KCLS: Much to celebrate from 2019 and in the year ahead

A column from the King County Library System.

King County Library System (KCLS) has gotten off to a great start in 2020, with two prestigious awards and much to look forward to in the coming year.

Once again, KCLS was ranked as a Five Star Library in the 12th annual Library Journal Index of Public Library Services. The rating recognizes overall service excellence per capita across six categories: total circulation; circulation of electronic materials; library visits; program attendance; public internet computer uses; Wi-Fi sessions. Library Journal awards three, four, or five stars based on data compiled from the Institute of Museum and Library Services Public Library Survey.

The five star ranking is especially gratifying because it means KCLS is not only serving the public at the highest level, but delivering a strong return on taxpayers’ investment in their libraries. It also reflects that KCLS is ahead of the curve, particularly with respect to technology.

For the first time, Library Journal’s Index included Wi-Fi sessions to assess the growing use of laptops, tablets and smartphones in libraries. KCLS has tracked Wi-Fi since 2013, well ahead of many other libraries, and in 2019 counted more than 5 million Wi-Fi sessions across the Library System. In addition, our Mobile Services staff bring Wi-Fi hot spots to tent cities, day shelters and transitional housing locations. Likewise, public computer use in libraries continues to be strong, given the robust broadband that KCLS provides to accommodate patron demand for high-speed internet access.

Library Journal honored KCLS again when it named the Tukwila Library one of its six New Landmark Libraries, out of more than 35 submissions from across North America. The award recognizes the library’s sustainable and inclusive design that “meets today’s challenges and creates tomorrow’s opportunities.” We are particularly proud of this honor, as Tukwila Library was designed with broad citizen input and serves as an anchor for one of the most diverse communities in the U.S.

I am also pleased to report that KCLS remains one of the leading providers of digital content to library patrons — second in the U.S. and third world-wide, according to statistics released by Rakuten Overdrive for 2019.

There will be much more to share in the coming months. Rest assured that the year ahead will be filled with the same dedication to excellent service our patrons have come to expect — and deserve.

Lisa Rosenblum is executive director of the King County Library System.

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