Our Mission

Folio is a gathering place for books and the people who love them. Devoted to the intellectually curious,  Folio offers circulating collections, vibrant conversations, innovative public programs, and workspaces for writers. It serves the region’s creative community by being an incubator for new ideas.

Good Words...

Steve Scher

Journalist and longtime host of  “Weekday” on  KUOW

“Folio is one of the most exciting efforts underway in Seattle. We are a writers’ and a readers’ city. Folio will bring readers and writers together in a unique and dynamic center—a place where both groups will share in discovery and collaboration.

     "I look forward to being a member. Folio will be a place to write and talk to other writers. It will provide space where I can produce live and digital programs.

     "Folio will be a statement to the rest of the country that Seattle places a premium on the written word. As our culture moves more and more of its writing and reading into the digital domain, Folio will become the place where people gather to build and share the community of books.”

Maria Semple

Bestselling author of  Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

Cover of book Where'd You Go, Bernadette

“I’m wildly excited about the Seattle Athenaeum and am giddily envisioning all the writing, reading and socializing I’ll be doing there.  What a wonderful and essential addition to our already exceedingly literary city.”

Our History

Folio: The Seattle Athenaeum was founded as a nonprofit Washington corporation in 2014. Folio's first home was on the ground floor of the south wing of the YMCA, a historical, landmarked 1930s building at Fourth and Marion, in the heart of downtown Seattle. In July 2018 Folio reopened in the Economy Building at Pike Place Market at 1st Ave and Pike St. in the heart of the market community.

Inspired by the country’s earliest libraries, often called athenaeums, Folio provides access to discerning private book collections that have been donated, and a home for reading, writing, dialogue and learning. Public programming includes book-based discussions, readings, presentations of book arts and rare volumes, and musical, cultural and civic events. Folio’s public rooms are also available to many other nonprofit groups needing attractive, affordable, downtown venue space.


Independent libraries in America have long provided access to private book collections and rooms for discussion and writing on important issues. The seminal idea came from Ben Franklin in 1731 and rapidly spread to hundreds of cities worldwide, welcoming citizens from all walks of life. Bringing an active and inclusive 21st century vision to such member-supported libraries, the founders of Folio are creating an inviting, intimate home for “the community of the book” while also producing and hosting educational programs for the whole community.

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© 2019 by Folio: The Seattle Athenaeum