May 20, 2022

Report: “Seattle’s School Libraries: a Stark Example of Rich and Poor”

From The Seattle Times:

While Seattle Public Schools provides money to each school that could be used for libraries, the principal and other school leaders decide whether to spend it that way. In 38 percent of Seattle schools this year, the leaders didn’t choose to use that money in their libraries.

Overall, Seattle’s district office provides only about a quarter of the $535,096 that schools spent on library materials this year — the rest came from PTAs, book fairs and grants.

On average, that means the district’s contribution is only about $2.55 per student, barely enough to cover the cost of one magazine.


In a survey early this year by Seattle librarians, they found one elementary school in Northwest Seattle that received $2,000 from the district for library materials and raised an additional $11,500, for a total of $25.47 per student. In that school, only 9 percent of students qualify for free- or reduced-price lunches.

Yet a similarly sized elementary in West Seattle, where 83 percent of the students qualify for federal free- or reduced-price lunches, only $2.14 is spent per student for books and other items. An average book in that school’s library is 24 years old, compared with 13 in the Northwest Seattle school.

Read the Complete Article

See Also: A similar story in Washington D.C.

District of Columbia: “Unequal Shelves in D.C. School Libraries Benefit Wealthier Students” (March 9, 2015)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.