Monday, December 22, 2008

Calling All Library Supporters - We Need Your Help!

The informational and organizational meeting of a citizens' committee to support the Plainfield Library expansion referendum will be held on Wednesday, January 14th at 7pm in the Library Board Room.

The Citizens Committee takes the role of advocating for the referendum in the community. While staff and taxpayer funds are restricted to strictly factual information such as "vote on April 7th", the Citizens Committee is able to make the emotional appeal such as "vote YES on April 7th." The Committee will be self-directed, making their own decisions on what activities they would like to pursue. For example, they could organize a phone calls to likely voters, or yard signs, or promotional mailings, or canvassing neighborhoods.

As my grandmother tells me - many hands make light work! So please join the commitee. You can choose the level of participation that suits you and your family.

To RSVP, call Julie at the library 815-436-6639 or email me at the link below.

You told us you want it on the ballot in April. Now it's up to you to continue your support!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Construction and Operations in Single Question for 2009, to Appear on 2010 Tax Bills If Passed

Last night, the Library's Board of Trustees voted 6-1 to develop a single ballot question for both operational and construction costs of the expansion plan.

Trustees noted that some area libraries that used two separate ballot questions, one for construction and one for operations, only passed the construction measure causing them to cut services in order to operate and maintain the larger facility. For example, the New Lenox Public Library opened their expanded facility in 2001 but are only open 46 hours per week. Increasing space but decreasing the availability of service defeats the purpose of the referendum: to meet the needs of the community.

If the single ballot question passes, you won't see the increase on your tax bill until 2010. The County Tax Extension Office prepares property tax bills in April to arrive in taxpayers mailboxes by early May. It would be impossible to make that change to tax bills following an April 7th referendum. Therefore, if you approve the rate increase in April 2009, you will see it one year later when you receive your tax bill in April 2010.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Village Trustees comment favorably on library expansion plans

Last night, I presented the preliminary plan to the Plainfield Village Board at their meeting. They were very gracious to include this on their very full agenda.

Mayor Waldorf commented on his involvement in the process. He and Village staff were members of the Site Feasibility Committee that recommended site options and priorities for the downtown facility.

Trustee Walt Manning inquired about the inclusion of the auditorium in the library, which gave me an opportunity to highlight the cultural programs like holiday music and author events that we offer. Also, the auditorium will be available for use by the Plainfield Park District for programs and events.

Trustee Bill Lamb recalled his participation in a 2006 long range plan focus group for the library and noted how the expansion plan includes many of the ideas from that group. His comments highlight that this planning process actually began with that 2006 long range plan!

Trustees Jim Racich, Paul Fay, and Jeff Dement all commented favorably on the plan, highlighting the library's benefit to the entire community.

Look for the replay of the meeting on Cable Channel 6 to see for yourself.

The positive feedback from the Mayor and Village Trustees are greatly appreciated!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Links Added for Building Programs, Poll Results

I've posted some more "light reading" for those of you following the expansion planning process closely!

The Building Program statements are the instructions to the architect on the design: how the building should function, what proximities are needed, etc. It also details what goes into the space. For example, the computer classroom space needs to seat 12 a computers with space an instructor and projection at the front of the room. It is with these documents that the architects are now working to create the schematic design of the building.
Building program, Downtown: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Building program, North Side Branch: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

The results of our December 5-8 poll of registered voters has also been added. 2/3 of respondents support or strongly support placing the library expansion question on the April 2009 ballot.

And if you are really interested in know the latest, come to the Village of Plainfield Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday, December 15, at 7 pm when I update the Village Board on the expansion plan!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

NBC News Highlights Library Use

Looks like Plainfield is not the only library experiencing a spike in usage!

Monday, December 8, 2008

68% Support April 2009 for Ballot Question

The voters of Plainfield have spoken. The poll conducted this weekend, asking whether or not the Library Board should place the expansion plan on the April ballot, came back with a resounding yes.

The need is here. 19 storytimes a week and still there are wait lists. An average of 12 computer users in the library every single hour its open. Tens of thousands of items checked out each month. And the demand grows every month.

The Board of Trustees affirmed their timeline for expansion planning at tonight's meeting. Schematic design and financial planning will be complete by the end of January as originally scheduled. How could they do otherwise? You told them you are ready for the need to be met.

Friday, December 5, 2008

What do you think?

The Library's poll of the community will be done tonight! You may receive a call, as a random sample of registered voters residing in the district is contacted, to answer 10 questions about your opinion on the library's expansion plan - whether it should be on the April 2009 ballot.

The Library's Board of Trustees needs your guidance. Please pick up the phone. The 10 questions (and that includes the easy demographic questions like age and gender!) should only take a few moments of your time to complete. Your feedback is invaluable to the Trustees to help them make the best decision for the whole community.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Preliminary Financing Plan Presented

The Board of Trustees received the preliminary financing plan for the the proposed expansion. This initial estimate places the cost of the plan at approximately $14 a month for the average homeowner in the district. For this amount, you will receive:
  • nearly quadruple the square footage of library space (100,000 sq ft from 27,000 sq ft)
  • double the collection
  • just under double the staff
  • more than double the computers for public use
  • quadruple the computer classroom space
  • quadruple the space for children's programming
  • an auditorium for cultural and community programming and events

This will be accomplished by an addition to and renovation of the existing downtown library to 70,000 sq ft and building a branch library, in the northern end of the district, of 30,000 sq ft. ***Of course, the plan will not be final until late January, so the numbers may change a bit before it is finalized.***

In evaluating this preliminary plan, the library's financial consultant and I compared it to other libraries in Illinois. The comparisons demonstrate that the square footage for population served, operating budget for square footage planned, and tax rate for similar district all are in line with the average in the state.

Following the presentation of this plan, the Trustees debated extensively on the current economic situation and wisdom of placing the library expansion referendum on the ballot in April 2009. On one hand, the Trustees waited for as long as possible before beginning the expansion planning process by doing interior renovations paid by developer fees and creating and Outreach Services department that provides library programs and services outside of the library building. On the other hand, many of our neighbors may be feeling the crunch of this economic crisis, to the point that even $14 a month is too much to ask. Striving to be good stewards of your tax dollars, the Trustees ensured the library "made do" for as long as possible, giving the best possible service with what the community provided. The need that led to this planning process has not changed. If anything, libraries are busier than ever in a recession.

The Board of Trustees decided to ask you if the plan should be on the April 2009 ballot. Staff is working with a company to poll a random sample of registered voters in the district on whether or not the question should be placed on the ballot in the spring. I'll post more about the poll as information becomes available.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Schematic Design - Putting Together the Puzzle

Creating a functional modern library with the constraints of existing building, site, zoning, neighbors, etc. certainly isn't simple! This is one puzzle with an awful lot of pieces.

Schematic design of the downtown building expansion has just begun - and already received its first major revision. Many features and services of a modern library tend to favor ground-level locations. Marrying that idea and the "raised ranch" floor plan of the existing building, which contains almost no ground-level space, is not easy.

Our ingenious architects at Healy Bender, along with library Board and staff, are working out a way to maximize public space on the larger floors of the addition, while using the smaller existing library levels for staff and lesser used spaces. But as Cliff Bender told staff when they looked at the first version of the design: "I can only guarantee that whatever the final plan is, it will not be this." :-) His point is well taken. Nothing is set in stone until, well, it's actually set in stone!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Library to Help Food Pantry

Have your heard about the Plainfield Interfaith Food Pantry? Housed in the Plainfield Township building, this amazing operation is run entirely by volunteers. Mary Dickerson and her crew are devoted to helping those in need in our community. Suppport of this organization and its wonderful volunteers is needed now more than ever.

Once again, the library will be sponsoring a "Food for Fines" drive. For 2-4 non-perishable food items donated, up to $5 in fines will be forgiven from your Plainfield Library account. For 5 or more items, up to $10 will be forgiven. Please remember the food pantry cannot accept open or expired items.

The library staff will not be exchanging gifts within their departments this year, as they have before. Instead, they are pooling the money they would have spent on those gifts for a donation to the Plainfield Interfaith Food Pantry.

Through these donations to the Plainfield Interfaith Food Pantry, the library staff continues to demonstrate their dedication to the good of our community.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Digging into the Past - or Why There's No Drive-Up Book Drop Today

Scott Rihel, our architect from Healy Bender, is working on the schematic design of the downtown building. As he does so, he's finding where the existing building setbacks, etc. do not meet current zoning. He wants to know if the library received a variance.

Good question. I wasn't here when this building was built, nor was my assistant or any of my administrative staff. Neither was Mike Schwarz at the Village Planning Department or Michelle Gibas, our Village Clerk (at least not in their current positions).

So down we all dig into back files and find all sorts of interesting things: from an intergovernmental agreement to the minutes of the Plan Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals to a parking study conducted in 1990.

In reviewing these, I discover that there was a drive-up book drop planned for Illinois Street in front of the library, something that has been brought up before and I never knew why it had been omitted. Now I know.

Village staff and Plan Commission required that it be moved to the library's parking lot, citing an engineering report stating that it "appears that vehicles stopping at the book drop will occupy the northbound lane and block traffic." The drive-up book drop was removed from the plan, with the walk-up book drop on the building remaining.

However, to be located in the library's parking lot, the proposed drive-up book drop would have to be placed on a tall curb. The curb would make the book drop too tall for drive-up service and impossible to use the normal roll-out bin to empty it. Additionally, a parking space would be lost to allow staff to empty the book drop. In the end, no book drop was placed in the parking lot. The walk-up book drop on building remained as the sole book drop.

Today, patrons frequently leave their vehicles standing on Illinois Street to get out and drop items into the book drop on the building. In doing so, they block northbound traffic - precisely what the Village staff and Plan Commission were seeking to avoid when they nixed the Illinois Street book drop. The true irony here is that it takes longer for them to get out and walk to the book drop than it would to use a drive-up book drop.

This peek into the past brings a new perspective to the project. In 18 years, will anyone remember why we made these decisions in the planning process? Will it still make sense? I'm sure we'll create a few problems we can't anticipate by trying to fix others that we can. I just hope that the problems we create are smaller than those we seek to avoid.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Disappointment for Des Plaines Valley Library - and many others

It was disheartening to see this morning's results on library referenda in the State of Illinois.
None passed. Not one single library successfully passed a referendum, regardless of what it was for: annexation of territory, building, or operations. Particularly sad is the defeat of the Des Plaines Valley Public Library District's referenda. Despite desperate need for service, the plan did not garner the support of the community.

Was it the economy? Was it because this would increase taxes? Was it the plan itself? As I ask myself why Des Plaines failed, I focus on how we are communicating the need for this service to the community and gaining your support for a plan that meets your needs without unduly pinching your pocketbook. But we are pretty good at that already:

Thursday, October 30, 2008

In the hands of the architect

The building program is complete. The directions for size and function are in the hands of the architect, along with the Board's selection for a site plan in downtown Plainfield.

Scott Rihel from Healy Bender Architects is working on the schematic design. This is where we'll start to see what it may look like - after all that planning! I'll be getting a sneak peek at the first draft tomorrow. The Board of Trustees will get their first look at a more polished version at their regular Board meeting on November 19th. Then the tweaking begins! They are slated to look at revisions of the schematic design at Special Meetings on November 24 and December 8. At that point, you'll be able to see the preliminary elevations and plans here and on our website.

In the meantime, I'm doing budget projections for the new facilities with the public finance consultant. We need to be sure that the plan includes things like the cost of heating and staffing all that space!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Library use rises during times of economic trouble

For those in the library profession, articles like this are no surprise:

The Boston Globe talks about how their local libraries' circulations are up each month now. For the Plainfield Library, that's business as usual.

But how is Plainfield Library responding to yet another increase in demand? We're doing our best to meet your needs! Multiple copies of bestsellers are leased and purchased to try to keep wait times low. Magazines, even the current issue, may be checked out. While the library can't have 50-100 copies of the latest release DVD like a video store, you can get that movie for free if your willing to place a hold and wait your turn. We'll even entertain and educate you with free educational and cultural programs for all ages.

Look for our November/December newsletter in your mailbox soon. The lead article is on Return on Investment for library service. I think you will find that the money you spend to support your library is money well spent.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Downtown Building Expansion - Prelim Cost Comparison 10/6/08 draft - DISCLAIMER

Downtown Building Expansion - Prelim Cost Comparison 10/6/08 draft

When you look at this document, please be aware that it was created as a means of comparing probable cost of various options for the downtown site. It is not, and was never intended as a full cost estimate of any of the site options. The Board of Trustees requested this estimate as a means of comparing potential costs across the various options

The document utilizes average costs per square foot of different types of new construction and renovation work, with placeholder estimates for other common costs such as furnishings, soil testing, and professional services.

This is not intended as a cost estimate for a final plan. It was informational to aid in the selection of a site option.

Site Option Selected for Downtown, Joint Use Facility Priority for Secondary Site

As of last night's meeting of the Board of Trustees, we have a site option for the expansion of the downtown building selected! A unanimous vote of the five Trustees present made Site Option 10 the winner!
This option retains nearly all of the existing building, enveloping parts of it within the expansion area to optimize its functionality as a library space.

In order to reach the 70,000 square foot facility in the downtown with all of the services recommended by the Site Feasibility Committee to be located at the downtown site, a parking variance from the Village of Plainfield will be needed. Using the 1 parking space per 400 square feet required by the Village ordinance for libraries, 155 parking spaces are needed. However, the inclusion of the auditorium in the proposed expansion makes the building "mixed use" and adds one space per 5 seats in the auditorium to the requirement, for a total of 215 parking spaces. The plan selected provides for 160 parking spaces, exceeding the spaces needed under the library parking requirement, but under the mixed use requirement. One strong argument for the variance is the anticipated use of the auditorium at times when the library is not open to the public, namely Friday and Saturday evenings. With the Village, Park District, and Library's shared goal of bringing more cultural amenities into Plainfield, we are confident that a satisfactory solution for parking can be negotiated.

For the secondary location, discussion continues with the Plainfield Township Park District on a joint use facility. Macom Corporation is working closely with staff form the library and park districts on two possible locations in north Plainfield. The Library Board has chosen to focus on these joint use facility sites rather than a stand-alone branch site. The proposed branch would be approximately 30,000 square feet with full library services, including meeting and program space, regardless of which location is selected.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Library staff tours libraries for ideas and inspiration

Twice a year, the Plainfield Public Library is closed to the public while the staff attends a day of training. The training can be anything from a new computer program like Office 2007 to how to respond to disasters and other emergencies in the library. This year, with our focus on planning for expansion, library staff toured two different libraries: Skokie Public Library and Addision Public Library.

Skokie Public Library ( is one of five libraries to win the 2008 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor for museums and libraries, honoring libraries and museums that have helped make their communities better places to live. This library serves as a model for library service that makes a difference in the lives of its residents. Their gracious staff gave tours and answered questions, giving the Plainfield staff a new perspective on service.

With only a few weeks since their grand opening celebration, Addison Public Library ( showcased what can be included in the design of a modern library. From art to countertops, shelving to green roof, staff shared the positives and negatives of all stages of an expansion project.

The conversation continues among the Plainfield Library staff on everything they liked and disliked about these libraries, the ideas they had for immediate use and those for expansion planning.

Thanks to our friends in Skokie and Addison for taking the time to allow us to tour their libraries!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Playing well with others

Partnering with other public entities - such as the Village and Park District - is a priority for the Plainfield Public Library District. The Library's long range plan not only includes positioning the library as a community center but also expanding our partnership efforts. Within the library's expansion planning, exploring ways to expand partnerships is integral to the process.

Conversation continues among staff from the Library, Plainfield Township Park District, Village of Plainfield, and Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 202. In planning for future expansion, the Library is committed to exploring joint-use facilities and other concepts for partnerships.

The one thing to bear in mind on this, however, is that bringing multiple public entities with their separate governing boards into agreement on a plan will take time. Speaking back to my previous posts about waiting... :-)

Monday, September 29, 2008


So where does the building and expansion planning stand, you ask? We are waiting.

In fact, we are waiting for two things in particular:

First, we are waiting for the architect to present preliminary cost estimates on several different scenarios (for the downtown site only) at the next Special Board meeting, slated for October 6. The scenarios, discussed at the last meeting, bring together the priorities expressed by the Site Feasibility Committee and the Board of Trustees and the requirements of the building program.

Second, we are waiting for the selection of a public finance consultant. The Board is scheduled for second interviews with the finalists on October 15. The public finance consultant will help the Trustees to determine the financial implications of the proposed building and expansion and how to finance the project.

In the meantime, the building program is being finalized, with library staff input.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Voter registration drive at the library - and other services you might not know about

We're having a voter registration drive from September 22nd through October 7th (the last day to register for the fall election). Nearly every library staff member is a voter registrar, trained by Will County Voter Registration Department. Like being able to register to vote at the DMV, it is a convenience for our community. Because the library is open 7 days a week, including evenings, and located nearby, many residents find this a convenient, value-added service.

Filling the needs of our community has led to the library offering a number of services that you may not associate with traditional library offerings:

Notary Public - During Business Office hours, designated library staff can notarized your documents for free! Call ahead to verify availability of designated staff.

Tax Forms - When the Post Office stopped carrying your paper tax forms, the library started. Forms are distributed by the IRS to the library.

Wireless Printing - you may know about the free wireless access at the library, but did you know you can print through the wireless connection for a nominal fee? See or library staff for details.

Copy and fax - for a nominal fee, self-service copiers are available, including a color copier. Fax service is also available at a per sheet fee.

Just a few more services available at your local library!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Expanding - one piece of property at a time

After a long negotiation, the Board of Trustees have finally come to terms with the owner of 15022 S. Route 59, former home of 59 Hair Design. The contract sets the price at $1,000 over the highest appraised value of the property. The Board of Trustees were determined to begin the process of expansion as they mean to go on - as good stewards of the taxpayers' funds, paying a fair price for the property. I believe that they achieved that aim with this contract.

With the addition of this piece of property, the Library will be able to continue planning for approximately 70,000 sq ft of library space in the downtown. Another 30,000 sq ft is slated for a second site. The amount of space that can be accommodated on the downtown site determines what is needed for a second site. Following last night's Special Board Meeting where the contract was signed, they are now prepared to contemplate the location of a second site.

With frugal management, the Board of Trustees have accumulated a Special Reserve Fund for capital projects. The Special Reserve Fund is the only fund in which the Library's accumulation of money is not capped by state law. By law, this fund may only be used for designated purposes - in our Library's case emergencies and capital projects. Developer impact fees, required by the Village of Plainfield through an intergovernmental agreement, are accumulated in the Special Reserve Fund, plus any surplus in the Operating Fund at the end of each fiscal year (usually very little).

The Board of Trustees planned for years to accumulate these funds in order to do planning and land acquisition prior to any referendum for building expansion. It is the Special Reserve Fund that allowed them to purchase the property at 15028 S. Route 59 (aka "the Gray house" or the grass lot behind the library's parking lot) without a mortgage in 2003 and will allow the same for the 15022 S. Route 59. In 2010, when the library is contracted to purchase the parking lot next door to 15028 S. Route 59 from the Village, the Library will again be able to purchase the property without a mortgage.

The Board of Trustees will continue their commitment to sound fiscal decisions for the Library on your behalf throughout the expansion process.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Parking Question

The parking question arises quickly when talking to those who live in the downtown area or who frequent downtown businesses. It comes in several variations:
  • Is the Library going to build a parking deck?
  • Is the Village going to build a parking deck?
  • Couldn't the Library put in underground parking?
  • Can the Library buy (insert property name/address here) to build more parking?
  • Can the Village buy (insert property name/address here) to build more parking?

Now, I cannot speak for the Village beyond reporting what was said at the Site Feasibility Committee meetings. Those meeting notes are linked on this page, so it's not a secret. Both Library and Village representatives indicated that they cannot commit to funding a parking deck at this time.

All plans to date do include additional parking to meet zoning requirements of the Village. The Village of Plainfield is working with the Library to ensure that shared parking makes the most effective use of the property owned by each.

The bottom line is that decks and underground parking are EXPENSIVE! More than 10 times the cost per space than at-grade parking. That is a hefty investment for any government entity, but particularly for the Library, which only receives 2.4% of the average homeowner's property tax.

With cost as the biggest concern of the Telephone Town Hall meeting participants, the Library's Board of Trustees is committed to a no-frills plan of solid construction that will meet the district's needs into the next decade, without overburdening the taxpayers today. So far, a parking deck does not fit that commitment.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

How many square feet does it take to make a functional public restroom?

As the library staff and building consultant are working on the draft of the building program, I am learning all sorts of new things - like how many square feet to allot for public restrooms in an expanded library building lobby! (640 total for mens/womens/family, in case you were wondering)

The building program sets the parameters for the architect's design, including everything from allotments for study rooms of various sizes to how big the janitor's closet needs to be. In the process, one discovers that there are standard sizes for things like shelving, seating, and workstations. But you also discover that you have to make allowances for everything from the interior walls (a standard percentage calculation for "nonassignable" space, as it turns out) to the storage of tables for the meeting rooms.

Going beyond the standard calculations is where things get more difficult. Your library staff is wracking their brains to try to remember all the good ideas they have heard from you about space. For example: including a second chair to accomodate both parent and child at the Children's area PCs. Staff have made notes for months on this, compiling them into lists of items that require a space allotment, interior design notes, exterior design notes, and ideas for green design.

The draft of the building program will be posted here as it nears completion. In the meantime, you can help by submitting your idea here: or jotting it down on a suggestion box slip at the library! It's your library, so let us know what you want. What spaces/features would make your library experience better?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Frequently Asked Questions

Now available on the website - a list of frequently asked questions about the library's expansion planning, including those asked during the telephone town hall meeting:

This FAQ will be updated throughout the planning process, as more answers become available and as we hear from you what your questions are. Comment here, email through the general contact on the website, jot down your question on a suggestion box slip next time you are in the library, call me and ask - whatever is most convenient for you!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Telephone Town Hall MP3 file now available

The recording of the full Telephone Town Hall Meeting from 7/29/08 is available here:

The recording begins as soon as the auto-dialer began making outgoing calls, so the first minute or two are near silent while we wait for people to begin to connect.

Thanks for listening!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Thanks for participating!

Thank you to everyone who participated in the telephone town hall event Monday night! It was a great opportunity to share information and answer questions as we move further into planning for library expansion. 2,193 residents connected to the call, with over 200 remaining on the line for the majority of the meeting.

Questions ranged from partnering with other government entities to possible locations for a secondary site to whether public libraries are necessary. (Answers: yes, we are exploring partnerships, no secondary location has been selected but the high volume of comments about north of town are duly noted, and USA Today has an article today: about why libraries are necessary.)

The group was polled three times during the event. First, they responded 3-to-1 in favor of supporting two library referenda, one to build and one to operate expanded library facilities, based on preliminary information. Next, over two-thirds of participants would like to be contacted about future planning input events. Last, 30 participants are interested in volunteering for a citizens' referendum committee.

There were some technical difficulties in the beginning of the meeting that delayed the start. Caller ID displays showed "Hyattsville, MD 240-696-7345" instead of the intended "Plainfield Library" and a local number. Apologies to any who missed participating because of this error. The vendor has assured the library that it would not happen again if we choose to do another event like this one. The negative feedback regarding this format was far exceeded by the positive feedback. This format will be considered for future events.

The Library Board and staff are committed to a planning process that includes community input as we move through the steps in the planning process. Look for an input session on location of a secondary site once the Board of Trustees determines how to go about the site selection process.

The recording of the Telephone Town Hall Meeting will be available on the library website in the near future. I will place a link here when it is up.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A time and place for your questions

I am really looking forward to tonight telephone town hall meeting! It's an exciting first for the library district. In the past, the best information came from the costliest method - the survey. This telephone town hall meeting turns the survey concept on its head, for about one tenth the cost.

Instead of calling residents and asking a set of predetermined questions, the library will be calling to let you ask questions. The calls will begin to go out tonight at 7pm. The call list is based on voter registration rolls, so if you aren't registered to vote, you will not be called. Residents will be called in a random order and may join the meeting already in progress. Participants can press zero to ask a question at any time during the meeting. Other than a brief history of the library's building and some statistics on current use, the meeting will be entirely question-and-answer with me and Board President Sharon Kinley to respond. Even if we do not get to all of the questions, participants will be able to leave a voicemail at the end of the call to ask their question.

In the next few days, the recorded meeting and an FAQ will be posted here and on the library's website.

For myself, the Board of Trustees and the staff, finding out what your concerns are will help us to make sure the planning process not only addresses space needs but also answers the questions of the community during the process.

It's your library. Tell me what you think. Ask me a question.

After all, I am a librarian. Answering questions is what librarians do.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Planning for expansion - now what?

The next step in planning for library expansion is to create a building program. This is an elaborate set of instructions to the architect about exactly what the library needs in terms of sizes, adjacencies, etc. The Space Needs Analysis will provide the basis of gross square footage for each area.

The development of the building program will be accomplished in 3 site visits with building consultant Anders Dahlgren. Representatives of Healy Bender Architects will participate in these visits to gather information on the needs and priorities of each department.

In the first visit, the library's management team will meet with the building consultant for a global overview of the needs and to review collection development goals and distribution of collections.

In the second visit, staff from each department will meet with the building consultant to focus on the needs of their department. Space Needs worksheets will be completed to reflect the results of those discussions.

In the third and final visit, staff from each department will review the Space Needs worksheets and discuss any additional needs or concerns for the space. At the end of the final visit, the management team will review the physical relationships among library departments and their needs.

When the final building program is complete, schematic design will begin. The next opportunities for community input will occur during the design phase.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Over 4,000 Registered for Summer Reading 2008

Today, we surpassed another huge milestone - over 4,000 people registered for Summer Reading 2008's "Get in the Game - READ!"

At this moment, it stands at 1,057 adults, 2,321 kids (up to 5th grade), 566 teens (6th-12th grade), and 57 staff.

Already, we have logged more than 3,000 books read by adults, more than 900 by teens, and more than 500 by staff. The kids have read for over 220,000 minutes. With more than 2 weeks left in the program, those numbers will continue to increase.

Thank you, Plainfield for making this the biggest Summer Reading program yet!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Tele Town Hall Meeting Planned for July 28th

On Monday, July 28th at 7:00pm, the library will conduct a tele town hall meeting. This telephone forum will allow residents to ask questions and receive immediate answers about the library expansion currently being planned. A brief overview of the planning process to date and the library's usage statistics will introduce the topic, followed by an open question and answer session. Participants will be polled using their telephone dial to respond to questions prepared in advance by the Board of Trustees.

Tele town hall meetings are frequently used by elected officials to gather community feedback on issues. The library district is trying this format as a convenient, cost-effective means of gathering community input on library expansion. The telephone list is based on registered voters in the library district and will be called in a random order. Email and written questions and feedback are always welcome.

So far, planning has been very theoretical and big-picture focused - gross square footage needed to serve the district, maximum square footage feasible on the current site, projected population and usage. As the library progresses into more concrete planning, specific issues such as amenities to be included in an expansion and the architectural style of a building, the community will have more opportunities to give input.

So when you phone rings that Monday evening, listen in and let us know what you think about library expansion.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Note to self: keep up with technology and the changing world

I frequently hear from community residents that they are surprised by the services offered at our library. The shift from the old, staid library with traditional services and a "shhhh!" atmosphere began throughout the library world as librarian's recognized the need to incorporate new technologies into services libraries offer. Locally, explosive population growth necessitated not only change, but innovation to keep up with the evolving needs of the community. In the library world, we refer to this new library paradigm as "Library 2.0"

This blog post is a manifesto for the librarians in the 2.0 world:

The fifth point is one I struggle with as I lead this library into its future. As organizations, libraries are not exactly what you would call nimble. As a matter of fact, the pace of change at libraries can often be accurately described as glacial. But we are working on that.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

What was that about breaking records???

As I was posting about breaking records, the Circulation staff was busy (very, very busy) breaking a new one. They checked in, checked out, or renewed 6,536 items on Monday, a new single day record.

To put that into perspective, it means they moved more than 9 books a minute for 12 hours!

That's an awful lot of books to check in and out, all while waiting on patrons, pulling books for holds, calling patrons with holds, loading carts of books, unloading carts of books, and the many other tasks that make up their day. That's one heck of a workout for a workday.

Let's hear it for the Circulation staff!!!! WTG, ladies!!!!!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Record Breaking - Yet Again

Over 3,900 people have registered for Summer Reading at just past the halfway point in the program. Wow! That's over 2,200 children, 550 teens, and 1,000 adults.

It's kind of funny that the staff seems to be inured to breaking records. With all of our growth for the past 10 years, the library district breaks records with startling regularity. Hardly a month goes by without one - from circulating over half a million items last fiscal year to reaching over 25,000 active cardholders, from over 5,000 holds placed by patrons in a single month to moving over 5,000 items through the Circulation Department in a single day. In the overall "busy-ness" of our days, they sometimes pass unnoticed.

So to celebrate our success, I'll be including all of our record breaking activities here. In the next few weeks, we're likely to have quite a few, between Summer reading and the end of our fiscal year on June 30.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Inaugral post

Having done regular email updates for library staff and the Board of Trustees each week for nearly two years, it is finally time for me to step into the blogosphere. I started with email to ease into the thing and get the group used to my weekly status reports. With big projects on the horizon and much to do, I want to expand that weekly report to the residents of the Plainfield Public Library District, ensuring a transparent process as we plan for library expansion.

This will be the place to look for the latest about what's going on behind the scenes for staff, Board of Trustees, and residents. So stop by and read! I promise to at least attempt to keep up that weekly update schedule.