Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Why does Plainfield need a new, larger Library?

How has Plainfield changed since 1991? How has daily life changed? The Library building has not changed to keep up with 25 years of technology and advancement!

When construction on the Library began, the official Library district population was 14,123, with 5 schools in Plainfield School District 202. Today, the Library serves 75,337 with 30 schools in Plainfield School District 202. Over 60,000 more people are being served by the same 27,000 square foot Library. When the Library opened, it offered 2 word processing computers and typewriters for public use and collections included cassette tapes and VHS. Modern email did not exist. Today, more than 30 public computers are used for more than 24,000 hours of public computing sessions annually. Formats include DVD, BluRay, MP3, downloadable books and audiobooks, streaming music and video, ereaders, Rokus, etc. The Library has over 209,000 items in its collection today, possible only due to virtual rather than physical items. That’s four times the 1991 opening day collection of 41,558.

People sometimes ask “Why do we need libraries when we have the Internet?” The Internet cannot provide the personalized help and hands-on instruction of the 21st century Library. In 1991, 2,236 reference questions were asked and answered at the Library. In 2015, it was more than 56,000, over 25 times the number asked in 1990. Today’s questions are more complex because the easy answers are readily available. Complex questions, such as help with devices and teaching new technology skills comprise answers to today’s questions at the Library.

Classes and programs are a huge part of 21st century public library service. 1993 was the first year the Library kept program attendance statistics – with 2,214 attending programs that were only for children. In 2015, over 50,000 attended a library program, spanning all ages. That’s 22 times more people attending programs in 2015.

With more services and devices and formats in demand than ever before, per capita purchasing power has declined. In 1990, the Library District’s median home value of $100,000 paid $103 in property taxes to the Library, about $30.17 per capita. Today’s median home value of $300,000 paid $192.89 in property taxes, about $44.93 per capita. Adjusted for inflation, 1990 per capita revenue would be $51.99 in today’s dollars.

In 2015, the average Plainfield Public Library resident checked out more than 8 items, attended a library program, used a public computer for an average session of 43 minutes and asked a question. That is $256.87 in value for materials and services received for the $44.93 per capita investment in the Library.

Serving five times more people in the Library District, doing 22 and 25 times the business in core services and holding a collection four times larger than when it opened, the physical building has not changed. Its systems have reached and exceeded their useful life. It was not designed for today’s technology and lifestyles. A Library that is designed to support today’s technology, learning environments and opportunities for connecting as a community is the most efficient and cost-effective solution to continue providing quality library service that meets Plainfield’s needs in the 21st century.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Expansion planning process wrapping up

With just two more Library Board meetings in 2015, the expansion planning process is nearly at an end. It’s been more than a year since the Plainfield Public Library District’s Board of Trustees began planning for an expansion to go on the 2016 ballot. By year end, the Library Board is anticipated to vote on the ordinances which would place referendum questions on the ballot for the March 15, 2016 Primary Election.

The planning process began in November 2014 when Anders Dahlgren of Library Planning Associates was contracted to update the building program with population projections and statistics. The public input began in April 2015 with Open Houses to gather community input on services for a 21st century library. Public meetings throughout the summer and fall gathered more feedback as the plans came together, helping to refine the concept plans. A telephone survey tested community support for the targeted maximum tax impact. Ultimately, public support for the project will be measured at the ballot box in March.

Visit the Building and Expansion Planning web page for the latest information on the plans and to provide feedback.

The Library Board meetings are Thursday, December 3 at 7:00pmin the Storytime room and Wednesday, December 16 at 6:30pm in the Small Meeting Room. All are welcome to attend.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Conference Call in the Parking Lot

Today, our Senior Services Liaison has a conference call scheduled with the Alzheimer’s Association. She’ll be in the parking lot, sitting in her car during that call. Why? Because her office is a workroom shared with her supervisor and 18 coworkers. What about another room? There isn’t one available. Every staff space is used for multiple functions. Even the Library Director’s office doubles as the staff conference room. This is not employees whining about working conditions. It’s the reality of working in the current Library building. The lack of space affects every level of service, from how and where employees work to how many people can attend a program. A lot of time and energy is spent on making do with physical space constraints that could be spent on providing service.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Comment: I Love the Fancy New Doors.

We’re very pleased to have a functional, accessible automatic door! You may have noticed the increasingly frequent outages of the swing-arm door opener in the year prior to the replacement. As the only accessible entrance to this public building, it is imperative to have a functional automatic opener. Every other entry to the building requires going up or down stairs.

Because Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility was not yet part of the building code when the Library was built 25 years ago, there was no automatic opener on the doors until the early 2000’s. At that time, a swing-arm power opener was retro-fitted to the existing doors. The high volume of traffic through those front doors put years of hard use on the opener.

In the 2012 Building Evaluation, replacement of that opener was estimated to cost approximately $50,000 due to the anticipated cost of redesigning the existing vestibule area to accommodate automatic sliding doors more appropriate to the volume of use. Due to the anticipated cost, the Board of Library Trustees sidelined the project until it simply could not wait any longer. When Midwest Automatic Door submitted a proposal that used the existing door openings, it was a very pleasant surprise to have the replacement cost come in under $20,000.  

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Comment: The Library building is fine! It looks good. Why not keep it?

In July, the Board of Trustees decided to pursue new construction only. The order-of-magnitude cost estimates of the renovation-and-addition versus new construction showed that renovation actually cost more due to project phasing and moving expenses. The summary of the issues considered in making this decision are summarized on the final page of the July presentation.

That summary includes many of the problems with the existing building. While it looks good on the surface, it's deficiencies are numerous when you take a closer look. The 2012 Building Evaluation enumerates the extensive repair and replacement needs to continue operating this building in the long term, as at nearly 25 years old, nearly every system is at or beyond its expected useful life. The study shows only the building systems and does not address its deficiencies for providing 21st century library service. The Library Board of Trustees have determined that the most cost-effective long term solution is new construction on the current site, with the inclusion of at least two additional properties.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Placemakers and Landmarks

Check out this great article in Library Journal about the New Landmark Libraries 2015 winners! It highlights the trends found among the winners that demonstrate the new norms of 21st century libraries. The article states:

“The 2015 trends foreground the value public libraries are providing to their communities in the 21st century and illustrate how libraries are out in front as investors in community development and health. The visibility our Landmarks achieve enables each library (and its staff, services, and collections) to connect to the neighborhood, the town or city, and its surroundings in ways that truly celebrate what a difference access to information can make in people’s lives. We’ve identified nine additional trends from this year’s competition that further the concept of what a public library is or can be in today’s society.”

The nine trends are:
1) Libraries are their communities
2) Productive partnerships
3) Libraries as placemakers
4) Creative culture catalysts
5) Aspirational and accessible
6) Libraries breathe and grow
7) Transparent and light-filled
8) Connected to the environment
9) Boundless

These are the very things we are trying to achieve for the Plainfield community! Visit the Building & Expansion Planning web page to learn about the planning process!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Top 10 Reasons New Construction Makes More Sense than Renovation and Addition

1. Cost
It may seem counterintuitive, but order of magnitiude cost estimates placed renovation and addition to the existing Library at $1 million MORE expensive than new construction of the same total square footage. The two key factors in that difference are phased construction and moving costs. In phased construction, contractors set up, begin work, complete the addition, clean up and leave the site. The Library moves into the addition. Then contractors return, set up, begin work, complete the renovation, clean up and leave the site. The Library moves into the full space. You pay twice for the set up and clean up by the contractors as well as for two moves. In new construction, the new building is built on the Library property, the Library moves in, the existing building is razed and the parking lot completed.

2. Efficient Use of Site
The existing building is built to the lot lines on 2 1/3 sides of the building, which limits the location of an addition. An addition to the west side of the building cuts off access to Lockport Street from parking and entrance to the building. Site constraints force a long, narrow addition that would be inefficient operationally. An addition to the north side of the building cuts off access to Illinois Street from parking and entrance to the building. Constructing a new building on the north side of the property maintains access to Illinois Street and the downtown businesses, placing the parking convenient to all of those uses.

3. Accessibility
The existing building requires extensive renovation to meet current Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements. The most notable deficiencies in this area are the main and staff entrances. The street level lobby area does not provide sufficient space between the inner doors and the base of the stairs. The staff entrance is accessed via metal stairs on the exterior of the building. New construction can more efficiently incorporate best practices in Library design comply with all aspects of ADA, from maximum heights for book shelves to elevator size and aisle widths.

4. Life Safety
The existing building requires extensive renovation to meet current life safety codes. The location of the boiler next to the main electrical shut offs with no physical separation. This is just one example of building system design that was acceptable in 1990, but not in 2015. New construction builds to current code without the need to retrofit existing systems and spaces to new specifications.

5. Energy Code Compliance
The location and orientation of new construction on the north side of the site, with the main entrance and front wall facing south is key to energy efficiency and takes best advantage of natural light. The windows, lighting and boiler of the existing building do not meet today’s energy efficiency standards. Compliance with those standards will also help to mitigate the operational cost of a larger building. Renovation and addition to an existing building again requires extensive work to meet the new standards.

6. Open, Flexible Floor Plan
One of the top priorities for creating a Library that can serve this community in the long term is creating an open, flexible floor plan that can be reconfigured to meet the changing needs of the community. The pillars, columns and large open stairwell in the center of the main floor of the existing library do not allow for this type of floor plan without significant cost. New construction is designed to be open and flexible to allow for future change.

7. Efficient Floor Plan for Library Operations
The “raised ranch” floor plan of the existing library is operationally inefficient. If a floor plan lines up to the existing floors, a larger amount of the site must be used to achieve the total square footage needed. If the addition and existing floors do not align, the number of levels and space needed for lobbies and stairwells to access each is increased. That leaves less overall space for library services as well as increasing the operational cost for personnel.

8. Parking
The Library parking lot functions as one of the main public parking facilities for the downtown. The size and location of parking on the Library site is critical. Maintaining access to Illinois Street and downtown businesses was factor in the selection of new construction over renovation and addition. The placement of the parking between downtown businesses and the Library makes sense in the context of the current location.

9. Duration and Disruption of Construction
In a phased renovation and addition project, the timeline is extended to allow for the additional move and reset from constructing the addition to renovating the existing building. In this scenario, the Library operates within a construction site for approximately 24 months. It will negatively impact day-to-day operations. In new construction, the duration is less because phasing is not required. The disruption is minimized because the construction is physically separated from the operating Library.

10. Moving Twice/Temporary Configuration
Moving a Library is very costly. There are a large number of items to move. The items are heavy. Think about the last time you had to move a box of books. Now multiply by thousands. The Library is closed to the public during the move. To minimize the time closed, the boxes must be kept in order so the items go back onto the shelves in order. A temporary configuration must be designed to allow access to the collection, public computers, meeting rooms and accommodate staff work space. In new construction, the Library will continue to operate until the new building is complete. Once moved into the new building, the existing building would be razed and the parking lot completed.

Click here to view the presentation from the July Board meeting when the decision was made to pursue new construction.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Comment: Citizen Advocates for Library

The Library received the following comment on a feedback survey: “I would like more information on how citizens can advocate for the needs of the library. I feel improvements and expansion are needed for the vital services provided by the library for the sake of the public good.”

Some interested and involved folks are organizing a citizens committee in support of Library expansion. I will share their meeting and contact information when it becomes available.

In the meantime, attend an expansion planning public meeting to hear about the process to date and give feedback. It’s a critical time for input from the community, to ensure that the project fits the community’s needs within the cost that the community is ready to support! Visit the Building & Expansion Planning web page for the latest information and to take the latest survey.

The next public meeting is scheduled for Thursday, October 8, 7pm at the Plainfield Township Community Center. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Comment: Elected Officials Should Donate Pay to Library

The Library received the following comment on a feedback survey: “If Major League Baseball Teams build ballparks without public money, then this library can also be built without public money! Have some of the elected officials donate a portion of their pay and see where it goes from there.”

Major League Baseball teams charge for tickets. The definition of a public library is an organization established and funded by the community to provide access to knowledge, information and works of the imagination and to make access equally available to all members of the community. Put simply, you aren’t charged to use basic library services – no charge for admission!

Library Trustees are elected officials who serve voluntarily – without pay. They already donate their time to serve the community that elected them.

And for the record, if a local elected officials are paid, it is with public money. If those funds were instead used to pay for a building, the building would be built with public money…

Friday, September 4, 2015

Entrance Door Replacement September 8 &9

Once more, the failing systems of the current building need replacement. The door opener for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility on the entrance to the Library was a modification to the original entry doors, because the 1991 building predated the 1993 Americans with Disabilities Act. As you know from visiting the Library, especially with a stroller, in a wheelchair, using a walker etc., the current opener is cumbersome and has been increasingly out of service, requiring repair.

The 2012 Building Evaluation identified this replacement as a “Tier 2” or 2-5 year need, in hindsight a very accurate estimate of its remaining useful life from that point. The Library is fortunate that an automatic door can be retrofitted to the existing door opening without the need for extensive modifications to the vestibule area. However, it will be a significant service interruption for our users.

On Tuesday, September 8 and Wednesday, September 9, the company performing the work is scheduled begin at 6am and be done for the day at 11am. When they leave on Tuesday, it is anticipated that the door will be operational but finish work not yet complete. From 9am to 11am on both days, Library users will be directed to the entrance on the side of the Library building between the Library and Plymouth Congregational Church. This entrance is not ADA accessible but there are no other accessible entrances into the building.

Anyone using the Library from 9-11am on Tuesday, September 8 and Wednesday, September 9 will have to climb a metal exterior stair to do so. Staff will be stationed at this entrance to help anyone who may be unable to enter the Library due to the service disruption. 

Our apologies for the temporary inconvenience while the entrance doors are replaced.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Citizens Information Center now live!

Transparency is the buzzword for local governments these days. To help make information about the Library more accessible to our residents, the Library launched a new web page in August: the Citizens Information Center

The Library Board of Trustees take their fiduciary responsibility to the residents of the district very seriously, as reflected in the Strategic Plan focus of Stewardship. This page will be updated regularly with the latest meeting information, Board packets including financials, budgets and annual audit. It provides ready access to basic information about the Library and its operations for residents and taxpayers of the district.

Suggestions and comments are welcome! 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

From the Suggestion Box: Noise, Trees and Selection

“The library staff here is very loud. I came to the library hoping for a quiet & relaxing area. I was very disappointed w/ the Plainfield Public Library. Please lower your voices when talking on the phone!”

I am sorry that the library cannot provide quiet areas at this time. As repeatedly stated on this blog, in press releases, in library newsletters, etc., there is no quiet space left in our Library. At about 1/3 the size it should be to serve our community, every single area must serve multiple purposes and house as much as possible. Yes, library staff answer questions and conduct business over the phone in public areas of the library. They have to – there are neither the number of staff nor the space to remove those functions to non-public areas. Also, the high ceilings of some library areas and low soffits of other areas create interesting acoustics, with sound that carries easily particularly throughout the upper level. Library staff work hard to balance the multiple demands this work environment imposes, such as speaking loudly enough on the phone for the listener, but softly enough for those in the close proximity of the current library space. Community support for library expansion will be needed to offer quiet space in the library.

“Tree branches over sidewalk near entrance need trimming so you don’t walk into the branches.”

Technically, the parkway trees belong to the Village of Plainfield. But, after numerous comments and complaints within a short time, the library’s Maintenance staff took care of the problem. Let us know if the weird branch that was growing straight down comes back!

“I think this Library should get a better selection.”

Help us get the things you want by using our Suggest a Title form! We purchase on demand to help meet community needs within our space constraints. With every physical item needing to “earn” its shelf space by being checked out, we delay buying some things until there is demand for it. So Suggest a Title or place a hold to get it from another library. Either way, you’re letting us know what you want from your library.

As for the number of physical items available this time of year: Welcome to Summer Reading! One good problem we have is that in June every year, more than 50% of the Library’s physical items are checked out. On the other hand, that pretty much means that anything that could be categorized as new or popular is checked out. Currently, the library’s collection exceeds the building’s capacity for physical items because so much is checked out at once, even at our slowest times of year. You may notice this in August after Summer Reading ends, or in late December, our 2 slowest times of year for check outs. At those times, carts of books or DVDs appear at the ends of shelving areas and stay a while. Community support for library expansion will be needed to offer a larger selection. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Your Property Tax Bill and the Library

On today’s property tax bill, the average home in Plainfield invests about $190 annually in the Plainfield Public Library District. According to American FactFinder (which is a division of the US Census Bureau), the median home value in the Library District is $295,300. Using that median home value, the charts below show the tax bill of that home, assuming it’s located in the Village of Plainfield and Plainfield Township. Exact figures vary with township and municipality.

Looking at that tax bill graphically, the top five pieces of the pie comprise 90% of your tax bill: school district, fire district, county, village and community college district. The library’s portion of the average household’s property tax bill is $190.14 at a tax rate of .2057 mils or just over 20 cents per one hundred dollars of equalized assessed valuation of the property.

When people think about their property taxes, it’s the big number that sticks in their heads, that total amount. The Plainfield Public Library District’s portion is a small fraction, just over 2% of your total tax bill - a low 3 digit number. When Library expansion planning and its impact on your property tax bill are discussed, remember that it will still be low 3 digit numbers, not that big number from your total property tax bill.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Built on Bequests

Did you know that the Plainfield Public Library’s first 2 buildings were built without any tax dollars?
It’s true! In about 1919, George and Marietta McClester left $20,000 to the Village of Plainfield to establish and build a tax-supported library. In 1925, Ebanezer and Celeste Nimmons left $25,000 to the library board “to build, purchase a site, equip, maintain, repair, rebuild, refurnish or enlarge” the library.

Our first library building opened in April 1926, on Lockport St, near the corner of Illinois St, where the Heritage Professional Center now stands. It was a 25x30 room with a “separate toilet building.” Our name was originally the McClester-Nimmons Village of Plainfield Free Public Library, in honor of the two couples whose bequests started it all.

When the library outgrew that space in 1940, they built the 2,736 sq ft new library, using the remaining funds from the McLester and Nimmons bequests, at the current site on Illinois St. If you look at the double window behind the magnolia tree on the front of the building (southwest corner), you can still see the inscription that was once over the Library’s front doors.

In 1954, Fannie Stratton left her farm to the Library, which operated it for 34 years as an additional revenue stream. Some of that revenue was used to help purchase additional property along Illinois St for future expansion. In the late 1980s, the Library Board of Trustees sold the farm for $1.5 million.

In 1991, the current building opened. It was built with $1.9 million in bonds, supplemented by the bulk of the proceeds from selling the Stratton farm and a small state grant, for an initial cost of $2.8 million but with 2/3 of the lower level remaining unfinished. In 1996, the lower level was completed using the remaining farm funds, for a total cost of the building coming in at $3.5 million for 27,160 sq ft.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Question of the Day: Why does the Library offer programs and classes?

The full questions: Why does the Library offer programs and classes? If the Library stops offering programs, wouldn’t that pay for a new building?

The Library’s Strategic Plan Vision states:

“The Plainfield Public Library District provides excellent library services to satisfy the educational, informational, entertainment and inspirational needs of community residents throughout their lives. The Library is a community center, where residents connect with resources, with each other and with their community identity. The Library leverages technology and human capital to give residents access to services and resources not only at the Library's physical location but also throughout the community in partnership with other organizations and via virtual services. The Library is a vibrant and visible presence in the community, making residents aware of 21st century library services and our Library's unique character.”

Library programs and classes fill the community’s need for informal education opportunities. As public libraries evolve, the traditional educational and informational roles are increasingly incorporating entertainment and inspiration. Just like the Library’s collection reflects a wide variety of information and interests, the programs and classes offered by the Library reflect the diverse community we serve. Most programs are directly in response to requests from the community, such as travel, gardening and cooking.

Annually, the Library spends about 2% of its budget on programming, $65,659 last year. Cutting all programs and classes (everything from storytime to computer classes) would not cover the annual payment on a 20 year loan to address the repairs and system replacements identified as necessary to keep the current building functional for the next 20 years by the 2012 Building Evaluation. And that report only addresses the building and its systems – nothing cosmetic like carpet replacement or address and space issues.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

One Hour in the Library

Based on annual library use, every hour the Library is open:

  • 191 items are checked out. That’s one every 19 seconds.
  • 20 people attend a Library program – though many programs are presented at other locations, throughout the community, such as daycares, schools and local businesses.
  • 10 people use a PC. The average session is 43 minutes of use.
  • 17 people ask a reference question. Questions like “where’s the restroom?” don’t count.

Annually, residents check out more than 600,000 items, nearly 65,000 attend a library program or class, over 32,000 use a computer in the library and more than 57,000 questions are asked and answered.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Overloaded Recycling Bins

Yes, the recycling bins in the Library parking lot are overflowing. Unfortunately, members of the public are exacerbating the problem by continuing to drop off more recyclables in and around the overflowing bins.

PLEASE STOP adding to the mess! If you see the recycling bins are overflowing, please find another recycling location or try again at another time.

The company that services these bins has merged with another company and are in the process of reorganization. Repeated phone calls to them result in assurances that the bins will be serviced - and then they are not. Our Maintenance crew is working to resolve the issue.

In the meantime, please use another recycling location. Thank you for your cooperation and help in keeping the Library parking lot clean.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Feedback: We use Naperville and Bolingbrook to get books.

Library Expansion Planning Feedback, answering the question: What would make you more likely to use the Plainfield Public Library?

“I rarely find a book that I need in stock. We use Naperville and Bolingbrook to get books needed for elementary school projects. I am not sure why our library doesn't support 202's curriculum.”

The residents of the Naperville Public Library and Fountaindale Public Library District in Bolingbrook have supported their public libraries with tax rates well above those paid by residents of the Plainfield Public Library District. In Tax Year 2014 (payable in 2015), Fountaindale Public Library District’s operating tax rate is 0.4407 mils (0.5805 total rate, including building bonds) while the Plainfield Public Library District’s operating tax rate is 0.2057 mils. The difference in the long-term level of support for a public library is generally evident in the size and depth of the Library’s collections. Source - Will County Tax Rates

The Plainfield Public Library District works closely with the Plainfield School District 202. Library staff not only take Library programs into the schools, but also work with District 202 librarians and teachers to provide materials in support of the curriculum. Examples of programs in District 202 schools include presenting storytime at Bonnie McBeth Preschool, facilitating lunchtime book discussion groups at middle schools, and presenting programs to meet Common Core learning objectives. Since the current Library building was built in 1990-1991, District 202 has added 25 school buildings. The space constraints of the undersized library building limit the amount of books and other library materials that can be retained to support the curriculum of District 202.

From the Suggestion Box: Study Rooms

“Construct study rooms people can check out much like the study rooms in the Joliet and Naperville libraries.”

With 27,000 square feet of library building to serve 75,000 people, there just isn’t enough space to fully meet the needs of our community. The Library Board of Trustees is taking action by planning for a building expansion. Visit the Building & Expansion Planning web page http://www.plainfieldpubliclibrary.org/about/building-expansion-planning.aspx to learn more and get involved in the planning process! 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

From the Suggestion Box: Computer Use with Children

“My opinion is if like an adult is using a computer and they have just one card and the child wants to go downstairs they can still use the computer. That’s my opinion.”

I’m a little unclear on the situation, but I think the issue is the child being allowed to use a computer at the same time as an adult caregiver when they have only one library card between them. There are several factors at play here. The most important is the age of the child.

If the child is under 8 years old, the caregiver needs to be with the child at all times. While the Library is generally perceived as a safe place, it is still a public building where caregivers are expected to monitor the children in their care. In this case, the adult cannot be on a computer on the upper level while the child goes to the lower level. However, any adult accompanied by a child is welcome to use the computers on the lower level.

If the child is under 11 years old, the caregiver must be with the child in order for the child to use a computer. Again, this can be best accommodated at the computers on the lower level.

For access to a second computer, ask a staff member for a guest pass to sign in.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

From the Suggestion Box: Headphones

The suggestion box submission: “Headphones should be cheaper $1.75”

The Library sells headphones as a convenience to our computer users. You are welcome to bring your own. The headphones are purchased in bulk for the best possible price and sold at cost, rounded for convenience in making change. The current charge is $2.00 because the Library pays $1.96 each for the headphones.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Building & Expansion Planning Web Page

The newest addition to the Plainfield Library's web site is up! Take a look at the Building & Expansion Planning page on the Library's web site. On the Library's home page, you'll find it at the top of the Quick Links box on the left side of the screen. This will be your one-stop source for expansion planning information throughout the process. As documents and information becomes available, it will be posted there. Sign up for a special email newsletter exclusively on expansion planning. Take a survey and provide your feedback.

There isn't much posted yet, as the process is just beginning!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Original Library Room is a Misnomer

The “Original Library Room” isn’t an entirely accurate name for the southwest section of the current building, which was once the entire Library.

The first library building for the Village of Plainfield was actually a 750 square foot frame structure near the corner of Lockport Street and Illinois Street, where the Heritage Professional Center (formerly First Midwest Bank) now stands. That Library opened its doors in 1926.

What is now referred to as the “Original Library” was built in 1941 with the remaining funds from the two bequests that established a tax-supported Library for the Village of Plainfield.

The Plainfield Township Library also operated a library facility prior to merging with the Village Library to form the current library district. That 900 square foot facility opened in 1981, located in Grande Prairie Elementary School.

The current building expanded the 1941 facility from 2,700 square feet on two levels to 27,160 square feet on three levels. The expansion project began in 1990 and opened to the public in 1991. Staff began referring to the older section of the building as the “original library” and the name stuck.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Open House Report to Guide Priorities for Concept Plans

Thank you to all who attended the four open house sessions last week! In celebrating National Library Week with its “Unlimited Possibilities @Your Library” theme, you had the opportunity to give input for the first time in the Library’s expansion planning process. Ideas for fourteen 21st century library services from around the nation were presented with participants voting for their top three services. Ninety one people voted for their top 21st century library services.

With a combined total of 49.9% of the vote, the top five services were:
  • ·         Performance Space
  • ·         Early Literacy Space
  • ·         Digital Studios
  • ·         Study Rooms
  • ·         Quiet Space

The Library Board of Trustees will use the information gathered in these sessions to help prioritize services during the expansion planning process. The next step in the expansion planning process is development of concept plans for several options, including size of facility, parking, storm water retention/detention and estimated cost. The concept plans will be scored according to how well they meet the identified community needs and priorities for service. Using those scores, the Library Board of Trustees will determine which concept plan best meets the needs of the community. That concept plan will be the basis for design development of the final plan. The concept planning process is expected to occur during late spring through early summer.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Flyers NOT from the Library Found Around Town

It has been reported to Library officials that laminated flyers have been distributed around town. "Historic Library Puts Town on Map" is the headline at the top and a logo for Northwestern Medicine appears near the bottom of the page, with 5 paragraphs of typed text on the back. This flyer is NOT from the Library and doesn't reflect any plan or design for a future library expansion.

Our apologies for any confusion or misconceptions about the Library's future expansion planing that this may have caused.

The Library's design development phase will begin next week with a contract for architectural services on the April 15, 2015 Board Meeting agenda.

Drop by any of the four Open Houses next week to join discussions of 21st century Library services and what you want from your Library!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Board of Trustees to Pursue Single Building Options

At their regular Board Meeting in March, the Library Board of Trustees decided unanimously to pursue only single building options for the library's future expansion. The planning process began with an update to the 2008 Space Needs Analysis, a statistical overview of the Library's position among its peers according to current and projected service populations on the local, regional and national levels. This information guides an estimated space need for the projected service population. The next step is to create a building program, which an architect will use to guide development of a building design. The building program translates the Library's overall space need into specific types of space like meeting rooms, shelving areas and computer work areas.

Four major factors were discussed in the decision to pursue only single building options:

  1. Overall operational costs are significantly more for two buildings.
  2. It is a long term cost commitment to operation of two buildings.
  3. In an ideal situation, a branch would be located in the northwest quadrant of the library's service area. But our situation is not ideal. A "starter" service point could be used, like the pick up lockers and drop box service points utilized by some other libraries.
  4. This library has never passed an operating tax rate increase, even when it expanded from 2,700 sq ft to 27,000 sq ft.
So I now have at least one firm answer to "what's the plan for expansion?" So far, the plan is one building - everything else is still open to any possibility.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

From the Suggestion Box: Handicapped Parking

LC wrote:
"Handicapped parking for the Library should be in front of the building not on side. Handicapped people have to walk for their access."

You are correct. The handicapped parking is as close to the front doors as possible, given the location of the Library's front doors and parking lot. But it is still a distance from even the closest space to the front doors. If you investigate further, you will find additional ADA accessibility issues with the current building. The front door automatic opening mechanism is slow at best and makes the doors heavy if you need to open or stop them manually. Using top and bottom shelves on the 90" shelving makes much of our book collection difficult to access. There is no ADA accessible staff entrance. This means that staff members needing the accessible entrance and handicapped parking use the same handicapped spaces as the public and must use the front doors.

In a perfect Library, the handicapped spaces would be conveniently close to the front doors for the public with a separate accessible staff entrance with its own designated handicapped parking conveniently close. This Library building is far from perfect.

FTR - The Library does not have the authority to designate on-street spaces for handicapped parking.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The “We Need Everything” Quote in the Herald News

In Lauren Leone-Cross’s Herald News story on March 15, she quotes me:
“We need everything. We need study rooms. Community meeting spaces. More technology support,” Milavec said. “We just can’t house everything that we need on a daily basis.”

Some comments have been made about “we need everything”, as if I stated that Plainfield needs every bell, whistle, gimmick and feature possible for a public library - the “Taj Mahal” of libraries. That cannot be further from the truth. I said “we need everything” in response to the question “what kinds of space does the Library need? Meeting rooms? Study rooms? More for books?” The answer is yes, yes and yes. All of the above. An expanded library doesn’t need to be fancy or gimmicky or expensive. But our Plainfield community needs more than one study room for more than 75,000 people. Plainfield needs tables and chairs and rooms with doors and quiet reading spaces and shelving and computer classrooms and meeting rooms and desks and computers and program rooms and the list goes on. The Library building is the same size it was 1991 when 15,329 people lived in the library district. Over 60,000 more people have moved in since then. So, yes, the Plainfield community needs more library than it did in 1991 – and with 60,000 more people, that’s more of everything library.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Irony: Scheduling Special Board Meetings

In a telling example of the Library's need for additional space, especially meeting room space, the Board of Library Trustees found it very difficult to identify a date and time for Special Board meetings to interview architects at the Library. Demonstrating exactly how frustrating it is for community members interested in using the Library's meeting rooms, in the two week time span for the weekday evening meetings, neither the Small Meeting Room nor Large Meeting Room were available for the time period needed. The interviews will instead take place in the very cramped confines of the Storytime Room, where three of the four walls are lined with cabinets, cupboards, boxes and carts. If the Library Board cannot get into the rooms that are supposed to serve as community meeting space, what chance do other community groups have in booking the room? One central role of a 21st century library is to provide a community gathering and collaboration space. At 1/3 the size Illinois Library Standards set for a population of 75,337 residents, it is a role the 1980's facility cannot fulfill.

*Yes, there are some other venues in the downtown that the Trustees could have used through intergovernmental cooperation. However, as part of the process is to introduce the firms to be interviewed to the Library and its facility, an off-site location was not a good fit for these meetings.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Plainfield Library’s History of Ballot Measures

The Plainfield Public Library District has had only seven ballot questions in its 90 year history: three to establish the library district and its predecessors, three for building bonds (two of which failed), and one for an operating tax rate increase (which failed). Construction of library buildings were funded primarily through three bequests. The last bequest was received in 1954. No operating tax rate increase has ever been approved for the Plainfield Public Library District. Per capita funding for the library has been level since 1993 – with no adjustment for inflation.
  • 1925 – Ebenezer and Celeste Nimmons leave $25,000 to the Village of Plainfield to establish a tax-supported library. Residents voted to approve the tax-supported library later that year.
  • 1926 – The Plainfield Library opens to the public in a small frame building on Lockport Street.
  • 1941 – Using the remainder of the Nimmons estate and an additional bequest from George and Marietta McClester, the 2,700 square foot brick Library building is constructed on Illinois Street.
  • 1954 – Fannie Stratton leaves a 160-acre farm in a charitable remainder trust to the Plainfield Library. The farm is operated by the Library for additional operating revenue.
  • 1977 – Plainfield Township establishes a tax-supported library for residents outside of the Village of Plainfield.
  • 1981 – Plainfield Township Library opens its 900 square foot facility inside Grande Prairie School.
  • 1988 – Voters approve the Village of Plainfield Library and Plainfield Township Library merger to form the Plainfield Public Library District. The tax rate for the district is the minimum required to establish a library district. The Stratton farm is sold as plans begin to expand the library building.
  • 1989 – Voters reject a plan to expand the library to 27,000 square feet and renovate the original portion.
  • 1990 – Voters approve a plan to expand the library to 27,000 square feet and renovate the original portion, with only 13,500 square feet to be finished initially.
  • 1991 – The Plainfield Public Library District opens its new facility on Illinois Street, with a lower level that is mostly unfinished.
  • 1993 – Voters reject an operating tax rate increase for the Library.
  • 1994 – The Library cuts service hours, eliminates staff positions, and freezes the book budget. Over the next several years, the burgeoning residential building boom in the community allowed the restoration of these services.
  • 1997 – The lower level of the Library building is finished using the remaining proceeds of the Stratton farm.
  • 2009 – Voters reject a plan to expand the main Library to 70,000 square feet and build a 30,000 square foot branch in the northwest section of its service area.

There have been no ballot measures for the Plainfield Public Library District since 2009.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Library’s History of Space Planning in Brief

As the Plainfield Public Library District enters into a new space planning process, the question "how did we get to this point?" keeps coming up. I’ll give you the short version:

Following the explosive growth in the area through the early 2000s, the Plainfield Library went through a full planning process for the building and library service. A ballot question for expansion to over 100,000 square feet of library in two locations (a main library downtown and branch in the northwest section of the service area) went to vote in April 2009 and failed. Due to the economic downturn, the Library Board of Trustees deferred placing it on the ballot again despite the service limitations of the current facility. In 2011, the Trustees asked voters through a series of focus groups and open forums if they were ready for the Library’s question on the ballot again. The response was “yes, it’s needed, but we’re not ready to see it on the ballot yet.” At that time, the current facility surpassed the 20 year expected lifespan of most of its systems. Repair and replacement costs to keep the building operational began to skyrocket. The Trustees hired KJWW Engineering to perform a full building evaluation. The report identified over $2.6 million in repair and replacement needs to keep the building operational for the next 20 years, with recommendations for immediate, short and long term repairs and replacements. Addressing the most immediate needs, specifically the replacement of the roof and HVAC system in 2012, depleted the Library’s Special Reserve Fund. In 2013, a Long Range Budget Plan was approved by the Board of Trustees maintain the operability of the facility until a new plan for a ballot initiative could be developed. Targeting 2016 for a new ballot question, the Library Board of Trustees began the planning process in late 2014. Today, the Board of Trustees is focused on assembling a team of professionals to help them gather information and aid in the creation of a plan. Over the next year, input and feedback on the community’s library needs will be critical to develop a plan that meets those needs for the future in a way that the community supports.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

21st Century Library Services, 1980’s Building

Don’t get me wrong, the Plainfield Public Library provides some amazing 21st century library services: loaning Roku boxes for streaming video; downloadable ebooks, eaudiobooks, magazines and music; technology help; computer classes; job seeker support; subscription databases; the laundry list goes on and on. But the thing that holds the library back from truly fulfilling the community’s needs is this building. Yes, the Board and staff have done a great job keeping it looking good. But every single day – and the Library is open 7 days a week – a resident with a need is turned away without getting what they need because their need requires something this building just doesn’t have - space.

From kids working on group projects, to tutors seeking somewhere to meet with their students, to community organizations seeking a room to hold a meeting, to businesses seeking a larger room for Skype or Go To Meeting, community, study and meeting space of all kinds is a daily request that cannot be fulfilled by this facility. Computer classes are limited in size and cramped into a room not designed for technology. The small size of the meeting rooms limit all programs, like author events, our annual teen murder mystery play and everyday children’s programs.

This building was designed in 1988-1989, before the Internet, email or cell phones were widely used. Before texting existed. When faxing was high-tech. When Miami Vice colors were in (thank goodness those are nearly gone from the building). When paper tax forms were still widely available. When many of today’s library users were very small children or weren’t born yet.

Libraries are now community gathering spaces, where creation of content and collaboration occur, where people connect with each other. Technology has fundamentally changed how libraries deliver service – and the way people use public libraries has changed along with it. Computer classes and technology help are a huge part of library service today. And they take up space that just wasn’t in the plan in the 1980’s.

We’re halfway there. We’ve begun 21st century services. With a little elbow room, the Plainfield Library could be the community’s 21st century gem.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Vacancy, Candidates and the April 2015 Election

With the resignation of Gretchen Fritz to assume her seat on Will County Board, the Plainfield Public Library District Board of Trustees has been operating with a vacancy since late last year. The timing of the vacancy would allow for the seated board of Trustees to appoint someone to that position only until the next regular election. Because the filing period for candidates for the April 2015 election to the Library Board was December 15 through 22, the Board of Trustees decided not to pursue appointing someone to the vacancy for only a few months. Instead, they waited to find out who would file their paperwork to run for the two-year unexpired term. Their patience was rewarded when only a single candidate filed for the two-year unexpired term. That candidate, Jason M. Puetz, has already begun attending Library Board meetings. It is anticipated that he will be appointed to the vacancy in either January or February.

Also, three seats for four-year terms will appear on the April 2015 ballot, according to the regular election cycle for the Library Board. Three candidates filed to run for these three seats: Crystal Andel, Carl Gilmore and Sharon Kinley. All three candidates filed at 9:00am on December 15, 2014, the first day of filing. A simultaneous filing lottery was conducted on December 30, determining the ballot order: Kinley, Gilmore, Andel.

No objections were filed against any petitions for candidacy during the objection filing period.

The Certification of the Ballot has been submitted to the Will and Kendall County Clerks for the two elections. That concludes my duties as Local Election Official (LEO) for the April 2015 election.

Write-in candidates may file their Intent to Write-In forms at the County Clerk’s Office through February 5, 2015. But the LEO doesn’t have to do anything with those!