by Andrew Engelson
To help city residents cope with the COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting economic impact, Seattle Public Library (SPL) recently announced several new free services.
While branches remain closed during the pandemic, SPL will now offer free printing of digital documents for curbside pickup at eight library branches throughout the city, including the Central Library downtown and High Point Branch in southwest Seattle. Made possible by a grant from the Seattle Public Library Foundation, the program allows patrons to submit and pick up 10 pages of black and white printing per day. Documents can be sent by email, web, or mobile device for pick up. Printing instructions can be found online here, or patrons can call (206) 386-4636 for assistance.
The service is not currently available in Beacon Hill, the Central District, or Rainier Valley. According to SPL administrative specialist Deborah Barnard in an email to the Emerald, each new library program uses a phased-in approach, starting with a small number of branches to work out details, logistics, and safety protocols before expanding to other branches. “Because of various logistical and technology factors, a South End branch was not ready to start curbside printing in the first round, but our current plan is to expand curbside printing to the Beacon Hill Branch after the first of the year. We are also looking at offering curbside printing at the Rainier Beach Branch in January.”
“We have received regular requests for this service from parents who are trying to tutor their children from home, English Language Learners, job seekers, and many others,” said Kreg Hasegawa, virtual reference librarian at The Seattle Public Library in an email announcement. “We are now proud to offer this service for free.”
Color printing and printing of more than 10 pages is not available.
SPL Curbside Printing Pickup Service is available Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, from noon to 6 p.m. at:
Curbside Printing Pickup Service is available Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays, from noon to 6 p.m. at:
In addition, those looking for a job can receive free online assistance in the Your Next Job program, a collaboration between Seattle Public Library, King County Library System, Sno-Isle Libraries, and Seattle Jobs Initiative.
Your Next Job is open to all job seekers who live in any of the three library districts, and it does not require a library card to use. It offers free, one-on-one help with job searching and unemployment information using online meetings, email, texting, or phone calls.
Created in July 2020 specifically to respond to the COVID-19 economic crisis, Your Next Job is geared towards job seekers who lack digital proficiency, have limited English language or work skills, and those with a disability. The Sno-Isle Library system was added to the program in December.
“We are thrilled to work with fellow library systems and partners like Seattle Jobs Initiative to respond to the devastating loss of jobs in our community as a result of COVID-19,” said Marion Scichilone, assistant managing librarian at The Seattle Public Library, who helped design the service.
Applicants submit their contact information, describe the help they need, choose their available days and times, and pick their preferred method of contact. Your Next Job appointments are available Monday through Saturday.
Once a patron signs up online, they can make an appointment to talk with a librarian who can offer help with basic technology skills, a new unemployment claim, acquiring new work skills, reviewing resume resources, applying for a job, finding interview coaching resources, and referrals to workforce and social service organizations.
Librarians can also suggest a variety of free online classes and self-study resources. All three library systems, for example, offer online proctoring and certification in Microsoft and Adobe software programs.
The library noted, however, that it can’t help patrons with existing unemployment claims — people needing assistance should contact the the Employment Security Department once a claim is filed.
The Seattle Public Library’s website serves as the entry portal for Your Next Job. Job seekers can access the service at webpages in English, Spanish, and simplified Chinese. Your Next Job services are available for speakers of Amharic, Arabic, Chinese, English, Korean, Oromo, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tigrinya, and Vietnamese.
Job seekers can also access Your Next Job by calling (206) 386-4636 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
SPL also offers free online tutoring to school age children through tutor.com. The service is available in multiple languages (Vietnamese and Spanish as well as English) seven days a week. Those who have a library card (available through SPL’s Library Link service) can access online tutoring at https://spl.org/VirtualTutoring.
Andrew Engelson is a writer and editor who lives in Seattle’s South End.
The featured image is courtesy of The Seattle Public Library.