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State-city deal may save branch library

Two local officials believe they’ve come up with a space-sharing plan that could save Evanston’s south branch library.

The state employment office at 1615 Oak Ave.

Two local officials believe they’ve come up with a space-sharing plan that could save Evanston’s south branch library.

The state employment office at 1615 Oak Ave.

Assistant State Senate Majority Leader Jeff Schoenberg of Evanston and Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl have scheduled a news conference for next Monday to announce a proposed partnership between the city and state to share office space.

Under the plan crafted by Schoenberg, an Evanston-based office of the state’s Department of Employment Security and the Evanston South Branch Library would seek to relocate jointly at a site in south or southwest Evanston.

Schoenberg says the joint arrangement would provide significant cost savings for both the state and the city while reshaping the delivery system for providing information and job-related services in the community.

Faced with a sizable budget deficit, the Evanston City Council earlier this year voted to close both of the city’s branch libraries, but then gave them a six-month reprieve until August to give community groups time to raise private donations to keep the branches open.

A view inside the current south branch library at 949 Chicago Ave. (File photo)

“This can be a win-win solution for everyone,” said Mayor Tisdahl. “Sen. Schoenberg’s proposal would save money at the South Branch Library, thus freeing up resources for the total Evanston Library System.”

The news conference is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Monday in the community meeting room at the main library, 1703 Orrington Ave.

The state jobs service office now is located in a privately-owned converted gas station at 1615 Oak Ave. downtown, a site that is identified in the city’s downtown plan as a potential mixed-use redevelopment site.

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