Quantcast

Aldermen vote to close branch libraries

Evanston aldermen voted 6-3 tonight to close the city’s two branch libraries.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said all the poor and needy people that branch library supporters claimed would be hurt if the branches close are the very people who would be most affected by the tax increases that would be needed to save them.

Evanston aldermen voted 6-3 tonight to close the city’s two branch libraries.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said all the poor and needy people that branch library supporters claimed would be hurt if the branches close are the very people who would be most affected by the tax increases that would be needed to save them.

"The branches are redundant," Rainey said, though if money were available she "would love to keep them open and add five or six other branches all over town."

Alderman Melissa Wynne, whose 3rd Ward includes the South Branch, and Alderman Jane Grover, whose 7th Ward includes the North Branch, and Alderman Mark Tendam, who’s 6th Ward adjoins the North Branch site, were the only aldermen who voted to keep the branches.

They all argued in favor of giving branch supporters more time to try to find private funding for the branches. And even they conceded that if funding couldn’t be found within a year, they would be less inclined to keep the branches open.

But Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, said the idea of getting foundation grants for operating support for library salaries was "a pipe dream."

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, said he is opposed to raising taxes and he couldn’t see a way to get the branches into the budget without having to approve a tax increase.

He said he saw no reasonable alternative for some of the services on the chopping block — but there is a reasonable alternative for the branches, he said — the main library downtown.

At a ward meeting Wilson held a few weeks ago, more speakers opposed continued funding for the branches than favored the idea.

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, said she initially favored keeping the branches open, but only if a way could be found to make them pay for themselves. She said she was very disappointed that branch library backers showed no inclination to back creation of special service area taxing districts that would tax people who live near the branches to cover their costs.

Fiske and other aldermen also said they couldn’t accept the idea of closing the main library on Fridays and otherwise shortening its hours to help come up with the money to keep the branches open, as City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz had proposed.

The aldermen did vote to not try to immediately sell the city-owned North Branch building, in the hope that supporters might somehow come up with enough financial backing to reopen it.

Editors’ Picks