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!


Christy M. said...

I agree with Laura that open space for patrons to read and work is one of the most essential components of a library - and, unfortunately, a key component that the current Carol Stream Public Library lacks. Laura already did an excellent job explaining why it is so important, so I won't reiterate what she has already expressed. Instead, I will use an example from my own experience to reinforce her ideas. When I was a junior at Illinois Wesleyan University, I was fortunate enough to have access to a brand new, state-of-the-art library on campus. I can't tell you how much of a difference this library made in my own academic life, as well as the academic lives of my classmates. Even though the old library was right in the middle of campus, I definitely avoided it unless absolutely necessary. It was dark and dingy, everything was hard to find, machines were old and unreliable, and it even smelled kind of funny. This was NOT the place I would choose to go to write a paper, read a textbook, or meet with a study group. Who would? Then, junior year, the new library opened after much anticipation. With its comfy couches and reading nooks, private sound-proof study rooms, up-to-date computers and printers, and four entire floors of well-organized resources, it suddenly became the hottest spot on campus! Even though it was further from all of the dorms, students flocked from every corner of campus. It became so popular that students started staking out their favorite spots on Saturday mornings and left only for meals. Our parents may not have believed us when we told them we were spending so much time at the library, but for once it was actually true! Yet, even with almost the entire student population contained in one building, there was enough space for all of us. We could choose to work at study carrels, large tables, private study rooms, big arm chairs, couches, computer labs, or individual computer stations. The new library provided us with a comfortable, relaxing environment where we had access to thousands of resources and it was possible to get our work done. Doesn't this sound like something that the residents of Carol Stream deserve to have as well?

Library Lady said...

Christy M. is right about her experiences. Campuses all over the United States are building state of the art library facilities. My son is a student at Valparaiso University in Indiana and their new library opened his freshman year. The old library was rarely used. The new library is the center of activity on campus.

The catch phrase of the movie Field of Dreams is, "if you build it, they will come."

Many residents of Carol Stream already flock to the library. Other residents however regularly choose to go to other libraries because of the wonderful children's areas they provide, the better collections of materials, or the opportunity to find a quiet place to read and study. Wouldn't it be wonderful if our own community could provide them with a Library they would want to visit.

If we build it, they will come!

Library Lady