The 27 stamps of Seattle Public Library Passport

To mark the completion of the 10 year Libraries for All program that resulted in 27 new and remodeled branches all around Seattle, the Seattle Public Library created a Passport project to encourage people to visit all the branches and experience how they function to serve each neighborhood in the city.

Starting September 13, 2008, they started giving patrons a passport book that contained information about the Libraries for All program, a map of the city with each branch marked out and individual pages with details about the renovation/building project for each library, its pictures, bus routes. Each branch page also had a blank space to get it stamped from the branch when you visit it.

stamps and information pages 

Click on the image above to see a detailed view of each stamp.

My wife, Jen, and I graduated from the School of Information (a hybrid library science school) at the University of Michigan before moving to Seattle this summer. Jen works for the Seattle Public Library and that’s how we learnt about the Passport program. We thought it was a great way to learn about the city and observe and interact with the people here.

Partly because of my wife’s work and partly motivated by the passport program I got a chance to visit all of the branches. It was great to observe the different architectures, sizes, resources of all the libraries. It was even more interesting to see the stamps and learning about what they signified – which was obvious in some cases and not so obvious in many.

Though I had been to most branches in the past few months, I had often forgotten to get my passport and didn’t get a stamp. Last week, I was a little alarmed to realize that I only had 10 stamps out of the 27 and only five days to go for the deadline of January 2, 2009. Unlike others who did more interesting things like hiking to each branch, or running to each branch in one day, I took the lazy way by just driving to the remaining 15 or so branches.

Both Jen and I completed our passports and submitted them. Now we are both waiting for the prize drawing on January 7, 2009. It seems that by December 17, only about 130 had people completed their passports. Factoring in the last minute scramble that many might have done, the odds still don’t seem so bad.

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