Monday, October 8, 2007

Mystery Night at the Library

Do you think that you can solve a mystery as well as Sherlock Holmes or perhaps Hercule Poirot, Jane Marple, V.I. Warshawski, or Amos Walker? If you would like to test your deductive skills and have a lot of fun at the same time, the Friends of the Carol Stream Public Library invite you to a special evening of entertainment on Friday, October 26, 2007, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. This special program has been created with the help of The Mystery Shop and is open to all interested patrons ages 18 or older. A light supper will be served at 5:30 and the mystery game will begin at 6:30.

All attendees will have a chance to seek clues about a murder mystery through a special auction using special Mystery Shop “money.” As the facts of the crime are revealed through the bidding process, guests will try to use all of the available information to solve the mystery and to figure out who is the Prime Suspect in the case.

This is an after-hours event at the Carol Stream Public Library, and so only ticket holders will be allowed to enter the building to participate in the supper and entertainment events. Tickets for the Mystery Dinner cost $15 and may be purchased at the Reception Desk at the library. Please plan to join us for what we know will be a special evening at the library.

Date: October 26, 2007
Time: 5:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Annual Meeting and Garden Project

The Friends of the Carol Stream Public Library are pleased to announce that the annual meeting and a special garden planting activity will be held on Wednesday, May 23, 2007, at 6:30 p.m. at the library. Please join us for this enriching service project. The Friends will hold a brief business meeting to review the previous year’s activities and elect new officers. We will then gather at the front of the Library to plant new flowers in the Lynn O’Dell Reading Garden! If you would like to participate, please bring your gardening tools and 2-3 annual bedding plants of any variety and color to plant in the garden. If weather threatens on Wednesday, the rain date for the gardening activity will be Thursday, May 24.

Items on the meeting agenda include a discussion of the past year’s activities, a treasurer’s report, and the election of new officers. If you would like to be a part of the Friends organization during the upcoming year or would just like to learn more about the ways that our organization provides support for the many worthwhile activities that are provided by the Carol Stream Public Library, please plan to join us on May 23.

Referendum Follow-up: The members of the Friends organization were, of course, disappointed that the recent library referendum issue did not get enough votes to pass since we know that the issues relating to overcrowded conditions and lack of adequate computer facilities will continue to limit the kinds of services that the library staff would like to provide for the public. Still, we are extremely grateful to the many people who donated both money and time in the recent campaign. These people worked tirelessly on behalf of the citizens of Carol Stream in their efforts to win approval for a new library, and we thank them for their dedicated service to the community. We will await discussions by members of the elected Library Board as we plan our future strategies to get a much-needed new facility to serve the residents of the village.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Irresponsible Journalism

With the election just a few days away, we had originally thought that our final post before election day would simply be a short reminder to contact your friends and neighbors to urge them to get to the polling stations. Unfortunately, we find ourselves once again having to take time to address another egregious attempt to distort the facts of the library referendum. Over the past several weeks, many good citizens of Carol Stream have risen up against opponents who have tried to foist inaccurate, outdated, or exaggerated claims about the library proposal on the public. These supporters have written countless letters to the local papers and have provided the accurate statistics and background information that the voters deserve. On April 11, an unexpected and deplorable new development has forced us to redouble our efforts to inform the public. Sadly, this challenge came from The Examiner, a community newspaper that purports to inform and serve the public.

Breach of Journalistic Ethics: If you are like most Carol Stream residents, you were probably filled with anger and disgust if you read a story printed on April 11 that employed two old and irrelevant internal memos to allege deception on the part of the library staff. Incredibly, no one from The Examiner made any attempt to contact the Library Director to verify if the memos were authentic or if they had been obtained legally. The writer makes no effort to point out that the memos were between four and five years old or that they referred to decisions that were totally unrelated to the current referendum campaign. Further, the writer made no effort to solicit a comment from the Library Director or to provide an opportunity for her to refute the unfounded allegations. Couple these facts with an article title that suggests deception and suspicious timing just days before the election, and it is easy to see why so many angry readers believe that the actions of the writer and editor at The Examiner ran contrary to virtually every established standard of journalistic ethics.

Curiously, the slogan on the newspaper’s masthead reads, “If I were to choose between a government without a newspaper or a newspaper without a government, I would not hesitate to choose the latter.” We feel that the words are as meaningful today as they were when Jefferson wrote them, but the implication, of course, is that the newspaper elects to adhere to the ethical standards that the public has reason to expect. If the publishers of the paper do not, then the publication is literally not worth the paper on which it is printed. The good citizens of Carol Stream expect and deserve better.

What Can You Do?: We feel that the best way to deal with this deplorable article is to use it as additional motivation to communicate with as many residents as you can in these final days. If people inquire about the article, call attention to the irresponsible reporting and reinforce the many valid reasons for a YES vote for a new library. Renew your efforts to call or e-mail your friends and neighbors, and urge them to extend your efforts by contacting five or ten more people. If you wish, forward this blog post on to others and encourage them to read the long list of articles on this site. If anybody doubts the notion that the shelves and public spaces are filled beyond capacity, please encourage them to visit the library this weekend so that they can see for themselves the overcrowded conditions that have caused so many residents to support the proposal for a larger and more modern facility.

We thank everyone who has shown support for this important issue, and we are confident that, with your help in the next few days, we can achieve our vision of a new library for Carol Stream.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Putting the Final Pieces in Place

The election is just a few days away now, and over the past several months, we have tried to share the facts about the library referendum and our vision for the many ways that a new library will benefit the residents of Carol Stream. We have posted many detailed articles on this site, distributed lawn signs to promote the cause, encouraged residents to write letters to the local newspapers, and mailed flyers filled with pertinent information for voters. We know that the support for a new library is growing throughout the village, but it is now time to put the final pieces in place to assure a winning vote on April 17.

The next few days will be critical in our effort to realize the dream of a new library, and we will need the help of every resident who supports the issue. Here are some ways that you can help to make it happen:

Phone Calls: Members of the Referendum Committee have already made plans to contact a large number of Carol Stream residents, but they do not have the means to phone every potential voter. The simplest and most effective way for people to help the cause is to call every friend or neighbor you can reach and urge them to get to the polls next Tuesday and vote YES on the library issue. Better yet—ask each person you contact to do the same and call five or ten of their Carol Stream friends.

Door-to-Door: If possible, take a few minutes this weekend to walk up and down your street and talk to your neighbors about the importance of a new library. If you sense that some people you speak with are undecided, you could share the address of this Friends website with them or suggest that they study the materials available by clicking the “New Building Referendum” link on the Carol Stream Public Library site. It is very important that voters have access to accurate information and statistics so that they are not misled by the many false or deceptive claims that some opponents have raised in newspaper letters or on flyers.

School or Church: This is the time to be sure that all of the Carol Stream residents in your church congregation or school PTA know the facts about the library issue. Parents with school age children are likely to be interested in all of the additional resources, computers, reading programs, and other special activities that will all be possible with a new and modern library. Please talk to as many people as you can in the next few days and stress the importance of every vote.

On April 7, a large group of dedicated library supporters braved the cold as they took a “Hike to the Site” to raise awareness for the cause. We feel that support for the library issue has clearly been building in the past several weeks, but there is no doubt that the election will be close. We cannot afford to be complacent in these final days. Please help us by making every effort that you can to inform people about the library referendum and by urging them to vote YES. Remind them that their modest investment of about 30 cents a day or a couple of dollars a week will go further than they imagine as they realize all of the benefits that a modern library will bring to their families and to their community.

Friday, April 6, 2007

More Letters of Support

A few days ago, we included some excerpts from letters in support of a new library in Carol Stream that were printed in several of the local newspapers. In the short time since then, a stream of new letters have been printed and we thought it would be useful to include some more excerpts here as a service to those readers who might not have seen them in the papers. We are very pleased to hear that the support for the library proposal seems to be growing, and we hear very positive opinions about the proposal from residents in the village. Look at what some or your friends or neighbors have to say:

“Because of the storage space problem, it seems to me that the library staff is in a no-win situation. On the one hand, they could simply choose not to buy any new materials because no shelf space remains, but if they choose that strategy, the collection will simply get more dated and less useful as time goes by. On the other hand, if they are forced to continue to discard good materials to make room for newer items, they weaken the overall collection they have worked so hard to build. When I see all the shelves everywhere in the central part of the building, it is hard to remember what the library looked like not so many years ago when there were actually enough tables and chairs for people who wanted to stay and work or read. I plan to vote for a new library.”
- Cynthia Green

“I think we have a responsibility as a community to make sure that some basic resources are available to the people who need them. I cannot ignore the many challenges the workers at our library are facing and the inconveniences patrons must put up with just to save a few dollars a month on my tax bill. The library tax rate has not been raised since 1985. Having served as the Library Director, I am witness to the fact that the Board of Trustees does not waste our money or plan extravagant projects. The current library building has served us well. We need to face the fact that we have outgrown that building, and it’s time to look to the future. Carol Stream needs a new Library. Join me in voting YES on April 17.”
- Lynn O’Dell

“Without a new building, the library will have no choice but to reallocate the meeting room for the collection and eliminate programming for children. Library story times are a vital substitute for many children’s preschool experience, sometimes for financial reasons. Do we really want to live in a community where story times are not available for everyone? The library already withdraws one book for every new one added. Without a new building, the collection will suffer as well. In these days when people pay a lot more than 30 cents a day for a cup of coffee, isn’t that a small price to pay to ensure that quality educational services are available to everyone in Carol Stream? Join me and vote YES for the Carol Stream Library referendum.”
- Amy Teske

“During a Candidates Night, the library issue was one of the key topics discussed. The first speaker was former Library Director Lynn O’Dell, and it was clear from the audience response that attendees were impressed with her presentation in which she outlined the need for a new library. Next up were the two mayoral candidates, and when asked if they supported the library referendum, both men made it clear they support the proposal to build a new library. I feel that this is important information for Carol Stream residents. These candidates are long-time residents of our village who have taken time to research the issue and to analyze both the benefits and the financial implications associated with building a new library. It is quite significant that both mayoral candidates have concluded that this is an important endeavor needed to serve the needs of the people of Carol Stream.”
- Ellen Marchessault

“A library is a key resource within a healthy community. Our population in 1977, when the library was first built, was 9,640. Already 30 years later, we have grown to more than 40,000 residents. We have quadrupled in size and have naturally outgrown the present facility. Choose to move forward toward growth and prosperity for a vital community. Please come out to vote on April 17th and consider voting YES for our library and our community.”
- Rose Calkins

“The need for a new, more technologically advanced and bigger facility will not go away. We have one of the largest populations in DuPage County and one of the smallest libraries. More than 60 percent of our citizens have library cards, so a library as small as ours does not make sense. Don’t the citizens of Carol Stream want life-long learning for all its citizens? Nobody likes more taxes. However, I know a new library will better the lives of all Carol Stream citizens and I can look beyond my own needs to help all who live in our village. Won't you join me and vote YES for the Carol Stream library referendum?”
- Barb Siegman

“A library is not meant to house only new items; it is designed to provide the public with a large collection suited for any taste. I have found myself shopping online and visiting other area libraries more often. It is a shame I have to spend hundreds of dollars every year to read books I used to have access to for free. It is even more ridiculous I have to drive past the Carol Stream Public Library to borrow DVDs from another library’s collection. For little more than $9 a month, the residents of Carol Stream can build a new library; this is the equivalent of the average price of a single paperback book. A small price to pay when you consider how much you spend at Blockbuster, Best Buy or Borders in a given year. The time for a new building is now, not next year or two years from now, when construction costs have increased and the library’s collection has dwindled even more. I will be voting YES for the library referendum April 17, and I hope you will too.”
- Leslie Shambo

“YES, I'm anti-tax. But our Library has been run and is run by one of the most frugal-minded groups that I've ever had the pleasure of working with. Trust me -- THERE'S NOTHING LEFT TO CUT. This referendum is necessary. I urge your consideration, and request that you pass this along to any Carol Stream residents that you know.”
- Laura Pollastrini

Now that the election is just over a week away, the best thing you can do now is get in touch with all of your friends and neighbors and encourage them to get out and vote. If people have questions or need more information, please direct them to this site and to the referendum section of the Carol Stream Public Library site.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Hike to the Site

We are pleased to announce that a special event called the “Hike to the Site” has been scheduled for Saturday, April 7, 2007. The event is designed to inform the residents of Carol Stream about the proposal to build a new library that is on the April 17 ballot and to let them see the site on which the new library would be built. We know that many people have probably driven past the property on Kuhn Road many times over the years without ever really taking time to look carefully at the location. This will be a great opportunity to walk around the grounds and visualize where the building will be situated.

The hike will begin at 1:00 p.m. in the parking lot in front of the current library building at 616 Hiawatha Drive. Walkers will proceed west on Illini Avenue to Aztec Drive, turn south to Thunderbird, west to Kuhn Road, and finally north to the site adjacent to the Carol Stream Community Education Center. If you would like to participate in this community awareness event, please join us from the beginning or feel free to jump in at any point along the route.

All residents are invited to join the hike, especially those people who might have questions about the referendum or who are looking for more information about this important issue on the ballot. There will be crafts for the children as well as refreshments for all when we reach the library site. We have scheduled some short presentations and a variety of printed materials about the new library will be distributed. Pass the word along to your friends and neighbors and join us for what we know will be an enjoyable afternoon.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Two Fundraising Nights

The members of the Friends of the Carol Stream Public Library are pleased to announce that two local restaurants are working with us on April 3 and 10 by hosting fundraising promotions that will benefit our organization. Both the Wendy’s Restaurant and the newly opened Wing Stop Restaurant on Army Trail Road have generously offered to share portions of their receipts on designated evenings with the Friends.

The process is easy since there are no coupons or forms needed for the fundraisers. All you have to do is place your orders during the designated times and make sure that you mention that you are with the Friends of the Carol Stream Public Library. We are grateful that these two friendly neighborhood establishments have agreed to work with us, and we hope that you pass the word along to all of your friends and neighbors. The specific details are below:

Wendy’s Restaurant
1850 Army Trail Road
Tuesday, April 3
5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Wing Stop Restaurant
566 W. Army Trail Road
Tuesday, April 10
4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

We hope that everyone participates in these two fundraising opportunities because we think it is a win-win situation. Our organization will receive contributions that will help us to carry out our many initiatives while we encourage residents to patronize two local businesses at the same time.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Early Voting: Your Choice-Your Time

Today marks the first date on which registered voters in DuPage County can cast ballots under the provisions of the Early Voting initiative that was launched in August, 2005. The program was designed to accommodate voters who might not be able to vote on the established election day. The Early Election program is called “Your Choice-Your Time” because it allows voters to cast ballots at any of several locations around the county at a time that is convenient for each individual.

This year, the early voting program in DuPage County runs from March 26-April 12, and if you are interested, you can vote at one of 10 different voting centers across the county. Be sure to bring a government issued photo ID card such as a driver’s license when you go to vote. Here are the details for the voting centers located near Carol Stream:

DuPage County Election Commission
421 N. County Farm Road, Wheaton
Monday-Friday: 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Saturday: 9:00 a.m.-12:00 Noon
Sunday: 9:00 a.m.-12:00 Noon

Stratford Square Mall
Lower Level near Carson Pirie Scott
Monday-Friday: 10:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.
Saturday: 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
Sunday: 11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

Bartlett Community Center
700 S. Bartlett Road
Tuesday, Thursday, & Friday: 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Monday & Wednesday: 3:30 p.m.-7:00 p.m.
Saturday: 9:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

For information about the other voting centers or to find additional details about the program, click here to go to the DuPage County Election Commission website.

Late Registration: The traditional deadline for registration for the April 17 election was March 20, but state law provides a “grace period” provision to accommodate individuals who were unable to register on that date or verify a change of address before the deadline. This year, the grace period runs from March 21 through April 3, but it is important to remember that registration during this grace period can only be done at the DuPage Election Commission Office at 421 N. County Farm Road in Wheaton.

Since every vote will be critical in the April 17 referendum, we hope that you will take advantage of the Early Voting program if that option is more convenient for you. Please pass along this information to your friends and neighbors and encourage them to uphold their civic responsibility and vote in this important election.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Nothing Left to Cut

We are pleased today to have a guest blogger, Laura Pollastrini, on the CSPL Friends site. As she mentions in her message, Laura brings considerable insight to the library referendum issue as a long time resident of Carol Stream and as a member of the Library Board for several years. We have included an architect’s sketch of the interior of the proposed new library here because open space is one of the key issues that Laura discusses in her message:

“I am a 28 year resident of Carol Stream, growing up in our local public schools. For 7 years I served as a Library Trustee, from 1995 - 2002. Throughout that period, we were forced to continuously chip away at the openness of the library so as to be able to utilize the space for books and materials. If you've been there lately, you know that we're down to a handful of tables for the youth to study on, and the adult tables are down to about 4. No longer is there space for a mother to sit and read with her child, for that space is now needed for shelving. No longer can I go there and curl up on a chair and read a good book, for the stand-alone chairs are also gone, again, because that space was needed for materials. In fact, there is shelving everywhere, periodicals on stands anywhere they'll fit, and computer stations one on top of the other. WHY? Because the residents want computers and more up to date materials, but there's no place to put them. Long gone is the open atmosphere that greeted you when you walked into the building in the 70's and 80's. That's because the library was built when there were about 9,000 residents in Carol Stream, and it was built for a capacity of 120,000 volumes. We now have a population 4 times that (40,000+) and 180,000 volumes. There were no computers back then. NOW, everyone wants the library to provide them for public use, a need that the library is desperately trying to accommodate.

As a result of this desperate need for space to accommodate the changing needs of the community, the most shameful thing that has had to be done is that for the past several (and I stress several) years, the staff has been forced to get rid of materials (books, periodicals, tapes, etc) for each new material purchased. Buy a book, get rid of a book. Buy a tape, get rid of a tape. That has been the only way that the library has been able to continue purchasing up to date materials that residents want -- by getting rid of old ones (and I use the word "old" lightly!), materials which would still be of use had we not had a space problem.

For those who know me well, you know that I am one of the most anti-tax persons in this county. "Make do with what you've got." "Live within your means." "Cut waste instead of raising my taxes." The Carol Stream Library has been doing that for the past decade. If this Referendum doesn't pass, the community room will be gone, and with it, the programs that the library provides. They'll need that room for shelving and materials. That will affect Children, Adults, Seniors, as well as Local Businesses. Gone will be the remainder of study tables. School libraries close when school ends at 2:30 or 3:00. Where will those kids go to study, do research, or do their homework if there are no tables to work at?

YES, I'm anti-tax. But our Library has been run and is run by one of the most frugal-minded groups that I've ever had the pleasure of working with. Trust me -- THERE'S NOTHING LEFT TO CUT. This referendum is necessary. I urge your consideration, and request that you pass this along to any Carol Stream residents that you know.”
- Laura Pollastrini

Thanks, Laura. We would love to hear from others as well. Click below to leave a comment on this site or share your opinions about the library referendum by writing a “Letter to the Editor” to any of the local newspapers!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Letters to the Editor

As the April 17 election draws nearer, we have been pleased to see a number of informative letters printed in the local newspapers. The writers have touched on several of the key issues relating to the library referendum and they have expressed their support for the construction of a new library in Carol Stream. We have included excerpts from several of the letters below to illustrate the passion that many residents feel about this important issue:

“It is the goal of the Carol Stream Public Library’s Board of Trustees and staff to fill the information and cultural needs of the community in a friendly and professional manner. Unfortunately we are no longer able to meet that goal due to space limitations. Both our older and younger patrons have found it difficult to reach materials since we have had to start using the uppermost and bottom shelves on our stacks. This is also true for our handicapped patrons as well. Due to space limitations, for every new book that comes into the library’s collection, another book must be removed.”
- Robert E. Douglas
Carol Stream Public Library Board President

“Ten dollars a month to have a Community Library that provides service to those without internet access (there are more than you think), who still have a VCR, whose children need a place to do homework, a resource worthy of the residents of Carol Stream. This community has been my home for 35 years. My children deserved the present facility when it replaced the little house on Blackhawk, and the future children of Carol Stream deserve a Library spacious enough, filled with a collection that will meet their needs, and is easily accessible.”
- Barbara Kohlmetz

“We’re voting ‘YES’ because we want our library to be more than a warehouse. We expect that our community library should be the first place we think of when looking for a comfortable seat to browse some books or a quiet study area with WIFI access, rather than the local coffee shop, restaurant or book store. Our current facility has lost that sense of “place” as it has struggled to provide access to technology and materials.”
- Mary and Tony Clemens

“Shouldn’t we have a library that more than just adequately serves our large population, but also represents our values related to learning, community programs, and fair and equal access to everything from print materials to the Internet for the people who depend on it? Carol Stream residents should vote ‘Yes’ to the proposed referendum in that it is asking for a very minimal contribution for a substantial return and a new much needed library, that will serve as an extremely valuable resource to current and future residents of Carol Stream.”
- Jessica Hubinek

“We are at an important juncture in the history of our village, and we need to act to provide the necessary resources for our families. Communities are largely defined by the quality of their public institutions because schools, parks, and libraries contribute so much to the quality of life in a city or village. In past years, we have made the wise and sensible choices to build new schools as the village has grown because we know it is in the best interests of all if we provide excellent educational opportunities. We have recognized the need for new parks and recreation facilities because we know that they add value to the community and help to make Carol Stream a more pleasant place to live. So it is with a proposal to build a well-equipped modern library that is designed with both the present and future needs of our residents in mind.”
- Richard Marchessault

“I love my Carol Stream Public Library. I love the excitement I feel as I approach the new book section, wondering what awaits me…However, there are also things I DON’T love about the Carol Stream Public Library…There is no "quiet" area for reading. When I need to use a computer, there is often a line…If I do venture into the racks to look at older books, it is literally impossible for two people to walk by each other, the space is so tight. Once I maneuver to where I need to be, the book I’m searching for is not to be found because of the library having to get rid of one book for each new book purchased…For all of the above reasons, I will be voting YES for the Carol Stream Public Library referendum on April 17.”
- Peggy Benzin

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Libraries in a Digital Age

The incredible growth in the number of Internet-based resources in recent years has put a significant base of knowledge at the fingertips of many home computer users, but it has also created some substantial misunderstandings about the availability of knowledge in our digital age. With access to so many web sites, e-mail services, and Usenet discussion newsgroups, some may reason that libraries are less vital than they were a decade ago. In fact, the opposite has proven to be true across the country just as it has in Carol Stream-- circulation statistics are at an all-time high and more people visited the Carol Stream Public Library last year than in any previous year.

More Than the Internet: There are many reasons to explain the continuing importance of public libraries, and much has to do with the changing nature of information retrieval. Internet web sites do offer a wealth of information, but they contain only a portion of the information that the library has amassed in its collection of books, magazines, and audio-visual materials. Further, the library has purchased subscriptions to dozens of services that provide access to specialized collections and databases not otherwise available on the Internet. They have been purchased to serve the needs of the community and often require professional assistance by members of the library staff. Remember also that there are thousands of Carol Stream residents who do not have access to modern computers or high-speed Internet access in their homes, and they rely on the library when they need to do research, complete assignments, download forms, or communicate with others.

The fact is, as libraries evolve to keep up with the many new sources of digital media, the need for more computers and work stations becomes even greater. It is this realization that also brings us to one of the most compelling needs facing the Carol Stream Public Library and a prime justification for the construction of a new building. At present, there are only 7 computers available for public use in the Adult section of the library, and not all of those have Internet access. In the Children’s Department, the limitations are even more pronounced with only two computers with Internet access. There are many classrooms in Carol Stream schools that have more computers for children to use, and those classrooms serve between 20-30 students. The Carol Stream Public Library serves over 40,000 residents.

Very few Internet-based computers are available for adult patrons at the library

The Children's Department has only two Internet workstations for young patrons

The Need is Urgent: The library staff recognizes the urgent need for many more computers, but the current building lacks both the physical space and the necessary infrastructure to install more computer stations. The risk, of course, is that as information technology continues to progress in the years to come, the library in its current configuration will be less and less suited to adequately serve the needs of the community. One of the key components of the proposed new building is the provision for at least three times as many public computers supported by a modern data network. It is also one of the compelling arguments for voting “yes” to approve the library referendum issue in April.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Register to Vote by March 20

The consolidated election on April 17 is on the minds of many people, especially since the important library referendum issue is on the ballot. Keep April 17 in mind, but don’t forget another important date that marks a critical deadline for some village residents—March 20. This is the last date that voters can register if they wish to vote in the April 17 election. You can register to vote at the Village Hall, but you may not be aware of the fact that you can also register at the Carol Stream Public Library.

Even if you are already registered to vote, try to think of neighbors, members of your school parent’s organizations or church congregations, or other friends who may not be registered to vote in this important election. Have any families just moved into your neighborhood in the past several months? Are there some new faces at school or church activities? Will your teenagers be old enough to vote for the first time this April? The deadline for registration is less than two weeks away, so be sure to talk to your friends about the library issue and make sure that they are registered and are planning to vote.

Since the Carol Stream Public Library is one of the registration sites, you could encourage any non-registered voters to visit the library in the next few days so that they can complete the process. If they do visit, encourage them to look around the building and to study all of the information about the proposed new facility that is posted in the lobby. Every vote matters as village residents decide this critical issue that will have a profound and lasting effect on the quality of life in Carol Stream in the years to come.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Imagine the Possibilities

As we get closer to the April 17 referendum vote, many residents of Carol Stream will want to know what a new library will mean to them in terms of added physical space, new resources, and enhanced programs for their families. Contrary to what a few people have written in recent letters to the local newspapers, the vision for the new library extends far beyond a few extra shelves or a few more spaces in the parking lot. This proposal would allow the Library Board of Trustees to oversee the construction of an entirely new facility that would not only provide much needed space for the collections and patrons, but also the means to bring the latest information technologies to library users.

It is not possible here to outline all of the features and resources that are planned for the new library, but we have summarized below some of the most significant improvements that would be a part of the new facility:

Reading and Study Space: Residents who have used the current library for more than a few years have noticed one very disturbing recent trend—large areas in the central portion of the building that were once filled with tables and comfortable chairs for reading have gradually disappeared as more and more shelving has been added in an ongoing attempt to house the growing collections of books and audio-visual materials. The architect’s plans for the new library call for several open and inviting spaces for adults and younger patrons to comfortably read as well as the creation of several quiet study rooms. The library used to feature such study rooms for individuals and small groups to work or collaborate on projects, but they were removed many years ago to make room for needed offices and staff work spaces.

Separate Areas for Adult and Youth Patrons: The current library does not come close to having adequate space for quiet adult reading, youth programs, or special activities for parents with pre-school children. While final blueprints for the new library and the internal floor plan cannot be drawn until the project has been officially approved, there are some preliminary floor plans posted on the library site. You can see that the plans call for much needed space for meetings and special programs as well as ample room for patrons of all ages to be able to read and work in quiet and comfortable spaces.

Enhanced Computer Access: If the library is to be able to serve the needs of the public at a time when information technology is rapidly evolving, it is obvious that we need to have many more computers available to patrons so that they can do online research, work on projects and assignments, and access the resources that are available in our library and in the broader network of library systems in the suburbs and across the state. At present, there is no remaining space to install any more computers, but the plan for the new building calls for at least three times as many computer work stations for patrons. Just as important, the new building will be wired to serve the needs of our users now and for many years to come.

Environmental Issues: The library staff and the Board of Trustees continue to find ways to keep the building as “green” as possible, but energy conservation is sometimes difficult to achieve in a building that was constructed before many of the implications of current environmental concerns were fully understood. The architects and engineers would now have an opportunity to incorporate energy-saving heating and lighting technologies into the specifications for the new building that will not only reduce some energy expenditures, but also make the building a more eco-friendly structure in our community. As noted on the Carol Stream Public Library web site, “The Library and its architects are committed to building a green building in a cost effective manner that will be easy to maintain for many years.”

These improvements would all come in addition to some of the more obvious needs that have already been cited on these pages and on the library web site—more accessible shelving for all patrons, ample green space around the building for patrons who would like to read and work outdoors when weather permits, and additional parking spaces. The library staff has done an admirable job of making the most of the current facility, but it becomes more apparent with each passing year that the limitations created by the size of the building make it extremely difficult for the staff to meet the needs of our community.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Some Library Cost Comparisons

In light of some of the comments that have been raised over the past few weeks by a few Carol Stream residents in letters to The Examiner, we think it is time to look more closely at the issue of the projected cost per square foot of the proposed new library. One writer has maintained in more than one letter that a projected cost of just over $300 per square foot is far too high and that a cheaper alternative would be to remodel an existing space at an estimated “$44-$78 per square foot.” It should be clear to all readers that such estimates cannot be accurately calculated unless a specific piece of property is identified and a detailed project cost analysis is completed. Still, the underlying question of the cost of building a library structure is a critical one for village residents, and so we have assembled some facts that help to explain the inescapable reality that library facilities are more complex than many other types of buildings and therefore cost more to build.

Each year, the editors of a professional trade publication called the Library Journal analyze all of the new academic and public library construction projects across the country, and the data from their 2006 report sheds some interesting light on this discussion. According to the information in this annual report which was published in December, 2006, six new library buildings were built in Illinois last year. All were branch libraries—five in Chicago and one in Hanover Park. The table below shows the cost per square foot of each of these new library construction projects.

Library Construction Projects in Illinois (2006)

As you can see, the cheapest project came in at $254.78 per square foot, and one of the Chicago libraries totaled $341.94 per square foot. Remember that the actual cost of the proposed Carol Stream Library cannot be accurately determined until the referendum is passed and bids are let out to contractors, and it is our hope that the competitive bid process will drive the estimated cost down below the $300 level. Given that our project is a main library building and not merely a smaller branch facility, the estimated cost seems to be well in line and consistent with other projects in Illinois.

As we have pointed out in other posts on this CSPL Friends blog, library construction tends to be more expensive than typical industrial or retail spaces. Large and open reading spaces require building materials that are engineered to support the structural weight demands of these larger spans. In order to fully meet the needs of the community, a modern library must also include special purpose meeting rooms, areas for processing a wide variety of print and digital media, and complex electrical and data cabling installations for computers and work stations. Just as it is does not make sense to compare construction projects in Illinois to similar projects in other states like Arkansas or Wyoming, it does not serve the interests of the community to compare the cost of this new library project with libraries built a decade ago or with storefront “satellite” branches which are almost always viewed as temporary fixes and not permanent solutions to an overcrowded community library crisis.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Take a Library Tour

If you have visited the Carol Stream Public Library in recent days, you have probably noticed posters like the one shown here. The staff members at the library have announced that they will conduct a series of tours of the library over the next several weeks so that interested residents can learn more about the facilities and the programs that are offered to the public. According to information on the Library web site, these tours will give residents a chance to see some areas of the building that are not generally open to the public. Given the discussion in the local papers about the adequacy of the current facility, we encourage all interested residents to join one of the tours and see first-hand the space limitations that challenge library employees and patrons.

Tour Information: The Carol Stream Public Library web site lists five building tours, and so we have included all of the dates and starting times below:

Sunday, February 25 (2:00 p.m.)
Tuesday, March 6 (7:00 p.m.)
Saturday, March 17 (3:00 p.m.)
Monday, March 19 (7:00 p.m.)
Wednesday, April 4 (7:00 p.m.)

The tours will start in the lobby area where you enter the building. As you wait for other residents to arrive, please take some time to look at the referendum information and architectural renderings of the proposed new library that are on view in the display cases.

Whether you are a regular library user or a resident who has not looked around the building for some time, these special tours will give you an opportunity to see for yourself how crowded the facilities have become over the past several years and how little physical space remains for workers to catalog and process new materials, assist patrons, and offer special programs for the community. Take the tour and be an informed voter when you cast your ballot on April 17.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Calculating Your Library Investment

We noticed a new feature on the Carol Stream Public Library web site that helps residents to assess the value of the services that they receive from the library each month. It is called a Library Use Value Calculator and it is a simple tool to help illustrate how much a family might be obligated to spend out-of-pocket for the materials and assistance they depend on throughout the year that are available at the local public library. As we examine the key issues that face us in the upcoming referendum, we can gain some important information with the use of this specal calculator.

The project was initiated by professionals at the Massachusetts Library Association and the spreadsheet that they developed was then modified as a web-based module by staff members at the Chelmsford Public Library in Massachusetts. Average monetary values for items such as books, magazines, videos, computer access time, and professional services have been built into the calculator so that when library patrons type in the number of materials that members of their family use in a typical month, they are able to see the dollar value of those resources and services.

To illustrate, we have entered some rather modest numbers in the example below and yet the estimated value of materials and services totals $152 per month. Many of our patrons regularly borrow more items every month than the numbers used in our example:

Residents who frequently check out more materials, make regular use of the free high-speed Internet access in the library, order books through inter-library loan, or enroll members of their families in the many special programs realize even greater value each month. Click here to try out the calculator on the Carol Stream Library web site.

Investing in a Library: The fact is, it is often easy to take the services and materials offered by a public library for granted and many residents may not realize that the cost of maintaining a modern, well-equipped library is not just a line item on their annual tax bill—it is an investment in the quality of life for members of their families, in the value of their homes, and in the community as a whole. In Carol Stream, the library tax rate has not gone up in over 21 years and our residents pay one of the lowest library rates in the suburban area. As we have pointed out in other messages on this site, the referendum on April 17 to build a new library will add an additional 30 cents a day to the average tax bill for village households or about $10 a month. Try out the “Library Use Value Calculator” and we think you will agree that the library proposal is a wise investment for the future of Carol Stream.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Building a Library: Special Considerations

There has been an interesting exchange of ideas in the “Letters to the Editor” section of The Examiner regarding the proposal for a new library in Carol Stream. Over the past few weeks, two residents have questioned the estimated cost of the proposed new building and wondered why the Library Board doesn’t simply expand the present facility or purchase one of the available warehouse spaces in the industrial section of the village and convert it for library use. The writers suggest that their plans could be completed at a lower cost per square foot.

It is an important discussion because it addresses some valuable ideas that many residents may have about the process of planning and building a modern library that, unfortunately, are not viable options. First, we have to dispel once again the notion that simply adding on to the existing library structure is a practical or economical strategy. As outlined in a previous article on this site, this will not work due to the size of the property and the fact that it is on a flood plain.

While it might be wonderful to be able to build a library at the same cost of a large storage facility or industrial warehouse, the reality is that library construction presents a number of special circumstances and issues that must be taken into account during the planning and construction stages. The American Library Association has published a series of books devoted specifically to this topic, and the Carol Stream Library Board has reviewed these issues as well as the recommendations of architects, library professionals, and interested residents.

Consider some of the special considerations that have helped to shape the current proposal to build a new library:

New Demands for Modern Resources: In years past, planning for libraries was a more predictable and straightforward process since most materials—books, magazines, and tapes—were all items that could be housed on shelves. Once the planners determined the number of linear feet of shelving that would be required, they could simply calculate the number of shelving units to purchase and locate them on the floor plans. Planning for modern libraries is far more complex since attention must be paid to all of the new electronic and computer resources that current users require as well as to predictions of the ways that information technology may evolve in years to come.

Special Engineering: Since libraries typically feature large open spaces in the central public areas, architects and structural engineers must specify building materials that will meet the demands of the larger spans and weight considerations. Creating these inviting open spaces is a more complex and costly process than designing warehouse or commercial structures.

Location: Residents expect that community libraries are conveniently located in central locations so that all patrons can reach the facilities easily and safely. Since a large number of library patrons are school-aged childen who often walk or ride their bikes, it is not feasible or advisable to situate a new library in an industrial area far removed from homes and schools. One of the appealing aspects of the site of the proposed library is the fact that it is conveniently located on Kuhn Road and could help to anchor an educational corridor that incudes Glenbard North High School to the north and the Community Education Center next door.

American Disabilities Act: Like all other public buildings, a new library must conform to all of the local codes as well as access standards required by the ADA. These are important measures that address the physical needs of all patrons, but the structural issues that must be dealt with to be in compliance with these codes and regulations add to the cost of public buildings.

Remember also that we are not suggesting that the current building be torn down. Several other Carol Stream village agencies have already expressed an interest in the building, and the proceeds of the sale of the facility would be used to operate the new library. As the residents who have written to The Examiner have pointed out, the structure is still sound and will be for many years—it is just too small to serve the library needs of a community that has outgrown a facility that was designed to serve a community of less than 10,000 residents and not the current population of more than 40,000 people.

Do you have an opinion about the need or the features of our proposed new library? If so, please leave a comment by clicking on the link below. If you would like to respond in print to the residents who have already written to The Examiner, just click here to reach the newspaper contact page to write your letter.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

30 Cents a Day

Whenever residents of a community vote on a local referendum issue, the decisions they make are usually based on their perceptions of the value of the proposed initiative as it relates to the estimated cost. So it is that when you go to vote on the library referendum on April 17, you may well have one important question on your mind—how much will a vote for a new library cost me and my family? It may surprise you to learn that for the average resident of the village, the cost per household will be as little as 30 cents a day or about $9 a month. We have collected some information here to help you to see how tax rates in Carol Stream compare to those in neighboring communities and to illustrate the financial impact that the referendum will have on an average family.

Equalized Assessed Value: As you know, the operating budgets of each of the public entities in the village are determined by tax revenues, and each has a specific tax rate. The current tax rate for the Carol Stream Public Library is .25 %. That means that village taxpayers pay 25 cents for each $100 of the equalized assessed value of their homes or properties. It is important to point out that this rate has not gone up for 21 years. The members of the Library Board and management staff have been extremely frugal stewards of taxpayer money, but it should seem clear to all that no business or public agency can continue to offer quality services if the source of available funds does not keep pace with the rest of the economy.

Here is a chart showing the current tax rates for the libraries in several neighboring communities. You can see that Carol Stream is at the bottom of the chart:

Cost of a New Library: The referendum asks taxpayers to approve a total of $25 million, a figure that may be overwhelming at first glance until you begin to examine it at a personal level. Remember first that this total will be financed over a twenty year period. If the referendum is approved, the library tax rate will be increased by 14 cents for each $100 of assessed value. Analysts have told us that the average home value in the village is $250,000, and so, as noted above, the increase for a typical family would be about 30 cents a day or about $9 a month—the cost of one small cheese pizza or a ticket to a movie or a lunch at a fast food restaurant each month.

The important thing to remember is that a modern and well-equipped library brings tremendous value to a community that more than compensates for construction and operating expenses. Parents with school children have daily access to all of the books and materials that may not be available in the school libraries, and they have the opportunity to enroll their children in a variety of reading programs and activities. Residents without children also see tremendous advantages since the values of their homes and properties are generally enhanced and the economic prospects for the entire village become stronger. That's a lot of value for 30 cents a day.