King County libraries celebrate 2016 highlights | COMMENTARY

From helping with K-12 education to enhancing early childhood literacy, KCLS celebrates highlights.

It’s hard to believe 2017 is already here. If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering, “Where did the time go?” Apparently, it went to the library. Last year, our staff was very busy providing library services throughout the county, and King County Library System has many things to celebrate as we close the books on 2016. Here are just a few of the highlights:

K-12 Education

2016 concluded with 16 school districts and over 200,000 students having a KCLS Student Card, providing easy access to the library’s online resources through their student ID.

39 libraries provided after-school homework support to over 11,000 children and teens.

Nearly 35,000 online tutoring sessions were conducted in all grade levels and in all subjects, via KCLS’ tutor.com online resource.

Summer Learning

KCLS helped more than 42,000 kids and teens avoid the “summer slide” by getting them to read all summer long during the annual Summer Reading Program.

KCLS libraries provided 9,000 meals and snacks to youth during the summer months when school is not in session.

A new adult Summer Reading Program was launched in 2016, with more than 1,500 participating.

Emerging Technology

Two new eBook kiosks were installed at Sea-Tac Airport, providing quick access to reading material for the flight ahead.

KCLS launched a new hotspot lending program, enabling individuals to borrow a device that provides Internet access at home, work or on-the-go.

A new IdeaX mobile STEM learning program was launched with funding from the KCLS Foundation.

Early Childhood Literacy

22,789 attended Kaleidoscope Play &Learn programs at their local library, emphasizing early learning skills and family engagement.

The new Fiestas program series introduced early learning skills to Latino families, addressing the learning needs of kids ages birth to five.

The Reading to Rover program brought trained therapy dogs into the libraries to help kids practice their reading skills with a friendly listener.

Community Engagement

KCLS launched a strategic planning process, enlisting community members across the county for help in determining future directions for our libraries.

With support from the KCLS Foundation, KCLS hired a social worker on staff at the Auburn Library to provide resource assistance to patrons in need of health and human services.

Election ballot boxes were installed at 16 libraries, providing a convenient location for community members to drop off their ballots during election season.

Operational Improvements

A new KCLS website launched in May, bringing significantly more content to the forefront. The site was visited 10.3 million times in 2016.

KCLS reorganized existing staff into a new Strategy Department to ensure that KCLS’ structure, systems and culture are aligned with its mission, vision and values.

Hiring pools were eliminated in 2016, as KCLS transitioned to a more effective method of posting and recruiting for individual positions as they become available.

Of course, we can’t rest on our laurels. The year is off to a great start and we are excited about what’s ahead. In 2017, KCLS celebrates its 75th birthday, in recognition of the public vote that established the King County Rural Library District back in 1942. We have lots of surprises in store for you, so visit us often to be a part of the fun.


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Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
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