Evanston aldermen voted 7-2 Monday night to approve a 15.5 percent increase in the tax levy for the public library.

The vote came after representatives of several non-profits that operate programs from the library praised its efforts.

Andi Drileck, of the National Able Network, said the group offers workforce development programs in the library’s computer lab.

David Marzahl, of the Center for Economic Progress, said the library provided space for his group to help 405 low-income residents complete their tax returns this year.

Jessica Oldani.

In addition, Jessica Oldani, an attorney who volunteers with the city’s Next Chapter program for entrepreneurs at the library, said information the library provides is very important to people trying to start their own businesses.

Michele Hays of the Brummel Park Neighbors said that for years the south end of town was ignored by the library, but now it is supporting early childhood education for all schools in Evanston.

Joan Hickman.

And community activist Joan Hickman said the library “went through a rough patch as far as serving the African-American community, but they have mended their ways in recent years.”

Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, who voted against the increase, said the library board’s comparison library spending in Evanston to that in communities like Skokie and Northbrook wasn’t appropriate — because Evanston taxpayers carry a heavier burden to provide social service and other programs for low income residents and that Evanston has far less sales tax revenue to reduce the property tax burden.

The other no vote came from Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, who said the library is doing great work, and should continue it with an incremental increase in funding — not the 15.5 percent boost the library board was seeking.

But Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, said that while the library budget increase was large, after looking at the services being provided and who would benefit he believed it was a responsible budget that he could support.

Related story

Aldermen to vote on 15.5% library tax hike

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Library funding

    It needs to be said — AGAIN — that we are talking about an increase of 15.5% on a 4.5% portion of the tax bill.  Do the math. It amounts to .0675 increase, just over 1/2 of one percent of an increase.

    We have allowed the City Council to seriously underfund the library system since the new building on Orrington was built in 1994. We fund at about 1/3 of what our neighboring towns fund. Time to catch up, folks!

    1. I don’t care if it’s 1 cent.
      I don’t care if it’s 1 cent. An increase is an increase. The cost of the library should be borne by those who use it and not everyone. Close the branches and go to a pay for service model.

      1. Why people go to the branches [at least North]

        You don't have to spend much time at EPL Main to understand why people want at least the North Branch and go to the Skokie and Wilmette library.

        Main on second and third floors resemble more a park in Chicago than a library. Loud phones, loud talking, food all over the place, people sleeping on both floors, doing laundry and mini-baths in the restrooms.

        Three librarians say they are threatened by patrons on a regular basis esp. when they can't get on computers, 'stared down' by several patrons, yelled at — and in general afraid of patrons.

        Security is only there a few hours a day and the police can take too long to get there. The children's room is probably safe, but even those kids have to pass through or use other parts of the library.

        1. Fix the main library

          It sounds like there is a need for security at the Main Library.   Perhaps they should close the two branch libraries, and use some of the savings to hire full-time security at the Main Library.

    2. Neighbors Include Free Parking
      Included in the taxes in burbs around Evanston is Free Parking. That can add up to several hundred dollars a year.

    3. A novel option

      Should have opened up a wing of the new library back then and let the Evanston Arts Center use it. You would have never had to pay for anything allowing them to spin their magic with the City Council to pay for nothing and get everything. There would have been no need for the tax increase.

  2. Sounds like a club

    How do you join the club of special treatment. It would be great to do whatever you want and no matter how bad you are, you get rewarded.

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