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Seattle Public Library, Led by SIS Alum Marcellus Turner, Awarded 2020 Library of the Year

SIS alum and Seattle Public Library Executive Director and Chief Librarian Marcellus Turner credits the library’s staff for earning it the 2020 Gale/Library Journal Library of the Year Award.

“This is well-deserved recognition of their commitment to involving community voices in programs, reducing barriers to access and actively pursuing key partnerships. It’s our staff that has been leading the way,” Turner stated in a news release.

Turner has been at the helm of the library since 2011, and you can read more about his experience at the University of Tennessee, his career, and overall outlook in this 2019 article that originally ran in the SIS annual magazine “Spark.” Turner serves on the UT College of Communication and Information Board of Visitors, and has also created a travel scholarship for SIS students.

The Library Journal article announcing the news cited several reasons why SPL was given the award, including:

  • Its commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity in its hiring, training, policies, access, and programming.
  • Its engagement of the community, including underserved populations such as Seattle’s Somali community, Native American youth, and the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Instances where Turner and library staff are willing to admit mistakes and engage in difficult conversations internally and externally to correct its course.
  • The passing of a “Libraries for All” $219 million levy renewal proposal by an unprecedented 76 percent of voters; this proposal eliminated library fines, which disproportionality affected lower income areas.

“Seattle Public Library consistently wowed the judges with its thorough, concrete methodology for making sure the library walks the walk on equity and the way the library team brought that toolset to the field as a whole,” stated Meredith Schwartz, editor-in-chief of Library Journal, a news release from SPL.

To top it off, Turner was also named national technology site Geekwire’s “Geek of the Week” in early June. An article on Geekwire features an interview with Turner, and the technological innovations SPL has implemented under his direction.