A Look Back As We Turn One

February 8, 2017

Why a nonprofit private library, an idea as archaic as the word “athenaeum”? One need only look as far as Seattle’s wealth of craft distilleries, small-batch coffee roasters and artisans of all kinds to see that old-fashioned ideas can find new life in dynamic urban settings.


A new “community of the book” begins in Seattle by Knute Berger for Seattle Magazine / Crosscut


 Folio recently celebrated its one year anniversary and what a great year it was. We are pretty proud of what we have been able to accomplish:


  • More than 15,000 books donated from fine private libraries, treasured books that have been assembled by very knowledgeable readers and speak to readers today.


  • Folio’s handsome reading rooms, workspaces, and programming take place in tall, light-filled, landmarked rooms. The 1930 building, also protected by City of Seattle Landmark status, is designed in collegiate gothic style by a major Seattle architect, Abraham Albertson. 


  • Folio has presented 60 programs in its first 12 months, including book talks, lectures, panels, lunchtime roundtables, and music. Members receive advanced notice, may reserve seats in advance, and enjoy member discounts for tickets. Events take place at lunchtime, rush-hour, and evenings. Human-scale events enable you to meet the speakers and make new friends.


  • Created a solid foundation for growth. Folio earned full 501-c-3 nonprofit status and negotiated a 13-year lease with its landlord, the Downtown YMCA, with option to double our current 5,000 square feet at set below-market rental rates. Over time, these independent libraries accumulate bequests and endowments.


  • Grew our membership base to over 675 across the first year. Many are writers, scholars, artists, thinkers, non-profit employees, and business leaders. All share a love of good books and provocative ideas.


  • Folio enhanced downtown vitality by drawing nomadic workers to use its rooms, producing programs open to the public, and making rooms available for rental and co-productions by many Seattle organizations in need of affordable downtown venues.

Image: An entrance to the Seattle YMCA, where Folio: the Seattle Athenaeum will be housed. Credit: Orin Blomberg/Flickr


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