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The Evanston Library Board voted Wednesday to hike library spending 6 percent next year, despite continuing declines in circulation.

The board split 5-3-1, with the majority voting to adopt the richest of three budget options presented.

The 6 percent increase substantially exceeds the annual rate of inflation, which, as of last month, was running at 3.89 percent.

The new budget includes $207,000 for the city’s only remaining branch library, on Central Street, which serves one of the city’s most affluent areas.

Defenders of keeping the branch open said the decision to also spend $85,000 on a new city-wide community engagement librarian was a sign they also cared about the rest of town.

But Sharon Arceneaux, the board president, said her children, and others who live on the city’s west side “won’t be able to tell how wonderful it was to be able to skip to their branch library.”

She, joined by members Ben Schapiro and Sergio de los Reyes, argued for hiring the outreach librarian but closing the branch — the least expensive budget option, which would have increased the tax levy just 1 percent.

Schapiro, a south Evanston resident, said the budget favored by the majority “doesn’t reflect the spirit of Evanston because it doesn’t provide an equitable distribution of library resources across the community.”

Schapiro, the former director of Morton Grove’s library, called physical branch libraries “probably the least effective way of distributing services to the community.”

“They were a great idea 20 years ago, when it was a different world. But these days a branch is not the way to get services out,” Schapiro said.

Many children can’t go to a branch library after school, he said, because both their parents are working and can’t accompany them.

“Placing a small facility at the schools, or having a bookmobile, would mean those children would have access.”

Board member Michael Tannen, an organizer of efforts to save branch libraries, said the budget increase was very modest in dollar terms.

“This library has been starved for years,” Tannen said. He claimed it would amount to “civic disengagement” to close the north branch.

Board member Diane Allen said she wasn’t prepared to make a long-term commitment to keeping the north branch open, but said she didn’t want to make a decision on closing it until the board has had time to work through the strategic plan it also adopted Wednesday night.

Member Susan Stone abstained from the vote, after trying to persuade the board to consider additional budget options and possibly delay a final decision until next month.

The library’s total circulation numbers for the past six months are down 7 percent from the same period a year ago.

Board members are appointed by Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, who formerly served as alderman of the 7th Ward, which includes the north branch site.

Under state law only she has the power to remove them.

Tisdahl now has appointed six of the nine serving trustees and her appointees split evenly on the budget vote. Of the trustees appointed by former Mayor Loraine Morton, two voted for the 6 percent tax hike and one abstained.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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26 Comments

  1. It is interesting how the

    It is interesting how the Library Board thought branch libraries were outdated when considering the South Branch, which served a far different demographic, but a valuable part of the community when considering the North Branch in a different area of the city. I wish there would have been some consistency in the decision process. This move makes the board's motives and values rather transparent. 

    1. Very Interesting

      Totally agree Marcy and I live on the north side. I think this decision was outdated and not farsighted.  In my dreams would I love to have a branch on the north and south sides of Evanston – YES.

      But economically, the city of Evanston is in bad times as are many of its residents — worse than many other suburbs and yet Evanston property taxes are higher than many.

      Yet many Evanston residents and clearly the Library Board don't seem to get it or care…with decisions like this it proves they don't realize we can't afford this increase being specific to the libraries and shouldn't foot the bill to taxpayers of a city whose overall services are declining in more crucial areas IMO.

      I grew up in Arlington Heights a much larger suburb by both land and residential numbers and guess what — there's one library close to the center and they use bookmobiles and outreach workers and activities to help meet everyone's needs.

      Guess what, Arlington Heights with much lower taxes is in much better fiscal health than Evanston…hmmm…Don't get me wrong I love Evanston but as a newer resident…am finding I don't love its politics.

    2. Branch, Twig, Whatever…

      Of course the wealthy in North Evanston got to keep their branch library.  Anyone who has been around Evanston any length of time knows that they always get what they want up there.

      The Southies who signed on to the keep the branches movement were only a tool to be used by those up north of the rest of us.

      Southies helped them keep the north branch and in return, they extended a twig to replace our branch.  This is a case where North Evanston's selfish behavior is on display for all Evanstonians to see.

      What Westies and Southies are going through due to the economy is completely lost of them, likely because the majority of them easily face their tax bill each year. 

      1. Class warfare

        This comment is straight up class warfare-  "The north people are rich, therefore we should take it all away from them because it's just not fair and they are selfish."    As a family where both my husband and I work long hard hours to pay for the $14,000 a year in property taxes to live in my north side home, I find this totally unfair and downright insulting.

        I choose to live in this town because I want to be part of the diversity. I like the vision of improving life for all.  I see libraries, and books, as they way to self-improvement.

        My husband and I have been lucky enough to achieve enough financial success so far that we could afford a nice home. I want to keep the community resources near my home strong.   For this we are considered selfish?

        No one is going through this recession easily.   I just see the libraries as an investment in the community.    Where else in this town can we ALL gather?  We are a town that claims to be so diverse and open, but where does this mingling actually happen?   Schools, community recreation centers, churches(perhaps), and libraries.   Of these three, the library is the only one open to all religions, ages, and financial situations.   I have fought hard to keep open all the branches because I truly value this.    This is why I live in Evanston.     I want more of this, not less.

        I fought hard to keep open the south branch, as I do the north branch, because I think libraries are a good thing. 

        The more I see comments like this about how it is so unfair that the north side gets a library and the south side does not, it makes me re-evaluate why I do choose to live in this town.   Do we not want to encourage knowledge?  Do we not want to have common ground where we can gather and share our experiences?    Do we want less library or more?

        Was it better in the soviet union when everything was equal?

        1. Class Warfare & Your Good Fortune

          What an odd comment.  Just how far are you from the downtown branch?  Wouldn't the community be better served if North/South/West all congregated at one library location where all of Evanston's rich diversity is on display?  I've been to North Branch and I haven't seen a whole lot of the diversity you state you love in your comment above. 

          You also write that you and your husband have been lucky enough financially to be able to afford your home in such a nice North Evanston neighborhood…. that particular comment is very interesting.  That you admit it took some amount of luck to get where you are instead of citing all of the hard work and level of intelligence required.  Could it be you know that there are intelligent people out there who work equally as hard as you both did and do, but who haven't had the fortune your luck has brought you?  That being said, why make it harder for people who have less?  If you truly care for all of the diversity… our cultural/fiscal/ethnic diversity, you might consider making a sacrifice in your life so that the organism of our diversity might fully exist rather than stand by as witness as one part of it is slowly suffocated during these difficult times.

          Finally, if you think there isn't class warfare going on in this entire country today (not just Evanston), you might consider trying another venue for your news source.

          Just saying….

          1. Still waiting for Godot.

            What are you talking about- FOX NEWS ROCKS!

            Just joking.

            No If I was really lucky, my husband and I wouldn't have to work to get the money- It would just fall from the sky…   Every morning, I go out with my wallet open and wait, but so far, no such luck.

      2. Get over it

        If you want a branch library so bad, pull up your bootstraps, sacrifice, work harder, or do whatever it takes for you to move up North.  You have every opportunity to face the same tax bill, in the same nice houses in the same nice neighborhoods, that your so called "Northies" face.  This is America – opportunities are there for the taking.  Go get what's yours and move on.

      3. Not so Quick Correction!

        I would like to clarify a few things with respect to your comments.  I am a North Evanston resident whose husband lost his job and didn't find employment for over 2 years.  This same thing happened to many folks in my neighborhood  —  a large number lost their homes, and a small few have been able to prevent that by working odd jobs, selling what we could, etc.  To say that I (and others in similar situations) do not understand what folks are going through as a result of this economy is simply feeding into a stereotype.  A similar stereotype can be applied to South Evanston  —  after all, there are blocks and blocks of huge, beautiful homes.  So South Evanston must be an affluent neighborhood based on that, right?!  The truth of the matter is that both neighborhoods have huge homes.  Both have scores of apartment buildings.  Both have empty storefronts, tiny homes, rundown properties, etc.  Despite your claim to the contrary, the only significant difference is that South Evanston has more commercial space.

        I am also one of the EPLF folks who worked daily to raise money and awareness to keep both branches open.  We were successful until February of this year because folks in all areas of Evanston raised the money to pay the rent to keep the branches open.  We were devastated, we were angry, and we were sad.  South Branch was not closed by the board because there wasn't a need for it  —  far from it.  South Branch was located in a building owned by a private landlord, unlike North Branch that is located in a city owned building.  The physical space needed much repair and renovation in order to make it ADA compliant as well.    These are just two of the many reasons contributing to the higher cost  of maintaining South Branch.  Since the City held the purse strings of the entire EPL system, they have, in essence, been calling the shots as to what the Library Board can do.  They may collect the tax money for the EPL system line item, but they doled out what worked for them.  That being said…  For the record, EPLF offered to pay the rent for that space OR to find a new space and build it out to meet ADA codes.

        The large majority of folks who worked in the trenches daily to keep both branches open are folks just like me.  We have families, we work full time, we do odd jobs  —  all to keep from losing our homes as a result of the economy.  We also attended every City Council and EPL Board Session, studied city budgets and expenditures, researched library systems and statistics all over the country, and on and on…  all in an effort to keep the branches open, library services intact,  and expand to the West Side.  This commitment is not indicative of thoughtless, unaware, or selfish people. 

        Nor is the fact that no sooner had the South Branch been closed, the call to action was sounded.  Volunteers poured in from all corners of the community, and several from across the country.  In less than four weeks time, The Mighty Twig was opened.  It was founded on the belief that everyone should have easy access to library services  —  because a library is much more than a building with books.  In essence, a library is a community center — a community center of the mind, the psyche, the heart.  So, it doesn't offer a pool, or a track, or weights.  Big deal.  "Libraries" offer the flip side to the primarily activity based public community centers.  It offers free internet connections, classes, training, homework help, social interaction, etc.  It is a cornerstone of a neighborhood where folks can meet old friends and make new ones.  It is a safe haven for children, the elderly, the homeless.  It provides the most basic building block of early childhood development.  And, despite the small (but mighty!) collection, limited library services, and short hours, the fact that it was needed become evident immediately.  In the almost 6 months since we opened our doors, we are visited daily by 160 – 200 individuals.  These folks are not counted twice as an automated door counter would reflect.  These are folks that come in and are greeted by a volunteer.  And, between the hours of 10-5…  Everything associated with The Twig is donated.  Books.  Workers.  Supplies.  Classes.  Book Groups.  Homework Help.  You name it and someone has stepped up to the plate.  They do it because of the intrinsic value/need/desire/put your own value here for "library" services.  So The Mighty Twig may have been the brainstorm of a group originally formed by a majority of North Evanston folks to use your tag, but it came to life because folks representing all neighborhoods, ethnicities, religions, socio-economic demographics made it happen.  Our youngest volunteer is 9  — our oldest volunteer…?  well, some things a gal just doesn't share.  Each and every one of the 60+ regularly scheduled weekly volunteers works with patrons  —  and also spends time cleaning, labeling, and sorting books that are then delivered to the 11 book nooks and 2 large scale reading rooms that we have also developed within Evanston.  Those are located within each COE run community center, the YMCA, YWCA, boocoo, etc.  They are stocked at least once per week  —  between 80-110 + books.  The books are sorted according to that facilities interests and requests.  You may wonder why I mention this…  I bring this up simply to demonstrate the need and desire for books everywhere.  Folks look for you, eagerly awaiting whatever you have to deliver.  They want it, but perhaps can't afford it.  They need it, but perhaps can't get to the Main Library (money, disability, time, etc prohibits that trip) or perhaps don't know where to find certain information.  Surprisingly there are still a large number of computer illiterate folks out there. Some say that a physical space is unnecessary.  My guess is that they haven't spent time actually interacting with the folks that rely on what a "library" truly offers.  I was one of those folks, North Evanston designation withstanding, who didn't understand the real need or value of a library until I started on this quest.  Heck, I work for a huge publishing company.  I didn't even have a library card.  Why bother, since I had it all at my fingertips?!  Well, I do now.    I could tell you any number of things, but the truth of the matter is this  —  when you actually start putting a name to the face, you begin to learn their story.  You begin to see  that current and relevant information  might be easily acceptable via internet, but a "library", in all of its manifestations, offer SO much more.  It is for these reasons (and many more) that I now spend so much time on this campaign. 

        All of us are cognizant of the fact that change, in all of its forms, can only occur if we are willing to work for it.  Instead of passively complaining, become an active complainer!  Stand up for what you believe in, even if you stand alone.  Bottom line is that this is NOT a North Side issue.  This is an Evanston issue.  Everyone deserves the ability to access information and help when they need or want it.  And THAT is how this North Evanston, and hundreds more like me, feel…

         

  2. South Branch

    Total circulation is down 7% in large part because a branch library closed. Had South Branch remained open, circulation numbers would likely have increased. Does this argue for or against closing additional branches? It probably means, instead, that budget decisions should not be based upon manipulable statistics but instead based upon community standards and policy: do we want to adequately fund our library system, or not?

  3. Library Nonsense.

    So I want to get this straight.  This is a quote from the post:
     

    “Schapiro, a south Evanston resident, said the budget favored by the majority "doesn't reflect the spirit of Evanston because it doesn't provide an equitable distribution of library resources across the community."
     

    Schapiro, the former director of Morton Grove's library, called physical branch libraries "probably the least effective way of distributing services to the community."
     

    Mr. Schapiro is a former director of a library.  DIRECTOR.  So you would think that this person knows what they are talking about, correct?  This is absolutely outrageous, and has been for months.  The council and mayor punted the ball to these people who made this their pet cause. 

    I certainly hope people remember these boneheaded decisions when it comes time to vote. 

  4. Let me get this straight

    So to be clear, do they have the authority to actually raise our taxes or will this be voted on by the alderman/decided by a city wide election ballot? If the former, I am outraged and think Mrs Tisdahl, who apparently appointed these folks, needs to be removed next election. The library system was made obsolete by the internet. A better way to serve the needs of the less fortunate members of our community would be to set up decentralized computer labs across the city to allow citizens to access to the wealth of information available there. Perhaps they can arrange for books from the main library (which may too be obsolete and unnecessary) to be delivered to the labs via reservations. The current vote only preserves the bureaucracy of the library system at the expense of us tax payers. The preservation of the north branch is a clear example of welfare for the wealthy. Tax payers on the less prosperous west side still pay, but get no branch in their neighborhood (much like all those subsidized theater groups in that part of town). This is a horrible example of the transfer of wealth, to those able to pay from those less able.

    1. Straight

      Yep, the appointed library board gets to levy its own tax under Illinois state law.

      Evanston had operated using a different approach in which the City Council approved the library's budget for decades, but last year, after a change in city attorneys, the aldermen chose not to get into a possible legal battle with branch library advocates over preserving Evanston's traditional, but unconventional in Illinois, approach.

      — Bill

      1. It’s my understanding that

        It's my understanding that our taxes do not HAVE to be raised.  The library board presents their budget to the city council and the council can decide to either cut cost elsewhere in the city budget to cover the increase OR they can pass along the increase to tax payers in the form of a tax increase.  Mr. Smith, do you know if this is accurate? 

        With the amount of critical city services on the chopping block, cutting more than what Mr. Bobkiewicz has suggested in his proposal is troubling.

        1. Council’s options

          The council can always decide to cut someplace else to avoid a tax increase … fire, police … whatever.

          What it has surrendered is control over the size of the library's budget.

          — Bill

          1. It should not be library versus fire… They are both equal.

            Bill-

              Instead of pitting library services against police/fire, both of which are also crucial community services for all- perhaps city council should be thinking of how they spend our money in "economic stimulus." 

            All of this money below has been spent just this year in the name of investment.

            What has the return been on any one of these expenditures? Did any of this economic development money result in increased revenue to the city, or was it wasteful spending that publicized risk and privatized gains?

               If city council would have saved this money, we could keep both branches with no tax increase.  By abolishing the redundant township alone, we could probably afford to build out a nice west branch too. 

            Furthermore,  funding both branch libraries represented less than 0.1% of the city's total budget.  We need to keep this in perspective when looking at where our money goes. Keeping the branch(es) should not mean cutting fire.

             

            $325,000 to purchase vacant property on Howard Street  (city wants to resell to a theater group, maybe, but still on the books)

            $100,000 Grant for a feasibility study to discover if the old theater that sits vacant above the Gap building downtown can profitably be re-built.    There is still no theater in this space.  Nothing has been printed about it recently, and a private self-financed developer just proposed plans to create a theater where Tom Thumb now sits, in downtown Evanston.

            $20,000 Grant to developer at Main/Chicago to pay for portions of their marketing materials.   (no building there yet).

            $100,000 to clean up the site at 2424 Oakton Street in order to prepare for a Gordon Food services building.  Gordon Food services has not actually purchased the lot yet, or made any written commitment to buying the space after the location is cleaned. Furthermore,  city staff only recommended $40,000, but Anne Rainey convinced the council to spend more (the site is in her ward)

            $41,450  Five buildings downtown Evanston  receive matching grants from city funds to beautify their exteriors

            $55,000 city grant (to match a federal grant of $220,000) to conduct a feasibility study on the development of a new EL stop location on the yellow line in Evanston, which is also in anne rainey's district.    This is only puzzling when one looks and sees that just two months prior, the CTA was thinking of shutting down two purple line stops due to limited funds and low ridership.

            $25,000 in grants ($5,000  each) to these five business associations- Central street, Chicago-dempster,Dr. Hiill Business Association,Main Street Merchants, West End Business Association.   (The city has not awarded these grants yet, but invited all the merchants assn. to apply for these economic development grants. The city has final approval.)

            $11,500 to Hecky's BBQ to finance a new facade, if the landlord agrees.

            • $1.26 million dollars per year for the Evanston Township Assessor. Not an economic development expenditure, just a wasteful one.   The city council is in debate right now over this issue.  

  5. Please close the branch

    Would someone please explain, step by step, how to close the North Branch library? Of will the poor always be robbed for the whims of the rich?

    1. I guess if you moved it to

      I guess if you moved it to South Evanston, the library board would argue it was unnecessary because it only served a small portion of the city. If you keep it in the Central Street shopping district the library board would say it was vital although it only serves a small portion of the city. With this recent vote, I am saddened my tax dollars support these decisions. My personal donations continue to support The Mighty Twig and their more equitable model. 

      1. Marcia Mahoney

        Just to clarify —  I (Marcia Mahoney) am the director of The Mighty Twig, and I was a branch assistant at the South Branch library.  There is another ENow poster — "Marci" — who has been posting on this thread. With Jen Preschern's reference to me above as Marci, not Marcia, I thought it was important to clarify that there are two of us with opinions on this.

        Here are a few of my opinoins. Mostly, I am still saddened by the closure of South Branch with less than a week's lead time, no notice to patrons, and no plan replace the discontinued services.  On North Branch …  I want more library places, not less, so I'm okay with the current inequity while the Library Board completes its planning process.  But, they've got to figure this out.  Post haste.  Finally, I feel quite strongly that EPL should find a way to have a community place at Dempster Dodge or another place nearby where people can use the Internet, meet their friends and pick up books.  The west side needs a safe place for tweens and teens to find one another, go on Facebook, Tweet, find books and magazines and hang out.  Adults — particularly seniors, low income residents and disabled patrons — need a place where they can park for free and walk a short distance to get what they need. Whether it's a branch, an outpost, a "twig" or space in Robert Crown isn't important to me, but I really believe it should be a place.  The Mighty Twig has been very successful, and some of the things we've learned could be replicated there.  Those are just some of my thoughts.  I believe in a healthy debate — from debate passionate people are identified and good ideas spring forth.  So, let's keep the debate going.   But let's also take our energy and use it to create more for all.  Come on.  Let's go!!!

        Marcia

    2. Libraries are community gathering places

      Since when did a public library become a whim of the rich?   

      When in history has closing down a library brought about more equality?

       Were libraries not some of the the first places in this country to racially integrate? 

      Are they not some of only places in our consumer-driven society where the rich and poor can gather, together, for free?

      Libraries are community gathering places focused on knowledge.  We need more of them. Not less. 

      By closing down libraries, the only people we rob are the next generation.  I choose to invest in the future by giving up another $6 to keep open the branches and fund a librarian outreach person.  

      Thank you to everyone, in particular Lori, Marci, Mary, Trisha, and Emily, who have given up countless volunteer hours to keep the library system in Evanston strong. Your passion for libraries is inspirational.   

      Here's to a smarter, brighter future for Evanston.

      1. Please get rid of the North Branch

        Public libraries should NOT be something just for the rich/wealthy/middle-to-upper-middle class, and they are NOT suppose to be. However, whether you want to admit it or not, the North Branch (not the South Branch) exists because the people who want it to exist can afford to pay at least $14K in annual property taxes (which I'm sorry to inform you is more than some people make in a year).

        Now my family is forced to pay higher taxes because you want a North Branch Library which we never go to – to do so would cost more in public transportation than the amount we will be taxed. I'm pretty sure we are not the only people in town who feel this way. And please note that I never said Evanston shouldn't have a public library – just that Evanston shouldn't have a North Branch.

        1. Tax Overload

          Yes, you are right- the North branch does still exist because people felt passionate enough about it to take time out of their busy lives to work to keep it open. 

           I can also understand why people feel that they should not be forced to pay more taxes, for anything.  

          I, like you, will be paying more in taxes, both state/local/perhaps income and my salary is not going up.   With inflation, it is relatively going down.    I feel very angry about this too. 

             My money did not fall from the sky, it was not handed to me by my family, and I didn't get lucky and just win it.  My money represents my husband's and my  time, years of sacrifice to get into our current financial position, a bit of sweat, and lots of sleep deprivation, especially for my husband who takes the 5am train daily-  I respect you for feeling the same way, and I can understand why you feel angry that more is being taken away from you.

           City council over the years has wasted so much of our hard work.  They have squandered our money, giving developers incentives to build, provided free  facelift grants to successful downtown buildings, financed studies to see if private theaters should build in downtown, the list for this year alone could have financed both branches and more with no tax increases.  All of this should be cut- let businesses take their own risks.  Let them keep the rewards of their successes, but don't publicize the risk.

                On the other hand, libraries, in my opinion are the last place we should be cutting.  If the city council had fully funded the library system years ago, like all the towns surrounded us,  the library board would not have been forced into this position.    This discussion should have never come to this point.

                It saddens me that the words "elitist" and "libraries" have become associated concepts in this town.  I would not consider any of the branch supporters I have met elitist.  For the most part, we are nerds who really like books. 

          I want to keep Evanston a strong town for families, because they hold the future.   That means all parts of town- south, west, north, middle, regardless if I use the facilities in each part of town or not.   

           

          1. Please close the North Branch.

            Poor people work hard for their money too. I can't afford a lawyer or PR firm to figure out how to close the North Branch, or figure out a way to get other people to pay for my property value to increase. I can't spare a dime to go to the North Branch in hopes of getting my money's worth. Again, I'm not saying we should get rid of libraries in Evanston . I'm saying I resent having to pay for a 2nd library/the North Branch we have never and will never use, and exists for the convenience and pleasure of a predominantly wealthier demographic. I understand that my taxes also go to pay for the Levy Center , which we have also never used, but every town should have a senior center, and that is the only one. With more poor people in Evanston growing everyday, and with more people becoming poorer, we cannot afford to have 2 libraries. But because North Branch supporters can spare the time, energy, resources, and money, the poor are forced to pay for the whims of the wealthy.

          2. Library Helps everyone

            I am sorry you feel this way-  I don't see libraries in the same way as you do, so I don't  know if we will be able to agree.

              I work in the public schools in Skokie right now with developmentally delayed children.   I use the north branch resources  to find books for the kids on my caseload.   I have to bring my own children with me when I look for books, so I feel safer at North Branch.  At main, my children wander off, so I can not devote my time to finding books.  Previous to this job, I worked as a literacy consultant with a company in CHicago , and I used the north branch as a work station- My role was to write after school language/literacy rich curriculum for students in the Cabrini Green/Altgeld Gardens/Englewood areas, and I used the expertise of the librarians at north branch to help me locate thematic books.   Maybe you don't go to the North Branch, but it is not only there to help people with money.   The north branch is open to everyone, and the knowledge gained from the library moves beyond just the north side of town.    

                When I go to North Branch in the summer, I see many local public and private school teachers tutoring kids.  I also see elderly folks hanging out reading newspapers in the front of the library. I see tweenagers coming in after school and chatting with their friends.     I see the same lady in a wheelchair struggling to get through the door, and then greeted warmly by the staff that all know her name.  I see Kevin, the autistic man on central street who wanders in and out of all the stops on Central street, talking to himself- Everyone welcomes him in too –  I see strollers lined up outside the front glass, and parents sitting with their babies all in a circle time class.   

                The library is our north side community gathering place.   This is why we want to keep it open. 

               During the great Depression, the libraries didn't close.  Evanston rallied behind it's libraries, and even pastors in churches organized people to contribute money to keep them strong and to expand them.  The SOuth Branch was relocated to a new home in the midst of the Depression.  

                 As a society, we don't utilize books as we once did.  However, we do still need places to meet and interact.  The North Branch is that spot for Central Street.  Please let us keep it- Let's look at other ways to cut spending. Look at what ANon. AL said.  Look at all the places the council has spent your money that I listed below…

            Libraries, especially small branches, bring us together in intimate spots.   For this, I will find the spare time, money, and energy to keep fighting for the north branch.  

             

              

             

             

              

             

             

          3. Please close the North Branch.

            Again, I'm not opposed to having a library in Evanston. I'm opposed to the North Branch.

            Again, it is not right that poor people are forced to pay for a 2nd library/the North Branch that is used much less and exists for the convenience and pleasure of a predominantly wealthier demographic.

            Again, with more poor people in Evanston growing everyday, and with more people becoming poorer, we cannot afford to have 2 libraries. But because North Branch supporters can spare the time, energy, resources, and money, the poor are forced to pay for the whims of the wealthy.

            It is understandable that you feel uncomfortable at the Main Branch, where there are many more homeless people/unemployed people/underemployed people/poor people, but the library IS suppose to serve poor people too – not just rich people.

            You and other North Branch supporters who pay $14K+ annually just in property taxes, and can afford a lawyer, PR firm, and other resources to persist in keeping the North Branch open, and ways to get other people to pay for your property value to increase, are taking advantage of people who are poor and cannot afford to oppose you.

            Again, the North Branch exists for your and other your neighbors' convenience and pleasure (and enables you to avoid the poor people who have to go to the Main Branch).

  6. Pay as you go

    Maybe it's time to privatize libraries.  Make them pay as you go.  Movie theaters and other entertainment venues are not run by city governments for our pleasure and out of our tax money.  Times have changed and government should provide just the essentials.  Universities are closing their book stores now and students are downloading their materials. 

    If you use the library pay for it out of your pocket, not the taxpayers.

  7. Unions and poor leadership are splitting Evanston apart

    This branch library debacle has now opened up an ugly fault line in Evanston.

    Those who want the North branch closed cite class warfare as to why the Library Board raised taxes. Never mind that hundreds of ordinary people organized, volunteered and donated money to keep the branch libraries open. 

    Forget that our City Council sat idly by as the UNELECTED Library Board decided to vote ITSELF a taxing body. As a result, we get these kind of comments about our fellow Evanstonians:   

    1. … will the poor always be robbed for the whims of the rich?
    2. Since when did a public library become a whim of the rich?
    3. Public libraries should NOT be something just for the rich/wealthy/middle-to-upper-middle class, and they are NOT suppose to be.
    4. I resent having to pay for a 2nd library/the North Branch we have never and will never use, and exists for the convenience and pleasure of a predominantly wealthier demographic
    5. The preservation of the north branch is a clear example of welfare for the wealthy.
    6. Of course the wealthy in North Evanston got to keep their branch library. Anyone who has been around Evanston any length of time knows that they always get what they want up there.

      These comments are disgraceful. If it keeps up then we could start reading comments that "southies" or "westies" should not have a skating rink, an indoor sports facility, a $25 million new school, charter schools or millions of dollars in city, state and federal grants much of it going toward affordable housing funds. Where does it end?

    The real culprit here is lack of leadership and union influence. Our City Council in its infinite wisdom searches for ways to close or privatize the Robert Crown Center, (at one time the Chandler Rec Center), the Noyes Arts Center, the Recycling Center, the Evanston Arts Center and likely the Ecology Center rather than cut labor costs in some of the larger departments such as the Evanston Fire Department that so far has gone unscathed un this Recession.

    The City Council just gave a pay raise to the Police Sergeant's Union, and probably two other unions this year will get a pay raise in contract negotiations. Last year, the city spent about $1 million and hired 20 new union employees for the 311 Call Center. Some aldermen expressed interest in creating an "alternate form of government" if a proposed voter referendum eliminates the duplicative Evanston Township Assessor's Office that just got more money in its budget as the deputy assessor got a nice pay raise.

    So while "northies" and "southies" and "westies" battle each other over scraps, unions are gouging the city budget as our aldermen, many of whom received union campaign support, look away.

    It bothers me greatly when I see city taxes raised to pay for growing union pensions all the while the unions are getting pay raises and even some aldermen and the Evanston Township Assessor this year considered applying for a pension. Or when the Evanston Fire Union sued the city last year for laying off three firefighters. The end result was the city rehired the firefighters and agreed to let a third party arbitrator decide any future layoffs. Most union employees don't even live in Evanston.

    We are in tough times and there is no easy solution. But an across the board freeze for pay raises and overtime pay is a good start. Each department should cut it's labor budget 5 percent this year. Close down one of the two Central Street Fire stations, layoff firefighters and create a tri-city agreement with neighboring fire departments. Privatize city sanitation and ambulance services, eliminate the Evanston Township Assessor's Office and retract some of the costly city regulations such as the green ordinance and demolition tax. 

    Our city leaders should also rigorously campaign to reform the state's current union pension benefits that is clearly bankrupting this state. Our city police and fire chiefs recently retired in their early 50s, getting a six figure pension. They both are working again full-time in the same capacity, earning another six figures – all at taxpayer's expense.

    Insulting each other for a mere pittance to keep the branch libraries open plays exactly into the hands that I think truly control the purse strings of our good city. This isn't class warfare – it's a struggle by a few to maintain power and influence over the many.

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