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

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: 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: 

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: and the Citizens Information Center where the Board packets, including monthly statistics, are posted regularly: 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:
"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 "

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:

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.

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.

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: 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: 

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:

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.