The King County Library System strives to create meaningful partnerships with other public agencies, private businesses, and nonprofits organizations to better serve our shared communities.
Partnerships expand KCLS’ reach by making it possible for the Library System to serve a broader range of people, while stretching tax dollars. We team with social service organizations for Summer Meals and to assist those experiencing homelessness. We collaborate with AARP and other agencies for senior programs and services. We also work with the U.S. Census Bureau to promote education in anticipation of the upcoming 2020 census.
One of my favorite examples of strong partnership is Community Court, a collaboration with the city of Redmond and King County District Court. Community Court identifies and addresses the underlying challenges faced by those who appear in a traditional court by providing alternatives to sentencing and jail time, such as community service or paying restitution. Community Court is held at Redmond Library, offering social services and workforce resources to help non-violent offenders turn around their lives. The program helps build stronger and safer neighborhoods by reducing recidivism and reduces the burden on taxpayers by lowering jail costs. Since its debut last April, there have been 120 Community Court participants and a total 61 graduates.
In anticipation of upcoming elections, King County Elections has voter accessibility sites throughout the county, including locations at KCLS libraries. Working in partnership with King County Elections, KCLS also offers programs like “How to Run for Office” and “Elections 101,” and voters will find ballot drop boxes at 18 of our libraries. During the November 2018 election, King County Elections reported that 23.11 percent of all ballots were dropped in a box at a KCLS library.
Local food banks and other health and human service organizations, such as United Way and AmeriCorps, support KCLS’ annual Summer Meals program. Last year, 10,321 nutritious meals were served, meeting a critical need for students while they are out of school.
In partnership with the Washington State Department of Social and Human Services (DSHS), KCLS delivers educational outreach programs to youth at Echo Glen Children’s Center for Juvenile Rehabilitation. Recently, middle and high school students from Echo Glen explored new worlds in virtual reality during workshops facilitated by faculty and students from the University of Washington Information School. Inspired by the workshops, KCLS worked with the iSchool to host an impressive exhibit of the students’ work at the Snoqualmie Library, which showcased their newly-honed digital media and storytelling skills.
As a patron, we hope you experience the impact of these partnerships with each library visit, and by checking out the events and programs on our website at kcls.org.
Lisa Rosenblum is executive director of the King County Library System.