Evanston’s Library Board voted Wednesday to adopt the richest of three budget options before it. If you’d been on the board how would you have voted?

Evanston’s Library Board voted Wednesday to adopt the richest of three budget options before it. If you’d been on the board how would you have voted?

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Library % increases Good Investment in Our Community

    In keeping things in perspective it seems important to know that  the 1,4 &6% increases are against the library budget which was $3,710,000.  If one is voting on this ": survey" then they should also know that a 1% = $37,100 or assuming 70,000 residents that this translates into approximately $1.00 per resident per year, 4% = $148,400 increase or about $2.00 per year per resident and 6% $222,600 or about $3.00 per year per resident.  What is not taken into consideration are any of the positive  economic benefits for the neighboring businesses and property values which generate other tax revenues for the city or the positive social and economic benefits for the neighborhoods   near  the library.

    If we move together jointly as a community instead of pitting one area against another we may produce an incredible innovative system of providing library services throughout all of Evanston. Some places may be stand alone or maybe shared spaces like Boocoo, Ridgeville, Levy Center and something more full service at Dempster Dodge but we are all going to need to work together.

  2. Library Money to the Right Place

    Whether they raise the tax by 1,4 or 6%, the money needs to go to the Main.   The branch system is un-necessary in Evanston and a waste of the money—and money will get tighter as time goes on.

    There is only so much money for books—as anyone who looks closely will see the fewer and fewer number of non-pop fiction books added—-and anyone can easily see how the magazine collection has decrease. 

    The branch(es) don't [didn't] have books children need for school esp. beyond 6th grade at least and who really believes kids under 12 are allowed by parents to make the trip to the branch by themselves.  I don't think I've seen or heard from parents of children from 12-18 using either branch. 

    We have a choice—keep the branch existing or keep the Main at a level that it should be.  Maybe for a year or two this won't become obvious [though it has to college educated people who read more than non-pop fiction already] but soon it will become obvious to everyone.   As Steve Colbert said at NU graduation [paraphrase] "….the library will hold X books but no one goes there, there use Kindle and the library will be converted to a Quiznos…."  If the Main is not stocked well, we might soon have one more [VERY large] cafe downtown—but then we already have enough vacant buildings for that and don't need another.


  3. Math and other comments

    Using Mary's figures, the additional tax burden per resident at the 1% increase would be only 53 cents.

    The anonymous poster has a couple of points wrong. The branch library does have books for middle-schoolers' and high-schoolers' English classes. There's a lot of classic literature read during those 12-18 years and it's a blessing for some families not to have to purchase the book; the classics can all be found in the library. Anonymous' failure to personally observe anyone in that age group using the library is easily countered by my observation of middle-schoolers doing their homework there using the reference section. Libraries serve a broader constituency than students, though, and I've also seen neighbors reading periodicals and borrowing novels. Think of the money and paper saved when folks can share reading resources instead of each purchasing individual copies for their homes. Enough to help fund some branches, perhaps.

    Students can use the internet for reference, but not all households have computer access. Branches are much easier for students younger than driving age to access. (Easier for those who don't drive or have less mobility, too.) There should be more physical access, not less, and as the south branch has been lost we should save what we still have. There has been a lot of creative thinking about bringing resources to neighborhoods without incurring big start-up costs – shared spaces and bookmobiles. 

    Personally I regret the loss of community (non-commercial) places where one can encounter a cross-section of one's neighbors. As we all retreat to our own 4 walls and our own electronic devices, let's not forget the intangible benefits of community – you never know who might be there ready to help you, or whom you might help. 

    Hard to understand the hostility towards branches when their relative cost is so tiny and they obviate the need to navigate getting downtown. Would those who don't support the North Branch be more supportive if there were also a West and a South? Or would they prefer to make libraries less accessible in general, and have us all order from Amazon?

    1. Schools for study

      Rather than have a branch library, would it not make more sense for each school to keep one room—a study hall or better yet the library—for students to do their after school study ?   That would mean access for all students [where they are] instead of just those on the northside. 

      To me it looks like only two schools are closer to the North Branch than to the Main or Wilmette or possibly Skokie [though that would be a stretch].

      1. Branches are not only for Kids, Silly Anonymous Rabbit!

        Do the seniors and adults have to go to the schools too?  Will they have all the books that the North Branch has for adults and seniors?  Will they need to remodel the library to accomodate the much larger amount of books and such?  How much would that cost?  How late will they keep the school open for the adults that would stop in after 5pm?  On Monday through Wednesday the North Branch is open till 6pm and Monday till 8pm.  How much would it cost to keep a school building open till 8pm?  Let me answer for you.  LOTS!

        Silly Silly Anonymous Rabbit,  Library Branches are for EVERYONE!

        1. Bulletin—there is a CTA bus on Central to downtown

          Some people have seemed to be un-aware that there is a bus on Central that will take them to EPL Main for their books and place for students to study and adults to read [including a 'quiet' reading room].  That should end the story—except for those who don't want to be around people 'not of their class.'

  4. Doing the Math on Reading

    The Library Board just approved an $80k/yr salary for an Community Engagement Librarian (CEL), which is great. But that person will be visiting other City-owned facilities to do their thing, (of which there are none in the 6th ward — even though to read it on ENow, they are the have-alls of Evanston). So, right now the North Branch serves literally tens of thousands of users each year, AND helps drive tax revenue from ancillary sales at shops along Central, helping to keep a small business district alive. So, if they were to eliminate North Branch, then presumably they will need to hire MORE CEL's to fill the void, correct? At what cost? What the library provides in its physical presence is a community center and anchor and a PLACE for children to learn the love of reading. It provides a place for seniors to go and most importantly, it serves a  huge portion of Evanston extremely cost-effectively, with a good return on investment — anywhere from $4 – $9 for every dollar spent on libraries is ret'd to the community acc'dg to research. The City of Chicago has successfully adopted a system which encourages the branch system and creates entire neighborhoods which thrive around successful libraries. First glance it looks as if the Close votes are the majority, but if you read carefully, it appears right now as if the KEEP NORTH BRANCH VOTES (cleverly split into two categories) in total are still more than the CLOSE votes.  Good to see. 

  5. Complaints ….

    A lot of people have posted complaints about the spending and money give away's by the city and school. It is strange that a president was elected on a platform of redistribution of wealth, abundance of social spending, and the like. Now more of your tax dollars are needed to keep up with the spending your elected officials are doing, and now you are upset. Was this a surprise? Maybe when the next elections come about you will ask yourself how that "hope and change" thing is working out, as well as accountability from the local electorate. If you cant wait that long, maybe the idea of recalls for city and school elected officials should be an option ….

  6. I find it amazing that there

    I find it amazing that there are so many people in our community that are willing to devote so much time and energy to trying to CLOSE libraries.  The branch libraries are a valuable part of our community and the people who have devoted time, energy and resources to trying to keep those libraries OPEN should be applauded. 

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