One option Evanston officials are considering to fund the city’s branch libraries is creating special service area taxing districts to support the branches.

There’s been no determination yet of exactly how the boundaries for such taxing districts might be set, but it’s probable that the officials would look at the areas where most branch users live.

One option Evanston officials are considering to fund the city’s branch libraries is creating special service area taxing districts to support the branches.

There’s been no determination yet of exactly how the boundaries for such taxing districts might be set, but it’s probable that the officials would look at the areas where most branch users live.

Evanston Now asked Library Director Mary Johns for maps that would show how how close most branch users live to their branch.

South Branch user addresses with rings encompassing 25, 50 and 75 percent of users.

It turns out that 25 percent of South Branch users live within a 0.27 mile radius of the branch. Half live within 0.44 miles and 75 percent live within 0.71 miles of the branch.

North Branch user addresses with rings encompassing 25, 50 and 75 percent of users.
 

For the North Branch, 25 percent live within 0.28 miles of the branch, half live within 0.56 miles and 75 percent live within a mile of the branch.

In both cases the concentric rings centered on the branch site used in the mapping don’t describe the best fit for user locations.

South Branch users tend to live to the south and west of the branch and North Branch users are more likely to live to the west of the branch.

In both cases those patterns appear to reflect the draw of the main library downtown for people for whom the branches are not the closest option.

Main library user addresses with rings encompassing 25, 50 and 75 percent of users.

The main library draws much more broadly across the city. A quarter of main library users live within a 0.66 mile radius of the library, 50 percent are within 1.1 miles and and 75 percent live within 1.52 miles.

The main library also draws far more total users than the branches. For users who use only one of the libraries, the count is 517 for the South Branch, 753 for the North Branch and 5,620 for the downtown library.

Those figures represent the number of people who checked out any library materials between March 1, the start of the city’s current fiscal year, and mid-December.

Johns says the library also has has counters on the doors of each of the libraries that tote the number of times the doors open. They provide a rough estimate of the number of times someone passes in or out of the building.

For March 1 through Dec. 31, those tallies show 66,554 visits at the South Branch, 71,409 visits at the North Branch, and 443,536 visits at the main library downtown. To calculate those numbers, Johns says, the library staff takes the raw counter totals and divides them in half to account for the fact that the counters record both entrances and exits from the building.

Related story

City eyes special tax district for library branches

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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4 Comments

  1. No way!
    So does this mean that we are all to be taxed to support those who use the library branches?

    Does it cost anyone anything to use the library services? I am not sure. But, if not, then the solution to this problem is to make the branch libraries a fee based service.

    1) If you want to check out a book – then pay a fee.
    2) If you want to rent a video, dvd, cd – then pay a fee.
    3) If you want to use connectivity – then pay a fee.

    If you value the branches so much – then VOLUNTEER to run these branches, reducing overhead costs for these sites.

    Property taxes are up. Cook County taxes are the highest in the country. An inevitible bevy of national taxes are upon us and people are struggling.

    Please, no more taxes.

    If you want these branches, then charge those who use the branches. It is as simple as that.

  2. Yes, it would
    Yes, this tax would affect me, since I live near the South Branch. I definitely don’t support this!

    I prefer to use the Main Library, even though I live closer to the South Branch. The Main Library is nicer and has a greater selection. The city needs to stick to the plan to close the branch libraries.

    I DO NOT support an additional tax just for living near the branch library. Just because it is near my house doesn’t mean I am using it!

    It’s unfair to penalize all of us living near the branches for the benefit of the few people who are using the service. I can’t change the location of my house, but I can take a few extra minutes to go to the Main Library!

  3. No to SSA
    The SSA idea is great for sewers, paving, adding special sidewalks. It was never intended
    for use to fund a library. It is arbitrary and a slippery slope that in essence is divisive
    and erosive, not the image Evanston needs right now. We celebrate the $18 million to
    help with affordabkle housing. There are answers for the Library situation. Closing them
    creates more problems and create a negative image of Evanston. Read the coverage
    that’s out there. Help to solve the problem.

  4. Oh, why not? Just tax me more for something I don’t use..
    I understand the relevance of showing the percentage of users at each branch who live within a certain radius, but what about showing the percentage of residents within a certain radius who actually use each branch?

    I just feel that we taxpayers in Evanston are being taken for a ride in general. We pay ridiculously high taxes, and I’m not really sure what we get in return. There are certain services which we do have to pay for, such as the school districts, emergency services and waste collection, but the Media Center and the branch libraries? Pl-ease.

    It’s all very well to have these nice little extras in a community, but I don’t get why we should all have to pay for them. There are technological alternatives which have essentially cut the cost of some of these extras to near-zero (such as Bill’s demonstration of the wanders of phone-cameras), and we do actually have a great public transport service, which can take you practically door-to-door from the library’s south branch to the north branch.

    All these “extras” which really only serve a very small number of people, and, to my mind, have no part to play in local government, or government of any kind, give me the same feeling when I sit next to a fur-clad, free-RTA-pass-wealding older commuter – like I’m a dummy for being in a 2-working parent family and actually paying taxes and not getting free anything.

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