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When budget problems forced the Evanston Public Library to close the South Branch a year ago, a group of volunteers from the Friends of the Evanston Public Library opened its own library, dubbed The Mighty Twig, at 900 Chicago Avenue.

Saturday, the facility celebrated its first birthday with cake and picture book giveaways for the kids.

Volunteers have put in more than 5,600 hours during the first year, serving 33,000 visitors, 7,700 computer users, and more than 3,800 toddlers at story time.

Volunteer Katie Nordenson has been with the library since its beginning.

More than 10,000 books have been checked out to 700 children, including four who borrowed more than 250 books each.

Books are checked out on the honor system, and no fines are levied for late returns. Kids use a reading log to keep track of materials they borrow.

Especially popular are the five Mac computers that enable users to go online, do homework research, and send emails to family and friends.

Kindergardener Sam Kemeny, 5, operates one of the library’s five Mac computers.

EPL Friends board member and secretary, Cheryl Chamberlain, declared that “we could never have imagined the success that The Mighty Twig would become.”
 

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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5 Comments

  1. It takes

    "It takes a village…." 

    Or in this case, "It takes an Orchard… "

    Sincere Congrat's to the Mighty Twig! Well done!

  2. Amazing what a group of volunteers can do!

    I find it amazing what a group of volunteers did here compared to city staff and council members who for year for years waste everyones time pretending they were correcting the ADA problems at the south branch library and never did!

    They estimated hundreds of thousand of dollars to correct the problems and the supporters who openned up the Twig did it on a shoe string budget.  

    This week end I just find out about another city screw up, it amazes me how these people can keep on getting elected and staff keeps their jobs. 

    Its no wonder 1/3 of the board of the local DPOE left the board, with the leaders we have who think the only solution is higher and higher taxes, even the local Democratics here are starting to face reality.

    1. South Branch… ehrrr… Twig (aka – Southy Success)

      Since South Branch was closed and the Twig subsequently opened, it appears some long-running issues which belabored the SB have been overcome.  Perhaps North Branch should consider what the Twig has been able to do and go the same route.  In this instance, it is interesting to see the positive results achieved when not having a ton of Evanston government bureacracy added to the mix.

      As for our "City Government," I would hope that people start to realize that many of the issues in Council are actually borne of our city staff and their respective departments.

      There are large swathes of deparment heads and managers down at our Civic Center who should all be thrown out of their jobs. It is their 'vision' for our city that is creating many of the problems we face today.

      The ongoing attitude of chase a dollar at the expense of all residents needs to be re-examined.  These over-paid employees are lacking in any level of the intelligence needed to manage this burgeoning city, yet they have control of large decisions and budgets.

      We would benefit from having people with Business Management degrees (from Kellogg or any other school of that respected ilk) in many of these managerial positions.  Their salaries may be more (unlikely in that our current employees are completely over-paid), but in the long run they will cost the taxpayer a lot less. 

      And finally, on the topic of business management, it seems we might fill some of the Council seats with people who have this background as well. 

  3. and what about North Branch

    It would seem that the patrons of South Branch got the "wrong end of the stick" (or is it branch?) in that, contrary to what was under discussion for an interminable amount of time was the closing of the branches (plural) and not a selsctive closing of one and not both. somehow the good (well-heeled?) citizens in north-west Evanston have suffred no apparent loss of library services while those in south-east Evanston must depend upon "the kindness of strangers (my apologies to Tennessee Williams) ".

    How does it happen that money continues to be available to support the one branch? Yes, I know the City owns the North Branch building that includes one (real) revenue source next door, but having failed to sell that structure when they wanted to retain the Library, there is no longer any impediment to selling the entire building during this "cash-strapped era".

    Finally, now that EPL board is running the show, how have they worked out the use of City owned facilities such as Main Branch and North Branch?  Does the EPL Board now have to deal with rent, bond payments, utilities, maintenance or is there a lease, as yet unrevealed? (Seems like a topic for a Ponzi cartoon)

    1. Right on

      Just because the city owns the North Branch building doesn't mean that the North Branch library should remain blissfully carrying on (even if providing a commendable service), as if there were no economic concerns. Sure, it's easier to make the choice to close a facility being rented with cash outgoing for rent, but that doesn't mean you don't treat both as equal economic choices. This seems like a decision born of either 1) ease and convenience rather than of sound fiscal planning, or 2) a political choice as implied in the originating post. Both smell, one of incompetence, the other of corruption.

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