Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Leaving the Library in Capable Hands

I am pleased to announce that the Plainfield Library’s Board of Trustees decided in June to name Assistant Library Director Lisa Pappas to the position of Interim Library Director for one year. This decision will provide consistent leadership for the Library through planning for a possible April 2017 referendum.

Lisa Pappas joined the Plainfield Library staff in October 2002 as the Head of Adult Services. One of her first projects was to overhaul the Library’s collection, which had not been weeded in more than a decade. She stepped into the newly-created Assistant Library Director position in 2007. As Assistant Director, her primary job was overseeing day-to-day operations of the Library. Second in command, she acted as the administrator in the absence of the Library Director, providing her with experience in the role. A native of Naperville, Lisa understands the continued impact of the explosive growth of the 2000s on the area and the Library. Lisa has also worked in public libraries in Aurora, West Chicago, Warrenville, and Oak Brook.

Lisa Pappas’ first day as Interim Library Director is July 15. My final day as Library Director is July 14. I feel confident leaving the Library in Lisa’s capable hands.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Make the Most of Your Investment in the Library

Who doesn't like a big return on an investment? Your investment of tax dollars in the library always nets a great return but Money Smart Week offers more than ever. From online classes with Morningstar Investments to a free Shred Day event, the Library can help you maximize that return with Money Smart Week - and all of the other resources and services your Library offers!

In addition to Money Smart Week events this week, you can:

  • drop in for tech help
  • practice English as a Second Language with grammar, conversation and reading clubs
  • learn more about newspaper resources for genealogy research
  • get job search support at the Workforce Services Division of Will County Mobile Workforce Center
  • learn how to get started on Pinterest
  • knit or crochet with new friends
  • find the latest apps and share your favorites
  • improve your skills on Microsoft Word 
  • meet an inspirational author
And that's just the events for adults! The amount of return on your investment in the Library is up to you.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

National Library Week Recognition by Congressman Foster

Today, to commemorate National Library Week, Congressman Bill Foster spoke on the House floor about how libraries are strengthening and serving our communities.

Full text:

Thank you Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to commemorate National Library Week – and to celebrate how local libraries continue to be a vital resource in communities across this nation.

Libraries have evolved beyond buildings of quiet study into engaging community centers – where people can gather to collaborate on projects, children can come to participate in educational activities, and job-seekers can use as a resource for help finding connections with employers.

National Library Week is a perfect opportunity to highlight the services being provided in libraries, by librarians and staff focused on creating environments where people can not only find the information they need – but use that information to better themselves and their communities.

Counting both public and private, there are nearly 120,000 libraries across the United States, which together employ more than 350,000 people, and provide services to millions of Americans each year.

In my district, I’ve seen this transformation taking place – where access to the latest technologies like 3D printers and laser cutters can often be found at the local library.

Libraries across this country continue to serve as centers of education, research, and community involvement.

Thank you to the librarians and staff who strive to make the local library a gathering place for everyone – the work you are doing is strengthening this country and making our neighborhoods better places to live.

Thank you, and I yield back.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Three Public Meetings Added

Public meetings will be held in early April to garner feedback for the Plainfield Public Library District’s Board of Trustees as they plan for the Library’s future. In addition to four open house events to be held at the Library, three open forum events at other locations will provide residents with an opportunity to express their opinions and priorities for the Library’s next steps.

The three public meetings will be held:

Tuesday, April 5
7:00 to 8:00 PM
Plainfield Township
22525 W. Lockport Street
Plainfield, IL 60544

Wednesday, April 6
7:00 to 8:00 PM
Wheatland Township
4232 Tower Court
Naperville, IL 60564

Saturday, April 9
10:00 to 11:00 AM (following Coffee with the Superintendent)
Plainfield School District 202
Administrative Center
15732 Howard Street
Plainfield IL 60544

Along with the four open houses planned for the following week in the Library, these public meetings provide opportunities for our concerned citizens to talk face-to-face with Library Trustees and staff about next steps in planning future library services.

To provide your feedback online, go to http://tinyurl.com/ppldfeedback

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Tell Us Your Priorities at Open Houses

Like the National Library Week open house events that kicked off the public portion of  the Library's building planning last year, all are invited to tell us what you think, find out more about library services and programs, and share your priorities for library services.

These four open house, drop-in events provide everyone with an opportunity to express opinions and priorities for the Library’s next steps in providing facilities and services. Based on the “Libraries Transform” theme for National Library Week, the open houses also offer the opportunity to discover how the Library can help you grow and change through online learning, job and career services, ESL clubs, book discussion groups, technology training and much more. Join us in the Library's Small Meeting Room on:

Monday, April 11, 2:00 to 4:00 PM
Wednesday, April 13, 7:00 to 8:30 PM
Friday, April 15, 9:30 to 11:30 AM
Saturday, April 16, 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM

Drop in to meet the staff, learn about how we can help you and celebrate the wealth of opportunity you can find at your Library. Refreshments will be served, plus prizes and a drawing for a Kindle eReader.

Additional off-site public meetings are being planned. Updates will be posted as information is released.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Get the Facts on Library Referendum

Emails, social media commentary, robocalls – there’s a lot of misleading and inaccurate information being spread about the Library’s referenda on the March 15 ballot.

For example, the robocalls are being made to voters in the Plainfield Public Library District by Americans for Prosperity, a national conservative political action group. The calls reportedly state a cost of $2,600 for the average homeowner over the life of the $39 million building bonds in the ballot question. This estimated cost assumes that the value of property within the Plainfield Public Library District remains the same for 20 years.

But here at the Library, helping people access accurate information is a critical part of what we do. For that reason, the planning process for the referenda included 22 public meetings over 8 months, a telephone survey and online feedback surveys. Every step of the process was documented on the Building & Expansion Planning web page, with supporting documentation available. This blog also contains posts that address many common questions – and those sources of misinformation. 

Edited to add a little more information on the true estimated cost:

The $39 million building bond portion will be paid off in 20 years and automatically be removed from your tax bill. About $12 of the estimated $15 per month increase to the average home ($300,000) is the bond amount. The bond repayment tax rate generally decreases over time as new property is annexed or develops, spreading the fixed payment amount over a larger tax base. The bond rate on the existing Library was 0.1657 in its first year, but dropped to 0.0094 by the final (20th) year.

The funds generated by a limiting rate increase will be used to operate the new Library building. It’s a 19% increase in operating funds for a building nearly triple the size of the current building. After the one year specified in the question, the Library’s tax rate will be subject to the tax cap again, with the new base limiting rate. About $3 of the estimated $15 per month increase to the average home ($300,000) is the limiting rate increase amount.

Don't forget that for every $1 invested in the Library, the community receives $5.93 in services today!

As always, you can call, chat, message, email, text or stop by the Library to get your questions answered!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

New Plainfield Library, Yes or No

The following response is based on a letter to the editor in the Times Weekly, posing nine questions about the Library’s proposed expansion. The text in red is the unedited letter as found here: http://thetimesweekly.com/news/2016/mar/02/new-plainfield-library-yes-or-no/ The text in black is answers to questions, clarifications and context.

1) Has the Plainfield School District ever been contacted to avoid a duplication of services? Would it not be possible for one taxing body to work along with another taxing body to provide a common library service, instructors, meeting areas, share equipment and parking during the entire year.
The Library supports early literacy development before children are of school age, extends learning beyond the school day and helps hold kids at grade level over the summer when school is not in session: http://plainfieldlibrarydirector.blogspot.com/2016/03/14-critical-public-library-services.html 

2) What are the actual recorded numbers of citizens (adults & children) using the current facility, busiest months, days and time during the day?
Here is the summary of use in FY2015: http://plainfieldpubliclibrary.org/about/pdf/board/2015%20Annual%20Report%20Summary.pdf and the Citizens Information Center where the Board packets, including monthly statistics, are posted regularly:  http://plainfieldpubliclibrary.org/about/citizens-information-center.aspx What cannot be quantified is how many don’t bother to come because they know there will be nowhere to study quietly, how many didn’t get to register for the program because it was full and how many use neighboring library’s facilities because their own does not meet their needs.
3) Why was this particular very confined location chosen where future expansion is limited?
Question #2 on the FAQ page has your answer: http://plainfieldpubliclibrary.org/about/building-expansion-faq.aspx
"The current site is located very near the geographic center of the Library District. The Library Board of Trustees decided early in the planning process to pursue only single site options due to the cost of operating two facilities. An alternate site was considered. Public meetings and online surveys showed overwhelming support for the Library to remain at its current location. Reasons cited by participants in public meetings included its being an anchor to the downtown and convenience of access. See http://plainfieldpubliclibrary.org/about/pdf/15_0611_PPL%20Public%20Presentation.pdf "

4) When was the decision made to build new rather than add to and remodel?

At the July 2015 Library Board Meeting, which was open to the public in addition to the two public planning meetings that month. Scroll down to the section Summary of Feedback Presentation - July Board Meeting on the Building and Expansion Planning web page: http://plainfieldpubliclibrary.org/about/building-expansion-planning.aspx

5) What are the results of the traffic study (current & projected), parking spaces available for employees, visitors, maintenance staff, groups (seniors) arriving by bus and ease of entry for emergency vehicles?

There was not a traffic study per se, but concerns about the safety of access, inclusion of a service drive, the ability to circumnavigate the parking without going onto Route 59 are referenced throughout the public meeting summaries. In particular, Renovation Concept 3 in the July presentation shows these concerns in relation to new construction vs. adding on. http://plainfieldpubliclibrary.org/about/pdf/2015-07-15%20Board%20meeting%20presentation%20and%20summary.pdf

6) Will area contractors be considered to bid on this project?

Final design and specifications will not begin until after a successful referendum and a delivery method (construction management, general contractor) has not yet been determined by the Board of Trustees. The Library Board of Trustees is bound by state law in the procurement of construction services and many area contractors may qualify.

7) Upon completion how many additional good full time jobs will this project create for the people of Plainfield?

We're estimating 5-6 full time positions and additional part time positions. The final determination of hiring needs will depend on many factors including qualified applicants from within, changes to existing positions, final design and services to be added. For example, if the digital media lab is a separate room from the public use computers area, it will be staffed differently than if the two areas are contiguous and open to one another. Again, final design begins after a successful referendum.

8) The size of this building may require larger special fire fighting equipment to reach the higher areas of this building?

We do not anticipate the need to specialized firefighting equipment, but I will defer to the Plainfield Fire Protection District on this.

9) Which leads to new facilities to house larger fire fighting equipment and additional training for our fire fighters?

The Plainfield Fire Protection District will be responsible for the training and equipping of their personnel. I can say that the Library will not be the largest building in their service area, nor the one with the greatest fire hazards.

It is understood some library users have experienced a slight over crowding, intense back ground noise and the lack of use of a free computer. It is true some popular activities for children may require you to deliver your child early.

One study room that holds four people maximum and 75,337 people to serve. Shelving through the entire upper level that is over 7 feet tall, with highest and lowest shelves used. You could call it slight overcrowding. https://scontent.ford1-1.fna.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpl1/t31.0-8/12792359_10154171589597448_3701209857617931892_o.jpg

However, it seems a small price to pay for the hundreds if not thousands of dollars per year people have saved by using this antiquated library.

For every dollar invested in the Library, the community receives $6 in services: http://plainfieldlibrarydirector.blogspot.com/2016/03/roi-for-library-tax-dollars-shows-value.html For the average homeowner, the cost increase would be less than $180 per year.

Shouldn't 'We the People' be better informed before we are asked vote YES or NO.

The Plainfield Public Library District’s web site has answers to your questions on the Building and Expansion Planning web page to help you make an informed decision: http://plainfieldpubliclibrary.org/about/building-expansion-planning.aspx 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

ROI for Library Tax Dollars Shows Value

Residents of the Plainfield Public Library District receive an excellent return on investment in service for every dollar invested in the Library. The most common method to illustrate the value of a local public library is to calculate the value of the services used by the community versus the property tax funding invested by the community in its library. By assigning a conservative value for each use of a library service and multiplying that rate by the number of uses, a library can determine the total value received by its community. For FY2015, the Plainfield Public Library District provided the following value to its residents:

Residents invested $3,120,756 in annual property taxes paid to the Library District in FY2015.

For every $1 invested in the Library, the community received $5.93 in services!
Services not included in this calculation include faxing, scanning of documents, notary public, tax form distribution and museum passes. Volunteer literacy and English language learner tutoring, services facilitated by the Library, are also not reflected here.

For more information on the Library’s proposed plans on the March 15 ballot, visit: http://plainfieldpubliclibrary.org/about/building-expansion-planning.aspx

Thursday, March 3, 2016

14 Critical Public Library Services Beyond Books

Books are the public library brand, the word most associated with them. With the proliferation of eBooks and online resources, some people question the need for a larger Library building. The Plainfield Library offers much more than simply the physical collections. Here are 14 important things the Library provides beyond its physical collections. 

1.   The Library Provides Early Literacy Support
Right now, Plainfield is projected to have 4,000 more children under age 5 by 2030.  The building was meant for a population of about 30,000. Today, we serve over 75,000.  The Library wants to support the child care centers in Plainfield as a partner in early childhood literacy through story time programs and learning services, as well as collections. We want to make sure every child who is cared for in the home by a relative has a librarian in their lives to deliver the same high quality early literacy engagement they’d receive at a preschool.  If the referendum passes, we will have a library that is not only welcoming, but ready for 21st century learning.

2.   The Library Helps Hold Kids at Grade Level
The Library supports school-aged kids reading skills and holding them at grade level through the Summer Reading Program. Summer Reading offers special events and incentives to encourage them to read. We want to give every kid in Plainfield the opportunity to participate in Summer Reading. Capacity is limited in the current building to 120 kids per event. Even running two sections of an event, which is costly, we don’t have enough seats for all of the families that want to participate. If the referendum passes, we will have a library with the capacity to get even more kids participating in Summer Reading to set them up for success in the next school year.

3.   The Library Extends Learning Beyond the School Day
The Library is a partner in student success by extending learning beyond the times our schools and school libraries are open. We offer enrichment opportunities like computer classes, programs that are fun and informative, homework help and online learning resources. We want to make sure every student has the learning support they need to be successful. If the referendum passes, we will have a library with the tools and learning environment our students need for 21st century learning. 

4.   The Library Helps Families with Special Needs Kids
Statistics show alarming increases in children with learning disabilities and autism. Currently, our library provides 6 sensory story times per year for children ages 3 to 9. The Library wants to provide every individual with access to social and literacy resources. The Library can be the perfect public place for these children and teens to cultivate social and literacy skills. These families need programs and space that are adapted to their special needs in order to help them feel secure. The Library can provide a social and educational outlet where they feel welcome. If the referendum passes, we will have the space necessary to support our families with special needs kids and teens to access social and literacy resources.

5.   The Library Offers a Positive Place for Teens to Hang Out
The Library had a teen lounge area at one time, but the space was needed for more shelving. We want to offer a positive environment for teens, as well as a comfortable place for them to hang out. We need to make sure that every teen has a safe haven when they need one and give them activities and resources to help support their development into solid members of the community. Our librarians are experts at connecting with teens and helping channel their energy in positive ways. If the referendum passes, we will have a place where teens enjoy a positive environment that supports their development.

6.   The Library Bridges the Digital Divide
The public library is frequently the only place in a community to get free access to the Internet and the computer or device needed to use that access. Plainfield is no exception. Increasingly, students find it necessary to complete homework utilizing the Internet at public libraries after school. If they cannot access the Internet, they cannot do their homework. The Library bridges the gap for those households that cannot afford Internet access at home. Access to technology is at the heart of 21st century library services. If the referendum passes, we will provide access to the devices and bandwidth that bridge the digital divide.

7.   The Library is a Retail Anchor of Downtown Area
Hundreds of people visit the Library every day. Studies show that when a library is located in a retail area, spending at businesses near that library increases. Our Library not only increases foot traffic in the downtown area but also partners with the Village to offer public parking that supports downtown businesses. If the referendum passes, library visits will increase which in turn will increase foot traffic for surrounding businesses.

8.   The Library Supports Job Skills Development
Right now, the Library offers more than 15 computer classes every month. The computer classroom limits class size to 8 people. The Library wants to provide opportunities to improve job skills through computer classes and continuing education. We partner with Will County Workforce Development to bring their Mobile Workforce Center to the Library weekly. We want our labor force to have the job skills needed for success in the workplace. If the referendum passes, we will be able to provide more job skills training for 21st century workforce.

9.   The Library Offers Job Seeker Support
Today, the Library offers a monthly job club meeting. With a building meant for a population of 30,000 serving a community of over 75,000, our programs compete with each other for the limited space available. The Library serves as an important partner with other agencies focused on employment activities, such as Illinois WorkNet. In addition to helping people find actual jobs, the Library supports preparatory steps such as creating resumes, researching job information, submitting applications online, and receiving training for job-related skills. If the referendum passes, we will be able extend our reach in helping people find jobs.

10.       The Library is an Economic Development Engine
Small businesses that do not have the ability to adapt and reposition their businesses using current and detailed online information are at a serious disadvantage in the competitive, global new economy. The Library strengthens economic growth and resilience in the micro and small business sectors by providing not only the resources they need to be competitive, but also hands-on training in using those resources. Through partnerships with SCORE and the Chamber of Commerce, the Library connects businesses to a broader network of support. If the referendum passes, we’ll be able to extend 21st century services that give our local businesses a competitive advantage.

11.       The Library Builds Community identity
Plainfield’s rapid growth left the community struggling with its identity. The Library connects people with the larger community, providing a gathering place where all are welcome. The Library has value as a comfortable place where people can gather, especially as opportunities for social interaction have decreased in the wake of more people seeking out services online. If the referendum passes, it will be that comfortable place to gather.

12.       The Library is a Social Leveler
Many of our residents are able to purchase books, subscribe to magazines, and conduct their research online without ever visiting a library. But not all of our residents and families have those options. Universal access is one of the most important strengths of the Library.  Libraries give everyone the opportunity to improve themselves and their life circumstances, as well as enhancing leisure time, by giving them the chance to socialize and by providing access to activities others take for granted because they can afford them. Access for all is at the heart of public library services.

13.       The Library Provides ESL and Inclusion for Immigrants
Plainfield’s immigrant population has been growing – and English language learning and literacy support is critical for them. Learning English can improve so much for these new residents – from better jobs to feeling connected and valued within the community. One of our regular ESL participants, who is now tutoring others, compares our Library to an island. When she came to this country, she felt like she was drifting in an ocean, feeling lost and disconnected. When she found the Library, it became her island, her home and connection to the community. The Library’s English language learning support helps immigrants become engaged members of the Plainfield community. If the referendum passes, we’ll add the needed capacity for these growing ESL classes.

14.       The Library Reaches Beyond Its Walls
With its undersized building, the Library has had to be creative in how we offer service. One thing that makes our Library unique is the amount of programs that are offered at locations throughout the community rather than in the library building. From an “Appy Hour” class on smartphone apps at a local tavern to “Donuts and Digital Books” at a bakery, the Library takes its show on the road. But not all programs can be held at other locations. The Library wants to offer both on site and off site locations for programs. If the referendum passes, we will be able to offer more and larger on site programs while continuing to offer off site programs too.

If the referenda fail, all of these services will be competing for funding with projects necessary to keep the existing building operational in the long term. Services that:
  • ·         help our youngest kids be ready for school
  • ·         hold school-aged kids’ reading skills at grade level over the summer
  • ·         support our kids learning beyond the school day
  • ·         support families with special needs kids
  • ·         give our teens a positive environment
  • ·         level the playing field by providing access to technology for all
  • ·         provide job skills training
  • ·         help job seekers in their search
  • ·         invest in our own community and workforce
  • ·         support local businesses
  • ·         connect people with their community

It’s not fearmongering or a threat to talk about what happens if the referenda fail. An estimated minimum 20% cut to programs and services will be needed to fund the projects necessary to keep the existing building operational in the long term. That’s the reality of a 25 year old building that’s been heavily used and the needs identified more than a decade ago that continued to grow when the 2009 referendum failed. The need continues to grow today. The proposed plan going before the voters on March 15 meets the needs of today and prepares the Library for the future.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Much Ado About a Shower

Recent commentary of social media points to a single 75 sq ft inclusion in the Schematic Building Program of over 77,000 sq ft as evidence of including unnecessary items in the proposed plan. Also, the Schematic Building Program is referred to as "blueprints."

Yes, a 75 sq ft Staff Shower room was included in the Schematic Building Program as a green design and healthy workplace feature. The proposed building is actually 72,000 sq ft, while the Schematic Building Program totals 77,000 sq ft. In other words, 5,000 sq ft of what is in the Schematic Building Program will not be included in the final design. The floorplans as drawn today show aggregate spaces for departments and functional areas.

A Schematic Building program is not blueprints, nor specifications, nor a final design. It is simply a set of instructions for an architect about what space to include in a design, how those spaces relate to one another and more detailed requirements such as: room sizes, activities, occupancy, and equipment needed. The final design process, which will include additional opportunities for public input, will begin after successful referenda. The process will determine what is included in the final design and specifications. This will include all of the things you don't see yet on the floorplans - study rooms, computer classroom, Teen Tech Center, etc.

Now here is the true irony about including a staff shower in the Schematic Building Program: did you know that the current building had a staff shower in the corner of the Boiler Room from the time it opened until late 2013? Yes, it's true. It was used primarily by maintenance staff after a shift of heavy outdoor work and staff biking to work. It was removed in late 2013, to be replaced by a large utility sink, at the request of Maintenance staff. That is the only utility sink in the building.

Providing a staff shower supports Bike to Work initiatives that lowers health care costs by having a healthier work force. Asking workers to bike means giving them a chance to clean up before their shift serving the public. It's what big, smart corporations like Google do. http://www.triplepundit.com/special/business-of-biking/bicycling-cuts-health-care-costs/

Not only that, it can help address the concern over having adequate parking. Fewer staff cars leaves more spaces available for more customer parking.

So staff shower or not, over 5,000 sq ft of space listed in the Schematic Building Program will not be included in the final plan. I hope the public meetings to provide input on these decisions will generate as much interest on social media as the staff shower has!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Top Three Themes of Recent Referenda Buzz

As the March 15 election approaches, Library staff have recognized three recurring themes in the questions asked most frequently:
·         Branches
·         Budgeting for Capital Replacement
·         Technology
One of the first decisions made in the planning process was to pursue only single location options. Cost was the number one factor in the decision to pursue only single location options. In Illinois, 60-70% of a public library’s annual operating expense goes to staffing. Staffing a second facility would substantially increase annual operating expenses. The Library Board of Trustees began the planning process with the express intention of developing an efficient and cost effective plan that would significantly improve library service to meet the needs of the community for the foreseeable future. A vehicle would be needed to move materials and supplies between buildings, another cost. Other operational costs are also increased by operating multiple facilities, such as maintenance on building systems, utilities, landscaping and snow removal.

The current location is near the geographic center of the Library’s service area. At the proposed 72,000 sq ft size and serving 75,000 people, the Library District would reach the national average for public libraries to deploy a branch facility. The proposed building would maximize the downtown site, leaving deployment of a branch as a strategy to meet future needs. A book return and pick up locker service point could be used as an interim solution to meet more immediate needs. I posted about the decision to pursue a single location on my blog almost a year ago: http://plainfieldlibrarydirector.blogspot.com/2015/03/board-of-trustees-to-pursue-single.html

Budgeting for Capital Replacement
When the Library expanded from 2,700 to 27,000 sq ft in 1990, the operating budget remained the same. A referendum to operate the expanded Library failed in 1993. In 1994, 50% of the Library staff were laid off, Library hours were cut from over 60 per week to 48 and the budget frozen. This deficit in service was only restored by the building boom in Plainfield. Per capita support of the Library has not kept pace with inflation. In today’s dollars, 1990 per capita support would be $51.99. In 2015, the Library received $44.93 per capita.

In the early 2000’s, the Library Board of Trustees made the decision that bonds for expansion and capital replacement would be sought when the 1990 building bonds were paid off. Replacing the existing bonds at that time with new bonds would balance meeting the community’s immediate demand for service with long term replacement costs. The 2009 referendum failed.

Since 2010, the Library Board has spent more than $1 million on capital repairs and replacements to keep the current building operational. In 2011, KJWW Engineering began a full evaluation of the building and its systems. Their report cited over $2.1 million in capital repairs and replacement to keep the building operational in the long term, without addressing bringing it up to current code. http://www.plainfieldpubliclibrary.org/general/board/Building%20Evaluation%202-2012.pdf A Long Range Budget Plan was approved in 2013 to provide for capital repairs and replacements. This included budget freezes in some lines, reorganization of staff including elimination of five positions and reductions in hours. To keep the current building operational in the long term, further cuts will be needed if the referenda fail.

The way we live has changed drastically in the last 25 years. The proliferation of technology has increased demand for library service, not reduced it. Since 1990, the number of questions answered at the Library increased 2,500%, from 2,236 to over 56,000. The number of people attending Library programs increased 2,100%, from 2,214 to over 50,000. 21st century library services reflect the changing world we live in, utilizing the latest technology and responding to the changing needs of our community. These services include technology support, hands-on individual instruction, loaning devices and teaching software applications. The current Library building is not designed for 21st century library services.

More information and documentation of the planning process can be found at: http://plainfieldpubliclibrary.org/about/building-expansion-planning.aspx Visit the Library to view the 3D model on display near the Check Out Desk. View renderings of the proposed exterior on bulletin boards over the book return, near the elevator on ground level and in the lower level lobby.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Proposed Library Exterior Sparks Comments

Love ‘em or hate ‘em – the buzz around town on exterior renderings of the proposed Plainfield Library hits both extremes.

Comments include:
Can’t wait to see this
Offensive to our sensibilities
Vibrant and glowing
Too big to be welcoming
Modern with classic elements
No elements of historic setting
Beautiful windows for natural light
Doesn’t fit with downtown

Either way, the renderings as shown are not the final design. So the library can guarantee that the exterior will not be exactly like the renderings as they are drawn today.

The final design process won’t begin until after successful referenda. Library officials have committed to an open, public process for finalizing the proposed plans. Specific dates have not yet been announced, but library officials point to scheduled open house events during National Library Week in April as potential opportunities to begin the process. Last year, during National Library Week, the Plainfield Library held four public open house events where attendees provided input on 21st century library services and features they wanted in a new library. This year, the Library may begin the final design process with similar open houses to engage the community on the exterior design.

The design concepts balance the many diverse needs that influence the exterior. For example, at a public meeting, participants discussed making the west elevation quieter and less intrusive for our residential neighbors by reducing the number of windows. After seeing it drawn that way, residents and Village planners wanted windows on that side. It was redrawn shortly before the final rendering was made with windows.

Considerations in the development of the proposed exterior include both physical site needs and architectural context of the location. For the physical site, adjacent properties have residential, commercial, religious and educational uses. Locating the entry on the west side of the site facilitates pedestrian access. A service drive separates vehicular and pedestrian access points. South facing windows maximize natural light. Patterned brick, a strong cornice line and stone detailing mimic architectural details of the downtown.

Visit the Library to view the 3D model on display near the Check Out Desk. View renderings of the proposed exterior on bulletin boards over the book return, near the elevator on ground level and in the lower level lobby. Renderings and documentation of the planning process can be found at: http://plainfieldpubliclibrary.org/about/building-expansion-planning.aspx

Thursday, February 18, 2016

To the Person in the Ski Mask Putting Vote No Information on Cars

Dear Masked Person,

In the Library parking lot at approximately 6:30pm last evening, you were seen by a Library Trustee placing something on the windshields of vehicles. Because your behavior was suspicious (you were dressed in all black and wearing a ski mask), she looked to see what it was you were distributing. You were placing "Vote No" doorhangers on cars at the same time that the open, public Board Meeting was beginning, with the opportunity for you to voice your opinion and ask any questions about the plan, how it was developed, what's included and why. Next time, please come in and be part of the process! We look forward to you removing the mask and engaging directly in the public process.


Julie M. Milavec

P.S. Further research shows Citizens for a Reasonable Library, listed as paying for the doorhangers, does not yet appear as a registered political action committee on the Illinois State Board of Elections web site.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

More Emails Spreading Misinformation

At least two more emails, similar to the one addressed in my February 1 blog post, are spreading misinformation about the Library's referenda.

The Library is committed to getting the correct information out to residents. Please attend a drop in question and answer session, ask a library representative at a community event, submit questions online, or call, text or chat with a librarian. Submit questions directly to the library here.

There is an open Drop In Q&A in the lower level lobby of the Library from 1-5pm on Sunday, where anyone can stop by and get complete answers to any questions they have.

Here are a few points addressing the latest emails:

There are two ballot questions because one funds the building bonds and one funds the ongoing operational costs of that building. The Library Board of Trustees includes good stewardship of taxpayers dollars their Strategic Plan. They provide ready access to all of the library district's financial information.

The Library District serves 75,337 people in the Village of Plainfield, Village of Bolingbrook in Wheatland Township, Village of Romeoville in Plainfield Township, all of unincorporated Plainfield Township and most of unincorporated Wheatland Township. A map of its Will County boundaries is available here.

The estimated cost calculator, which includes both referenda, is here.

Monday, February 8, 2016

25 Years of Statistics Show Demand for 21st Century Library Service

Over the last 25 years, public libraries around the world have changed significantly, including the Plainfield Library. Since 1990, use of the Plainfield library by the community has skyrocketed, surpassing even the population boom of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. New technology provides instant access to knowledge and the ability to create and share information and works of the imagination with ease. Undersized for the population served since 2000 according to Serving Our Public: Standards for Illinois Public Libraries 3.0, the Library’s building limits its services.

When construction on the current Plainfield Library began, the official Library District population was 14,123, with five schools in Plainfield School District 202. Today, the Library serves 75,337, with 30 schools in Plainfield School District 202. That same 27,000 square foot Library is serving more than five times as many people. When the Library opened, it offered two word processing computers, typewriters for public use and collections included cassette and VHS tapes. Modern email did not exist. Today, not only are there dozens of public computers used for more than 23,000 hours of public computing sessions annually, the Library also provides WiFi and power for people to bring their own devices. Formats in the collection include DVD, Blu-ray, MP3, eBooks and eAudiobooks, streaming music and video, eReaders, Rokus, and more. The collection is over 209,000 items, which is only possible because it includes over 60,000 virtual items. While population grew 391% since the current facility opened to the public, check outs increased 454% but other library services are even more in demand.

People are using public libraries differently than they did 25 years ago. Librarians are often asked, “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 1990, 2,500 reference questions were answered by Plainfield’s librarians. In 2015, it was more than 56,000, over 21 times as many answers. Today’s questions are more complex because the easy answers are readily available. Librarians help when you can’t find what you need on the first page of results from Google. Complex questions, 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.

21 times more questions answered and 22 times more people attending programs show the shift to 21st century library services. Those services focus on continuous learning, content creation, and making connections to each other and the community. Demand for services exceeds the physical capacity of the building. With a smartphones more powerful than a super computer of 25 years ago, people today need help keeping up with the fast-paced changes in technology. But they also need a place to connect and collaborate, to make things and share things. A 21st century public library is a community center for the way we live today.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Response to Anonymous Email about Referenda

With two referenda before the Plainfield Library’s voters on March 15, getting information out to residents on the proposed plan is a priority for Library Trustees and staff. The Library offers a variety of ways to ensure all have an opportunity to get answers to any questions they may have about the proposed plan: drop in Q&A, representatives at community events, email form for questions, special newsletters and more.

The following response is based on an email reported to be circulating among residents, as forwarded to a Library official. The text in red is the unedited email, as forwarded. The text in black is answers to questions, clarifications and context.
­­­­­­­­­­­­Subject: FW: Library
20 year/39M Bond for project ref
  • True.
The building bond question on the ballot authorizes a 20 year bond for $39,000,000 to build a new library, including buying property, tearing down the old building, making a new parking lot, buying furnishings and equipping the new building, including servers and computers.

100% funded by levy increase ref
  • Partly true.
The building bond portion of the increase is 100% funded by property taxes and will be paid off in 20 years, then automatically removed from your tax bill. The bond repayment tax rate generally decreases over time as new property is annexed or develops, spreading the fixed payment amount over a larger tax base. The bond rate on the existing Library was 0.1657 in its first year, but dropped to 0.0094 by the final (20th) year. Local funding match is required for the Live and Learn Construction Grant for which the Library would apply: http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/library/grants/livelearn_construction.html
The limiting rate question is for an increase of 19% (0.0039 mils) to operate the proposed library, which is 3 times larger than the current building. Property taxes comprise approximately 85% of the Library’s annual operating revenue. The limiting tax rate increase is ongoing for the operation of the Library, subject to the tax cap after the first year.
Building Going from 27,160 SQ Feet to 72,000 SQ feet
Parking lot to 170 spots
  • True.
The estimated size and number of parking spaces listed are correct. The design will be finalized following a successful referendum. An updated Space Needs Analysis in 2015 initially called for 94,000 sq ft, but was reduced by the Library Board of Trustees to contain costs.

1989 ref failed, failed 1993, failed in 2009 for a 100,000 SQ ft facility reduced from 130,000 ft
  • True.
The three referenda listed were for different purposes. The building bond referendum in 1989 failed. A revised building bond referendum passed in 1990 with the support of the community for the library and its services, resulting in the construction of the current Library. The 1993 limiting tax rate referendum, to operate the new Library that was 10 times larger than the old, failed. Following that failure, half of the staff were laid off, the materials budget frozen and hours of operation slashed to 48 per week (68 per week today). Restoration of services occurred as the building boom began in the late 1990’s. The 2009 limiting tax rate referendum was to fund both building bonds and operation for a renovated and expanded main library and a new branch. The original Space Needs Analysis showed a need for 130,000 sq ft of Library space. The Library Board of Trustees proposed a plan for 100,000 sq ft total library space. Not listed is the 1988 referendum to merge the McClester-Nimmons Village of Plainfield Free Public Library and Plainfield Township Library into the Plainfield Public Library District and expand its service boundaries, which passed.

Marketing Scheme-
1)Hired a firm and haven’t disclosed amount paid to market Ref/design architecture
  • False.
No firm has been hired to market the referendum. The contract for Nagle Hartray Architects for pre-referendum services through schematic design only was approved on April 15, 2015 for $99,000.00. Graham Harwood from CCS International was contracted in January 2015 as owners’ representative with pre-referendum cost estimating for $42,400.00. The Plainfield Library’s monthly financial reports are included in the Board packets posted on the Citizens Information Center web page: http://plainfieldpubliclibrary.org/about/citizens-information-center.aspx Also included in the packets is supporting documentation for Action Items on the agenda, including contracts.

2) Message is that average property tax will only go up $200.00 per year- that is from a sample in the lower end homes in the Bolingbrook Portion of the district- Homes in Plainfield Township that fall in the Lib District est. $350-400 per year,  est. Wheatland $400-650 per year.
  • False.
American Fact Finder, which is the latest census information, was the source for median home values in 2014 (most recent year available). Those were:
Village of Plainfield - $289,300
Plainfield Township - $193,500
Wheatland Township - $358,400
The estimated increase for the median home value in the Village of Plainfield is $172.19, for Plainfield Township is $111.38 and for Wheatland Township is $216.04. Homeowners determine their own home’s estimated increase using the cost calculator found here: http://plainfieldpubliclibrary.org/about/fmv-calculator.aspx 

3) FUD- Fear of Uncertainty and doubt- if it doesn’t pass, capital improvements that have been ignored/not budgeted for
  • False.
What happens if the referenda fail is based not on fear, uncertainty or doubt, but fact. Capital needs have been at the forefront of the Library’s budget and planning process. The Building Evaluation 2-2012 outlines the base capital needs for keeping the current facility operational in the long term. That report, along with Strategic Plan 2011 to 2015, Strategic Plan 2016 and Beyond, and Long Range Budget Plan FY14-FY17 can all be found in the Other Documents section of the Board of Trustees web page here: http://plainfieldpubliclibrary.org/about/board.aspx

Page 72/76 has a staff shower room in the schematics
  • True
The Schematic Building Program shows a staff shower room with an allotment of 75 sq ft, which was intended to also serve for performers in the large event space, combining meeting rooms to seat 290. With the Schematic Building Program listing 77,000 sq ft of space, the final design process, following successful referenda, will include trade-offs or combining spaces, such as adding a shower stall to an accessible restroom. Green design, if the Library Board decides to pursue LEED certification, includes features like a shower room for staff to support bicycling to work.

Drive through book drop causing traffic/safety management- much more parking lot space required
  • False.
A drive up book return and service window eliminate the hazard of cars blocking traffic flow in front of the building in order to return materials, as seen with the current building, and provides safe, convenient access. Delivery and receiving are also accessed by the service drive in the rear. Maintaining an adequate amount of parking was the #1 public comment received about the downtown site. Again, the design will be finalized following successful referenda.
Exponential expansion of space for programs that will compete with the private sector- some of which are already offered by the YMCA
  • Misleading.
Program attendance has grown exponentially – 2,191% since 1993, the first year program attendance was tracked. Classes and programs are a huge part of 21st century public library service. These services reflect the changing world we live in, utilizing the latest technology and responding to the evolving needs of our community. The YMCA and private sector businesses may offer some similar programs, but their missions are different. A public library by definition provides access to knowledge, information and works of the imagination and gives that access freely to all. The Library partners with public and private organizations to further the reach of each by pooling resources when it makes sense to do so.

No scientific Poll showing the residents support this proposal when given the true scope of the project. – they were given a push poll
  • False.
Public Research Group, from Naperville, worked with the Library Board of Trustees and staff, first to determine what information they were seeking and then how to get that information from respondents. The benefit of using a professional survey company is their expertise in developing questions that are unbiased and follow up to confirm the answers given. The report on that telephone survey can be viewed here: http://plainfieldpubliclibrary.org/about/pdf/2015-09-Telephone-Survey-Final-Report.pdf

No strategic planning/capital replacement plan- ED since 2000, ADA/Building code violations need attention
  • False.
As item 3) above shows, the Library Board of Trustees has worked diligently to maintain a building with myriad structural and design issues. Compliance with full current building code is triggered when a significant investment is made in the existing building. Addressing the work identified in the Building Program 2-2012 would trigger this compliance. http://www.plainfieldpubliclibrary.org/general/board/Building%20Evaluation%202-2012.pdf

P 76 to see the shower room planned for the library

  • Links to the Library’s web page.

The entire planning process and documentation is available on the Building & Expansion Planning web page: http://plainfieldpubliclibrary.org/about/building-expansion-planning.aspx

If you have further questions, stop by a drop in question and answer session, ask a Library representative at a community event, submit questions online via the web form, call, text or chat with a librarian. Dates and times of drop in sessions and Library representatives at community events are available here: http://plainfieldpubliclibrary.org/about/pdf/timeline-012016.pdf

To submit your questions directly to the Library: http://plainfieldpubliclibrary.org/about/building-expansion-feedback.aspx

You can also call Library Director Julie M. Milavec at 815-439-2874 or visit the Library’s website at www.plainfieldpubliclibrary.org