Walked by the closest thing we’ve got to a west branch Evanston Public Library the other day. It’s a new Redbox DVD vending machine outside the Walgreens on Green Bay Road.

A private firm offers service to neighborhoods the library can’t find the funds to serve.

And that’s the way things will stay for next year under the budget adopted by the Evanston Library Board Monday night.

The board voted to spend $46,000 to add a fifth day of operations at the north and south branch libraries, but not an extra dime for a new west branch.

And the backers of the existing branch libraries — who during the meeting played a video they’d produced interviewing west side residents about the need for a library there — applauded the new budget.

That about sums it up folks. The branchers trot out west siders to make propaganda points and then dump them when it comes time to decide where the money goes.

Meanwhile, west siders will fully share in paying the 11 percent tax increase the library board wants to impose. 

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. More Truthiness.

    Really, Bill, why let the truth get in the way of a good story? It is however, interesting to me that you and City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz both embrace the "vending machine as library" model of thinking. 

    Actually, the video documentary made by the Friends which aired during public comment about the community’s goals to bring services to the West Side, described the new Boocoo Book Wall sponsored by EPLF, and was supported by many individuals who are working to improve community.

    The video was actually introduced as a way to potentially get grant money and there are many initiatives underway to explore West Side Outreach, as was begun by the Friends in March of this year, when we formally organized. EPLF worked to implement the first-ever summer reading program at Fleetwood and Crown Centers this summer and introduced 250 new readers to the Summer Reading game. We’ve met with Alderman Holmes and made a short presentation at her last ward meeting, as well as with new Board member Mildred Harris to discuss efforts to date, and hopes for the future. Grown in a grass roots way, like most EPL Friends’ efforts to date, a description of the Boocoo Book Wall is below. 

    While there are many, many people working to do good things on the West side for libraries and our community as a whole, unfortunately then there are stories like this which are insulting, divisive and inaccurate…as usual. It’s probably a good part of the reason that Evanston Patch will soon leave EN in its media dust. 

    What’s New on the West End? Come visit the new Boocoo Book Wall

    Many thanks to our generous donors and volunteers who have made this Evanston Public Library Friends west side initiative a reality. We’re pleased to present the honor system (read a book – and bring it back) Boocoo Book Wall featuring the work and stories of African American culture and more. Donations are still being sought for the Book Wall including board books, Spanish-English books, French books, Cookbooks, Bibles and Multi-cultural stories.
    Our thanks to the generosity of Third World Press in their recent donations to EPLF’s Boocoo Book Wall, including the work of Evanston native author, David Covin, Brown Sky; and Covenant – a New York Times Best-Seller with an intro by Tavis Smiley.  For more information or to donate books, email books@eplfriends.org  or visit http://www.eplfriends.org.  Always a work in progress, we welcome all suggestions or offers of time and materials. 



  2. How about “Book Walls” instead of branches

     If we are touting "Book Walls" as the greatest thing since sliced bread, why not adopt that model as an efficiency measure?

    These things are already all over the place–see the Main St. Metra Station, Levy Center, for example.  

    Under the Book Wall initiative, you ask other businesses around the city to dedicate a small bit of space like BooCoo.  Shut down the branch and put a Book Wall at Tag’s or Great Harvest on Central St.?  With the money saved from branch closings, you could offer any business in Evanston a Book Wall that will be maintained by floating library staff.

    The business wins by generating foot traffic, library users win because the redundant brick-and-mortar branches are supplanted by book walls in every neighborhood (with the Main Library available for research, etc…), taxpayers win because you save money on wasteful things like branch operations.  

    If the Library Friends adopt a Book Walls for All campaign, I’m in

    1. Yes, More Book Walls Fewer Branches

       I concur. What we need are Book Walls, video dispensing machines and computers with internet access scattered in strategic locations around town. How about in each of the community centers and the Ecology Center? How about in the Civic Center? Why not create an Internet Cafe in the CIvic Center? How about allowing more than just seniors to ride the bus to the Levy Center and letting them use the library facilities and computer lab there? We’d have an instant South branch (and it would really be SOUTH)!

      What exasperates me about the thinking of the EPL Friends is that they really don’t want to expand library services to more people. They want to maintain the status quo and then do a piecemeal job of adding services. We need some out-of-the-box thinking on this subject.

      Have the Library Friends or the Library Board, who supposedly care so much about "the future of libraries" actually done any serious thinking about what libraries of the future will look like? Have they never seen an iPad? Have they never used Google Books? How much longer will anyone be in need of an actual volume on a shelf. Already the Reference Collection is becoming moribund. When was the last time anyone used the Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature? The Index to the New York Times? 

      Before we commit ourselves to maintaining a minimal collection of popular literature, videos, and children’s books to serve a fraction of the population let’s take an hour or two to talk about what function we think libraries serve – now and in the future. I daresay that we could continue the primary function of the branches with a few more book walls and outposts like the one in the Dempster/Dodge mall, a few more visits by Mr. Rick, and a few more public access computer terminals. At least for the immediate future.

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