Friday, October 25, 2013

Parking Lot Project Underway!

It would be impossible not to notice the construction being done on parking lots around the Library if you have visited the Library or driven by on Route 59! The pavement has been removed from the Village's Illinois Street lot and the lot beside the Library. The Library's vacant lot fronting Route 59 has been cleared and leveled in preparation for paving. The redesign and expansion of parking around the Library is a cooperative project with the Village of Plainfield. It will result in a continuous parking lot with wider spaces and aisles for public parking to serve both the Library and the downtown area. Features of the new lot will include landscape barriers, a new location for the Library's dumpsters for trash and recycling, and a walkway to Lockport Street along the access drive beside the former Baci building.

Residents have expressed two main concerns regarding the project:

To achieve the most functional and efficient design, trees on the Library's vacant lot fronting Route 59 were removed. As many as possible were saved along the northern side of the lot. While the removal of existing trees was necessary, improvements to the adjacent landscaping are planned for the Library property in addition to the landscape barriers included in the parking lot design. In the Spring, the Library will undertake a project to address both the issues of drainage on the southeast corner of its property, a need identified in the 2012 Library Building Evaluation, and the aesthetic improvement of its grounds.

Concern about cars cutting through the redesigned lot from Illinois Street to Route 59 has been expressed in social media. The design of the new lot will not have direct access from Illinois Street to Route 59, to deter its use as a cut through. Should this still become an issue, measures to slow through traffic, such as speed bumps, would be installed.

Though the construction and lot closures are an inconvenience at this time, the end result will be a larger, functional public parking lot to serve the Plainfield community. The Library Board of Trustees and staff appreciate your patience  as this project moves toward completion.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Question of the Day: Is there anywhere quiet in the Library where I can study?

With an average of 1,500 visitors per day to our 27,000 sq ft facility, finding a quite time and space in the Library is challenging at best. At just over 1/3 the size it should be to serve today’s population of 75,000 residents (according to Illinois Public Library Standards), the Library building just is not large enough to provide all of space our residents want and need. 

There is a single Study Room, available on a first-come, first-served basis. But that room is also regularly scheduled for staff use and for our literacy volunteers to meet with their students. The Study Room is also adjacent to the Youth Services area, which can be noisy during times when lots of classes and programs are being held. The Original Library Room is available, but quiet cannot be assured, since tables there are frequently used by tutors and newspapers and magazines are shelved there. 

Making do with the building we have requires compromise on all sides. The constraints of our current space are apparent everywhere in the building, from using top and bottom shelves on the 90” shelving units in the Adult collections to the tight aisles that just meet ADA accessibility requirements to the lack of quiet study space. With your support, the Library will address these space needs in the future.

As you may notice, this is a variation on the same theme as the last Question of the Day. It is feedback we hear frequently. Unfortunately, there simply isn't anywhere in the Library to put another Study Room or designate as a quiet area because every room, every area in the Library is multi-purpose to the point of excluding those options.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Question of the Day: Why is it so loud in the Library?

Summer Reading in particular, with the additional foot traffic and programming for children, is a very noisy time in the library. Checking the events calendar before visiting can help you target times for visiting when fewer programs are offered. For example, Fridays are often one of the quietest days in the library.

There are two additional options available for seeking quiet space in the Library: the Study Room and the bay window area on the upper level. The Study Room, along the hallway to the Youth Services Area on the lower level, is available on a first-come first-served basis. You may request to use this room by stopping at the Youth Services or Check Out Desks. It is the only quiet study room available, and is also used as a staff meeting space. The upper level bay window area, which contains the last remaining study carrels in the Library, is generally one of the quietest areas of the Library, particularly during the day on weekdays. However, with an average of 145 visitors per hour the library is open, quiet cannot be guaranteed in any open area of the Library.

Limited space makes separation of noisy and quiet uses of the library impossible. The space constraints of the Library's building, the volume of use it supports and collection it houses necessitates that each space in the Library serve multiple functions. The building is approximately 1/3 the size necessary to serve the current population of the library district, which severely limits its functionality in providing space for all of the services offered.

Community support will be needed to correct the deficiencies of the library facility. Following the failed referendum for library expansion in 2009 (which included additional quiet reading and group study rooms as well as improved program spaces), a revised plan for addressing facility deficiencies through a 2012 referendum did not garner enough community support to be placed on the ballot. The support of users, especially those who have experienced the issues of an undersized facility, will be needed in the future if these deficiencies are to be corrected.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Long Range Budget Plan Sets Future Direction

The Plainfield Public Library District’s Board of Trustees passed a four-year budget plan on April 25, 2013. Beginning with the Fiscal Year 2013-2014 which started July 1, this Long Range Budget Plan addresses the repair and replacement needs of the Library facility while maintaining the high level of library service the Plainfield community expects.

Three levels, or Tiers, of facility repair and replacement needs were identified in the 2012 Building Evaluation completed by KJWW Engineering Consultants. Tier 1, the most immediate needs, was completed in the last fiscal year. Tier 2, intermediate term needs, contains smaller projects spread over the next four years, such as light fixture replacements and plumbing fixture replacements. Tier 3, long term repair and replacement needs, are slated to begin in Fiscal Year 2017-2018, the culmination of the Long Range Budget Plan.

The Long Range Budget Plan sets aside $35,000 annually for Tier 2 projects and transfers $60,000 annually into the Special Reserve Fund, which is exclusively for emergencies and capital repairs, for Tier 3 projects. Budget line freezes and reductions and reorganizing staff achieve the reduction of operating expenses by $95,000 to fund these repairs and replacements.

Two significant changes will occur in FY2013-2014: the elimination of the Head of Outreach Services position and newsletter advertising sales to offset bulk mail newsletter costs. Outreach Services will continue, with staff reassigned to other departments in the Library and existing supervisory staff overseeing Outreach activities. Newsletter advertising sales are anticipated to reduce newsletter costs annually, with a goal of 100% cost recovery for the bulk mail newsletter.

The Board of Trustees is committed to focusing on Service Excellence, Community Focus and Stewardship for the Library, as outlined in Strategic Plan 2011-2015. These plans referred to here can be found at

Friday, June 7, 2013

Wrapping Up Building Projects, Parking Lot Improvements to Come Next!

The Library's wrapping up its Tier 1 (immediate needs) Building Evaluation projects! With just a bit of trim painting remaining, we anticipate ending the fiscal year on June 30 with all Tier 1 projects completed. This is just in time to embark on a new project, which I am thankful will be handled primarily by the Village of Plainfield, to expand and improve the parking lots surrounding the Library.

The HVAC roof top unit replacement and new control system was the largest project of Tier 1. The new, energy-efficient roof top units and updated control systems, along with the air balancing throughout the building that was included in the project, are already reducing utility costs. The air quality throughout the Library is improved by using more outside air when temperatures are moderate.

The replacement of the shingled roof has resolved the leak problems experienced in the past year. There was one glitch, where the roof top cupolas required recaulking, but was quickly remedied by the contractor. The new shingles have a lifetime warranty.

The final project of Tier 1 was replacement of the windows in the Bay Window Area on both the upper and lower levels. The original windows had been improperly sealed during installation in 1990/1991, a condition that was not discovered for many years. Once discovered, the seals were redone, but the wood frames had already begun to deteriorate, shortening their useful life. The new vinyl-clad windows are also energy-efficient and slightly tinted to reduce the effect of UV light on books shelved near the windows as well as reducing glare in the adjacent seating areas.

Look for the parking lot improvements to begin later this summer! Funded by the downtown Tax Increment Finance District, this cooperative project with the Village of Plainfield is made possible by an intergovernmental agreement. The project is tentatively scheduled to begin with the expansion and improvement of the two pieces of property on the Route 59 side of the building. The public parking lot there will be reconfigured and expanded to include the vacant lot adjacent to it. Once that portion is complete, two parking lots north of the library (one on each side of the hedge) will be reconfigured and repaved, eventually allowing all of these pieces to connect and become one functional parking lot! We're very excited, particularly about bringing the lots up to current standards for width of spaces and aisles. I realize it will be messy and inconvenient during the construction, but the end result will be well worth it for the Library and the downtown area.

And PS - don't forget to register for Summer Reading!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

No fire, no flooding and not hit by lightning...

It surprised me to learn that there were several rumors going around town about the Library and what happened here last weekend! The short version is that replacement of the shingled portion of the roof was completed. While that work was underway, the one of the duct smoke detectors went off, due to debris in the detector head, we later learned. But the work on the roof last week and the one before was for the project awarded in March to replace shingled roof, gutters and downspouts. The last of the gutters and downspouts should be done today.

Throughout the rains at the end of last week, the Library was fine (2 small drips from the incomplete roof project notwithstanding). There was an early closing on Thursday due to the flooding in the area, for the safety of patrons and staff. The recent roof and HVAC replacement projects are two of the three main items identified in the 2012 Building Evaluation as immediate needs to keep the facility operational. The last of those projects, replacement of windows on both levels of the Bay Window Area, was also awarded in March. The windows have arrived and await dry weather in the forecast!

As always, if you want to know what's really going on at the Library - like us on Facebook! We regularly update on the building, programs, projects, events, etc.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Congratulations to the Newly Elected Library Trustees!

Congratulations to newcomers Vicki Knight, Gretchen Fritz and Samantha Hurtado and to incumbent Patricia Miller on their election (and re-election) to the Plainfield Public Library District Board of Trustees.

The new Trustees begin their terms on Monday, May 20, 2013. Due to a quirk of the calendar, their terms begin after the regular May Board meeting, so they will be sworn in at the regular meeting on Wednesday, June 19 at 6:30pm in the Small Meeting Room at the Library.

*Election results are unofficial until the Will County Clerk completes the canvass of election results on April 30, 2013.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Spring Brings More Building Projects

With the HVAC replacement project nearly complete and meteorological spring upon us, it's time for a new round of projects!

I know the HVAC project should have wrapped up a month ago, but a change order extended both the scope and the timeline of the project. Since the allowances in the original Roof Top Unit Replacement contract went unused, the Board of Trustees approved upgrading the controls of the perimeter heat and tying them into the new control system. In the original installation, the controls of the perimeter heating system (supplied by the boiler) were completely separate from the controls of the roof top units. This upgrade will make the entire system more efficient.

The Board of Trustees approved contracts fro the next two projects, both weather dependent for completion. The windows in the Bay Window Areas on both levels will be replaced and the shingled portion of the roof will be replaced. During the window project, the Bay Window Area seating will be unavailable for about one week. Of course, I can't say which week yet. Once the windows have been delivered to the contractor, I will be able to give an approximate date for the installation. As for the shingled portion of the roof, keep an eye out for closed walkways around the Library as the weather improves. The contractor will be working while the Library is open, one side of the building at a time. Again, I can't give a start or end date yet. Aren't weather-dependent projects fun?

The first sign of spring at the Library is building repairs!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

2013 Off to a Good Start!

I am pleased to say that 2013 is off to a good start. So good that I've been too busy to remember to post all of the things I should have! I will start with a recap of the first 6 weeks of the year and all that has occurred here at the library:

  • January 2 - Simultaneous filing lottery for ballot placement in the April election. Vicki Knight will appear first on the ballot. Mina Green will appear second.
  • January 3 - Objections filed against three Petitions of Candidacy filed for Library Trustee. Peter Hurtado objects to petitions for David Schmidt, Alice Adeszko and Lauren Ledvina.
  •  January 7-11 - Library closed to the public while HVAC rooftop units are replaced. During the closing, staff training is done at the Naperville 95th Street Library. Also, light bulbs are replaced throughout the Library.
  • January 13 - Winter Reading Program registration begins. 320 people register for Winter Reading on the first day of the program.
  • January 15 - Objections are upheld. Three candidates are off the April 2013 ballot for Library Trustee. Six candidates remain on the ballot: Vicki Knight, Mina Green, Patricia Miller, Carl F. Gilmore, Gretchen Fritz and Samantha Hurtado.
  • January 15 - Library Foundation Board moves forward on accepting credit card payments through their web site
  • January 23 - Information due for the Spring 2013 newsletter. Amazing how early things must be planned in advance in order to get this newsletter out on time.
  • January 28 - Marketing Committee meets to review the new Library Marketing Plan.
  • January 30 - Finance Committee meets for the Board's mid-year review of the Working Budget.
  • February 1 - Pinnacle Library Cooperative Governing Board begins interviewing candidates for our first employee, a System Administrator.
  • February 4 - Winter Reading Program registration tops 1,000!
  • February 5 - Library administrators meet with their health insurance broker to discuss renewal of the current plan and the implications of the upcoming changes to healthcare coverage nationwide.
  • February 6 - Pinnacle Library Cooperative Governing Board finishes the first round of interviews for System Administrator.
  • February 12 - Library Foundation Board holds its annual meeting and hires firm to update its web site and integrate payments gateway for direct donations.
  • February 13 - Air balancing of updated HVAC system begins.
And that's just the interesting bits in a brief synopsis! Welcome to 2013, where things move pretty fast!