphasised the downhills for a reason.  Unless the Dahl Playfield water fountain, out of order so long the parks department page for that park doesn't list it as an amenity, has been fixed, the only park in that general area with a street-level water fountain working is Ravenna-Eckstein, way at the southwest corner of a pretty large stretch of land.  View Ridge's removed water fountain was street level, relatively accessible to people with mobility difficulties; the one currently working, surrounded by grass, isn't accessible at all, and the one at Bryant, down and then up a steep hill, isn't well accessible.  What does the parks department have against providing water to people with mobility difficulties in the middle of northeast Seattle?

(I assume some fountains are currently working in Magnuson Park, but none of Magnuson Park is street-level to much of anywhere other than Sand Point Way.  Maybe I should count Burke-Gilman Playground Park, though, in which case the objection is similar to that against Ravenna-Eckstein:  it's way far south.)

The Seattle Times reports tonight that what has been described as the last major encampment in a Seattle park, at Woodland Park, has been cleared.  What with the things I do to deal with their paywalls, I haven't read the article yet, but I suspect that however pretty a face the city puts on this, there will be woe and sorrow for some of my former peers tonight.  But you know, dear Diary, if homeless people aren't miserable, mayors can't sleep well.  So we'll see what our new mayor, supposedly sympathetic to the homeless people he grew up alongside, comes up with next to spread doom and gloom among the poor, now that clearing the parks is at least temporarily off his agenda.

All the photos are at the Google Drive folders, View Ridge and Bryant.

Good night, dear Diary.  I'm still focused on things Korean, but today wrote about a private library, and hope to finish with those sometime within the next week or two.  I'll actually probably be writing more about parks sooner than that.  Until then, happy nights and happy days.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Library Hours Six Months Later, part VIII: Private libraries with websites

Dear Diary,

Further evidence that places like Hunts Point and Yarrow Point, that don't pay property taxes to support a public library, aren't just stingy but really can't afford it:  I was on a bus Friday evening (April 22) from the Kirkland Transit Center to UW, King County Metro route 255.  Now, this has a stop that's flashed overhead as "Clyde Hill/Yarrow".  The well-dressed young woman in front of me rang for this stop, only to be discouraged by her friends, who said no, the destination was UW.  So the only person who actually got off the bus at the Yarrow Point stop was ... the only visibly homeless person on the bus.  I rest my case.

Anyway, I told you, dear Diary, Monday April 18, that this part begins the discussion of 52 private libraries.  This was somewhat misleading.  The Washington State Library's libraries database does list fifty-one "Special" libraries and one "Government" one (actually owned by a private non-profit) that I haven't already told you about.  However, two of those it lists are the libraries of two law firms that have since merged, and three of those it lists are owned by UW, and so aren't private, and are academic.  So there are actually 48 private libraries to discuss, plus one more I came across along the way.

This part is about the well-attested ones, those that actually do have their very own websites.  (As opposed to, for example, ones that are mentioned on Web pages either outside or inside the owning organisation, but don't have their own.  Let alone the not inconsiderable number that are mentioned, as best I can tell, only at the libraries database.)  22 have websites; I'll only briefly list the UW's two at the end of this part so as to fill out the number 53.  This leaves 31 for the next part, but that number includes the UW's third, and both merged law libraries.  So the real numbers for each part are 20 and 29.

The open ones

Let me start with the ten which either were open to the public without appointments and without fees before the pandemic, are open so now, or both.  The ones I'll give bigger headings to and discuss "in [some] detail".

Some of these are entirely volunteer-run; some only partly; I suspect only four (three of which are medical) are fully professionally staffed.  The rest consistently encourage people to call ahead to make sure someone is there.  So homeless people seeking restrooms shouldn't rely much on them.  Anyway, as before, they're in order by crow-flies distance from my house according to this distance calculator.

NAMI Seattle Resource Library

NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Seattle has an office which could be seen as being in Ballard or in Crown Hill, 1.83 miles from my house.  The only nearby public restrooms appear to be at Ballard Pool, which charges admission.  At that office it has a Resource Library (page down for its description), which the database implies was available during open hours, normally 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. Mondays through Thursdays.  (The organisation has professional staff in Seattle but also appears to rely heavily on volunteers.)  Given my own nature, I find that Resource Library an unqualified Good Thing, so it's really unfortunate, quite aside from restroom availability, that the office is still closed.

The Seattle Metaphysical Library

The Seattle Metaphysical Library is in downtown Ballard, more or less surrounded by public restrooms; 2.75 miles.  It's entirely volunteer run.  They offer library cards to subscribers, which is how they pay the rent, but are "open to the respectful public".  They offered nineteen hours per week in December 2019; now they offer eight, but given the Ballard branch of the Seattle Public Library nearby, not much further the "Portland Loo" at Ballard Commons (the only part of that park that wasn't fenced off the last time I visited), and a few blocks still further the Ballard Community Center...  anyway, the reduced hours probably matter more to would-be library visitors than to restroom seekers.

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center's Arnold Library

As best I can tell, this is the only medical library anywhere near the city of Seattle currently open to the public (during business hours not documented by signage there, but reported at the libraries database as 8 A.M. to 5 P.M.).  However, its website is not currently open to the public, and this has been true as long ago as April 2019.  So the following URLs one might encounter for the library all now redirect to a login screen:  

The latter two are, however, much more documented at the Internet Archive than the first.  And what they document is not a library open to the public.  It doesn't list its hours, it doesn't give directions, it doesn't link to its rules, it doesn't say anything welcoming.  As far back as I looked, the Arnold Library's website has been primarily about helping writers of grant applications, scientific papers, and other documents produced by working researchers, and secondarily about how those writers should deal with Fred Hutch's bureaucracy.

Nevertheless it really is a medical library open to the public.  I was able to walk into its building and into it on Thursday April 21 without any trouble, reasonably clean (but not actually having showered since the previous evening) and with one quite full satchel.  I don't know whether the security guard would've waved me past if I'd looked as I usually did while homeless, let alone if I'd been pushing my cart.  Also, the library itself doesn't appear to have any plumbing.  The building of course must, but I didn't notice restrooms along the hallway, and, assuming security scrutiny, didn't duck into the several constricted side passages of the kind that sometimes lead to indoor restrooms.  NB it's a few blocks from Lake Union Park, where the Museum of History and Industry doesn't charge admission to one set of restrooms, when that's open.  On the other hand, I know from experience that further north on Fairview and Eastlake there's nothing.  So people who visit those areas might do well to remember the Arnold Library and explore its building more than I did.

I'm pretty sure I did see water fountains, but they may not have been in the same building.  See, once I got to the right part of Fairview - 1100 Fairview Ave, that's the notional address - I assumed the Arnold Building various signs pointed to was my destination.  This completely confused the poor security guard watching over that building.  Nope:  the doorway one wants is this one, kitty-corner from the Arnold Building around a traffic circle where drivers really resent the existence of pedestrians:

That's the main public entrance to the Thomas Building, where that security guard tried to point me from getgo, and where the Arnold Library actually is, as witness:

Anyway, I thought it would be a public service to photograph all their signage so potential visitors could be better prepared.

Seattle Theatre Group Archive and Library

This isn't documented at the Internet Archive until far too late in the pandemic, but the Seattle Theatre Group's Archive and Library's own page even now goes into some detail:  "The collection's contents are searchable by and accessible to everyone, at the Archive and Gallery location in the Paramount building" (4.29 miles), and "On Thursday, March 1, 2012, the Seattle Theatre Group® Historic Theatres Library officially opened to the public."  In the database, it's known by that old name; the new name above, while more prosaic, is much less confusing.  This isn't a library about the Globe Theatre.  It's a library consisting of STG's archives of the Paramount Theatre, which it owns, plus whatever it's been able to scrounge up about the Moore and Neptune theatres, which it runs.  Mind, those are all now reasonably historic in their own rights, decades older than I am, two centenarian:  Paramount 1928, Moore 1907, and Neptune 1921, according to the English Wikipedia pages each one has.  Anyway, as noted, it's in the Paramount building on Pine St in northern downtown, not far from the Convention Center with its wretched, but open, public restrooms.  It's at least primarily, perhaps entirely, volunteer-run, and it's still closed.  They've been digitising the collections; the page doesn't say whether they expect to re-open to the public, and I wouldn't hazard a guess.

The Museum of Flight Research Center

At the south end of Boeing Field is the Museum of Flight, paid admission to which turns out not to be required in order to visit its Research Center, or rather the public part thereof, the Kenneth H. Dahlberg Reading Room.  (At least one page claims the whole Research Center is also named after Dahlberg, but since no page is consistent about it, I have doubts.)  The parts off-limit to the public are the Harl V. Brackin Memorial Library and the museum's Archives.  In June 2017 the Reading Room, and presumably restrooms near it, were open to the public 35 hours per week, although appointments were strongly recommended.  Today appointments are required.  The relevant Web pages have been considerably reconfigured; some information for visitors at the Archive seems not to be at the current site, which I can't help suspecting bodes ill for future "drop-in" visitors.  Nevertheless the pages are detailed and clearly professional; I'd be very surprised to find volunteers staffing the Research Center.

The Museum's mailing address says Seattle, but both my map (now G.M. Johnson, but apparently still channelling Rand McNally) and this City of Seattle map (PDF) say the museum is south of the Seattle-Tukwila border.  In any event, to my astonishment, it's within about a mile of a King County park which, according to the City of Tukwila's page about the park, has restrooms.  (King County blesses only a few of its many parks with actual Web pages.)  East Marginal Way S to S 102nd St, across the Green River to 27th Ave S to the park.  As long as there isn't a pandemic going on; if there is, presumably those restrooms will be closed again.

Sno-Isle Genealogical Society Library

The Sno-Isle Genealogical Society maintains a Research Library whose website currently says it's open eight hours per week.  (Again, the Internet Archive didn't cover it until late 2020, but an older website for the library still says twelve.)  As the library's URL indicates, it's in a City of Lynnwood park (10.17 miles), and the park's Web page says the library is only open by appointment.  What the park's Web page does not say is whether it has park restrooms separate from its historic buildings.  (The Web page does say that the buildings in general are only open twelve hours per week, so the library used to offer all it could, and still says it offers appointments on the one additional day it could open.  Anyway, yes, it matters in this case whether any restrooms in that park have doors opening to the outside.)

My genealogy doesn't have much to do with the Northwest, so I don't have much to say personally about the genealogical libraries in this page.

Stillaguamish Valley Genealogical Society

This Society maintains much less of a separate identity from its library than does the Sno-Isle one:  their website is the same.  That website says masks are still required, so it's obviously a COVID-aware page, and says the library, in Arlington (34.95 miles), is currently open eighteen hours per week.  (The same days as the more limited hours at Sno-Isle:  Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.  Also, the exact same hours as in February 2019.)  It's next door to one park and across the street from another, both of which reputedly have restrooms that probably keep longer hours than this library.

Guemes Island Library

The Guemes Island Library (Facebook link, not at the Archive until I just tried and failed to put it there) is on Guemes Island, which is across the Guemes Channel from Fidalgo Island where Anacortes is.  Guemes appears to cover more square miles than Anacortes, but has a much smaller population (there were just 605 people in 2000 in a census tract that included, but wasn't limited to, Guemes, per English Wikipedia), so even if this weren't library-impoverished Skagit County we were talking about, it probably wouldn't have a branch library of its own.

So instead it has a community club library, 60.19 miles.  They're directly north from the ferry terminal, they're open Thursdays through Mondays, 12:30 to 3:00 P.M., and they're volunteer-run.  Should one be on Guemes Island looking for a restroom at other times, there's a church between the library and the ferry terminal; a mile further north from the library is a Skagit County park said to have restrooms.  (Another such park is at the opposite end of the island from the ferry terminal, another mile or two north.)

PeaceHealth St Joseph Medical Center Library

These last two are awkward, because the page I found on Monday April 18, or perhaps Sunday April 17, while going through the list, is already now 404.  But it's documented by six captures at the Internet Archive, and from April 2016 to May 2021 those said the same thing I saw earlier this week:  that these libraries are open to the public.  Putting it mildly, that isn't usual for hospitals' medical libraries, and I greatly fear the disappearance of the page is not a sign that the relevant hospitals have decided to do without libraries, but rather a sign that a new page that doesn't invite non-employees is in the offing.  I'm not in a position to go to either hospital soon to find out.

Anyway, this one is in Bellingham, 76.19 miles from my house, and in case it has in fact closed to the public, there's a City of Bellingham park with restrooms a couple of blocks away.

PeaceHealth St John Medical Center Library

This one is in Longview, 110.63 miles from my house and, as previously indicated, a mile or two from the Columbia River.  The nearest park, practically on the hospital's doorstep to the west, has restrooms, but I strongly suspect they aren't the nearest park restrooms, because that park surrounds a long, narrow lake.  Rather I suggest a park to the east which is less long, or just go north to the library.

The appointment ones

These are libraries that could be entered without paying a fee, but were only open by appointment, before the pandemic.

  • Sound Transit's Research Library isn't documented in the Internet Archive until September 2020, but the libraries database itself, which is noticeably unaware of COVID-19, says it's open to the public only by appointment.  It's in Union Station, 5.29 miles from my house, and still requires an appointment.  I think the closest public restrooms during business hours are at City Hall several blocks north; nights and weekends, probably rather farther.  And yes, I probably should've treated Sound Transit as a governmental owner, since it levies taxes.  Sorry, dear Diary.  Anyway, one reason this is so late is that I wanted to take a photograph of the doors, because I remembered something from a project I still haven't written about in you.

    Well, actually, no, that isn't what I remembered.  The next door east of that one still has the signs I remembered, as do several other doors to that building I saw today.  (Yesterday, for anyone so technical as to think the day begins at midnight.)  See:

    Yep, building closed due to COVID-19.  And no, I'm not picking on this one because it's government.  We saw up above that whoever works at the Arnold Library is still staying home, although the security guards aren't.  (And are they better paid for taking risks the librarians won't?  What do you think, dear Diary?)  And we'll see even worse in the next part.  But if the library is open by appointment, and it's in a closed building, when are appointments available for?  Next week or next decade?

  • Providence Archives, which is essentially the archives of a religious order across six Western states, including the archives of its medical work, appears to belong in this list, though I'm not sure; its hours page either says researchers from among the general public may only enter by appointment, or says researchers on staff are only available by appointment.  Things were pretty much the same in September 2019, except that now it's very clear that the archives are closed.  They're in West Seattle (8.42 miles), a couple of blocks from Fairmount Playground, which is reputed to have restrooms, and somewhat farther from the Seattle Public Library's High Point branch.

  • Puget Sound Maritime's Library and Archives, located in Georgetown (8.68 miles), is a few blocks from Georgetown Playfield, which is a good thing since it was only open one day per week and only by appointment already in April 2018, and is now entirely closed.  Note please that this is at the same address as the Museum of History and Industry's Resource Center, which doesn't have its own Web page and is in the next part, and which appears to have the same rules.

The fee ones

These are libraries that could only be entered by paying either an entry fee or for a membership, before the pandemic.  Fees are stated as for ordinary adults, except when the institution offers discounts to poor people.

  • The National Nordic Museum's Research Center, including the Walter Johnson Memorial Library, appears to be accessible only to people who both pay admission ($20, but $2 for people with relevant poverty cards; membership $55) and make an appointment.  That said, appointments are now available for a wider range of the week than in January 2020, six hours three days per week as opposed to two days then; and I'm sure restrooms are accessible in the rest of the museum without an appointment anyway.  It's in Ballard, west of downtown on Market St, 3.03 miles from my house; the Seattle Public Library's Ballard branch to the east, Ballard Community Center to the north, and the Ballard Locks to the southwest are about equally distant for any who don't have the $2 or the card.

  • The Fiske Genealogical Library offers a price of $5 per day or $50 per year.  Currently, it's only open by appointment, but it was open 21 or 24 hours per week, plus a window for appointments, in August 2018.  It's near the northeast corner of southern Seattle, 3.66 miles, and broke people should go instead to the restrooms at Madison Park, just north of the library.  Anyway, their online index to their collections is so good that it only took me about a quarter hour to become reasonably certain they have nothing on my ancestry; others' mileage may vary.

  • Historic Fort Steilacoom Assocation's Research Library requires a membership now ($20), and required one in January 2020.  It's also only open by appointment even after one pays.  However, while they also charge ($5) for guided tours of the fort, the "interpretive center", which I, perhaps na├»vely, assume has restrooms, may be free (what they say is "complimentary", so maybe it's only free to paid-up tourists).  36.18 miles.  In case I'm wrong about the interpretive center - either about free or about restrooms - the City of Lakewood's Fort Steilacoom Park, not too far down the road, boasts that it has year-round restrooms.

  • The Mountaineers Olympia Branch Olympia Library is apparently kept at the librarian's home, so unsurprisingly requires a membership ($75 per year) to consult, plus an appointment.  I wouldn't bet that even jumping through those hoops would entitle one to use the plumbing.  The situation was pretty similar in April 2019.  I don't know where the librarian's home is, but the distance calculator puts Olympia in general about 52 miles away.  This is the addition to the database's listing; looking for the Seattle branch listed in the next page, I searched the Mountaineers' general website for "library", and this was the top result other than their Gear Library.

The closed ones

These are medical libraries that have websites, but give no evidence at all of being open to the public.  This isn't the same thing as saying they aren't open to the public, but some of these come much closer to saying that than others.  And all of these libraries' URLs explicitly say something like "for medical people".

  • Swedish Health Services has a library that's explicitly not open to the public: "Library Services is for the use of the Swedish Health Services medical and hospital staff. (Patients, patients' families, and the general public should be referred to the Health Resource Center.)"  Swedish is now owned by Providence, because after all we all know that only Catholic organisations are now allowed to own hospitals in the US, and Providence now lists this library on its own list of libraries, but hasn't gotten around to changing Swedish's domain name yet. In any event, the page said the same thing in November 2017, so the library's closedness to the public isn't Providence's fault. The library is, of course, in Swedish's First Hill campus, 4.60 miles, where it's kind of a hike to any public restrooms, but Seattle University's Lemieux Library is just downhill.

  • The libraries database lists a Providence library in Olympia, but the one I found at Providence's website is in Everett, at what used to be Everett General at the north end of town, 23.21 miles.  The Internet Archive doesn't have the current URL. Everett Community College is a few blocks north.  The site listing Providence libraries that I just pointed to includes ones from California to Alaska, but doesn't currently include any in Olympia.  Unlike the other two in this list, this one doesn't say anything obtrusive to show it isn't open to the public, but I'd still bet it isn't.

  • Virginia Mason Franciscan Health's Franciscan Library.  They say:  "Work-related library services are offered at no charge to Virginia Mason Franciscan Health physicians and staff. Non work-related projects are done on an as-time-allows basis and will involve a cost recovery fee."  That sure doesn't sound to me like they're open to the public.  The Internet Archive doesn't have the pre-COVID, pre-merger URL,  The main library is in Tacoma, 30.22 miles from my house.  That's across the street from Metro Tacoma Parks's People's Center, but the center appears to charge admission, so it looks like the homeless person's best bet around there is the UW Tacoma campus's library, several blocks east.  There are also branches in:

    • Lakewood, 36.87 miles, near the train station, an area I'm familiar with as rather a desert for public restrooms - one could try the Pierce County Library System's Lakewood branch, 1.00 miles from the hospital as the crow flies and about twice that walking

    • Federal Way, 26.47 miles, next door to the King County Library System's Federal Way branch.


Finally, two libraries belonging to UW that have their own websites are listed among the "special" libraries, rather than the academic ones. One is simple: many of the other law libraries are "special", therefore so is Gallagher Law Library. The other is weirder. It's not that the Health Sciences Library tried to put itself among the other medical libraries. Rather, the Network of the National Library of Medicine designates seven regional libraries across the nation to represent it, and the Health Sciences Library is Region 5's.  (And why isn't that governmental?  I'd like to ask.)  Anyway, I won't keep you in suspense, dear Diary; these libraries are still closed to the public.

And all that stands between me (and you) and the academic libraries such as these in which I did much of my growing up is 29 (supposedly 31) more private libraries. I expect them to take me a few more days, dear Diary. Happy nights and days until then.


Thursday, April 21, 2022

Another delay

Dear Diary,

I told you on Monday that the private libraries would probably take me another day or two.  This obviously hasn't come true.  (Or as a girl on one of the buses I rode today flirtatiously told her boyfriend, I "broke a promise!")  The bus in question was actually taking me to one of those private libraries, so I haven't completely been ignoring the task.  In any event, I've reconfigured the plan so I can complete one part without going outside again, but still have to go outside at least the next four days.  We'll see when I get to the first part, and we'll see when I get to the second.  I just didn't want you to worry.  Happy nights and days until the first part is done, dear Diary!

Monday, April 18, 2022

Library Hours Six Months Later, part VII: Other governmental libraries

Dear Diary,

How was your Easter?  Mine was fine.  I subsituted a box of cookies for an Easter basket, and listened to Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell.

This part of this page is about roughly two dozen libraries owned by the state or  federal governments.  It's hard to be sure how many because some organisational structures are unclear - some places are branches according to one source, independent according to another - and because some organisational structures have, separately from that, recently changed.  Anyway, this part also covers two libraries owned by non-profits that draw their leadership entirely from governmental units.

As with the local governmental libraries the previous part was about, not all of these libraries are open to the public, and not all are well documented online.  So as before, the libraries covered in detail are followed by a list of libraries not covered in detail.  And as before, each set is in order by how far from my house the library is.

Libraries owned by public non-profits

Puget Sound Regional Council Information Center

The Puget Sound Regional Council represents itself as governed ultimately by an annual "general assembly" of its dues-paying members, which are King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap counties, municipalities, port districts, transit agencies, and tribes.  This body votes in an executive board of individuals, numbering in the double digits, which meet monthly.  PSRC's main job is to allocate federal funding for certain transportation projects, but it has its fingers in many other pies.

Anyway, though, it runs an Information Center which claims to be open to the public.  Its own web page says very little to encourage the public actually to show up, and was the same way in October 2019, but the Washington State Library database that told me about it has full details.  As of its last update at the database, it was at 1011 Western Ave, in Seattle, and was open Monday through Friday, 9 A.M. to 3 P.M.  Whether that information has changed since whenever the last update was, who knows?

The other

  • The Washington State Historical Society is governed by a much smaller board of trustees who are all state-level elected officials.  It runs a museum that doesn't seem to have a single home page, which I glimpse every time I take a bus from Seattle to downtown Tacoma, but the museum charges admission (with usual exceptions and some weirder ones), so isn't on-topic for you, dear Diary.  Neither is the part of WSHS that's actually in the libraries database, the Research Center, because even in January 2020 it was open only by appointment.  It's about a mile north of the museum.

Libraries owned by the state

Most of these are in places where restrooms with longer hours are nearby, so few added meaningfully to restroom access for homeless people even before the pandemic.  In particular, the Timberland Regional Library's new West Olympia branch is near the main capitol campus, and has the latest hours TRL currently offers.

Washington State Library

The Washington State Library is kind of a vertical-integration thing, like Amazon:  it's both an actual library and a channel through which the state offers services to libraries, as witness the database I've been using throughout this page.  Well, but it isn't an actual library; it's a main library and a bunch of branches, including eight listed as branches by the database in western Washington.  (Its own list of branches includes several libraries the database sees as independent.)

Weirdly, in this case the branches are much less accessible to the public than the main library.  That's because one of the library-management jobs the state has given WSL is maintaining the libraries in the state's institutions of confinement, the prisons, mental hospitals, and so on.  The linked page puts the prettiest face on the work that it can (aren't you glad that some Washington prisons teach beekeeping, dear Diary?), but as part of doing so ("Look how open-minded we are!"), highlights anti-penal system works in an extensive recommended-reading and -viewing list at the bottom.  Anyway, I'm not discussing here the branches at (going alphabetically) Clallam Bay Corrections Center, Stafford Creek Corrections Center, Twin Rivers Corrections Center, Washington Corrections Center, Washington Corrections Center for Women, Washington State Reformatory and Western State Hospital.

One of the branches is not like the others, so there are two very different libraries to talk about here.

Washington Talking Book & Braille Library

I've seen this library's building, on 9th Ave just south of Lenora St, kitty-corner from Urban Triangle Park, any number of times, riding buses between North and downtown Seattle.  Nevertheless, I've never tried to go inside.  They say "We are always happy to have people visit and tour our library." but that doesn't necessarily mean they're happy to have homeless people show up without an appointment, looking for a restroom.  However, this is a pretty restroom-deprived part of downtown (except for homeless people, whose Urban Rest Stop is two blocks south), so it might be worth a try.  They're open, to whatever extent they are open, business hours, 8:30 A.M. to 5 P.M.

Washington State Library

They explicitly accept "walk-in customers".  They're in the legislative building in Olympia, currently (and also in January 2019) open 10 A.M. to 4 P.M.  They offer library cards to Washington residents, but seem relatively picky about proving residence; probably a Washington driver license or state ID is the easiest way for a homeless person to do so.  (They specify that recent mail must show a "residence address".)  The library's strengths as a library strike me, at first glance, as similar to Seattle Central Library's, only statewide instead of citywide:  genealogy, newspapers, authors, etc.

Washington Department of Transportation Libraries

In November 2017, the Washington Department of Transportation ran four libraries; three were open to the public, although the Vessel Engineering Library was not, for security reasons.  Today, only two are open to the public and only by appointment; the Terminal Engineering Library is now also closed to us.  Both these Washington State Ferries libraries are at 3rd Ave and Broad St, just a hair further from my house than the Washington Talking Book & Braille Library, and not far from Olympic Sculpture Park, whose (indoor) restrooms should be open by now.  The two that are still open by appointment are the main library on the capitol campus, and the materials research library in Tumwater, which isn't especially close to any other library (or public restrooms) known to me.  Both of these are listed as branches by the Washington State Library.

Washington State Archives

The Washington State Archives has five locations, three of which are in western Washington, and each of which appears to have re-opened to the public.  The Internet Archive doesn't have records of pre-pandemic hours later than 2017, at which time the Puget Sound branch at Bellevue College was open by appointment only and only three days per week (the Northwest branch at Western Washington University in Bellingham is that way even now).  So the Puget Sound branch has become more open to the public since the lockdowns.  The state archives proper and the southwest regional branch are at the same address in Olympia on the main capitol campus.

Washington Geology Library

The Washington Department of Natural Resources runs a Washington Geology Library in its building on the main capitol campus.   In May 2019 it was open to the public, 8 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. Mondays through Thursdays.  Now, only by appointment, and only 9 A.M. to noon Mondays and Wednesdays, 9 A.M. to 4 P.M. Tuesdays and Thursdays.  I would very much like, dear Diary, to revive the failed series "Land and Water in North Seattle" from 2020-2021, and put it on a firmer footing by reading about the geology of Seattle, so this library interests me specifically in relation to you.

Washington State Law Library

The Washington State Law Library was open to the public in February 2020 8 A.M. to 5 P.M. Mondays through Fridays.  It is in the "Temple of Justice", where the Washington Supreme Court meets, on the main capitol campus.  That building has not re-opened; assuming it ever does, the library will probably again offer library cards, though I'm not sure how easy they'll be for homeless people to get; this law library lends to the general public. 

Safety and Health Video Library

The Washington Department of Labor and Industries offers Washington individuals a library of safety and health videos.  (It's expected that most of the individuals patronising it will be business people or others with a specific interest in the topic; but it doesn't lend directly to businesses, unions, etc., just individuals.)  It's clearly primarily intended for remote access - whether borrowing physical materials or getting access to limited streaming - but its policies say "Olympia area residents must pick up and return videos in person", so in some form it's open to the public.  (Yes, returns could be through a drop, but pickups probably aren't; this library sets a high value on its materials.)  It's in Tumwater, near the airport and both TRL's headquarters and its Tumwater branch, and is currently open 9 A.M. to 4 P.M. Tuesdays through Thursdays.

The rest

  • The libraries database says that the Washington State Patrol's Forensic Laboratory Services Bureau has a library in Seattle.  And so it may still, but its web page hasn't been available outside the Internet Archive since the beginning of 2018, and didn't give any hint that the general public was welcome to visit even while it was up.  (It also had a different URL from the one in the database; I have to wonder how current that database can be assumed to be.)  On the other hand, a member of the public interested in criminology might want the research guide (PDF) the librarian made available, even though it was last updated seven years ago.
  • The database says the Department of Ecology has a library with two locations:  a main library in Lacey on the east side of the St Martin's College campus, and a branch concerned with nuclear waste in Richland, in eastern Washington.  The department's website doesn't mention this, not even in its site map, but the addresses do match.
  • Washington State Library's list of branches says the Utilities and Transportation Commission has a library that's a WSL branch.  The commission's website admits nothing, but their building, currently open by appointment only, is in Lacey just west of St Martin's College.
  • The database and Washington State Library's list of branches both offer the same information on something called the Department of Natural Resources Building Library.  It's documented enough elsewhere that I believe it exists, but not much more than that.  It should be in the same building as the Washington Geology Library, on the capitol campus, but weirdly, considering that it's named after a specific building, its physical address isn't reported.
  • Washington State Library's list of branches says another one is at the Department of Labor & Industries.  I don't know whether they mean the Safety and Health Video Library or a more conventional departmental library, but the video library and the alleged WSL branch have different e-mail addresses.  Anyway, the department's main building is in the same place as the video library, in Tumwater near the airport and libraries.
  • The database includes the libraries of the Washington State School for the Blind and the Washington School for the Deaf, saying that the former isn't open to the public, and I daresay the latter shouldn't be either.  Both are in Vancouver, east of downtown.

Libraries owned by the nation

Western Washington is home to a lot of libraries owned by the United States of America's various governmental bodies; about half of them are in Seattle.  Not many have ever been open to most individual Americans, which is a pity, because most, unlike most state libraries, are in locations ill-served by other public restrooms.  However, federal security often doesn't allow food or liquids in, which would probably make using those federal restrooms inconvenient for many homeless people anyway.

The federal government seems to be given to frequent revision of its Web domain names and directory structures.  Of the libraries in these lists that have Web pages, most have changed URLs since their last update in the libraries database.  You should warn readers of this page, dear Diary, that if they read it more than a few weeks after writing, some of the links will probably have gone bad.

The National Archives at Seattle

The National Archives at Seattle was, in December 2019, open to the public 9 A.M. to 4 P.M. weekdays.  Its web site at that time included useful pages about visiting - FAQs, Plan Your Visit.  It's 2.78 miles from my house, a few blocks southwest of Magnuson Park, which presumably made it a valuable, if limited-hours, addition to the public restrooms available along Sand Point Way (and even near southern Magnuson Park).  Now, however, it's open by appointment only, and its web page links to none of those useful pages (though the footer links to national versions).  As you may have heard, dear Diary, the relevant agency wants to close this location, so even if the pandemic ever ends as far as the National Archives are concerned, the building may not re-open.

Region 10 Library

The US Environmental Protection Agency Region 10 Library is at 1200 6th Ave, downtown, 4.58 miles, halfway between the Convention Center and Seattle Central Library, so the fact that it's only open 8:30 A.M. to 3:30 P.M. Mondays through Thursdays (as in February 2020) doesn't matter so much.  It matters even less now, because the whole office is still closed to the public.

The rest

  • The Northwest and Alaska Fisheries Science Centers Library was in the Northwest Fisheries Science Center building on Montlake, 2.34 miles from my house according to this distance calculator.  I'm not sure whether it was open to the public in any way; its web page's footer said to call ahead because the building was locked, which suggests it may have been open to the public, but certainly wasn't open for homeless people to use its restrooms.  The Northwest Fisheries Science Center is still there, but in June 2021 its library was announcing that it was "transitioning to a virtual library", by September 2021 its old URL redirected to that of the main NOAA library in Seattle (next), and today I couldn't find any sign of a library at the current Northwest Fisheries Science Center page.
  • The NOAA Seattle Library (that's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) is surrounded on three sides by Magnuson Park, 3.37 miles.  Since it's in the north end of the park, where all the public restrooms are, it's not as big a deal that members of the public have to make appointments to visit, just as in May 2017.  That's because NOAA is the human half of what's in that big closed area along the north edge of the park, whose gate is guarded by unsmiling men.  Creeks and ducks are the non-human half.
  • The United States District Court for the Western District of Washington has a law library (named US Courts Library both in the database and in a couple of documents at the website).  It's in the Seattle courthouse, at 7th & Stewart, 4.18 miles, and it doesn't have its own web page, so I don't know whether it's open to the public.  However, the courthouse itself is open (with ID, and no food or liquids), which probably means its restrooms are too, with generous hours, 7 A.M. to 5 P.M.  (For homeless people, again, this is no big deal because the Urban Rest Stop is a couple of blocks away.  I used to sit on benches in front of the courthouse, on Stewart, while waiting to shower.)  I have no evidence of a law library in the downtown Tacoma courthouse, though presumably individual judges keep books for their personal use there.
  • The libraries database says there are medical libraries at the three VA hospitals in Seattle (7.83 miles), Fort Lewis, and Vancouver.  (It also says they're parts of a single library system headquartered in the Fort Lewis one.)  I found no evidence of a library at the Seattle location's site, which doesn't prove much.  Now, I'm used to thinking of VA hospitals as immense, entire neighbourhoods unto themselves, but actually, Jefferson Park is adjacent to the Seattle one, so the fact that visitors are still limited at the VA hospitals doesn't matter to people roaming Seattle.  Fort Lewis is, as we'll see, off-limits to the casual visitor anyway.  And the Vancouver one is across the street, so to speak, from Clark College.
  • The US Army Corps of Engineers has a Seattle District Library.  At 8.15 miles, it's north of Georgetown in a real dead zone; it could be very helpful indeed to a hiker nearby.  But it plays coy with the visitor to its so-called Web page:  "Some of the USACE libraries are open to the public, although hours and services provided vary from library to library. In some cases, making an appointment may be required. Please contact the library in your area to find out what access you might have to the collection."  I actually did call (something I've until now sedulously avoided in my work on this page), but got a recorded message saying the librarian wasn't available.  The page was just as uninformative, and just as clearly inadequately edited from a national template, in April 2017.
  • The libraries database says there's a naval engineering library at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility in Bremerton, 16.56 miles.  A librarian there is on LinkedIn, so the database must be right, but I found nothing resembling a Web page for this library, let alone evidence that it's open to the public.
  • Finally, the database knows of four libraries at Joint Base Lewis-McChordBook Patch Children's Library, Grandstaff Library, McChord Library, and The Madigan Medical Library.  (It sees the first three of those as belonging to a single library system.)  Most of their physical locations aren't documented where I've looked, but JBLM in general is about 38 miles from my house.  Visiting JBLM by car requires "an adult, authorized DOD sponsor", and I have actually personally encountered JBLM on foot as a homeless man, which did not lead to any restrooms I was allowed access to.  I don't know about bicycling or paragliding, but suspect neither would be a good idea.

So, dear Diary, this is a pretty sad haul.  Libraries open to the public without a fee and without an appointment, that is, for emergency restroom access, in this part:  the main Washington State Library, the main and Puget Sound Washington State Archives, the Safety and Health Video Library.  Also the federal courthouses in Seattle and Tacoma.  Possibly the Puget Sound Regional Council Information Center, the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library, or the US Army Corps of Engineers Seattle District Library.  Some or (my bet) none of the poorly documented libraries.

I felt guilty listing all those poorly documented tribal libraries, but not very.  Keep in mind, dear Diary, that most of the tribes consist of rather few members.  A few have more population than Wahkiakum County, but none so many as, say, Clallam County, which hasn't documented its Law Library.  (Leaving aside the Thurston County Law Library as a freak case.)  And now we find that even the feds, with a third of a billion people to draw on, can't document all their libraries.  So the tribes look a lot better after all.  But it makes me wonder how public and academic libraries do this job that nobody else seems able to.

But maybe I'm being hasty in judgement.  After all, there are also privately owned libraries that are neither "public libraries" nor academic ones.  Private companies are supposedly better at everything than governments, so maybe private libraries are better at websites?  The libraries database lists fifty-two of them, which are the subject of the next part or two, before I go home to academe.  (I've already taken a first look at or for all of them.  Spoiler:  No, private libraries are not better at websites.)  It'll probably be another day or two, so happy days and nights until we meet again, dear Diary.