Seattle Public Library’s Central Branch in downtown Seattle (Wikimedia Commons image)
Following the outbreak of COVID-19 or coronavirus in King County, a number of organizations have announced the postponement or closure of events. So far, these announcements only impact events scheduled for March.
In an announcement on Friday, March 7, the Seattle Public Library said that all branches would remain open but all events and meetings were canceled through March.
“Due to current guidance from public health officials and in the interest of protecting the high-risk populations we serve and the high-risk populations who volunteer for us, as of Saturday, March 7, we are canceling all programs and events for the month of March, including Homework Help, tech classes, story times, Tax Help, book clubs and author events. The Library has also canceled all Bookmobile service. All external meetings scheduled in Library meeting rooms will be canceled or rescheduled,” stated Marcellus Turner, Executive Director and Chief Librarian of The Seattle Public Library, in a letter sent to patrons.
The Friends of the Seattle Public Library also announced that their popular giant used book sale was moving from March to May. This event had been scheduled for March 13 to 15 at the Seattle Center.
The Emerald City Comic Con, which draws more than 90,000 fans to Seattle, announced the event will be postponed. Scheduled for March 12 to 15 at the Washington State Convention Center, it will now take place in the summer of 2020. Earlier in the week, Portland publisher Dark Horse Comics had announced that they were canceling their appearance at the event. New York publishers DC and Penguin Random House also announced that they were not sending artists, writers, or staff to conventions in March.
University Book Store’s events calendar shows a long list of postponed readings and books signings for early March. On Friday, March 6, the University of Washington announced that all classes were moving to online only until the quarter concludes on March 20. Seattle University and Seattle Pacific University have announced similar steps to limit student, faculty, and staff exposure.
Due to SPU’s campus closure, the Western Washington Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Professional Series Program monthly meeting scheduled for March 14 is canceled. “The good news is that [literary agent] Linda Camacho will conduct her Saturday, March 14 Master Class Workshop, Starting and Ending Stories with a Bang, via Zoom meeting. The time for this event will remain the same, from 1:30-4 pm. Additional registration spots for the Workshop are available,” announced Holly Huckeba and Julie Artz, Co-Regional Advisors for Western Washington SCBWI in a letter to members.
Third Place Books is showing a mix of author appearances going forward as planned and those postponed. Among those postponed are a March 11 reading by Adam Hochschild at their Ravenna location and E. Latimer’s appearance on March 11 at Seward Park.
Richard Hugo House in Seattle, a popular writing center, says that it will hold classes as scheduled for now but continues to monitor the situation. “We are taking additional measures to ensure our surfaces are clean and disinfected, and we have plenty of hand sanitizer available for visitor use. Please help out by washing your hands before you go into class, and stay home if you are sick or feeling unwell,” they stated on their website.
Those planning to attend literary events in the Puget Sound region should check organization websites, social media, or emails to see if events continue as planned.
King County Public Health recommendations include that people at higher risk of severe illness should stay home and away from large groups of people as much as possible, including public places with lots of people and large gatherings where there will be close contact with others. A large gathering has been defined in some statements as 10 or more. People at higher risk include:
- People 60 and older
- People with underlying health conditions including heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes
- People who have weakened immune systems
- People who are pregnant
All people should not go out when they are sick.
More current information from King County Public Health can be found here.