Tag Archives: libraries

Still more on community

In honor of Black History Month, I’m reposting this entry from last February.

What I learned on the 27

This is not a totem pole.

Douglass Truth Soul Pole
The Douglass-Truth “Soul Pole”

I never really looked at this library landmark (despite the kajillion times I have walked and ridden past it) until a late-evening bus conversation with a history-loving fellow native of the 2-0-sickness. After I explained the origins of Chicklet’s name, he decided we were kindred spirits and so proceeded to school me about–among other things–the history and meaning of this particular work of art.

Soul Pole dedication
“The First 400 Years”

I am grateful that he took the time to talk to me. I am also, as ever, grateful for the bus–and for the many opportunities it provides for me to form deeper connections to my community.

Happy last first day of Black History Month!”

For better or worse, Link edition

Chicklet, Busling, and I took a recent Link excursion to the Beacon Hill Library. We went to attend an event, but I was mostly just looking for an excuse to get the BH stamp on my library passport (and yes, I’m still working on that).

I ride the train very infrequently, but every time I do, I wish I had the opportunity to do so more often. The reasons aren’t particularly unique, but I’m going to share them nonetheless.

– I don’t need a schedule. Trains are frequent and (unlike buses) don’t often experience delays. I love just showing up at the station knowing I won’t be waiting more than a few minutes.
– It’s easy to board with kids. Stroller or no, bus stairs are no fun with little ones.
– Trains are fast and cool. (I’m not the only one who thinks so. Chicklet is an absolute train fanatic. I need to introduce her to the STB guys.)

Pretty train

Of course, nothing’s perfect

Many months after my initial rides, I still think the payment process is confusing and puts too much burden on the rider. Infrequent riders (especially distracted or busy infrequent riders like me) aren’t going to remember that they have to swipe before and after they ride–especially when the card swiping machines aren’t anywhere near the train. We forgot to pre-swipe at Pioneer Square Station and missed the train schlepping back up the escalator to do so. We also forgot to post-swipe on our way out of Beacon Hill Station and made the machine mad by double-swiping upon our return. I’m still not exactly sure how much I was charged.

If you’re going to penalize folks for not paying, the process should be idiot proof.

Ah, well. I suppose I’ll get the hang of it with a little more practice. Here’s hoping I won’t have to wait long for another opportunity.

January Golden Transfer

Golden TransferThis month’s Golden Transfer* goes to Laila B., a Wedgewood resident and fellow TAC member who managed to complete her entire library passport by bus. That’s right–Laila, accompanied by her two-year old grandson, Leo, took Metro to all 27 of the public libraries in Seattle. They did it in time for the January 2nd deadline, though was touch and go near the end. Says Laila:

On the Friday 2 January deadline day I still had three libraries left to visit (snow caused delay) — all quite a distance away from where I live in North Seattle: South Park, Beacon Hill, and New Holly. But four hours and eight bus rides (65,49,60,60,36,106,510,73) later we had made it back home for Leo’s nap and had turned in the completed form at the Central Library downtown.

Now if that ain’t deserving of an award, I don’t know what is. Apparently, the folks at SPL agreed with me; Laila was one of the winners in the prize drawing. She didn’t win lunch with the city librarian (this library lover’s fantasy prize), but she did get a goodie bag. (Correction, 2/4: Turns out, she did win a date with Susan Hildreth; all four drawing winners get to meet her.)

Like me, Laila was impressed by the passport program’s support of bus travel.

[I] had wanted to mention at the drawing interview that I’d visited all the libraries via Metro, but they went on to the next person before I had a chance to do so. I did, however, mention to the couple who started the project, Marsha Donaldson and Bill Ferris, on the special Libraries for All day back in October, how pleased I was that Metro routes were included in the description and addresses all the libraries.

(Marsha and Bill: Thank you!)

Unfortunately, Chicklet and I were not as successful at completing our passports as Laila and Leo. We petered out just shy of the halfway point**–in part because of weather setbacks, but mostly because I got sidetracked by other obligations. The good news is, the program hasn’t ended. There won’t be any more prize drawings, but, according to Laila, anyone who turns in a completed passport will get a signed certificate.*** How does she know this? She volunteers at the Central Library one afternoon a week.

Laila, Leo, and George
Laila, Leo, and Leo’s riding partner, George

Thanks, Laila, for your support of the bus and the library, but also for giving your grandson a heck of an experience in Fall ’08/Winter ’09. Here’s hoping some of it sticks with him.

*Yes, I know it’s been a few months since I’ve awarded a GT. Sue me.

**13 libraries: Central (27), Ballard (27 + 17), Capitol Hill (8), Columbia (48), Douglass-Truth (no bus necessary), Green Lake (48), Greenwood (48), Sally Goldmark (short walk + 3), Montlake (48—-Anyone picking up on a theme?), Northgate (27 + 41), Queen Anne (27 + 2), Rainier Beach (48), and West Seattle (27 + 55)

*** And you know how we library geeks love certificates. Chicklet can put hers next to the one she got for completing the summer reading program last July.

On moms, Montlake, and marketing

Today, on our visit to the Montlake library (five stamps down, 21 to go), Chicklet and I met another mother-daughter bus team in the children’s section. I chatted for a while with the mother, who lives in Eastlake, is part of a one-car family, and uses Metro to get around town with her 19-month old daughter. She’s expecting another baby in March, and she and her husband seriously considered buying a second car to accommodate their expanding family.

“But then I saw one of those new Metro ads,” she said. “They say, ‘I do make a difference by riding the bus.’ And that’s what I believe. I do make a difference. That’s me.”

“Actually,” I said. “That’s me.”

SPL + Metro = one happy bus chick

If you’re a library geek like me (libraries might actually beat out buses on my list of favorite things), you surely already know about the Seattle Public Library’s passport program. For everyone else:

The library is issuing passports with a page for every library in the SPL system. The goal is for patrons to bring their passports to each branch to have them stamped, and in the process, to check out our new and improved community resources.

An SPL passport
Douglass-Truth stamp
The Douglass-Truth page and stamp

Cool idea, no? It gets better. Every entry in the passport includes a list of Metro routes that stop at that branch.

Routes 2 & 3 serve Sally Goldmark

This might seem like a small thing, but to this bus chick, it is huge. Every effort to challenge the assumption that one must drive to get around this town is worth recognizing. And since Chicklet and I are participating , the passports can serve as our travel cheat sheet.

So far, we’ve hit up Douglass-Truth (no bus ride necessary), Sally Goldmark (3), West Seattle (55), and Greenlake (48).* Montlake (48) is next on the list, followed by all of the other branches that are served by Metro’s heavyweight.** After that–who knows? I’ve never been to the ID branch, or Ballard, or South Park…

My plan is to coordinate our visits with individual branch story times–to make it worth Chicklet’s while. Then again, she hardly needs encouragement to visit a library. Twenty minutes in the children’s section reading books about farm animals and/or big vehicles, and she’s good.

Participants in the challenge have until January 2nd to turn in their completed passports. And, “…there will be a prize drawing on January 7th for booklover’s baskets full of goodies and lunch with the new city librarian.”

Shoot. That almost rivals partying with Busfather.

* Note that the Greenlake branch is currently closed due to a mold problem.
** Six total: Rainier Beach, Columbia, Douglass-Truth, Montlake, Greenlake, Greenwood

May Golden Transfer (or, Speaking of reading lists…)

Golden TransferThis month’s Golden Transfer goes to the Contra Costa County [California] Public Library, a library system that’s doing its part to encourage public transit use among readers–and reading among public transit users.

Earlier this week, as part of the new, rather unfortunately named, “Library-a-Go-Go” program, the CCCL installed a vending-style book-lending machine (the first of its kind in the nation) at the Pittsburg/Bay Point BART station.

[The machine] will hold some 400 books that can be checked out for free by anyone with a valid Contra Costa County library card. A patron will insert the card, get access to the available titles and check out up to three books. A robotic arm will retrieve the books.


The county public library plans to install three other machines at the transit village at the BART station in Pleasant Hill, a site in Byron/Discovery Bay and another location, not yet determined.

(Source: Mass Transit)

I’ve only been to the Pittsburg BART station once (to visit my sister back when she lived there), but I’d gladly go back just to get a crack at that machine. I love it, and not just because it will reduce car trips among East Bay readers. I love anything that makes the experience of riding transit more convenient and enjoyable, and I can’t think of anything more convenient or enjoyable than grabbing a (free) ride read anytime the spirit moves. (Well, one thing: settling in with the latest TC Boyle novel while someone else does the driving.)

A book-lending machine
A lending machine somewhere in Scandinavia (Source: SFist)

So thank you, CCC Library, for strengthening the relationship between public libraries and public transportation (two inherently complementary forces), and for giving people one more reason to ride.

Now, when can we see one of these things in the bus tunnel?