KCLS fosters connections with governments and advocates | Book Nook

A monthly column from the director of the King County Library System.

King County Library System (KCLS) fosters connections with local governments and library advocates to strengthen collaboration, encourage citizen engagement and maximize public funding to help KCLS deliver programs and services that best address community and patron needs.

With 50 libraries located in 34 distinct communities, maintaining these relationships is key. Recently KCLS hosted its annual Library Advisory Board Forum for members of 11 city-appointed boards who voluntarily serve as liaisons between the library system and their respective city councils. Forum participants shared information about their community’s needs and interests, and in turn learned about how KCLS is funded as an independent taxing district, challenges the library system faces amid rising costs and limited revenue, and the ways that KCLS can help advisory board members be most effective in their role.

Teen Advisory Boards also have a role in shaping relevant library programs for their peers. These enthusiastic youth advisers have been instrumental in helping KCLS develop popular programs.

Friends of the Library are committed library advocates who support KCLS and the nonprofit KCLS Foundation through volunteerism and fundraising. Our tireless partners are indispensable to libraries and in 2018 raised a total $311,842 beyond what is funded by taxpayers.

KCLS engages with local government to keep elected officials informed about programs and services that benefit constituents. KCLS staff attend local city council meetings, and as a member of the Sound Cities Association, I meet regularly with 34 city managers and administrators.

KCLS’ strong partnership with King County Elections (KCE) has helped to make voting more accessible through the placement of ballot boxes at 18 community libraries. KCE has expanded its partnership with KCLS by offering workshops at several of our libraries called “Running for Office in King County” to promote greater citizen engagement.

KCLS also keeps our elected officials in Washington, D.C., abreast of issues that may impact libraries and library patrons.

Connecting with our elected officials and library advocates keeps essential lines of communication open and ensures that KCLS is providing library services that create the most benefit for our shared communities.

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

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