What a busy and eventful year this has been. As I write my last column as interim director, it is a great time to reflect on 2017 and eagerly anticipate the years ahead under the leadership of our new King County Library System director, Lisa Rosenblum.
Looking back, I am grateful for the eight months I have spent at KCLS. It has been an honor to serve one of North America’s busiest library systems. I’ve had many memorable experiences, including working with an absolutely stellar staff and meeting hundreds of dedicated and enthusiastic library patrons and volunteers.
My first official duty as interim director was the opening of the beautiful new 10,000 square-foot Tukwila Library on April 29, where I read a proclamation on behalf of Gov. Jay Inslee declaring it “King County Library System Week” to mark the occasion. Throughout the year, I visited every one of our 49 community libraries, some of which I saw three or more times. During this 75th birthday year for the library system, every visit was like opening a present. I observed interesting programs, helpful staff, marvelous art and architecture and a welcoming environment for kids, students, adults and seniors.
Having been a member of the KCLS Foundation board of directors, I knew the library system was on the leading edge of innovative approaches to services and technology. As interim director, I have seen how the organization’s vision and values are put into action every day to address the needs and interests of all King County residents, regardless of circumstance.
Each month, I give a report to the KCLS board of trustees at their regular meeting. Our trustees are community leaders who volunteer their time and energy to set policies, oversee the budget and uphold the mission of the library system. During my tenure, I have been impressed by their commitment to making our libraries exceptional.
As KCLS looks to the future, staff will continue to seek opportunities to create meaningful connections with patrons. Our doors — and our vast collection — are always open to those on a quest for ideas, information and interaction. As I leave KCLS in Lisa Rosenblum’s capable hands, I am proud to have played a small part in supporting the mission of the King County Library System. It has truly been an honor to have worked with a group of professionals who are dedicated to improving the lives of those they serve.
Stephen A. Smith is the interim director of the King County Library System.