Evanston’s branch libraries will remain open at least until next February after a 7-2 City Council vote Monday night.

Leaders of Evanston Public Library Friends, the group organizing fundraising efforts for the libraries, told aldermen they’ve raised $171,000 — slightly over the target set by the City Council last winter to cover six more months of operating costs.

Evanston’s branch libraries will remain open at least until next February after a 7-2 City Council vote Monday night.

Leaders of Evanston Public Library Friends, the group organizing fundraising efforts for the libraries, told aldermen they’ve raised $171,000 — slightly over the target set by the City Council last winter to cover six more months of operating costs.

The aldermen had voted 5-4 in February to close the branches at the end of August if private funds to support them weren’t raised.

The aldermen also directed City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz return to the council next month with proposals for long-term funding solutions.

Lori Keenan, vice president of EPL Friends, said the group also is trying to bring library services to the west side with a new summer reading program. She said 2,750 families and 30 local authors have come together to support the branches.

“We’re really excited,” Keenan said after the decision. “We came here tonight not really knowing what to expect, and we’re walking away with six more months of library services.”

Aldermen Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, and Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, voted against the motion.

Burrus said proposed long-term solutions, presented by Karen Terry, president of the library board of trustees, would make raising taxes unavoidable.

The library board report discussed a establishing separate city tax levy for the library, creating targeted special service area taxes for the branches, or forming an independent city-wide library taxing district.

Terry said the separate taxes wouldn’t necessarily mean an increase in residents’ total tax burden.

Burrus also took issue with the way EPL Friends collected donations, saying many of their fund sources are supposed to benefit the EPL system as a whole.

She noted that the branch backers had obtained a list of former library system donors and solicited them.

“I just want to be very clear that that donor list which could have gone for overall library services, those funds are now being redirected just to south and north branch if that solicitation went out,” Burrus said.

Burrus also pointed to a $25,000 Challenge Grant given from the library board, which Library Director Mary Johns said came from book sale funds that would normally be directed to programming and materials for all libraries.

Keenan said she remains optimistic about the branches’ futures. “We’re going to work collaboratively with the city and try to see what we might do together to extend the services even beyond the next six months,” she said.

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7 Comments

  1. Who will pay the branch tax ?

    I hope the alderman are happy they got a few votes from their voters who live within a few blocks of the branches and are too lazy [fearful] to go to the downtown Main.  Do they really think the downtown is that crime infested and they will have to even ‘see’ people from other parts of the city.

    For the few votes they will get, the aldermen will force the rest of the city to pay with our taxes—I hope those who have no branch on the west and southwest will be appreciated for the taxes they pay so the few around the branches can benefit [even if it is probably more like having books on your shelf that you never read but want to have to show others you are ‘cultured.’. 

    I live a few blocks from a branch but never use it.  I sure don’t want to be taxed for it, nor to those on the west or southwest sides—or probably the 90+% of Evanstonians.

    BTW It seems Lucia not only lives in California but wants to live in another century.  Most people realize you can’t live in the past.  What next, tear down downtown and restore the Indian village?

    1. I’m glad the branch libraries

      I’m glad the branch libraries are staying open and I’m not in the least bit afraid of going downtown.  It was not the Aldermen who kept them open, it was the people.  We all have to pay taxes for services we don’t use…that’s part of life in a democracy…

  2. Sole Funds for branches after Main re-imbursed

      So now the library friends will turnover the $171,000 to the library board to be used for the entire support of the two branches for six months—salary, rent, new books, utilities, etc. with no funds coming from the existing library [Main] budget for balances?  If at some point the branches run out of funds [ from this $171,000 and any further friends contriubtions] that the branches will suspend operations until they have funding to continue.

    Also adjustments [i.e. refunds from the $171,000] will be made to the Main library to cover as quoted "Burrus also took issue with the way EPL Friends collected donations, saying many of their fund sources are supposed to benefit the EPL system as a whole.

    She noted that the branch backers had obtained a list of former library system donors and solicited them.

    "I just want to be very clear that that donor list which could have gone for overall library services, those funds are now being redirected just to south and north branch if that solicitation went out," Burrus said.

    Burrus also pointed to a $25,000 Challenge Grant given from the library board, which Library Director Mary Johns said came from book sale funds that would normally be directed to programming and materials for all libraries."

    Burrus apparently has pointed out mis-appropriation and using the donor list [and what they were told about where the funds would go ?] for purposes not made clear to donors.

     

  3. Branches for All ?

      Will the support continue when the ‘Friends’ realize that the $171,000 and all future contributions will have to go to all the branches—including a new branch on the west/southwest side [e.g. Dempster and Dodge] whether it becomes the third branch or the south branch is moved there ?

    Rent, book collections, staffing, etc.  will have to be paid out of the $171,000 and future funds—not out of the Main budget and I’m sure taxpayers—-esp. west/southwest if they don’t have a branch—even in the areas of the current branch won’t want to pay for the convience of the few.

    Maybe the ‘Friends’ can takeover the [free] staffing of the three branches to eliminate that expense, if they really treasure the branches..

  4. Branches or the Health of the Library System

    For those who have not noticed, the EPL catelog page now has the statement:

    "CHANGE IN HOLD SYSTEM: Due to the abrupt end of state funding for

    interlibrary van delivery, it is necessary to limit the number of items being
    moved between libraries. All holds placed via the online catalog will be filled locally if
    possible. Delivery service will continue for the short term while options are being explored."
    ======================
    As with every business costs, go up.  Do we want to divert taxpayer dollars to the Branches or keep the Main strong ?  There will be only so many dollars available—in fact probably fewer and fewer with the city and state debt and worsing financial situation.

     

  5. My husband and I take our

    My husband and I take our daughter to the South branch regularly and it is always full of neighborhood children.  We also visit the downtown branch – our visits are pretty evenly split between the two locations, but we can walk to the one near us.

    We’ve seen a number of local kids selling lemonade to help support their local library, and it appears that the branch means enough to people in this community that they raised MORE than the requested amount of money to keep them open.  

    I’ve seen nothing but neighborhoods rallying to keep these lovely local treasures.   For me, I’d be much less likely to vote for someone who wanted to close them, and I suspect many of the parents in my community feel the same way.  

    1. A Branch for EVERY Neighborhood

      I guess the logic is everyone should be able to walk to a Branch.  So I guess we need one near everyone so one at Dodge/Howard, Dodge/Dempster, Main/McCormick, Central/Crawford, Grant/Crawford, Central/Sheridan, SouthBlvd/Sheridan, Dempster/Ridge and probably many more so everyone can "fall out of bed" and be at THEIR branch.

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