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Would a branch library tax hit you?

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.

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