SEA Letter to EPL Trustees July 14, 2020

July 14, 2020

Dear Trustees of the Evanston Library Board,

I am writing on behalf of the Southeast Evanston Association (SEA) to advocate for our neighborhood branch library. It has come to our attention that CAMS, our branch library in southeast Evanston, is one of the few city buildings not yet on a schedule to reopen. We are concerned that the Library Board is considering permanently closing CAMS now that the library at Robert Crown is completed. In a letter to this Board in October, 2019, SEA advocated for retaining CAMS when you were considering its closing at that time, in anticipation of Robert Crown. We, again, urge you to retain CAMS, in recognition of the important role it plays in the vitality of the neighborhood, the service it provides to our diverse residents , and its positive impact on area businesses.

CAMS serves a population that includes children and young adults with disabilities who attend Park School, adults with disabilities who live independently or semi-independently in neighborhood apartment buildings , residents of Albany Care, senior citizens, and many young children whose families reside in the numerous new apartment buildings in the area. We worry that this community will not be well-served by the Robert Crown location. Instead of having a library location within walking distance for these groups who often don’t drive, they would be given an alternative that can not be easily accessed through public transportation. In addition, many in these groups cannot take public transportation at all. With the elimination of so many of the neighborhood resources due to COVID, as well as the probability that our schools will not completely reopen in the fall, the resources of the local library branch appears to be even more crucial for our residents.

In addition to the social impact of CAMS, the economic impact cannot be overestimated. According to various sources, for every dollar invested in libraries, approximately $5 is returned to the community. Library users also utilize area stores, restaurants and coffee shops, generating support for local businesses and tax dollars for the city. It would be shortsighted to think that this wouldn’t be the case when all businesses reopen in the future. Losing CAMS would be a great disservice to the community. We , at SEA, urge you to reopen CAMS, within the CDC guidelines, to continue to provide valuable resources for learning, literacy, and personal and professional development in our neighborhood and city.

Thank you for your consideration in this matter.

Jean Prindiville, President
Southeast Evanston Association