Evanston’s Library Board is scheduled to vote tonight on its first budget since wresting fiscal control over the library away from the City Council.

The board has recently considered three options — calling for tax hikes of 1, 4 or 6 percent — but turnover in board membership and the absence of some members from recent meetings make it hard to tell which, if any, of the options will actually be adopted by the nine-member board appointed by the mayor.

Two new members are due to be seated on the board tonight.

One is Michael Tannen, an attorney who was instrumental winning the board’s financial independence and who strongly favors branch libraries.

The other is Sergio de los Reyes, a construction project manager, whose views on the budget question are not widely known.

At the board’s last meeting, on Aug. 31, two members who will still be on the board tonight — Ben Schapiro and susan Stone — appeared to be leaning toward a 1 percent increase that would close the north branch library but add a staff position to focus on neighborhood outreach across the entire community.

Gail Bush and Susan Newman appeared to favor a 4 percent increase that would keep the north branch open but not hire the community outreach person.

And Diane Allen favored a 6 percent increase, which would both keep the north branch open and hire the community outreach librarian.

Members Sharon Arceneaux and Margaret Lurie were absent from the Aug. 31 meeting.

More library coverage here.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. The never ending library saga…..

    There are a few things I think this Library Board needs to consider before rushing to raise any sort of a tax. 

    – The July unemployment rate in the city of Evanston was 8.3%. 
    – A very small percentage of people use the branch libraries
    – We have a  main library that is sufficient for a city that is 7.8 square miles

    I also want to mention that this board is not an elected body.  For some reason, the mayor thought it was a good idea to put these people in a position to tax the citizens.   I certainly hope the council and mayor have final authority on this, and they veto it before anything hits the books.  

    If people really want to keep the branches open, keep them open and start charging rental fees.  This is the only fair way to go about this.  This way, not everyone is paying for the few who use it.  Make it a for profit company like Blockbuster, and charge a fee.  Pay taxes like a company, maintain your staff, and maintain your books and selections just like any other business.   This way we’ll really see how many people are interested in keeping the branches open. 

    I personally don’t want to pay for branch that I don’t frequent, and never will.

    1. Library board

      … because that's what the state legislature has decreed.

      Don't like it, try to persuade your representative to change it.

      — Bill

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