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Thursday, July 18, 2002 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Seattle libraries closing for week in late August

Seattle Times staff reporter

Summer reading is going on a vacation of its own in Seattle.

In an effort to cut $1.8 million from its budget, the Seattle Public Library and all its branches will close Aug. 26 through Sept. 1.

The library's Web site, automated telephone system, telephone reference service, book drops and catalog system also will close, as will program events and mobile services.

All city departments were asked to cut from their budgets because of a $12 million general-fund deficit.

This is the first time the Seattle Public Library has closed because of budget constraints, said Andra Addison, library communications director. There was a similar closure for five weeks in 1918 during the influenza epidemic, she said.

Closing for two weeks, one in August and one in December, saves the library from laying off about two dozen staff members.

Last times to get books


The last day to check out library items before the one-week August closure is Aug. 25.

Items must be checked out before 5 p.m. that Sunday at the temporary Central Library, 800 Pike St., and these branches: Ballard, Columbia, Douglass-Truth, Lake City, North East, Rainier Beach and West Seattle.

For all other branches of the library system, the last day to check out materials is 6 p.m. Aug. 24, a Saturday.

The last day to request material from another branch is Aug. 12.

No materials will be due during the one-week closure. No fines will be accrued during that time.

The 2002 closings will save about $850,000 — the salaries of about 640 employees who will not receive pay nor earn vacation time or retirement benefits during the two weeks.

Addison said the library studied other options but found that closing for two weeks offered the solution that was most efficient and most considerate of the public. Shutting down for single days or cutting daily hours would have meant stretching out the closures for a much longer time.

The library's $34.7 million budget is used for salaries, technology, books and operating costs.

The library also will trim other areas. The book budget, estimated at $3.7 million, will be trimmed by $160,000 this year. The library plans to reduce operating supplies and technology purchases. A hiring freeze also is in place.

Addison estimates the Central Library serves 4,000 to 5,000 patrons a day, and each branch a couple of hundred.

The library will resume normal operating hours Sept. 3.

The next closure is scheduled Dec. 17 through Dec. 23.

Sheila Lalwani: 206-464-2194 or at slalwani@seattletimes.com.

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