Written By Beth Asher

I’m not in favor of joining the King County Library system either, because they’ve been non-responsive to patrons for years. Formerly, board and committee meetings were not advertised and closed to the public. This lack of transparency in what is really a special taxation district appalls me. The excerpt below is from a state conducted study that found many issues with their governance. Recommendations were passed to try to ensure transparency to the voters. I wonder how those have been implemented, if at all?

The full text can be found in the King County Charter Review Commission Final Report at:


King County Library System
Recommendation / Not a Charter amendment
During public meetings, patrons of the King County Library System (KCLS) voiced several concerns about KCLS’ governance structure and operations, including lack of oversight and accountability, an unengaged and unresponsive board of trustees, limited public access to board decision-making processes and lack of planning. The Commission recognized that amendments to the Charter could not address these issues, as KCLS’ authority and responsibility are governed predominately by state statute. Nevertheless, the Commission believes that is appropriate and helpful to recommend actions to improve the KCLS. The Commission is transmitting letters to the Council, the Executive Office, and the KCLS Board of Trustees to make the following recommendations (see letters in Appendix D):
1. To the King County Council: To lobby the state legislature to amend RCW 27.12.190 to require larger library systems to have at least seven trustees on their governance boards. A greater number of trustees on the KCLS board would facilitate broader patron representation, expand library system expertise, and help address concerns about appropriately sized subcommittees. The Commission also recommended that the Council consider the importance of having a Board of Trustees that is broadly representative of the KCLS service area when confirming the Executive’s appointments;
2. To the Executive Office: To ensure that its process of nominating trustees to serve on the KCLS Board of Trustees provides for greater outreach in order to broaden representation of the areas served by the KCLS; and
3. To the KCLS Board of Trustees: To adopt procedural policies that ensure all full board and subcommittee meetings are open to the public irrespective of whether there is a quorum. This openness includes notifying the public in advance of meeting times and subject matter and making publicly available all materials produced for and as a result of the meetings. Regardless of whether a less publicly accessible approach might be legally supportable, greater openness will help allay many of the existing public concerns about accountability and transparency.

Final vote: Yes – 16 No – 2 Abstain – 0 Absent – 3