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.

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:

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. 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: 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:

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:
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: 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: 

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:

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:

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.

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:

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:

To submit your questions directly to the Library:

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