Evanston Library Board members were told Wednesday night that their Central Street branch needs nearly a half-million dollars worth of repairs.

Library Director Karen Danczak Lyons says the entire front facade of the library storefront at 2026 Central St. needs to be replaced — because the anchors holding the stucco material above the windows have deteriorated. Adding to the facade work, she says, is that the vestibule and doorways don’t meet standards to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In a memo to the board, she said the building also needs new exterior weatherproofing, new heating and air conditioning systems as well as new water and sewer services and new carpet.


In addition to the $498,000 in work at the North Branch, Danczak Lyons says scheduled building upgrade projects at the main library downtown, including weatherproofing, information technology improvements and new burners for the heating system boiler, add up to another $418,000 in capital improvement work.

The Libary Board is scheduled to decide how much of those projects to try to complete next year at a meeting next month.

Library Board President Michael Tannen complained at Wednesday’s meeting about the library board having to do maintenance on the north branch building even though the building is owned by the city. But board member Ben Schapiro responded that the library — rather than the city — also gets the rental income from the retail tenant that occupies the other half of the city-owned north branch building.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Lot of hooey

    It sounds like there is a little exaggerating going on here.I think that everybody would like to see an itemized breakdown of what each work task is expected to cost. Sounds like a lot of money for the north branch.

    If the estimates are correct,  Let us know when the project begins.

    1. Remodeling of Circulation Desk done in August

      Do we know the cost for that ?

      How much was spent on the 'new' south branch ?

      I support libraries but with Evanston [really a few people who want everything in their neighborhood trying to keep three open despite cars, bikes, CTA and feet for a pretty small town, does not make sense.  Beside a number of people on the north side [say Lincoln north] to go Wilmette anyway—from the Stadium to Wilmette or Evanston 'Main' is about the same distance—further west Wilmette is even closer.  

      If we did not duplicate so many services in three libraries, we would have more available to spend on a quality library–"Main"

      7.8 square miles

      3.7 miles N/S,  2.3 miles E/W [from Google.maps]


      1. North branch

        I am very concerned about this amount of money being spent on a small library branch when there is no library branch in south or central Evanston. The Chicago Ave branch is basically one room and the proposed Robert Crown branch is still years away. If memory serves me this branch has about 2000 visits per month and I assume that those monthly visitors are regulars, how is it justifiable to spend a half million dollars on such a small amount of people? Could that money be better used to open a branch at the old police outpost on howard st or in the dempster dodge plaza? 

        Even if half the renovations are completed, seems like $250k should be spent elsewhere making sure all Evanston residents have a local branch – not just the ward with 92% white residents.

  2. Population served?

    With the new high rises built or in the process of being built in south Evanston, it's an embarrassment that the city has but an extremely small, mini-branch library (The Mighty Twig – aptly named) in this area. The city is dramatically increasing the density of south Evanston with these buildings without the basic amenity of a decent size local library to serve the patrons of all ages. The city increased the size of the Lincoln school in this area only to discover that shortly thereafter it's not nearly big enough. IMO, it's important to anticipate the possible consequences of a decision (like more high rises) and plan accordingly. Forward thinking saves taxpayer money in the longer run. If money is to be spent on a library which serves the greatest density of patrons in an area, I encourage you to rethink your priorities.

    1. Create Tax Districts to meet local resident needs ?
      Perhaps the solution to people wanting things like branch libraries in their neighborhood, is to create tax districts [e.g. Lighthouse] and residents lets say within five block square of the branch [or whatever] be taxed to pay for it—of course if the vote by residents support it. For library branches those around the North and South [and whatever other neighborhoods want one] branches could vote on and fund their branch—and maybe establish local control over it/them. I’m sure other things would be sought by certain neighborhoods where like the [Main] library people don’t want to walk, bike or take the CTA to it. Perhaps a survey could be taken as to why people in the neighborhoods don’t want to go to the Main library [afraid of the downtown area, people who frequent the library, too many books to choose from [i.e. fear of seeing books they should read instead of the pulp fiction they go for].

      1. Disappointing

        I find your proposal for a local tax intriguing ; I'd hope that this idea is examined for practicality and long term value. What dismayed me was the pairing of this proposal with a not so veiled disparagement of some of the citizens of Evanston who prefer a local library. Fear of downtown? Too many books to read? Consumers of "pulp fiction"? I am sorry that you feel so strongly that you chose to add this to your otherwise well-articulated, thoughtful post. It would have have been better, IMO, to at least have given a nod to people of any age with a broken leg or ankle, seniors who can't walk or take public transportation with ease, youngsters who don't have a local summer or other reading group in their formative years, or teens on a limited budget who need the resources of a larger library (more computers, greater choice of books for school assignments, etc.). The Main Library Branch is great, no argument there, it just may not be as accessible or practical as you imagine.

        1. Are there figures to back-up the ‘branch use’ mythology ?

          The common response to questioning the need for branches are:

          The old and infirmed use it.  No slight to those, but do they use the branches because [or even use] ? Those that do probably live within a couple of blocks from it, so do we need a branch at Central/Crawford, Main/Crawford, Dempster/Crawford, Asbury/Howard, and so on—every five block square ?

          Teens use it for study.  I don't think I've seen a teen in the North Branch. When ? After school–don't count on it they have other activities ? Nights ? Look at the branch hours.  Look at the book selection—unless it is from the great classics of English literature, no.  Science, math, research history level—no.  Do children or teens prefer the branches to Main—take one look at the comparitive facilities and you will surely say no. Do their schools not have [or get from other local  schools] the books they need ? Study halls, after school library hours [I bet most want to get as far away from school at the final bell—at least for several hours] ? Tutors or reading groups at the branches as you imply for the latter ?

          Computers.  I think the North branch has two at most.

          Non-novel literature.   How many 'great books', i.e. classics, biographies of important people aside from movie stars/athletes. How many books of analysis of world/financial affairs ?


          1. Opinions

            My opinion is based on on what I used to see when the South Branch Library was a library not what it is now, a fraction of the size.  Indeed it is no longer called  a branch but renamed a "twig."


            That said, I recall people of all ages using that library prior to its "twig" status.  What I recall seeing every single time were lots of seniors, among the most avid readers; they have the most disposable time and were raised before computers, texting, Facebook, and the myriad other things that occupy the time of the younger generation.  Further, at that time many kids, not just mine,  enjoyed the "Reading Games."  We took library books out on a weekly basis for they, too, grew up with a love of reading.  These are things I actually saw.


            If the city has the money to fund repairs of another branch, I was merely suggesting that they also consider the needs of a highly dense, ever denser, population within their general area.


            We can agree to disagree.  Each of us is entitled to our opinion and each of us can base it on our unique experience(s).  No matter your choice of books, your income, your location within Evanston, your age or family size, your choice of transport, or your temporary or permanent health issues which may affect your mobility, I wish you well.

          2. So how many branches? What will be given up to keep new/old?

            Everything has a cost. You keep something of no use going or open up something new, there is a cost and something else has to be dropped/foresaken [unless you are the Council who counts on a money tree, State or ["free" !] grants to fund it.

            A branch not needed [or theater group/building], may mean fewer public services [street cleaning, staff to fix pot hole or change street lights and 1000 other things], fewer books, shorter hours, less staff and so on.

            How many branches should there be under your plan ?  I assume those with health, income, etc. issues you speak of would like a branch in their neighborhood [every x blocks] in preference to the two wealthy/well off [North certainly] or mixed [South mixed but getting more expensive] and both close to CTA lines.  What about far northwest, far southeast, Dodge and Dempster, Howard and McCormick, Main and McCormick and any number of area that have the kinds of clients you speak of.  Be specific and what city/library services [existing or new] would you foresake ?  Certainly a start to help the school children you speak of would be for the libraries to cut all adult novels, all ethnic/glamor magazines [French and German news magazines already cut], so funds can go for books K-12 need

            Face it everyone wants what they want, where they want it, but no proposal of how to fund it.

      2. Library Tax District

        We already have a Taxing District for the  Evanston Libraries. Think it came about three years ago. 

  3. Follow Skokie Library System – 1 Main library & book mobile.
    I think that branch libraries are nice but due to the lack of financial planning in the past by the City of Evanston – funds are lacking. It would be wiser to allocate all funding to the main library, shut all the branches, and invest in a book mobile that goes to underserved areas in Evanston.

    1. There was a bookmobile
      Thirty(?) years ago there was a bookmobile. I don’t know when it ceased or why–lack of use ? cost ?

    2. Bookmobile

      It works for Skokie…..All Evanston would need to do is make sure there is plenty of extra library parking..(it's free in Skokie, of course)

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