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After cybersecurity event, Seattle Public libraries slowly coming back online

Seattle Central Public Library

SEATTLE — Seattle Public Library reached an important milestone Thursday as it recovers from last months cybersecurity event.

On May 25, the Seattle Public Library was forced to go offline after a cybersecurity event affected their technology systems.

On Thursday, the library released an update saying readers will again have access to the library’s digital book collection.

According to a statement by the Seattle Public Library from May, the library has remained offline since the ransomware attack first occurred, and there is no timeline for when all services will be restored.

Despite the library staying open, many other services that rely on online connectivity are disrupted, including cataloging, lending software, public computers, and public printing.

The cyberattack started early May 25, just one day before the library was planning to take its systems offline to conduct planned maintenance on a server over Memorial Day weekend. The attack interfered with access to staff and public computers, online catalog and loaning systems, e-books and e-audiobooks, in-building Wi-Fi, and the Seattle Public Library (SPL) website.

According to SPL, they quickly engaged third-party forensic specialists, contacted law enforcement, and took their systems fully offline to interrupt and better assess the nature and impacts of the event.

Working with external partners, SPL is continuing to investigate the attack. In their statement about the event, they stated, “We are working as quickly and diligently as we can to confirm the extent of the impacts and restore full functionality to our systems. Privacy and security of patron and employee information are top priorities.”

All twenty-seven Seattle Public Library locations will, however, remain open as scheduled for services such as checking out physical books, CDs, and DVDs, or to pick up holds already on the shelves with a physical library card or library card number. Visitors can also get reference and referral questions answered, and the space and amenities will be available for use.

SPL is unable to check physical materials back in at this time, encouraging guests to hold onto these materials until they get systems back online and can update the due dates for materials.

The library confirmed that they will continue to update the public once more information becomes available, and preemptively apologized for potentially longer wait times with a large backlog of returned and newly delivered items to manage once systems are back online.

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