King County Library System

The King County Library System (KCLS) is a library system serving the residents of King County, Washington, United States. Headquartered in Issaquah, Washington, KCLS is currently the busiest library in the United States, circulating 22.4 million items in 2010.[3] It consists of 48 libraries, a Traveling Library Center, a mobile TechLab, and the ABC Express children’s library van. KCLS offers a collection of more than 4.1 million items, including books, periodicals, newspapers, audio and videotapes, films, CDs, DVDs and extensive online resources. All KCLS libraries offer free Wi-Fi connections. People can check out 100 items and hold up to 50 items.

King County Library System
King County Library System logo.svg
Bellevue Library.jpg
Bellevue Regional Library
TypePublic library
LocationKing County, Washington, US
Coordinates47°37′13″N 122°11′40″W / 47.62028°N 122.19444°W / 47.62028; -122.19444Coordinates: 47°37′13″N 122°11′40″W / 47.62028°N 122.19444°W / 47.62028; -122.19444
Size3.4 million items
Access and use
Access requirementsResidence in King County except the city of Seattle and the towns of Hunts Point and Yarrow Point
Circulation20.8 million
Population served1.4 million
Other information
Budget$120 million (2017)[1]
DirectorLisa G. Rosenblum
References: Washington Public Library Statistical Report, 2016[2]



The library system began in 1942 when voters in King County established the King County Rural Library District in order to provide library services to people in "rural" areas with no easy access to city libraries. Funding for the library system was (and still is) provided from the property tax bases of unincorporated areas, and from contracts with cities and towns for the provision of library services. Funding measures for the system passed in 1966, 1977, 1980, 1988, 2002, 2004, and 2010.[4] Property taxes account for 94% of revenue today. The KCLS budget for 2017 was $120 million.[1] The name of the organization was changed from the King County Rural Library District to the present-day King County Library System in 1978, although the old words "Rural Library District" is still part of the organization's legal name.[5]

KCLS extends access privileges to residents of its service area, which includes all unincorporated areas of King County as well as residents of every city in the county except Hunts Point, and Yarrow Point.[6] Residents of Seattle – which maintains its own library system – are allowed access to KCLS collections under reciprocal borrowing agreements between KCLS and Seattle's libraries.[7] KCLS also extends reciprocal borrowing privileges to residents of many other library systems in Western and North Central Washington. The cities of Hunts Point and Yarrow Point do not have library service at all.[8]

Under a $172 million capital bond passed in 2004, the King County Library system is rebuilding, renovating, and expanding most of its existing libraries, as well as building new libraries.

KCLS has annexed the city of Renton's public library system, the result of a vote by the city's residents in February 2010.[9] This library system includes a 22,500-square-foot (2,090 m2) library branch built completely over the Cedar River.

In 2011, KCLS won the Gale/Library Journal "Library of the Year" award.[3]


KCLS provides several community services King County and Seattle Public Library patrons including participation in Book Clubs, access to Information Technology such as Computer Reservations, Homework Help for kids and teens, Interlibrary Loans, access to Meeting Rooms, Museum Passes, Community Newsletters, Personalized Recommendation, and opportunities to meet with authors. KCLS is an integral part of the county's history and culture, and the state of Washington overall by bringing people together in a shared space to learn, study, and share knowledge and experiences.


KCLS consists of 48 branches, Traveling Library Center, ABC Express Vans, mobile TechLab, and a service center located in Issaquah that houses the library's administrative offices.


Mobile servicesEdit

  • ABC Express
  • Traveling Library Center
  • Techlab
  • Library2Go


  1. ^ a b "2017 Operating Budget" (PDF). King County Library System. Retrieved December 25, 2017.
  2. ^ "2016 Washington Public Library Statistical Report" (PDF). Washington State Library. October 2017. Retrieved December 25, 2017.
  3. ^ a b Berry, John, III (June 15, 2011). "Library of the Year 2011: King County Library System, WA". Library Journal. Retrieved June 18, 2011. Among the benchmarks was circulating 22.4 million items—more than any other library system in the United States—to the 1,318,745 people who live in King County.
  4. ^ "History". King County Library System. Retrieved January 5, 2018.
  5. ^ Becker, Paula (June 6, 2011). "King County Library System, Part 1". HistoryLink. Retrieved January 5, 2018.
  6. ^ "Areas Served by KCLS". King County Library System. July 16, 2012. Archived from the original on February 1, 2013. Retrieved January 5, 2018.
  7. ^ "KCLS-SPL Reciprocal Use Borrowing Agreement". King County Library System. Archived from the original on May 22, 2012. Retrieved January 5, 2018.
  8. ^ "Borrowing Outside of KCLS Service Areas". King County Library System. Archived from the original on May 10, 2012. Retrieved January 5, 2018.
  9. ^ Krishnan, Sonia (28 February 2010). "Group tries to reverse Renton library vote". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 1 March 2010.

External linksEdit