Both nominees to Evanston’s Library Board scheduled to be voted on by the City Council tonight have lived in the city for decades.

That’s one of the details released this afternoon by the mayor’s office in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by Evanston Now.

Both nominees to Evanston’s Library Board scheduled to be voted on by the City Council tonight have lived in the city for decades.

That’s one of the details released this afternoon by the mayor’s office in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by Evanston Now.

Sharon Arceneaux, the registrar at Evanston Township High School, says in her application for the unpaid library position that she’s lived in Evanston 51 years and owns her home at 1923 Hartrey Ave.

She reports six years of experience working in the library at ETHS and two years in a similar position with District 65.

Arceneaux is a high school graduate who’s completed three years of college.

Mildred S. Harris, who’s retired from 30 years of work as a human service caseworker for the state public aid department, says in her application that she’s lived in Evanston 36 years and rents her home at 231 Brown Ave. #D.

She’s a member of the advisory board of Literature for All of Us, has served on the Dawes School PTA, on the group Mothers Against Gangs and was a graduate of the second class of the city’s Citizen Police Academy.

Harris has three years of college and is also a graduate of a secretarial school program.

Assuming the two new board members are confirmed by the City Council tonight, they’re scheduled to join the board in time for its Wednesday night meeting when it will continue the hot debate over funding for the library.

They’ll fill slots on the nine-member board vacated by members whose terms ended last month.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Thank you, Bill

    A welcome answer to my previous question on another article. Why it took a FOIA request to get what should have been public and announced initially is beyond my understanding.


    Thanks again,


  2. Literature for All of Us

    I don’t know what Harris’ position is on the wasteful branch libraries, but I looked at the link provided for  Literature for All of Us , where she is on the advisory board:

    Literature for All of Us brings the rewards of reading and writing through book group discussions to teen mothers and other young people in underserved neighborhoods. We build communities of readers, poets, and critical thinkers. We develop family literacy by providing children’s literature and child development resources to teen parents. We open worlds by opening books 

    I have not conducted a thorough enquiry into this organization, but it certainly looks like this group does a better job of promoting literacy in underserved populations than the branch libraries do.  

    I think that closing the branch libraries, and promoting these types of activities, is a better use of public funds – regardless of the City’s financial position.

    1. Library Board candidates

       I have known both candidates for many years and they will both be fine, dedicated, hardworking members of the Library board. I agree wholeheartedly with the writer about the branches and Literature for All of Us, but the appointment of board members is not about a single issue. Long after this "crisis" passes, the Library Board will have to face problems for which sound judgement and critical thinking are essential. 

    2. Literacy programs don’t compete with libraries

      One would never say that grocery stores don’t do as good a job of delivering food to seniors as a Meals on Wheels program does; it’s apples and oranges. Promoting literacy in underserved populations is laudable, and one thing the Evanston library system can be doing more of, but it’s not all that libraries do. Nonprofit literacy programs have a discrete mission and supplement what libraries offer, and vice versa.

      As to cost-effectiveness, the two existing neighborhood branch libraries in Evanston, combined, cost roughly $400,000 if fully funded; right now the Library Board is talking about a 10-month budget less than that for FY2011. Those two branches serve thousands of Evanstonians as well as the larger community and have experienced, in recent years, the largest growth in library use in the entire system.

      Literature for All of Us has an annual budget in excess of $700,000 and serves, according to its website, 500-600 disadvantaged youth. That is not to say that it is less efficient. Obviously it is a much more resource-intensive program than a library, which despite helpful and knowledgeable staff has a large public self-service component. The nonprofit also spends over six figures just on fundraising.

      The two institutions should not be seen as competitors (or Ms. Harris would have a clear conflict in being on the board). As it is, her experience in literacy programs and knowledge of how books and reading can transform young lives is potentially a powerful asset to the Board as it and resident groups such as Evanston Public Library Friends continue to work on ways to bring more library services to more neighborhoods in Evanston,

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