is seattle public library the same as king county library

Is Seattle Public Library The Same As King County Library?

Seattle Public Library and King County Library are two separate libraries that offer a range of services and resources to their patrons. From books and magazines to computer access and research assistance, each library has its own unique offerings and identity.  However, is Seattle Public Library the same as King County Library System? In this article of Seattleducation, we will explore the differences between the two libraries and how they each serve the public.

Overview of Seattle Public Library & King County Library 

What is Seattle Public Library (SPL)?

seattle public library

The Seattle Public Library (SPL) serves the city of Seattle and its surrounding areas and is the largest library management in the United States. The SPL Association is a private, non-profit organization that aids the SPL, which is owned by the city.

The SPL has more than 26 million items across its 24 locations, and it provides a wide range of services to the city’s residents, from books and other materials to events and activities for all ages.

In 1889, Seattle residents issued the first municipal bonds in the United States to fund the creation of a public library. The bond issue paid for both the construction of the main library and the purchase of books.

Opening to the public in 1891, Seattle Central Library featured a reading room, a cataloging room, and a staff of librarians. Green Lake, Ballard, and Hunts Point branch libraries, among others, launched shortly thereafter.

This library now provides a wide range of services, including a 24-hour pickup service and rare and valuable material housed in its special collections. Classes, lectures, and reading initiatives are just some of the other activities offered at the library.

Besides, the virtual lending library made available by the SPL allows users to access library materials from anywhere at any time.

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What Is King County Library?

king county library system

King County Library System (KCLS) is a public library management with 27 locations plus a mobile library and a research library, located in Seattle, Washington. More than 1.3 million people in the Seattle-Tacoma area are served by the SPL, making it one of the largest library management in the United States.

In 1942, voters in King County, Washington, authorized a loan to build a new Seattle library, marking the beginning of what is now known as KCLS. 

The Seattle neighborhood of Yesler Terrace is home to the original branch, which launched in 1943 and is now known as the Carnegie Library. KCLS has expanded over the years to include new offices, a pc lab, a meeting room, and other amenities.

The KCLS is a separate department of the King County Government under the supervision of the King County Libraries Board. Access to books and other library items, online resources, research assistance, programming, and free Wi-Fi are just some of the many assistance and resources offered by KCLS. 

In addition to its own collection, KCLS offers connections to the compilations of other Washington libraries and institutions, including the University of Washington Library and the Washington State Library.

People living in King County and other cities in Washington can get library cards from KCLS as well. With a valid library card, patrons can use any branch of the KCLS to check out resources, make payments, and access electronic databases.

Is Seattle Public Library The Same As King County Library?

Similarities between the two libraries 

As far as building design goes, the SPL and the KCL share some similarities. Both libraries have a contemporary feel to them thanks to the work of the Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA).

The SPL is a multi-level central library in downtown Seattle, featuring reading rooms, wireless networks, and photocopiers. Despite its smaller size, the KCL also gives ample assistance, such as a bibliocommons and wireless Internet access.

The services provided by both libraries are also comparable. They both have ILL departments where customers can request books from other libraries. Overdrive, a virtual content platform, is available in both libraries’ compilations. Additionally, both feature Seattle’s beloved icon, librarian Nancy Pearl.

Differences between the two libraries

The SPL and the KCLS are two of the largest library management in the state of Washington. While they share many similarities, there are a few key differences that set them apart.

Seattle Public Library (SPL)King County Library System (KCLS)
Size of their collectionsSPL has over nine million items in its collection. Has a larger number of branches and buildings with 27 branches and two research libraries. KCLS has just over seven million. Has 16 branches and three research libraries.
Type of library cardsOffers library cards that are valid for any library in the system.
Also offers a reciprocal borrowing program, which allows residents of Seattle and King County to borrow items from each other’s libraries.
Only valid for the KCLS system
ServicesA large range of services, including book clubs, literacy programs, computer classes, and a variety of special events.A range of rooms, such as the Seattle Room, Carnegie Room, Yesler Room, and View Room, which can be used for educational and cultural events.Offers more limited services, such as a Storytime Hour and computer classes.
Fines for overdue items.$1 per day$2 per day

Pros and Cons of Seattle Public Library and King County Library

Benefits of SPL

  • The resources available at SPL span the gamut from print documents and DVDs to online videos and audiobooks.
  • Support and resources from SPL’s digital library are available whenever they’re needed.
  • The SPL main branch is conveniently located near major bus lines and light rail.
  • Every age group can find something of interest at SPL, as it gives a wide range of assistance and initiatives.

Benefits of King County Library

  • Documents, DVDs, and digital media are just some of the physical and digital resources available at KCLS.
  • Services and resources from KCLS can be connected online around the clock.
  • Library services are conveniently accessible throughout the county thanks to KCLS’s many branch locations.
  • For its patrons of all ages, KCLS provides a wide range of assistance, initiatives, and special events.

Drawbacks of SPL

When looking for an SPL location, you may have a more difficult time because of its lower profile.

Drawbacks of King County Library

  • The number of KCLS library locations is lower than that of SPL’s.
  • The range of services offered by KCLS is narrower than that of SPL.
  • You can’t borrow as many documents with a KCLS library card as you can with a SPL card.
  • As a result, KCLS does not have as many librarians as SPL.

In conclusion, the Seattle Public Library and the King County Library are both excellent choices for accessing information and materials. Ultimately, the decision of which library to use will depend on the individual’s needs and preferences.

Please leave a comment if you have any questions and don’t forget to visit our main site at for more useful information. Thanks for reading!


What happens if I bring an item from the SSPL to a KCLS branch, or vice versa? Once a week, KCLS brings back our returned items, and once a week, they bring them to us.

The library where you dropped off the book will process it and send it on to the right place. Searching the Catalog can help you verify that the book is available and has not been borrowed. There shouldn’t be a deadline associated with the “In transit” status.

No, the hours of operation for the SPL and KCLS are not the same. King County Library is launched Monday through Saturday, while SPL is launched seven days a week.

Yes, patrons can use both the SPL and the King County Library for free.

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