Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Library Expansion Plan on April 2009 Ballot

The Plainfield Public Library District Board of Trustees voted on Monday, January 26th to place the Library’s expansion plan referendum on the April 7th ballot. Referring to polls of registered voters in July, December, and January, each with over 60% support placing the referendum on the ballot in April, Board President Sharon Kinley said, “This decision is not lightly made. We’ve polled our district three times. Every computer [at the library] is filled tonight. The need is great and now it’s up to the community.”

Casting the lone dissenting vote on the ordinance to place the referendum on the April ballot, Library Board Vice President Chris Awalt said, “You want to serve the community. The polls say yes to put it on [the ballot], but it is still a difficult decision.” Awalt cited the timing of the referendum as the reason for his dissenting vote. Following the vote, he said, “We’ve got to move forward.”

Trustee Dr. Patricia Miller asked, “If we wait a year [to place it on the ballot], do we let our voters down by not doing what the community wants? We don’t know what will come in a year. All we can do is let the community decide, let the voters decide.”

Trustee Rick Martin agreed. “We put it all together, now it’s time to let the people decide.”

So now it will be up to you, the voters. A citizens committee in support of the referendum has already formed and will hold their second meeting tonight at 7pm in the Library Storytime Room.

A Facts and Figures information sheet is available with answers to some common questions. Additional information will be available here and on the library's web site. Got a question that isn't answered here? Email me or call me at the library!

For an increase of $15 per month to the average homeowner, residents would enjoy four times the space and twice the services available at the Plainfield Public Library today. About $9 of the $15 per month cost would fund the construction and equipping of the new libraries, with the remaining $6 supporting operations - everything from programs to power to personnel. The $15 per month estimated increase is based on the median home value of $315,000 in the Village of Plainfield.

The expansion plan, designed to meet the needs of the community for the next 12-15 years, while being mindful of the impact on taxpayers includes:
  • 70,000 square foot library in downtown Plainfield
  • 30,000 square foot library in the north side of the district
  • Additional staff to operate the additional library
  • Increase of over 100% to the library collection: books, movies, music, and more
  • More than double the number of Internet PCs for public use
  • Increased free programming, particularly storytimes and computer classes
  • Computer classrooms in both libraries
  • More meeting space available to support local organizations and businesses
  • More cultural programs and events through partnerships with the Plainfield Park District and other organizations
  • More jobs during construction and when the new libraries open

The total cost of the planned expanded facilities and services is a tax rate increase of 0.1926%, with 0.1163% for Alternate Revenue Bonds and 0.0763% for operations. This will be offset by the maturation of the existing bonds, decreasing the library’s existing tax rate by 0.0120% in 2010. If it passes, the property tax increase will not appear on tax bills until 2010. The net increase to the library’s tax rate will be 0.1806%.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Telephone Town Hall Meeting Audio Now Available

A link to the mp3 file of the 1/21/09 telephone town hall meeting has been added to the list on the right.

The hosting company records from the moment the go-ahead to begin dialing is given, before anyone connects to the call, so please forgive the moment of silence before we begin. there were no connections yet to the call.


Friday, January 23, 2009

Correction of Enterprise 1/22/09 Article

The Enterprise ran a great article by Madhu Mayer headlined "Park district books cooperation with library over expansion plan".

The first paragraph in the second column reads "The plan would mean an estimated $30 million in building bonds and a $4 million increase in the library's annual operating budget." Actually, the $4 million increase in the library's annual operating but INCLUDES the building bond payments. Approximately $2.4 million annually will pay the Alternate Revenue Bonds that will fund the construction. An estimated $1.6 million annually will be used to operate the building. Because the Library is considering a single referendum question for both construction and operations, the type of bonds being sold will be paid from the general operating fund rather than a separate building bond fund.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Telephone Town Hall Poll: 62% Support for April 2009 Ballot

2,543 residents connected to our telephone town hall meeting last night! Thank you so much for participating. The Board of Trustees and I appreciate and value your feedback in this planning process.

435 people responded to the poll question: “Do you support or oppose putting the Library expansion plan referendum on the April 2009 ballot?”

268 people (62% of those responding) support placing the Library expansion referendum on the April 2009 ballot.

That response is consistent with December poll results, from a random sample poll of registered voters in the district, of 68% support with a margin of error of +/- 4%.

Thank you to Eve, who was unable to ask her question on the telephone town hall, but who left me a message with her question: "What is the urgency? Why can't we wait?"

The urgency is the demand for service by our community. Wait lists for books and programs are the norm, not the exception. The wait time increases each month as demand increases. The surge in public library use during recessions is well-documented (the NBC Nightly News segment on this was posted here 12/11/08).

The Library's population is 264% over the population this building was built to serve. Double digit increases, in circulation, cardholders, attendance and more, occur annually. This well-used public building will be 20 years old before any expansion would open. It will be 18-24 months from the day the Library breaks ground until a new library opens. It will be a full year from the day of the election until the increase appears on property tax bills, should the referendum pass.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

This Just In! Schematic Deisgn of the Downtown Library

The pdf of the schematic design of the downtown library is now linked on this page!

You can view the site configuration, floor plans, and exterior elevations for the downtown library expansion. Included also are some of the exterior designs considered along the way. You'll be able to tell which are which - the selected option are color and five different views of the building.

Questions? Just ask!

Monday, January 12, 2009

To go or not to go, that is the question.

With all the talk about the economy and the recession, I cannot help but second guess this referendum's timing.

People around town and in the library world keep asking me "Are you sure you should go to referendum in April?" That statement usually comes with the codicil: "I'm all for it, but you know, with the economy..." My response is to tell them that you, the registered voters of the district, said yes placing the question on the April ballot when the Library's Board asked your opinion in December.

So, just to be sure, you have one last chance to tell the Board to go or not to go to referendum in April.

On January 21st, the Library will hold its next telephone town hall meeting at 7pm. Registered voters in the district will received robocalls inviting them to participate in the meeting. Just stay on the line. A poll will take place during the call, asking if the Board of Trustee should place the question on the April ballot.

Your time and participation are greatly appreciated - and will guide the Library Board and staff in the expansion planning.

The Board is set to vote January 26th on the Ordinance that will place the referendum question on the April ballot.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Underway: External Designs and Site Selection

In December, Healy Bender & Associates, the architects working on the library expansion design, presented a "kit of parts" for the external design of the downtown library. Drawing inspiration from the other buildings in downtown Plainfield, this kit includes concepts like decorative brickwork, recessed doors, and palladian windows. The Board of Trustees approved this design direction. Following this acceptance, Healy Bender developed several conceptual designs, presenting them to the Board later in the month. The Board selected and approved a concept for refinement and await the next presentation.

Also in December, the Board of Trustees passed a Resolution affirming the intent to create a joint use facility with the Plainfield Park District. However, neither entity currently owns property suitable for the project - and no developer donations are on the horizon. Whether a second library facility turns out to be a joint use location or the library and park district partner in other ways, a site will be needed for the second facility on the north side of Plainfield. Using the criteria previously discussed, prioritized and approved by the library Trustees, several local realtors are searching for the perfect piece of property for the library to purchase.