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.