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The Broadview branch of the Seattle Public Library was quiet and empty due to a cyberattack that disrupted the library’s technology systems. This attack impacted access to staff and public computers, the online catalog, loaning systems, e-books, e-audiobooks, in-building Wi-Fi, and the library website. However, despite the technical issues, patrons could still check out books by working with human librarians who manually entered the 13-digit numbers from books and library cards into a pad of paper to facilitate the borrowing process.

Librarians and staff across Seattle’s 27 branch locations were required to manually enter all relevant numbers to track book loans as the cyber incident continued. The attack did not prevent regular library-goers like Hans Teuber from visiting the Broadview branch to browse and check out books for both himself and his mother. Teuber, a self-proclaimed “low tech” Baby Boomer, embraced the absence of technology during his library visits, walking several miles to the branch regularly without the need for a car.

Despite an ongoing investigation into the cyberattack, the Seattle Public Library has not provided a timeline for when full functionality of all systems will be restored. Patrons like Lise Glaser, who visited the library for book club selections, were aware of the tech outage causing issues with accessing audio books but continued to enjoy browsing for physical books. The disruption to the library’s services, including e-books being the most sought-after items, demonstrated the reliance on digital resources by patrons and the challenges faced without them.

Librarians at the Broadview branch recommended books on cybersecurity and unplugging from technology to patrons as they navigated the library’s operations during the cyberattack. The resilience of staff who manually entered book codes and dealt with the technological limitations showcased their dedication to providing services to the community. The library’s communication head, Laura Gentry, emphasized that updates on the situation were being shared on the library’s blog due to ongoing investigations into the attack.

Despite the lack of free Wi-Fi and affected computers, the Broadview branch continued to serve patrons like Teuber and Glaser who valued physical books and the traditional library experience. The cyber incident shed light on the adaptability of librarians who maintained operations manually and the importance of human connection and interaction in a digital age. The library staff’s efforts to navigate the technological disruption highlighted the essential role libraries play in providing access to information and fostering a sense of community, even during challenging times.

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