Seattle's Child

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Seattle Public Library services down

UPDATE: What’s working (or not) at SPL?

Seattle Public Library digital holds and e-book access restored

UPDATE: Digital holds and e-book access is once again available at Seattle Public Library, the library announced today.

f you or your kids have visited a Seattle Public Library branch in the last couple of weeks, you may have noticed things have changed. Hoping to jump on a computer to research a homework project? Unfortunately, most computers have one of these signs stuck to them: “Out of Service.” Need other online services? Think again; the system is still down.

Blame your frustration on the May 25 cyber attack that shuttered library digital services. Although library staff are working hard to securely restart the SPL digital system so visitors can again use library Wi-Fi and other digital services, when that will happen is still unknown.

Check the SPL Shelf Talk blog to stay up-to-date on which services are available and which are still out of service. Library staff will update the list every Tuesday and Thursday. 

In the meantime, here’s what you need to know: 

Digital holds and e-book access were restored June 13. You will be able to place holds and borrow digital books through OverDrive and the Libby app. Library staff still do not have access to patron accounts, so they are unable to assist you with placing or reordering digital holds. The library has been unable to purchase new titles since prior to our technology outage. That means: No titles published since May 21 are available at this time, wait times may be longer than normal, and you may encounter some titles that have no copies available.

E-books and e-audiobooks are once again available. You will not lose the holds you currently have, and you will keep your current place in line, but you cannot access your e-books and e-audiobooks right now.

How to get a library card

Right now, you can’t get a new library card at SPL. However, the library has reciprocal borrowing agreements with several local library systems where you can sign up for a card. Then, you’ll have borrowing privileges at both SPL and that library. Here’s the list:

What services are available at Seattle Public Library?

Even if you don’t remember the “old days” when there were no computers, and you had to walk into a library, stroll the aisles, and check out books in person, consider this current pause an opportunity to step back in time and actually connect in a more personal way with your library branch. Here’s what is available while the digital system is in repair: 

  • Open hours: Libraries are open!
  • Physical materials: You can check out physical books, CDs, and DVDs. However, SPL cannot check physical materials back in at this point, so please hold onto your books.
  • In-person and virtual events: Including story times, author talks, and more.
  • Hoopla: Borrow online movies, music, comics, and TV shows.
  • Kanopy: Stream movies, including favorites from the Criterion Collection.
  • Many of our online resources: Get free access to resources for students, businesses, and more.

What services are down at Seattle Public Library?

Now that you know all the wonderful things you can still do at Seattle Public Library, here’s the list of what you can’t partake of until further notice:

  • Access to your Library account, including the ability to place new holds in the catalog
  • Access to certain online resources, such as databases, newspapers, and more
  • In-building Wi-Fi
  • Public computers
  • Printing and copying
  • Access to Museum Pass, which allows you to use your library card to get free admission to participating Seattle museums. When the system is back, you’ll once again be able to reserve one pass to a museum once every 30 days from the date of your visit, with new passes available every day after 12 p.m
  • Paying fees online
  • Suggest a Title allows library users to suggest up to 10 titles per month for addition to the Library’s collection. 
  • Interlibrary Loans (ILL). However, you can return your ILL books!

Read more: 

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About the Author

Cheryl Murfin

Cheryl Murfin is managing editor at Seattle's Child. She is also a certified doula, lactation educator for and a certified AWA writing workshop facilitator at