Monday, December 21, 2009

Library Staff Donates to Plainfield Interfaith Food Pantry

As you may know, the Library annually holds its "Food for Fines" week in November to benefit the Plainfield Interfaith Food Pantry. During this time, people can bring in unexpired, nonperishable food items for credit toward their overdue fines. The Library also places a collection jar for monetary donations to the Food Pantry during that week. This year $237 was collected from the public.

Going into the holiday season, the Library management team and I knew that some staff were struggling financially. We had an idea to replace Secret Santa or gift exchanges among staff with a donation drive for the Plainfield Interfaith Food Pantry. Our goal would be to collect at least as much as we had collected from the public during Food for Fines week. That way, each staff member would put in as much as they were comfortable with, without having to disclose any financial hardship to their co-workers. Then the idea snowballed...

One management team member pledged to match dollar for dollar the other staff members' donations. Another had her whole family join in to donate. Two others convinced a club to which they both belong to make a group donation.

Together, the staff and their friends and family donated $1,250 to the Plainfield Interfaith Food Pantry. I am very proud of the Library staff and their generosity to this amazing organization.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Question of the Day - Why Hold In-Service on Columbus Day and Martin Luther King Jr Day?

The Library closes twice a year for in-service training. On these days, the staff of the Library has meetings and workshops, planning sessions and refresher courses on topics ranging from Disaster Recovery to Library policies.

Several years ago, we studied our usage patterns on certain days of the year, over 3 years, to determine what might be the best days to use for In-Service training. We focused on Fridays in the summer after Summer Reading was finished and holidays for which the Library was not closed: Columbus Day, Veteran's Day, Martin Luther King Jr Day, and Good Friday. The holidays were selected because staff noticed that usage tended to be down on those days, with frequent phone calls about whether or not the Library was open. Summer Fridays were the default In-Service days prior to the study. The anecdotal lower-than-average usage of the Library on holidays the Library did not close was corroborated by the study. Summer Fridays were found to have average usage. Columbus Day and MLK Day were selected in an attempt to spread the dates out as much as possible through the year. Good Friday was not seriously considered due to the religious beliefs of certain staff members and the fact that the date varied year to year.

So, when the Library is closed on January 18, your staff will be inside, brushing up their skills and preparing to better serve you!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Questions about DVD collections

With more people making use of the Library's free DVD checkouts, we've had a few questions about DVD ratings and how the location for certain DVDs are determined. Just like the books are divided into collections to help guide patrons to appropriate materials for their age and interest, the DVD collections are too.

The Library's collection of DVD is divided into Juvenile (J) for kids, Teen and Adults. DVDs intended for children are in the J DVD area. These have an MPAA ratings no higher than PG. DVDs of particular interest for Teens are housed in the Teen DVD area and can have a rating up to PG-13. Anything rated R or unrated is located in the Adult DVD area. This is not to say that you will not find G or PG rated movies in the Adult section. DVDs are divided by intended audience first. This means you will find "Sound of Music" and many other classic movies in the Adult DVD area because their primary audience is adults.

Some have asked why we do not label DVDs according to their content. I argue that they are already labeled by content - not only are they in a particular collection at the Library, the MPAA rating information is on the DVD case. This rating information generally includes the category upon which the rating is based, such as graphic violence or sexual situations.

The public library's role is to make materials available. It is the parent's responsibility to ensure that the material selected by their own child is appropriate to that child, just as you would at the video store.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Looking for One More Nice Day

The roof replacement project is not quite done. The flat roof has been completely replaced and sealed. However, the final pieces of the project - flashings and the door jab and trim for the access door leading out onto the roof. While it cannot be seen from street level, you'll know its done when the construction dumpster leaves the Library's parking lot, re-opening all of the spaces for use.

Our protesters did not stay long, only about 5 hours total. Our rat hand puppet from the Youth Services storytime supplies did come to visit his larger inflatable rat brethren during his stay, sitting in the window of my office.

During tonight's meeting of the Board of Trustees, the replacement of windows in the Original Library will be considered. We have proposals from several window vendors. Replacement is needed only for seven windows in the Original Library. With the Original Library likely to remain in any future expansion, the replacement of those windows is appropriate as a long term solution. The remainder can be repaired and resealed, with only a few replacement parts needed. This is good news and will keep costs down, while addressing the problem areas.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Roof Replacement Contractor and the Rat

Today, there is an inflatable rat in front of the Library. He and his friends arrived this morning. They are exercising their First Amendment rights to free speech by picketing the contractor selected to perform the Library's roof replacement. You may have seen our rat’s big brother on Route 59 near Renwick Road yesterday for a similar protest on the road construction contractor.

According to Illinois law, public bodies (libraries, Villages, park districts, the State itself, et al) must go through a public bid process for construction projects and comply with the Prevailing Wage Act. The threshold for public bid varies by type of public body. For library districts, the threshold is projects over $20,000. Prevailing Wage is determined by the Illinois Department of Labor.

The roof replacement contract was publicly bid. Thirteen bids were received. National Roofing was the lowest qualified bidder for the base bid plus alternate 1. In order to be disqualified from bidding on public projects, a contractor has to have been found in violation of the Prevailing Wage Act twice within five years. National Roofing has one violation on file with the Department of Labor from 2008. This contractor is NOT excluded from receiving public contracts at this time, so there was no reason to disqualify them as bidders. According to the contract they signed, they must pay Prevailing Wage on this job, in compliance with the Prevailing Wage Act. This was reiterated to National Roofing at the pre-construction meeting.

The Library and its contractor have followed all of the rules and laws about the bidding process and Prevailing Wage requirements. Our project manager will be checking to ensure that Prevailing Wage is paid on this job. That’s all we can do with any contract or contractor.

Further information about Prevailing Wage can be found at

A copy of the violation notice received by National Roofing, clearly stating that it was a first violation, can be found here:

As ardent supporters of free speech, librarians would be the last people to say someone can't stage a protest. We respect their right to express their opinions, just as we hope they will respect the rights of patrons to use the library unimpeded.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Roof Replacement Project to Begin Tuesday, November 10!

Tomorrow is the day!

The roof replacement project is slated to begin. You will not be able to view the actual work being done, as it is the interior pitched and flat roof being replaced. These are not visible from ground level. During the project, the parking spaces closest to the building will not be available for use, with the exception of the two handicapped spaces. A project dumpster will be located on the closed spaces, as well as providing space for the crane that will be needed to move the roofing material on the flat portion of the roof.

One recent question I received regarding the roof replacement project is that the building is just under 20 years old - and shingle should last 25 years. That is true. However, a significant portion of the Library's roof is flat. It can be seen in aerial views of the Library, such as satellite images of the downtown area. Housed on this flat area are the four HVAC units that cool the Library building, which is why it is screened from view. Expected to last 15-20 years, this flat roof is just shy of its 19th birthday, installed in late 1990.

Given the lovely weather we've been experiencing, we hope that the project will be complete in approximately five working days.

Apologies in advance for any inconvenience caused by the project. Your patience and cooperation is appreciated!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Parking Question

There's been a lot of speculation recently about the concept plans for the northwest corner of Lockport Street and Route 59. That corner lot is adjacent to the Route 59 parking lot, currently owned by the Village and contracted for purchase by the Library next year. Which brings us to the issue of parking.

Parking is a pivotal issue for any business in the downtown and particularly so for the Library.
The way the Village ordinances allow businesses to count parking in the downtown, all parking within 150' of the business' front door is counted, regardless of who owns it. This means that the spaces in the Route 59 parking lot could conceivably be counted by the proposed new office building on the corner, the Library, Plymouth Congregational Church, Baci, Tawny Tortoise - every business along Lockport Street. The point is, one parking space counted as parking for half a dozen different businesses is still a single parking space. The pressure on the downtown parking lots is increased as Library use continues to grow - averaging 10% more visits each year for the last five.

With the acquisition of the Route 59 parking lot, the Library will own a majority of the parking on the block. Being good neighbors is of utmost importance to the Library Board. The Library's parking lots will remain public for the foreseeable future, with the exception of designating some staff spaces. The Library will work with the Village and our neighbors to ensure that any changes to the parking lots balance the needs of the Library, the needs of our neighbors, and the commitment of the Village to provide public parking. That balance is not easy, or simple to achieve. But the Library Board's mantra is to be good stewards of the taxpayers' dollars and do the best we can with what we have. Finding that perfect solution may take some time, but I am confident that we can work together to get there.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Roof Replacement This Fall - Weather Permitting

During the heavy rains last week, the Board of Trustees voted to accept the bid of National Roofing to replace both the flat roof and shingles on the inner half of the pitched roof. No sooner was the decision made, the roof sprung new leaks! The flat portion of the nearly 20-year old roof leaks in new places with each heavy rainfall, even as each leak is patched. Though Head of Maintenance Chuck Peterman and his crew are good at making the library look clean and well-kept, the recurring water stains on the ceiling tiles may have caught your eye. We'll be trading our annual roofing maintenance contract for a 15-year warranty on the new roofing system.

A pre-construction meeting will be held tomorrow, after which I hope to have a better idea of when we might have this done! Of course, any schedule we may make is completely dependent on the weather...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Apologies for neglecting you!

With finalizing roofing project specifications, the Illinois Library Association conference, staff In-Service Day, and the audit all occurring within the last 10 days, I did make it back to update you on what's going on. Suffice to say: A LOT!

The Illinois Library Association conference was held in beautiful downtown Peoria. I learned something new at every session I attended. Two of our Trustees attended the Trustee Day for training. Board President Sharon Kinley had a list of question for me before lunch that day! :-) Quite a few of our fabulous staff participated on panels, at Talk Tables and made presentations. Lousie Svehla presented our Text-a-Librarian service. Michelle Roubal moderated a panel, and Kara Kohn participated on that panel, about revitalizing adult reading programs. I think I'm missing at least one more, so staff will have to harass me later about my lack of memory. Staff also did the best they could to economize, since we had so many attending. We carpooled, shared rooms, and took advantage of vendor-sponsored meal events to keep costs down.

The Library's auditors are here an wrapping up the in-house portion of the annual audit. With a temporary person from May through July and a new Accountant coming in, it's a little more complex than past years. Everything is there, it's just under someone else's filing system so each piece takes just a bit longer to find.

Staff enjoyed an In-Service training day on Columbus Day. The Library does two In-Service training days per year: Columbus Day and Martin Luther King Day. These are mandatory for staff and can cover anything from how to use a the MyMediaMall downloadable collection to reviewing policies.

The bid opening for the roof replacement project is this afternoon. Representatives from roofing companies interested in bidding have been all over the roof for the past 10 days. Keep your fingers crossed that the bids are lower than expected!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Thanks to 95.9 The River

This morning I stopped by Larry's Diner to talk about the Library live on-air with DJ Scott Mackay from 95.9 The River. Thanks to Scott and the staff of The River for having me on to talk about our fabulous Library!

Scott thought my comment that we are "not your grandmother's library" was interesting and that library use would be dwindling. But in our Library, like others around the nation, is busier than ever! More people look to the Library for Internet access and entertainment. We can't keep up with the demand for storytimes and other kids programming. As the only resource in the community for free computer use with Internet access, foot traffic has skyrocketed. Our residents look to the Library for things like DVDs and CDs, that they can get without charge. Many services are available electronically 24/7 like databases and homework help. You can download ebooks, audiobooks and videos without leaving the comfort of home. Our Library is definitely not what it was even ten years ago.

Unfortunately, unlike for-profit businesses, tough times mean dwindling funding for libraries despite the boom in use. State grant funding has fallen 47% this year alone. Lower property values will reduce the property tax money that makes up over 85% of the Library's budget. We're doing more with less everyday.

Scott and the other DJs from the River will be broadcasting live from Larry's all day long, so stop by and say hello. Tell them the Library sent you!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Old Building, New Problems

Along with all of the interior changes to shelving and space use, Trustees and staff have also been assessing the condition of the building and its systems with an eye to keeping it functional for another 3-5 years before renovating or expanding. In your November/December Library newsletter, the cover article will be on this very topic.

The building is old, fast approaching its 20th year. It is a well-used public building, meaning that it gets significant wear-and-tear. It also has some quirks. Take the HVAC system for example. For some reason unknown to me or any Trustee/staff member who was here at the time, the rooftop air conditioning unit added when the lower level was built out in 1996 is a model designed for the Canadian market, making it difficult to obtain parts when needed. Another example: rubber membrane roofing was used to cover the sides of the gable for the roof access door, like siding. Not a standard use of the product, by any means.

Overall, the age of the building means that all of the systems with 15-20 years expected service lives are no longer as reliable as they once were. Things are starting to break down. You may remember our recurring elevator issues this summer or the roof leaks from the spring. The roofing issues are more immediate now, as they are increasing over time. Look for a roof repair and replacement project going to bid in early October.

This project will repair damaged portions of the shingled roof and entirely replace the rubber membrane portion, plus the decking and insulation beneath that portion. About one third of the Library's roof is flat, though it cannot be seen from street level. Four rooftop air conditioning units and the skylight over the main stairwell are hidden from view by the pitched, shingled portions of the roof.

Funds for the roof repair and replacement will come from the Library's only capital and emergency fund: the Special Reserve Fund. With sources of income for this fund being transfers in from the General (aka Operating) Fund and Developer's Annexation Fees, which are collected through an intergovernmental agreement with the Village of Plainfield, its income has dropped sharply. In FY2006, over $244,000 was collected from those fees. In FY2009, it was just over $13,000. Special Reserve Funds were used to purchase the property at 15022 S. Division Street during FY2009 and will be used to complete the contracted purchase of the Route 59 parking lot in 2010. Today's Special Reserve Fund balance is $600,000, which includes the earmarked funds for that contracted purchase and the roof repair and replacement.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Where Do I Go?

The new overhead signs in the Library are being installed this morning! The new signage is a flexible system that can be easily and economically changed to reflect the shifting collections of the Library. Unlike the existing signs, which are a custom color and imprinted, the new signs were selected from a local vendor in a standard color and popular overhead sign design with printed inserts that can be removed and updated.

The custom imprinted signs had become outdated. Since they were made, the Library has added collections like Foreign Language, Books on CD, DVDs, and Graphic Novels. The Youth Services Computer Area was created. Rooms have been repurposed like the Computer Classroom and Original Library Room.

New signs reflect the changes being made in the the Library's use of space and collections. Like the existing furnishings and shelving, the overhead signs can be easily incorporated for use in a renovation or expansion in the future. I hope the new signs help you find what you need more easily!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Installation Complete! Shifting Continues...

All of our shelving ranges have reached their new locations. The end panels are on and look good. Today’s focus will be getting the rented carts cleared so that Hallett Movers can pick them up. Shifting will be ongoing for a while, as the collections are moved into their new permanent homes. It will take some time to complete all of the projects. When complete:

  • Local History, Genealogy, maps/atlases, newspapers and magazines will all be housed in the Original Library.
  • Foreign Language will spread out, with separations between Spanish, Hindi, and Polish collections and face-out display for each.
  • Holiday and Parenting collections will be housed on the new shelving in the aisle on the Youth Services Easy/J Fiction side.
  • J Graphic Novels and J Reference will be housed on the new shelving in the aisle of the J Non-Fiction/YA/Teen side.
  • Non-Fiction, Fiction, Books on CD, Large Print, YA Fiction, Y Non-Fiction, Teen, Teen Graphic Novels, Easy Non-Fiction, J Non-Fiction, Easy and J Fiction will all shift with their new shelf space to allow for easier browsing, reshelving of books and additions to the collection.

Now we beginning the final planning for the backroom changes that were included in the Next Steps Plan, the plan devised by Board, staff, and community input to get the Library through the next 3-5 years while continuing to provide the best service possible to the community with what we have. The backroom changes include repurposing the Local History Room for a Study Room, repurposing the Study Room on the lower level for an office/workroom, moving the telephone reception workstation, and creating a larger area for carts in the Circulation workroom.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Into the Home Stretch!

The project is on schedule! View the progress on Flickr!

The moving of existing shelving ranges is done. The final two 60” ranges were placed in YA/Teen and the existing ranges reconfigured and moved. The remainder of YA Fiction has moved onto its new taller shelves in its previous location.

Other collections in temporary locations are:

  • Books on CD are on the tops of the Reference shelves.
  • Y Non-Fiction is on the new shelves near the Big Cozy Book seating area.
  • Teen Graphic Novels are sharing space with J Graphic Novels on their shelving unit.
  • Teen Fiction is on newly relocated shelves in the aisle of the YA/J Non-Fiction side of Youth Services.
  • J Reference is on the ledge around the Bay Window Area.
  • Large Print is on 42” shelving in the Original Library.
  • Fiction (the end of the collection) is on Hallett carts near the hexagonal display.

*Apologies for my mistake yesterday, reporting that it was the beginning of the Fiction collection on the carts. It is actually the end.

The final two ranges of 90” shelving will be constructed tomorrow morning. The end panels will be installed last. Then the final shifting of collections from temporary locations onto their new shelving ranges will be done, time and workload permitting.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

More Moves for More Shelves!

Today, two more of the 90" shelving ranges were installed. The first of the 60" shelving ranges being replaced upstairs was relocated to the YA/Teen area. The 60" YA/Teen shelving range shifted forward and the 42" range was relocated. The YA Fiction collection is, as I type, being moved to allow for tomorrow's moves. Any drilling/construction/assembly noise was over by 9:30am.

Other collections in temporary locations are:
  • Books on CD are on the tops of the Reference shelves.
  • Y Non-Fiction is on the new shelves near the Big Cozy Book seating area.
  • Teen Graphic Novels are sharing space with J Graphic Novels on their shelving unit.
  • Teen Fiction is on newly relocated shelves in the aisle of the YA/J Non-Fiction side of Youth Services.
  • J Reference is on the ledge around the Bay Window Area.
  • Large Print is on the relocated 42” shelving in the Original Library.
  • Fiction (the beginning of the collection) is on carts near the Circulation Desk.

Tomorrow, the 60" shelving ranges will all be relocated to the YA/Teen area. The last of the 42" shelving ranges in that area will be relocated.

The project is on schedule for installation and relocation of shelving to be complete on Thursday morning. It will take a little longer to get the collection shifted from their temporary locations to their new homes.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Museum Adventure Pass - Plainfield Not Included

Want a Museum Adventure Pass? Ask Macy's why they chose not to include Plainfield, Joliet, New Lenox, Oswego, Bolingbrook, or any of the other members of the Prairie Area Library System in their grant-funded program. You see, the fine print on those big pretty ads in the Sun-Times News Group newspapers (including, ironically, the Joliet Herald News and Plainfield Sun) is that only three of the four regional library systems serving suburban Chicagoland are included in the program. At the bottom of that lovely ad, you will see logos from three regional library systems - and Prairie Area Library System isn't one of them.

Can it be fixed? Can the missing libraries be included, you ask? Well, Plainfield Library staff have been told everything from "there is no money to include more libraries" to "Plainfield is too far away to qualify." Plainfield Library staff asked. When the Sun-Times News Group began publishing those lovely ads in our local newspapers, despite not including Plainfield, we BEGGED. To no avail.

It may be that PALS was too big to include - extending from Rockford to Kankakee, Galena to Peru, it is the largest regional library system in the state. However, the "too far" statement is too much: Antioch, a North Suburban Library System member is included, but Lemont, a Prairie Area Library System member like Plainfield, is not.

My advice to you is this: go here and ask Macy's why our library is not included. That's the "Contact Us" link on the Museum Adventure website Staff has asked and begged with no results. Maybe asking and begging from you, the Macy's customer, will help Macy's include ALL of the suburban libraries.

*** And in case you think it's as easy as changing regional library system membership - that is not a local decision, but comes from the State.

Pardon the Noise!

This morning, bright and early, the shelving installation crew arrived and began moving cleared shelving ranges to their new locations. Two 42" shelving ranges went into the Original Library. One 60" range now sits in front of the Foreign Language collection just outside the Original Library.

What did not occur as expected was the installation of the first two ranges of new shelving. We believed that the installation would be done by the time the library opened at 9am. That was not the case. With the help of our Head of Maintenance armed with Caution tape, we were able to cordon off the area where the crew then finished assembling the first two 90" ranges of shelving. Unfortunately, the assembly did include some noisy drilling. The good news is that the assembly for the first part of the project was done by about 10:30am.

Staff is now working on the shifting and staging for the next part of the project. This means that tomorrow's storytime parents may find things a bit more crowded than usual, as the Young Adult collection is temporarily housed on carts for the next few days. All YA and Teen collections, J Reference, Large Print, Books on CD and the beginning of the Non-Fiction collection are all moving or are in a temporary location. Ask staff for help if you can't find something.

We've already had our first compliant about the project from a patron who said that its always too noisy in the Library. While our Library may generally be noisier than the Library of decades past, drilling is unusual even for us. But I warn you now, its likely to be noisy again tomorrow. The installation crew and their drills are coming back. The drilling/assembly alert is on through Wednesday. We should quiet down to our normal "low roar" by Thursday.

Tomorrow, the Young Adult shelving begins the relocation process, as we make way for more!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Making Way for More!

It has begun! Books on CD are on top of the Reference shelves. Part of the Non-Fiction collection is housed on carts. Y Non-Fiction has moved to temporary location near the Easy books. Teen Graphic Novels are now packed in beside J Graphic Novels, covering the top of the shelving unit. Teen Fiction is on its way to its temporary location as I type this...

What's going on at the Library? We're making way for more! Maintenance crew Jayne, Ruth and Chuck jump-started the project by relocating two existing shelving ranges and some furniture in anticipation of the larger moves to come. This allowed Pages Lisa and Sheilah to begin the preparation for this project, moving all of those collections to their temporary homes. The shelving relocation and installation gets into full swing at 6am Monday, September 14. By the end of this complex, domino-effect project, the changes will include the relocation of 8 existing shelving ranges (some as long as 18 feet) and the installation of 6 new 90" tall shelving ranges.

I will be making daily entries here, starting Monday, to document our progress. Check out the Library's Flickr photostream for the latest pictures.

Please be careful in the Library during this project! The book carts being used for temporary housing of the collections are not as sturdy as permanent shelving, so please do not try to move them or allow children to play on them. If you can't find something, just ask! Different collections may be relocated several times in this project on their way to a new home, so don't be shy.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Statewide Budget Cuts Will Impact Local Library Service

The Illinois State Library and the regional library systems in Illinois recently announced cuts to grant programs and system funding that will directly impact local libraries like ours. Funding for the State Library and regional library systems was cut 16% for Fiscal Year 2010.

Regional library systems support local libraries with delivery service that is the backbone of Interlibrary Loan in the state. They partner with local libraries to support automation consortia like PrairieCat that provide shared catalogs for libraries. Regional library systems are also the main source of continuing education for local libraries. Level funding for regional library systems for more than a decade has eroded their ability to meet the needs of local libraries for these essential services. This 16% will push more of the cost for these essential services to the local libraries. Our regional library system, Prairie Area Library System (PALS), has not yet announced the plan to balance their budget in Fiscal Year 2010.

The Public Library Per Capita Grant is the main source of state funding for the Plainfield Public Library. Last fiscal year, the Plainfield's Per Capita grant was over $80,000, at $1.21 per capita. Set by state statute at $1.25 per capita, it has not reached that funding level in well over a decade. In Fiscal Year 2010, the Public Library Per Capita Grant program received a 47% cut. The Illinois State Library administration made the decision to offset this cut using federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant monies. However, this means that there will be no LSTA programmatic grants to individual libraries in 2010. The Plainfield Public Library, and many of our neighbors, put considerable time and effort into LSTA grant applications for 2010. Our LSTA grant projects included digitization of historical materials and services to children with autism. The LSTA grant program had been the main source of federal funds for public libraries in Illinois. Even with the LSTA grant funds, Public Library Per Capita grants are expected to be about 16% less than they were in Fiscal Year 2009, a loss of about $13,000 for the Plainfield Public Library.

Thankfully, our conservative budgeting practices should help to minimize the impact of the loss, but it will still be felt.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Internet Hoaxes Highlight the Need for Library Services

You may have seen the videos or read the news in an email that spread like wildfire across the world via the Internet:

Michael Jackson is alive - watch the video of him getting out of the coroner's van!

Jeff Goldblum is dead in an accident on the set of his new movie in New Zealand!

Neither is true. Both are recent hoaxes that made their way throughout the virtual world through emails and YouTube and fake news stories.

This is a great example of why libraries are needed! Your local library connects you to information you can trust - information from vetted and juried sources. The databases and resources available through your library are reliable, unlike so many Internet sources that can be posted by anyone with a PC and a little skill in HTML coding. These hoaxes drive home the point that in our technology-savvy world, we cannot take every bit of information that we read or view as fact. There is information beyond the first page of Google hits - information you can trust, information your local library can provide.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

From the Suggestion Box: Why are audiobooks on the bottom shelves? I can't reach them.

I am sorry that you had difficulty reaching the items you wanted. Library staff are available to help you access items. Just ask at any service desk or any staffer who is in the stacks!

In a perfect world, everything in the Library would be shelved at a height between the knees and eye level of the average adult. But we do not live in a perfect world. Our reality is that the Library building here in Plainfield was designed to house a maximum of 65,000 items. The Library currently owns over 125,000 items. This means that we have to use the bottom shelves and the top shelves, and every shelf in between.

When any new library is built, the top and bottom shelves are generally unused, providing space for the growth of that library's collection. As the collection grows, those shelves are filled until there are no unused shelves. This is the situation that the Plainfield Library is in today. Some of you may remember when the Fiction collection was divided by genres, with things like Romance and Mystery in separate sections. Because that requires space between collections, the decision was made to interfile the Fiction collections, reclaiming the shelves that used to separate the genre collections to maximize the amount of items shelved.

The shelving project slated to begin in September will continue to add shelves for our collections at the expense of accessibility. The new shelving will be the tallest available. Keeping up with the recreational and informational needs of the community is our goal. To do that, the collection must continue to grow. As it does, space is at a premium. Every inch of shelf space will continue to be used at the Plainfield Library for the foreseeable future.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Caution: Changes Ahead!

Don't say we didn't warn you! The Library will be undergoing some significant changes this fall.

Overall, shelving will be taller - and there will be more of it. Some aisles will be narrower (Americans with Disabilities Act minimum 36" rather than the preferred 42"). Tables and seating will be closer together. Local History and genealogy collections will be housed in the Original Library, along with newspapers and magazines. One Study Room will still be available for public use, but it will be the former Local History Room on the upper level. The changes will be phased in throughout the fall, with a target of November for completion of all phases.

Today, the Youth Services Desk reconfiguration began. The last piece will be remade and delivered Monday. Already, the space has a new feel. The Desk has moved forward and is narrower. The openings are on the sides, allowing staff to come and go more freely.

For the next step, the new shelving is ordered and scheduled for delivery. The plan is being finalized for the relocation of the existing shelving and furniture. It's tentatively scheduled to begin September 14. The Library will be open during the process, though the actual installation and physical moving of existing shelves is slated to occur in the early AM before the library opens to the public. The process is anticipated to take a week for the actual installation and relocation.

Shifting of collections to new locations and onto new shelving will require a little more time, since all of that work will be done by Library staff while still conducting business as usual. Our fabulous Pages, led by Lisa and Sheilah, are the ones performing the bulk of that work.

The final piece of the project will be the relocation of the Study Room and changes to staff spaces that will take place once the shelving installation and relocation. Stay tuned for more on that!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Illinois Public Library Annual Report - What a Year!

The staff and I have been compiling year-end data for the Illinois Public Library Annual Report. Our fiscal year ends June 30. This report must be submitted to the State of Illinois by September 1.

Here are some highlights from the report:

Visits: 500,872
Programs Held: 1,599
Program Attendance: 51,254
Card Holders: 29,916
Books/Print Resources Owned: 124,746
Non Print Resources Owned: 19,710
Check Outs: 612,228
Reference Questions Answered: 55,069
PC Uses Logged: 42,517

That's up 10% on most measures in a single year!

Monday, August 3, 2009

1,145 Attend Finale, Star Elected Mascot!

Despite the rain, over 1,100 people turned out to enjoy the Plainfield Public Library District's Grand Finale event! "Read on the Wild Side" Summer Reading program ended with carnival games, inflatables, frozen custard sundaes, popcorn, snow cones and fun for the whole family. One patron remarked "Plainfield Library really knows how to treat its kids!" Hundreds of kids petted an alligator, got their faces painted, played games, enjoyed treats, and won prizes.

Over two dozen sponsors helped to make the program possible with donations of cash and prizes.

The Friends of the Library sponsored the election of a library mascot for the year. Star, a sweet brindle greyhound, won the election. Look for Star to attend library events throughout the year.

Thank you to our friends at PlainfieldTV for coming out to cover the event! Look for us on PlainfieldTV!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Summer Reading Grand Finale tomorrow!

It's Finale time! My favorite event of the year, our Summer Reading Grand Finale is tomorrow, Saturday, August 1, from 1-4pm on the lawns behind the Library and Village parking lots.

Come celebrate the end of Summer Reading with fun activities for everyone. Cool down
under the tent and meet your fellow readers, build your own Culver’s sundae, snack on popcorn and snow cones, play your favorite fun fair games for prizes, listen
to live music from the Andes region of Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador performed by the
Sisai Trio, hop through the tiger moon jump, race against the clock at the pit stop challenge, and test your strength and endurance with the bungee run. Support the Friends of the Library and Plainfield Library Foundation's fundraiser with a $5 donation to receive a free "We Support the Plainfield Library" window cling. Bottled water and reusable bags will also be available for purchase from the Friends/Foundation.

Look for Library staff and volunteers to help direct you to parking. Don't forget to try the parking lot on Route 59 or the lot at the former First Midwest building if the Illinois Street and Library lots are full! Maps of the Grand Finale events will be posted at the entrances and throughout the event grounds.

Thank you to all of our donors and sponsors for the Summer Reading Program, including the Grand Finale. Without your generous support, this program would not be possible! Look for banners at the Grand Finale with a complete list of this year's sponsors.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Donate $5 to Friends/Foundation and Show Your Support!

The Friends of the Plainfield Public Library District and the Plainfield Public Library Foundation are offering a “We Support the Plainfield Public Library! 2009” window cling for every donation of $5 or more. Show your support for the Library by displaying your window cling on your car, home and business! Donations will be split by the Friends and Foundation to support the Plainfield Library in its mission “Educate – Captivate – Connect.”

You can make your donation at the Summer Reading Grand Finale on Saturday, August 1 from 1pm until 4pm. Other Friends & Foundation fundraisers for the Finale include sale of bottled water and reusable bags.

Window clings are also available at the Library when you make your $5 donation.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

All in a day's work...

One of the best (and occasionally worst) things about my job is you never know what's going to happen on any given day. The Library is a public building. That means anybody can come through the front doors during operating hours and anything can happen. I thought I had seen and/or done it all, been just about everywhere in this building. Just about being the operative words here.

Today, a young lady dropped her keys in the crack of the elevator doors. Yup. Down they went. Of course, our Head of Maintenance took a half day of vacation. It never fails. If he takes off, something happens with the building. The roof starts leaking. A toilet overflows. Something. Every time. Today, it was the keys in the elevator.

Staff finds the special device to open the door. We send the elevator to the top level and shut it off at the internal panel. We fumble around, getting the door on the lower level to open. We find the switch for the light in the sump pit at the bottom of the shaft and the main shut off switch. And there are the keys, seven feet below the edge of the door, on the floor of the pit.

We can't find anything other than a long stick to fish them out. Where's a wire coat hanger when you need one? The Head of Children's Services gamely attempts the fishing expedition. No luck. We all look at the ladder. It's a big step over from the edge to the top rung. Thankfully, bottom of the pit is relatively dry.

One thing about being a Library Director: I do not expect anything of my staff that I am not willing to do myself. Of course, now we have an audience. Some moms and kids waiting for the elevator, watching the show.

Deep breath and down the ladder I go, into the pit. Now, mind you, I did not dress this AM to go into a sump pit. I dressed for work, which is usually in a nice dry office. It's a good thing I wore flat shoes and am not afraid of heights! The ladder sides above the rungs are a bit wobbly. The rungs themselves are round rods, not the best footing while wearing dress shoes. I make it down without falling or swearing. The latter was a near thing when the ladder sides moved. But there are children present and I am a professional. :-)

The keys are rescued and returned to their rightful owner. I climb out and step back over onto the landing without incident. Now I can honestly say that I have been EVERYWHERE in this building - roof, eaves, drop-ceilings, closets, boiler room, elevator room - and even the sump pit.

Running a Library is not for the faint of heart. Because you never know what's going to happen.

I'm famous! Or maybe it's just the blog...

This blog was just added to the top 100! 100 Best Blogs for School Librarians

Last summer, I was flattered to find my own blog featured on one of my favorite blogs to read, Tame the Web.

LOL! Not sure if anyone else is following this, but the other librarians love it :-)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Change is coming!

Over 4,200 signed up for Summer Reading so far. Over 20% more use of the library this year than last year. How is the Plainfield Library going to keep up with the demand?

Well, the Library Board of Trustees approved a plan in June that will move things around, streamline some operations and generally allow the Library to continue meeting the community's needs as best we can with what we have. This spring, the Trustees and I challenged the staff: give us ideas that will improve our services to the community but will not cost a lot of money to implement. We asked for your suggestions too - here, on the Library's web site, and in the local press. From those ideas, the management team crafted the plan that was presented in June. Housing additional materials was the #1 priority in the development of this plan. With more demand than ever, the Library cannot meet the needs of the community without shelves to hold more stuff!

With a $50,000 project budget approved for the upcoming fiscal year from the Special Reserve Fund (the Library's sole fund for capital and emergency monies), the Library will add six additional ranges of shelving that is 90" tall. Those are the tall ones upstairs. Currently there are six shorter ranges of shelving in the center of the Adult collections - 4 on the Fiction side and 2 on the Non-Fiction side. The replacement of those shorter shelving ranges with the taller ones will not only provide additional shelf space in the Adult Fiction and Non-Fiction areas, they begin a domino effect of moves for the collections that will result in:

1. Relocation of the Local History and Genealogy collections to the Original Library (formerly called the Adult Quiet Room), as well as the newspapers, dictionaries and atlas stands.
2. An additional shelving range for the Foreign Language collections, allowing for the growth of the Spanish, Polish, and Hindi collections.
3. Replacement and relocation of the Young Adult & Teen collection shelving, increasing the height of the ranges to 66" for all, for a net increase in shelf space.
4. The former Local History Room will become a group study room.
5. The former Study Room will become an office for the Youth Services Department.
6. Telephone reception and some other Circulation duties will move from the Registration Desk to the Circulation Workroom.
7. Holiday books for kids will get a new home using one of the shorter shelving ranges being replaced elsewhere.
8. YS Reference books will move to the center aisle of the YS Non-Fiction side.
9. Two shelving ranges being replaced on the YA/Teen side will be relocated to the center aisle of the YS Fiction side for additional shelf space.
10. All tables for the YS department will be relocated to the Bay Window Area behind the YS Desk.
11. The YS Desk will be reconfigured to better serve the department.

Overall, the shelving will be taller and closer together, but still meets ADA requirements. Tables will be closer together, clustered, and fewer of them. The one remaining "quiet" area will be the Study Room.

So when will all of this happen? We are targeting a fall date, possibly September, for the shelving shift. The Library will remain open during he project, so staff will need your understanding as the collections, furnishings, etc. shift. The shelving/relocation proposals will go before the Board on July 15. Exact dates of the internal shifting will be determined by the delivery of the shelving - something notorious for taking longer than the vendor initially promises.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

How to do a whole month's business in two weeks

Whoa! Our head of Circulation pulled the statistics from the first half of the month. It seemed frenetically busy to the staff so Judy wanted to see if the statistics bore that out. Oh boy was the staff right!

You checked out just under 55,000 items between June 1 and June 15! That is the circulation of an average month for this year!!! At this rate, nearly the entire 120,000 item collection of the library will circulate this month. I am stunned. All I can say is a huge thank you to the Library staff whose grace under pressure is amazing.

In those first two weeks of the month, the Library was open 140 hours. That's more than one book checked out every 10 seconds the Library was open!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A few job search tips from my review of resumes for open positions at the Library

Resumes have been rolling in for the Human Resources Coordinator and Accountant positions currently open at the Library.

In reviewing these applications, I am stunned at the number of qualified job seekers whose applications for the positions are incomplete. I asked for 3 things to be submitted: cover letter, resume, and three references. Over 60% of applicants did not submit all three items. Of those that did submit a complete application, more than half sent form cover letters rather than personalized letters. Many contained typographical errors or grammatical mistakes.

The job ads also included the request "no phone calls please." The long versions of the ad, both posted on a popular job search website and the Library's website, contain my email address. In spite of that, I have received numerous phone calls from applicants asking if they have been selected for an interview, etc.

In this competitive job market, attention to detail is what sets your application apart. With over 100 applicants for each position, those who pay attention to my requests will get the interviews. Your application and responses during the selection of candidates are part of your first impression. Make a good first impression: follow directions!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Summer Reading is Here!

Join the thousands that have already registered! Win fabulous prizes donated by our terrific sponsors! Visit us for magicians, reptiles, storytime and more! Summer Reading is in full swing at the library. Check here for events - and don;t forget that most require registration!

We expect to break all previous registration records by the end of the week.The staff is in the midst of their annual contest to guess the number of new library cards made in June. Last year it was over 800.

Library use is higher than ever here and around the country. The Today Show even did a segment recently on the boom. Plainfield is no exception!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Now hiring - HR and accounting

The Plainfield Public Library District has two job openings! The full ads are on our website: Accountant and Human Resources Coordinator. Both are flexible, part time positions in the Administration Department. Of course, part of the flexibility needed is due to the fact that the these two staffers will share a desk.

The Human Resources Coordinator position is completely new to the Library. We're looking for an experienced professional who can take on the challenge of defining the role of human resources in our organization. With our dedication to excellent customer service, we find it is time to give our internal customers - the staff - the same excellent support and service our clientele expects. So HR job seekers, if you are up to this challenge, I look forward to seeing your resume!

The Accountant position has been recently redefined. No longer needing to take the lead on HR, the Accountant will be able to focus on finances - from general ledger to tax levy to tracking grants and investments. The Accountant will attend all Library Board meetings (3rd Wednesday of every month at 6:30pm) and Finance Committee meetings. A CPA is preferred but not required for this position, but experience is a must!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

It's raining, it's pouring...

Unfortunately, it's also dripping in the library. Even with regular maintenance an upkeep, things get old - especially heavily-used public buildings. At 19 years old, the roof and HVAC systems are reaching the end of their expected lifespans (generally 15-20 years). As extensive repairs and/or replacement becomes necessary, those costs will impact the library's budget. The building looks good and has been well-maintained - but it will not last forever without updating.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Volunteers Needed!

Volunteers are needed for Summer Reading and special projects throughout the year.

The annual volunteer boot camp, where volunteers help staff prepare for Summer Reading, will be held May 26th through 28th.

Volunteers are needed for Registration Week June 1st through 6th to act as guides for registrants.

Throughout the 2 months of Summer Reading, volunteers may also act as reading mentors or help with special programs.

At the Grande Finale event on August 1st, volunteers are needed to take tickets, help with the ice cream social, staff games and more.

Contact Ceil Carey at 815-327-2524 for more information. Email, text and IM contacts are also always welcome!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Twenty years of tax rate

This chart shows 20 years of the Plainfield Library's tax rate. The bonds to building the current library were passed by voters in 1990, creating the sharp increase from 1989 to 1990. As you can see, the rate has declined steadily over time, 53% since the bond issue was passed in 1990. The tax rate requested in 2009 was consistent with the rate approved in the 1990 referendum.

Apologies for the size - Blogger won't let me make it bigger. But if you click on the image, it will open a new window with the chart only in a larger, more legible view.

Friday, May 15, 2009

2008 Property Tax Bills and Library Budget

2008 tax bills have arrived in homes. The Plainfield Public Library District's tax rate has gone up for the first time since 1991, due to the complexities of the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law, commonly known as the tax cap. The tax cap is based on a limit of the Consumer Price Index, which in 2008 was 4.1% the highest since the inception of the cap. The tax cap generally reduces a voter-approved tax rate. The Library’s tax rate is within the voter-approved rate according to the tax cap calculations. The increase in the Library's rate this year is 0.6% or ninth hundredths of a penny per hundred dollars of valuation. For the average home in the library district, this increase is $0.90 for the year if the home’s assessed value remained the same from 2007 to 2008. Overall, the Library's tax rate has fallen more than 45% since the inception of the tax cap and more than 6% over the last three years.

You can find more information about property taxes on the Will County Tax Extension web site , Illinois Department of Revenue's Taxpayer Answer Centerand on the Illinois property tax system in general.

As we enter into the budgeting cycle for the new fiscal year beginning July 1, the conservative budgeting practices of past Library Boards ensure that the Library’s budget remains in the black. However, projections show expense increases for state-mandated items like pensions and liability insurance outstripping revenue, as interest income declines. Many budget lines will be frozen in the coming year in order to cover the rising costs in other areas. I have requested that the Library Board of Trustees freeze my salary for the upcoming year to help maintain a balanced budget. We are fortunate that the Plainfield Library is in a position to maintain services without major cuts. We are able to maintain the standards set forth in Serving Our Public: Standards for Illinois Public Libraries in our budget allocations, including a minimum of 12% of operating expenditures for library materials.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Bestselling author, award-winning musician headline fantastic summer program line up!

Summer Reading is just around the corner! Registration for the Reading program begins June 1. We have an amazing calendar of events for the whole family!

Elizabeth Berg will be at the Library on June 6 at 2pm. Ms. Berg is the New York Times bestselling author of many novels, including Dream When You're Feeling Blue, We Are All Welcome Here, The Year of Pleasures, The Art of Mending, Say When, True to Form, Never Change, and Open House, which was an Oprah's Book Club selection in 2000. Pre-registration is required.

Award-winning musician Jim Gill will perform his hand-clapping, foot-stomping, fun-for-the-whole-family concert on June 9 at 11am. Also an award-winning author, Jim combines reading and music as parents and kids read and sing along. Pre-registration is required.

Unfortunately, registration is very limited for these events since we don't have an auditorium to accommodate more residents. Pre-registration is required for nearly every program offered at the library due to space constraints and high demand. However, we don't let that stop us for presenting some fantastic programs for as many people as we can possibly fit!

Here's more of what's happening this summer:
Learn a new skill with our free computer classes on Word, Excel, or Publisher. Go green with our Green Village series, in cooperation with Conservation Plainfield. Join a book discussion group. Write the novel you've always dreamed of with the help of one of our writers groups. Bring your baby to lapsit storytime. Encourage your reluctant reader by reading to therapy dogs at Paws to Read. Find a job with the help of our Internet Job Searching class and visits by the Will County Work Force Services Mobile Learning Center. Put on a play with Drama Club. Learn about a new culture with Culture Club. And this lists is not even half of what is going on in the month of June alone...

Enjoy your summer with Plainfield Library!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Misinformation on Plainfield TV this week

Well, having just watched Bill Alstrom's commentary on the library referendum on Plainfield TV, I would like to correct some misinformation included in his statements. Mr. Alstrom says "The library seemed surprised by this as a survey done last summer showed strong support for a spending spree on a new fancy building and added staff positions." And continues "The library folks want to do another, more extensive survey of the residents to gauge future expansion. This might be a better idea than just making a few phone calls to library regulars in order to get the results they wanted." He also goes on to say that the library should have a web site that would allow residents to leave comments on the plans for future expansion.

The facts:

The library held two telephone town hall meetings with polls, one in July 2008 and one in January 2009. Constituent Town Hall Services, a non-partisan, approved vendor for both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate, created the phone number list and conducted the telephone town hall meetings. The calls were placed to all households of registered voters in the library district, using the latest available registered voter list from Will County. The Library Board used a reputable vendor and accepted practices for conducting such meetings. Transcripts of the meetings are available on the library's website and here on my blog. The January poll returned 62% support (with a +/-5% margin of error) for a library expansion referendum on the spring 2009 ballot.

The library also conducted a random sample poll of registered voters in the Library District in December 2008. A statistically significant sample of 500 registered voters reporting that they were likely to vote in the spring election returned 68% support (with a +/-4% margin of error) for a library expansion referendum on the spring 2009 ballot. Victory Enterprises, the largest polling company in the Midwest whose clients include the Illinois Republican Party, updated the July phone list of registered voters and conducted the poll. The Library Board used a reputable vendor and accepted practices for conducting this poll.

The combined cost for these polls was less than half of the cost of the comprehensive survey done in 2006 that led to the expansion planning process.

The Library Board of Trustees decided to place the referendum on the ballot on January 26, 2009 in order to meet the statutory election deadline for placing a question on the April 7, 2009 ballot.

You can contact us by phone at 815-436-6639 or my direct line at 815-439-2874; in writing by mail or submissions to the suggestion box located at the Registration Desk in the library; by texting askppl to 66746; or via our website at where you can contact us by IM or email. Your comments and suggestions are encouraged and always welcome.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Budgeting for the new fiscal year

As the staff and I work through the process of creating a budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2009.

The overall budget is estimated to receive a total increase of 4%, with the property tax portion held to a 1.05% increase on existing property in the district plus the amount received from new property in the district. That includes any newly-constructed property added to the tax rolls since the last tax year. The percentage increase is on the dollar amount collected. The tax rate for the district continues to decline.

Our mandated Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund contribution rate, the second largest single budget line outside of staff salaries, will increase nearly 10% next fiscal year, necessitating freezes or limited increases of 3% or less to all other budget lines. The Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) is the pension fund for library employees. IMRF contribution rates and formulas are entirely controlled by state law. Until the recent downturn, IMRF was one of the only state pension funds to be fully funded. This increase in contribution rate is required to meet the state laws governing IMRF.

These budget constraints for the upcoming fiscal year have led me to request that the Board of Trustees freeze my salary for the upcoming fiscal year and instead to use those funds to maximize staff salary increases. Initial budgeting for FY10 shows that staff salary increases will have to be capped at 3% or less for the total salaries budget. Two years ago, the Board of Trustees approved a compensation plan that alternated annually between benchmarking of the salary schedule and merit increases. The upcoming fiscal year was to be the first year for merit-based increases to staff salaries. Because our staff has done an incredible job in dealing with huge increases in their workload in recent years - and especially in the past year - I felt it imperative to move forward with salary increases for the staff.

The preliminary budget will be presented to the Board of Trutees in May and finalized in June.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

On hiatus

Well, blogfans, I am taking some vacation time. Director's Desk will be on hiatus until next week.

While I am away, I will be thinking about how to get a few more stacks into the building while still being ADA-compliant.

Don't forget - I want to hear from you, too! Send me your ideas, drop them in the suggestion box at the library, leave me a voicemail, whatever works for you. All commentary and suggestions are welcome.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Thanks to our volunteers

Tomorrow evening, there is an open house event to recognize the wonderful individuals who volunteer their time and expertise to the library.

Our volunteers spend their time on a wide variety of jobs that help us: from directing traffic at Summer Reading registration to babysitting kids for the Conversation Club participants to stuffing prize bags to doing data entry for grants. Without their dedicated service and support, the library could not do all of the things that we do for the community.

Thank you, volunteers, for your service to the library and your community. I deeply appreciate all of your help.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Help us decide what's next

Have you got a great idea for the library about services or space use? Let us know! I am open to all suggestions! You can give us your ideas in a variety of ways:

1. Write it down and drop it in the Suggestion Box near the Registration Desk.

2. Email it to me at the email address on the right or through the contact form on our web site.

3. Call me at 815-439-2874. Leave a voicemail if I'm not available.

I want to hear your ideas. The library is here to fulfill your needs. Tell me what we can do to improve.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

From last night's Library Board meeting

For personal reasons, I was unable to attend last night's Board meeting. Lisa Pappas, our fabulous Assistant Library Director who keeps day-to-day operations running smoothly, filled in for me.

The Board discussed doing a comprehensive community survey. The concept of a PC-based survey, with postcard, newsletter, and press release notification to residents of the URL for the survey, was the favored approach. They are carefully considering what information they want to gather before moving forward.

In response to the change in the requirements for notary public services from Public Act 095-0988, the library will no longer offer notary services for real estate transactions, including but not limited to refinancing or other types of real estate loans, purchases, sales, beneficial interest in land trusts and deeds. Notary public services will continue for documents such as tax forms, passport applications, and petitions for political office.

The proposed Downtown Plainfield Historic District's possible effect on the Library's future expansion at its present location was discussed. The original 1941 library building would be the focus for the Library's inclusion in the Historic District. The process for review of plans and demolition permits for future library expansion would remain the same, regardless of the creation of the Historic District. As a tax-exempt entity, there would be no tax advantages for inclusion in the Historic District for the Library.

I was grateful to receive feedback from Library Trustee Dr. Pat Miller that I was mentioned by name by the speaker at a recent Library Trustee training event she attended on technology privacy issues and record keeping, as an example of a forward-thinking library director.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


How do you fit five gallons into a three gallon bucket?

That is the question facing library staff today. They are brainstorming yet again on how to use the space we have more effectively. Of course, there are major budget constraints on the brainstorming.

The same Special Reserve Fund that is used for capital expenditures like renovations, purchase of property and new computers, is also the only source of emergency funds (like for last year's replacement of an HVAC unit). The library is contracted to purchase the Route 59 parking lot from the Village of Plainfield in 2010, so some of it is earmarked for that purpose. The main source of revenue for this fund is impact fees from developers - of which there have been very few in the past year so it is not being replenished. In the past, the Board was able to transfer the remaining general fund balance into the Special Reserve Fund at the end of each year. However, double-digit cost increases in mandated funds like the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund and liability insurance fund outstripping revenues, that general fund balance is now transferred to those funds to prevent deficits.

Staff is watching the bottom-line carefully as they discuss changes that would free up space and maintain or improve service.

Feel free to make suggestions - we're open to all ideas during this process.

Stay tuned for announcements of changes ahead!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Today is National Library Workers Day!

NLWD is a day for library staff, users, administrators and Friends groups to recognize the valuable contributions made by all library workers. Your local library workers dedicate themselves to serving the community everyday. They educate, captivate and connect you with the informational and recreational resources you need. They work evenings and weekends to ensure the library is open when you need it. They check in, check out, and renew thousands of items each day. They answer your questions in person, by phone, by email, by instant message, and even by text message! They help you find a tax form, with the copier and with the fax machine. They read stories to your children, help you find a good book, and teach you to use a computer. They maintain web pages with links to get you to the information you need fast. They do all of this to serve you, their community.

You can thank your favorite library worker here by adding them to the "Galaxy of Stars" at the American Library Association's National Library Workers Day website. Show them how much you appreciate everything they do.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Worlds Connect @ Your Library!

National Library Week is April 12-18

This week celebrates the contributions libraries make to our communities. Join us all week for various festivities honoring the ways in which the Plainfield Public Library connects you to the world. The Library’s mission is: Educate-Captivate-Connect, and that’s what we do every day, whether you visit the library electronically or in-person.

Come to the Library during this week for a free “thank you for being a patron gift” and to enter the drawings for two fantastic prizes: A Spa Celebration, donated by Paul Joseph Salon and Spa of Naperville, valued at over $100.00 and a Dinner Celebration, donated by Tommy Nevin’s Pub, which includes dinner for two and a movie theater gift package. Please pick up your free thank you patron gift while supplies last at the Library’s Main Registration Desk.

Thank You, Citizens Referendum Committee!

I want to make sure everyone knows how wonderful all of our volunteers and supporters are! Thank you all for your hard work on the campaign.

The volunteer Citizens Referendum Committee actively supported and campaigned for this referendum. Co-chairs Vicky Polito and Barbara Ebeling led the committee. Other volunteers included: Cheryl Basso, Nancy Bennett, Jana Bruen, Dennis Fink, Mina Green, Nikki Kaysen, Kristy Kipka, Mary Anne Michaels, Jim Racich, Elsbeth Ritz, Anthony Scala, Mary Stevens, Dawn Strand, Janet Swatek, Tammy Tunac, Jim and Mary Anne Waldorf, Bill and Pam Wilson, and Erica Wood-Bedi.

The Village of Plainfield and Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 202 both passed resolutions of support for the expansion plan. Representative Tom Cross, Senator Linda Holmes, Village Trustee and Mayoral Candidate Bill Lamb, and Village Trustee Jim Racich expressed their support in letters to editors of local newspapers. Community organizations, parent-teacher organizations and local service organizations hosted presentations and provided information to their members. Thanks to all who opened their doors to us and allowed time at their meetings for presentations!

20% increase in use becomes the norm

And we thought library use was up last year! So far, each month of 2009 has seen an average incraese of 20% for checkouts, computer sessions, questions answered and more. March was no exception: nearly 58,000 items were checked out. 4,200 computer sessions were logged on public PCs at the libary. Over 2,500 questions were answered at the Reference and Readers Services Desk. More than 450 people got a new library card.

All of those news stories about the boom in library use during a recession are true!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Referendum Fails

Voters today turned down the plan to expand the downtown library and build a branch on the north side of the district.

In this time of economic uncertainty, the community was not prepared to support the expansion plan. The library will continue to provide the best possible service to our community.

We have many fantastic volunteers and supporters to thank for their hard work on this campaign.

The volunteer Citizens Referendum Committee actively supported and campaigned for this referendum. Co-chairs Vicky Polito and Barbara Ebeling led the committee. Other volunteers included: Cheryl Basso, Nancy Bennett, Jana Bruen, Dennis Fink, Mina Green, Nikki Kaysen, Kristy Kipka, Mary Anne Michaels, Jim Racich, Elsbeth Ritz, Anthony Scala, Mary Stevens, Dawn Strand, Janet Swatek, Tammy Tunac, Jim and Mary Anne Waldorf, Bill and Pam Wilson, and Erica Wood-Bedi.

The Village of Plainfield and Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 202 both passed resolutions of support for the expansion plan. Representative Tom Cross, Senator Linda Holmes, Village Trustee and Mayoral Candidate Bill Lamb, and Village Trustee Jim Racich expressed their support in letters to editors of local newspapers. Community organizations, parent-teacher organizations and local service organizations hosted presentations and provided information to their members.

Discussion of next steps will begin at the April 15 regular meeting of the Library Board of Trustees.

VOTE today!

There are several hotly contested local elections on the ballot today! Remember to vote - every vote counts.

An experience I will never forget from early in my career was being involved in a library referendum that failed by 6 votes. As the group that had gathered to watch election night results sat talking afterwards, we discovered that among us, we could quickly name at least 10 people who supported the referendum but had failed to vote that day. If you think your one vote won't make a difference, you are mistaken.

Exercise your rights as a citizen. Vote today.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Question of the Day: Do you think this will pass?

I think it is up to the voters of this Library District to decide.

The Board of Trustees, Library staff, expert consultants, staff of other government entities, local elected officials, and you, the citizens of the district all had input on the plan over the last 2 1/2 years. You told us what you wanted in a survey, participated in telephone town hall meetings and focus groups. We've had architects, financial planners, and a building consultant help us along the way.

If it passes, there will be more opportunities to give input as the building plans are finalized. The Library received great feedback regarding the telephone town hall meetings and will likely utilize that format again to gather input.

If it fails, the plan will be re-examined and the Board of Trustees will decide on the course of action.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Question of the Day: How long will it take to construct the new libraries if it passes?

When the referendum passes, it will take 18-24 months from groundbreaking to opening day of a new library. Finalizing the plans before groundbreaking will also take several months. The minimum estimate is 24 months from the day it passes to opening the new libraries. During that time, the Library will move to a temporary location.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Question of the Day: Who supports this expansion plan?

This expansion plan has broad-based community support from individuals and community organizations.

The Village of Plainfield and Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 202 both passed resolutions of support for the expansion plan. Representative Tom Cross, Senator Linda Holmes and Village Trustees Bill Lamb and Jim Racich expressed their support in letters to editors of local newspapers. Community organizations like the Plainfield Soccer Association, numerous parent-teacher organizations and local service organizations like the Kiwanis Club, Lions Club, and Rotary International have helped to get the word out to residents by hosting presentations and providing information to their members. Earlier this year, the Plainfield Township Park District expressed its support and intention to partner with the Library District on future projects. The Plainfield Enterprise newspaper published an editorial in support of the plan.

A volunteer Citizens Referendum Committee actively supported and campaigned for the referendum. Co-chairs Vicky Polito and Barbara Ebeling led the Committee. Other volunteers included: Cheryl Basso, Nancy Bennett, Jana Bruen, Dennis Fink, Mina Green, Nikki Kaysen, Kristy Kipka, Mary Anne Michaels, Jim Racich, Elsbeth Ritz, Anthony Scala, Mary Stevens, Dawn Strand, Louise Svehla, Janet Swatek, Tammy Tunac, Jim and Mary Anne Waldorf, Bill and Pam Wilson, and Erica Wood-Bedi.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Question of the Day: Can staff parking be moved further away so there are more spaces closer to the building for patrons?

This question is more to do with today's configuration than the expansion plan, but I wanted to address it here. Today, the Library only owns the "little lot" up to the hedge to the north of the library. The larger parking lot just to the north of it is owned by the Village of Plainfield. Eleven spaces, or about 1/3 of the Library-owned lot is designated for the 55 staff members of the Library. Because there is no loading dock or service entrance, the staff entrance on the north side of the building and the spaces near it, are the loading area for Library use.

In the expansion, a loading dock and service entrance would be added, removing this from the main parking area. Also, the staff entrance for the downtown Library will be on the Illlinois Street side of the building, while the main patron entrance would face Route 59 and the expanded Route 59 lot. The Library is contracted to purchase the Route 59 parking lot from the Village in 2010, which would allow for the creation of staff spaces in that lot.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Question of the Day: Why can't the Library use an existing building(s) for its expansion?

There are three main reasons why an existing building was not selected for the library's expansion at this time.

#1 Libraries cannot use just any building due to the live-load capacity of the structure. Book stacks are HEAVY. They require 150lbs per square foot live load capacity. Typical construction is 70-90lbs. Reinforcing a structure to accommodate that live load generally costs more than new construction. Grocery stores are one of the few types of construction that would be similar in live load capacity needed.

#2 The size of the buildings available is an issue. Many of the building suggested when this question is asked, the old Police Station and the former Applebee's restaurant for example, are not large enough to meet the community's need for a library location. The proposed branch is 30,000 sq ft - about 6 times the size of the former Applebee's building. If smaller buildings are used, multiple branches will be necessary to meet the community's need. The biggest expense in operating a library is staff. The more locations you have, the more staff you need and therefore higher operating costs. The two facility approach was selected to balance space needs and operating cost.

#3 The location of the existing building must meet the needs of the community. Putting a second library within a mile or two of the existing building when the Library District stretches from north of Boughton Road to south of Caton Farm Road, west to Arbeiter Road and east to Kings Road/Gaylord Road. Most of the buildings available are simply too close to the downtown library.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Question of the Day: Why build the "Taj Mahal"?

The proposed downtown library addition is not an extravagant building. Rather, it is the maximum size possible for the building's site while maintaining adequate parking on site. When researching a design concept, the architects gathered a "kit of parts" by analyzing the common elements among the buildings in the downtown. These included cornice work, recessed doorways with ornate trim, Ashler-pattern stone work, ornate brickwork, and palladian windows.

Each of these elements was included in the design of the downtown library. While the 1941 library building was the only Federalist-style building in the downtown, its character was also retained in the exterior concept selected.

The Site Feasibility Committee's review of the downtown site shows that the 70,000 square foot library proposed for the downtown in his plan cannot be expanded to meet the needs of the community in the future. By including an additional 30,000 sq ft branch library on the north side of the district, both today's need and the need for the next 12-15 years will be met.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Question of the Day: Why place this on the ballot now?

The Library's Board of Trustees really struggled with whether or not is was appropriate to place this referendum on the April 7, 2009 ballot.

They polled the community 3 times: July 2008, December 2008, and January 2009. Each poll of registered voters in the district showed over 60% support for placing this referendum on the April 2009 ballot. The December poll focused on likely voters and showed the highest level of support at 68%.

The comments from Library Trustees when they passed the ordinance to place this on the ballot had one common theme: Let the residents decide. The Library Board of Trustees, along with Library staff and representatives from other government entities and community groups, spend 2 1/2 years creating this plan. They believe it is a solid plan that balances community needs while being cost-conscious.

In the end, it is not the Library Trustees' decision. It is not the staff's decision. It is YOUR decision. It is up to you, the voters.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Question of the Day: Why does the Library need a 300-seat auditorium?

The 300-seat auditorium in the downtown facility fulfills a need articulated not only to the Library, but also the Park District and Village, in surveys and planning focus groups. Each entity independently heard that our community needs cultural programming and events to be available within Plainfield. Community groups need a larger venue for events like dance recitals, musical recitals, community theater, musical performances, author events, movie events, etc. The mutual need for auditorium space was actually the catalyst for the Library and Park District's exploration of a joint use facility. The auditorium remains a priority to facilitate those intergovernmental partnerships and support the community need for cultural programs and events by providing presentation space.

For example: the Candidates Night held at Village Hall on 3/19 was standing room only. This is precisely the type of community event that would be supported by the Library's auditorium. Programs already in place like Teen Readers Theater group, musical programs and larger children's programs would be able to accommodate triple the number of attendees in an auditorium than in the Large Meeting Room. The Park District already offers dance classes and need a recital space.

A frequent follow up to this question is about the high school auditorium. The auditoriums in each of the high schools are too heavily used by the schools (each serves all of its "feeder" schools) to allow for community use.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Question of the Day: Where do I vote?

Visit the Will County Clerk's website to look up your polling place.

You can also find early and absentee voting information on this page.

Early voting began March 16 and is available through April 2.

In-person absentee voting is available April 3 through April 6.

Please note that for early voting you must live in the jurisdiction of the early voting location. For example, if you live in unincorporated Plainfield Township, you cannot vote early at Village Hall in the Village of Plainfield. You need to go to Plainfield Township office or the Will County Clerk's office.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Question of the Day: Can the Library Board scale the project back? Can't you wait?

The short answer: they already did both.

The long answer: Generally, libraries use a 20-year planning horizon, as set forth in Serving Our Public: Standards for Illinois Libraries. Most building bonds are 20 year duration and that's about how often libraries propose referenda to their constituency. Despite outstripping all population projections for the Library District's service area by 2003, the Library's Board of Trustees chose to wait while the school and fire districts ran referenda to ensure they could keep up with the demand for service. They examined the existing building and made renovations in 2004 within it to get by for several more years.

From the beginning of the expansion planning process in 2006, the Library Board targeted 2010, the year the 1990 building bonds are paid off and the Library District is contracted to purchase a piece of property owned by the Village of Plainfield adjacent to the downtown Library. One of the first activities of the planning process was development of a Space Needs Analysis, based on population projections and Illinois library standards.

When the Space Needs Analysis showed a need of 135,000 square feet of library space to serve a population of over 124,000 by 2030, the Library Board considered both the potential impact to the taxpayers and the fulfillment of the need for library service. They chose to scale back the project to 100,000 square feet of library space that would serve a population of up to 95,000. Anticipating 2 years from groundbreaking to opening day, a significant wait is included in this timeline even if the referendum passes in April.

The Library Board waited from 2003, when the Library was only 35% too small, until 2009, when the building is now 60% too small according to Illinois library standards and local demand for service. The Library Board scaled back from the 20-year planning standard and 135,000 square feet of space to a 12-15 year planning horizon and 100,000 square feet of space.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Question of the Day: What does the other 44% pay?

This question was fairly long and complex:
"In the Special Edition newsletter, it says that the Village of Plainfield comprises56% of the Library District. In the referendum cost chart, the cost for the average homeowner in the Village of Plainfield is listed. What is the cost to the other 44% of the Library District?"

The proposed $0.3301 tax rate per $100 of valuation is the same for all residents in the Library District. Even those in the ever-confusing double tax, tax code 612 area would pay this rate, though it look a bit different their tax bills. The average home in the Village of Plainfield is used purely as an example, since that is majority of the Library District. Besides, including the average home value for Village of Bolingbrook, Village of Romeoville, unincorporated Wheatland Township and unincorporated Plainfield Township, made the chart too big to fit on the page with the rest of the information :-)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Question of the Day: With the economic situation today, why is this a good time to build?

Earlier this week, our friends at the Glenview Library demonstrated why now is a good time to build a library: the construction bids for their new library building came in nearly $1 million UNDER estimated cost! The competition for the job was fierce, netting overall cost savings on the project.

Low interest rates curently available reduce the project cost.

Fewer library construction projects being undertaken statewide reduces competition for Plainfield Public Library District on state construction grant funds.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Question of the Day: I live in Cumberland subdivision in the City of Joliet. Why is Plainfield Library on my tax bill?

There are two different situations that have both City of Joliet Library and Plainfield Public Library District appearing on your tax bill. You can determine which situation applies to you by looking at the tax code that appears on your tax bill or voter's registration card.

If you are in Tax Code 611 or 618, your property was in the Plainfield Library District when the bonds were passed on the existing building, but your property has since de-annexed from the Library District. Residents of 611 & 618 pay about $10 per year to the Plainfield Library District, only the bond portion of the District’s tax rate. That bond will be paid off in 2010 and going off 611 & 618 tax bills. Residents of 611 & 618 are not considered residents of the Plainfield Library District and cannot vote on the upcoming ballot measure. They are residents of the City of Joliet and must get their library card from the Joliet Public Library. This includes the east half of Mayfair, Brookside, Cumberland, Lakewood on Caton, plus about 12 homes in Aspen Falls and 3 homes in McKenna Woods.

If you are in Tax Code 612, your property is in both the City of Joliet Library and Plainfield Public Library District, due to a court decision back in the 1980’s. Residents of 612 are entitled to library cards and full privileges from both libraries, and will be able to vote on the upcoming ballot measure. Unfortunately, the library director that preceded me refused to give library cards to Tax Code 612 patrons for many years, a policy that was an egregious wrong to those residents. Shortly after my arrival at the Plainfield Library, we began issuing cards to those residents and worked with the City of Joliet to find a resolution to the problem. Part of that resolution is allowing these residents to hold library cards from both libraries. Each year your tax rate total, between the two lines shown on your tax bill, is equivalent to whichever tax rate is higher, Plainfield's or Joliet's. If Joliet's is higher, the "Plainfield Library Special" line on your tax bill will be zeroed out. If Plainfield's is higher, you see the Joliet rate and a special rate that is the difference between the Joliet rate and the total rate for Plainfield. This includes the west half of Mayfair and Aspen Falls, except those dozen that are 611.

These groups (612, 611, and 618) are all right next door to one another, so you can have one neighbor in 612 and the person across the street in 611. Frustrating and confusing to many, I know but our district's irregular boundaries were logical once upon a time (when it was all farm fields...).

Library's Online Collection Astonishes Crowd

At yesterday's Plainfield Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon and business meeting, Head of Reference and Reader Services Michelle Roubal presented "Strictly Business: Tools You Can Use from the Plainfield Public Library". Many of the attendees were astonished at the breadth and depth of the Library's online offerings. These tools go far beyond what is available free of charge on the Internet. These online tools aren't just for local businesses - they're available to every library cardholder.

Some examples of tools available, using your library card:

MorningStar Investment Research Center, including the Portfolio X-Ray tool you may have seen advertised during financial programs on TV. (Comment from a certified financial planner at the presentation: "That's what I use!")

Records Information System's Public Records database, including felony convictions, DUI arrests, foreclosures, bankruptcies and more. (Comment from a home-based business owner: "I can do my own mini-background check for free!")

Reference USA lists information for millions of businesses and households that can help you research companies or identify leads for direct marketing. (Comment from a small business owner: "I can learn to do that myself? I'm paying someone a lot for that!")

Learning Express Library includes online, self-directed courses in computer skills on software from Adobe Acrobat to Word. Each course is offered for a variety of versions (1997-2007!) from fundamentals to expert level. (Comment from a local banker: "My staff can do that from their desks at their own pace!")

Just look for "Online Resources" on the library's web page. Don't have a computer or Internet access? The Library's got that for you! Need help learning how to use these tools? Call the Library to "Book-a-Librarian" for a one hour session with one of our information professionals!

PS - Thanks, Bill, for the article idea! :-)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Question of the Day: I'm confused. Which of the buildings pictured are you going to build?

We've heard from several people that they are confused about the architectural renderings of the proposed downtown library. They are all different views of the same building.

This is the site plan, showing how the parking will be expanded and the footprint of the new building. Look for the dotted line that shows the outline of the existing building:

This is the new "main" entrance, facing Route 59. It is the right side of the building when you are viewing the site plan.

This view is the north side, facing the Illinois Street parking lot. It is the top side of the building when you are viewing the site plan.

This is the southwest corner of the building, showing the original 1941 library. It is the lower left corner of the building when viewing the site plan.

This is the proposed Illinois Street entrance on the west side of the building. On the site plan, it is the recessed opening on the upper left corner of the building.

If you are still thoroughly confused, stop by the Library during one of our information table times! We'd be happy to "walk" you around the proposed downtown library.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Question of the Day: Is the proposed tax rate in line with what other libraries in our area receive?

The short answer is yes, the proposed tax rate is in line with those of our neighboring districts that have passed referenda recently, like Oswego and Fountaindale Library Districts. Libraries in the suburban Chicago area spend an average of $7.34 per month per resident for service. Last year, the Plainfield Public Library District spent $4.23 per month per resident, Fountaindale spent $6.72 prior to the full increase from their recent referendum.

The long version:
Comparing tax rates can be tricky. Different types of libraries are funded differently. For example, Joliet and Naperville are units of city government. In most cases, city libraries receive utilities at no cost through the city's franchise agreements with the utility companies. Cities have access to other types of funds and bonding authority not available to library districts. Also, certain costs like audits, pension fund contributions, and liability insurance may be paid by through the City's tax rate and fees or may be included in the library portion of the tax rate. Joliet Public Library's Black Road Branch and recent remodeling of the downtown library were built without a bond on the library's tax rate. Tax rates for city libraries in Will County range from $0.7472 for the Park Forest Public Library to $0.1578 for the Joliet Public Library.

Library districts, like the Plainfield Public Library District, are independent taxing bodies, so their tax rates include costs for utilities, pension contributions, liability insurance, and the annual audit required by state law. Library district tax rates in Will County range from $0.4865 for the University Park Public Library District to $0.0983 for the Three Rivers Public Library District (Channahon/Minooka).

Monday, March 16, 2009

Question of the Day: I have a Joliet library card. Why can't my child attend programs at the Plainfield Library?

This very difficult decision was made by the Library's Board of Trustees several years ago. In an effort to be the best possible stewards of the taxpayers' money, the Board felt that restricting enrollment to residents was fair. High-demand children's programs are limited to Plainfield Public Library District residents only. Despite offering 23 storytimes a week, there are still wait lists. Some programs are restricted at the beginning of the registration period and open later if demand for that program is less than anticipated. Registration for other types of programs is not restricted.

As a Joliet resident, you are able to attend Joliet Public Library children's programs without restriction.