Branch libraries and the City budget

I am writing to let you know that while I am committed to finding a fiscally responsible solution to the City's current budget crisis, I am opposed to closing either of Evanston's branch libraries including, of course, the North Branch.

On Tuesday, December 21, Jane Grover (7th Ward Alderman) and I met with Connie Heneghan (the manager of the North and South Branches) and the staff of the North Branch library. We discussed the need to find a way of ensuring the continued operation and viability of the branches, not just this year, but permanently.

I am dedicated to ensuring that the Council and City Manager take a closer look at the branches and that the voices of everyone interested in keeping them open are heard. To succeed in this, however, I need as many of you as possible to participate in the upcoming budge review workshop process. Although a budget worksheet has been proposed to the Council, it must be remembered that this is still just a proposal. There is still time for everyone interested in the survival of the branch libraries to come together on this issue and turn the tide of the debate.

On Saturday January 9th, the City will be holding its first budget review workshop to debate the proposed budget. Additional workshops and hearings will be held on January 23, January 30, February 1 and February 3. All of these workshops will take place at the Morton Civic Center. I urge you to participate in as many of these workshops as you can and to bring your best thinking to the question of how to keep our branch libraries open for both the near and long term.

In the mean time, I need to hear from each of you on this and any other budget issues that are important to you. Specifically with regard to the libraries, please let me know if you are willing to mount an organized campaign to "save the branches" and if so whether you are available to meet with me in advance of the first budget review workshop. I look forward to hearing from you.

Finally, please accept Neal and my best wishes for a wonderful holiday season and a healthy and prosperous 2010.



Mark -
I am wondering if you can provide circulation numbers for 2009 as they relate to Branch Libraries.A release today on Crain's Chicago Business  stated a significant increase in Chicago (
As we have seen consumer habits change during current economic challenges, it may be valuable to understand how our libraries are directly supporting local families and residents who may otherwise be unable to afford or access desired literature or resources.  
Chris Hart 

There is a group forming to take on the battle of saving the branch libraries. I have a lot of statistical information to turn over as soon as I know who is leading the charge.
The increase branch usage is even more impressive in Evanston than recently reported in Crain's. Thank you for the link.
I'll keep you posted on the developments --your help will be important.

Thanks Mark.
Certainly, let us know how the group develops and the support that can be leveraged. As you have noted in recent communication on the project, it will be important for community leaders to clearly understand that a formula for economic success on and around Central Street includes the ability to attract diverse interests and public access to desired services.
I would hope that CSNA and Central Street Business Association assume an active role in the fight for community resources that sustain healthy business and housing markets. Loss of the library can have a significant impact on the articulated vision for diverse usage in a pedestrian-oriented corridor.
There is an interesting blog from an urban library which is currently focused on preservation during times of extreme budget cuts:  
This post caught my attention -
"Quietly but noticeably over the past year, Americans have rejiggered their lives to elevate experience over things." Among the experiences benefiting from this shift are spending time with family and friends, reading, and on hobbies. This is good news for libraries, which are designed to encourage communal activities, civic engagement and of course reading.