Tuesday, August 11, 2015

From the Suggestion Box: Noise, Trees and Selection

“The library staff here is very loud. I came to the library hoping for a quiet & relaxing area. I was very disappointed w/ the Plainfield Public Library. Please lower your voices when talking on the phone!”

I am sorry that the library cannot provide quiet areas at this time. As repeatedly stated on this blog, in press releases, in library newsletters, etc., there is no quiet space left in our Library. At about 1/3 the size it should be to serve our community, every single area must serve multiple purposes and house as much as possible. Yes, library staff answer questions and conduct business over the phone in public areas of the library. They have to – there are neither the number of staff nor the space to remove those functions to non-public areas. Also, the high ceilings of some library areas and low soffits of other areas create interesting acoustics, with sound that carries easily particularly throughout the upper level. Library staff work hard to balance the multiple demands this work environment imposes, such as speaking loudly enough on the phone for the listener, but softly enough for those in the close proximity of the current library space. Community support for library expansion will be needed to offer quiet space in the library.

“Tree branches over sidewalk near entrance need trimming so you don’t walk into the branches.”

Technically, the parkway trees belong to the Village of Plainfield. But, after numerous comments and complaints within a short time, the library’s Maintenance staff took care of the problem. Let us know if the weird branch that was growing straight down comes back!

“I think this Library should get a better selection.”

Help us get the things you want by using our Suggest a Title form! We purchase on demand to help meet community needs within our space constraints. With every physical item needing to “earn” its shelf space by being checked out, we delay buying some things until there is demand for it. So Suggest a Title or place a hold to get it from another library. Either way, you’re letting us know what you want from your library.

As for the number of physical items available this time of year: Welcome to Summer Reading! One good problem we have is that in June every year, more than 50% of the Library’s physical items are checked out. On the other hand, that pretty much means that anything that could be categorized as new or popular is checked out. Currently, the library’s collection exceeds the building’s capacity for physical items because so much is checked out at once, even at our slowest times of year. You may notice this in August after Summer Reading ends, or in late December, our 2 slowest times of year for check outs. At those times, carts of books or DVDs appear at the ends of shelving areas and stay a while. Community support for library expansion will be needed to offer a larger selection. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Your Property Tax Bill and the Library

On today’s property tax bill, the average home in Plainfield invests about $190 annually in the Plainfield Public Library District. According to American FactFinder (which is a division of the US Census Bureau), the median home value in the Library District is $295,300. Using that median home value, the charts below show the tax bill of that home, assuming it’s located in the Village of Plainfield and Plainfield Township. Exact figures vary with township and municipality.

Looking at that tax bill graphically, the top five pieces of the pie comprise 90% of your tax bill: school district, fire district, county, village and community college district. The library’s portion of the average household’s property tax bill is $190.14 at a tax rate of .2057 mils or just over 20 cents per one hundred dollars of equalized assessed valuation of the property.

When people think about their property taxes, it’s the big number that sticks in their heads, that total amount. The Plainfield Public Library District’s portion is a small fraction, just over 2% of your total tax bill - a low 3 digit number. When Library expansion planning and its impact on your property tax bill are discussed, remember that it will still be low 3 digit numbers, not that big number from your total property tax bill.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Built on Bequests

Did you know that the Plainfield Public Library’s first 2 buildings were built without any tax dollars?
It’s true! In about 1919, George and Marietta McClester left $20,000 to the Village of Plainfield to establish and build a tax-supported library. In 1925, Ebanezer and Celeste Nimmons left $25,000 to the library board “to build, purchase a site, equip, maintain, repair, rebuild, refurnish or enlarge” the library.

Our first library building opened in April 1926, on Lockport St, near the corner of Illinois St, where the Heritage Professional Center now stands. It was a 25x30 room with a “separate toilet building.” Our name was originally the McClester-Nimmons Village of Plainfield Free Public Library, in honor of the two couples whose bequests started it all.

When the library outgrew that space in 1940, they built the 2,736 sq ft new library, using the remaining funds from the McLester and Nimmons bequests, at the current site on Illinois St. If you look at the double window behind the magnolia tree on the front of the building (southwest corner), you can still see the inscription that was once over the Library’s front doors.

In 1954, Fannie Stratton left her farm to the Library, which operated it for 34 years as an additional revenue stream. Some of that revenue was used to help purchase additional property along Illinois St for future expansion. In the late 1980s, the Library Board of Trustees sold the farm for $1.5 million.

In 1991, the current building opened. It was built with $1.9 million in bonds, supplemented by the bulk of the proceeds from selling the Stratton farm and a small state grant, for an initial cost of $2.8 million but with 2/3 of the lower level remaining unfinished. In 1996, the lower level was completed using the remaining farm funds, for a total cost of the building coming in at $3.5 million for 27,160 sq ft.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Question of the Day: Why does the Library offer programs and classes?

The full questions: Why does the Library offer programs and classes? If the Library stops offering programs, wouldn’t that pay for a new building?

The Library’s Strategic Plan Vision states:

“The Plainfield Public Library District provides excellent library services to satisfy the educational, informational, entertainment and inspirational needs of community residents throughout their lives. The Library is a community center, where residents connect with resources, with each other and with their community identity. The Library leverages technology and human capital to give residents access to services and resources not only at the Library's physical location but also throughout the community in partnership with other organizations and via virtual services. The Library is a vibrant and visible presence in the community, making residents aware of 21st century library services and our Library's unique character.”

Library programs and classes fill the community’s need for informal education opportunities. As public libraries evolve, the traditional educational and informational roles are increasingly incorporating entertainment and inspiration. Just like the Library’s collection reflects a wide variety of information and interests, the programs and classes offered by the Library reflect the diverse community we serve. Most programs are directly in response to requests from the community, such as travel, gardening and cooking.

Annually, the Library spends about 2% of its budget on programming, $65,659 last year. Cutting all programs and classes (everything from storytime to computer classes) would not cover the annual payment on a 20 year loan to address the repairs and system replacements identified as necessary to keep the current building functional for the next 20 years by the 2012 Building Evaluation. And that report only addresses the building and its systems – nothing cosmetic like carpet replacement or address and space issues.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

One Hour in the Library

Based on annual library use, every hour the Library is open:

  • 191 items are checked out. That’s one every 19 seconds.
  • 20 people attend a Library program – though many programs are presented at other locations, throughout the community, such as daycares, schools and local businesses.
  • 10 people use a PC. The average session is 43 minutes of use.
  • 17 people ask a reference question. Questions like “where’s the restroom?” don’t count.

Annually, residents check out more than 600,000 items, nearly 65,000 attend a library program or class, over 32,000 use a computer in the library and more than 57,000 questions are asked and answered.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Overloaded Recycling Bins

Yes, the recycling bins in the Library parking lot are overflowing. Unfortunately, members of the public are exacerbating the problem by continuing to drop off more recyclables in and around the overflowing bins.

PLEASE STOP adding to the mess! If you see the recycling bins are overflowing, please find another recycling location or try again at another time.

The company that services these bins has merged with another company and are in the process of reorganization. Repeated phone calls to them result in assurances that the bins will be serviced - and then they are not. Our Maintenance crew is working to resolve the issue.

In the meantime, please use another recycling location. Thank you for your cooperation and help in keeping the Library parking lot clean.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Feedback: We use Naperville and Bolingbrook to get books.

Library Expansion Planning Feedback, answering the question: What would make you more likely to use the Plainfield Public Library?

“I rarely find a book that I need in stock. We use Naperville and Bolingbrook to get books needed for elementary school projects. I am not sure why our library doesn't support 202's curriculum.”

The residents of the Naperville Public Library and Fountaindale Public Library District in Bolingbrook have supported their public libraries with tax rates well above those paid by residents of the Plainfield Public Library District. In Tax Year 2014 (payable in 2015), Fountaindale Public Library District’s operating tax rate is 0.4407 mils (0.5805 total rate, including building bonds) while the Plainfield Public Library District’s operating tax rate is 0.2057 mils. The difference in the long-term level of support for a public library is generally evident in the size and depth of the Library’s collections. Source - Will County Tax Rates

The Plainfield Public Library District works closely with the Plainfield School District 202. Library staff not only take Library programs into the schools, but also work with District 202 librarians and teachers to provide materials in support of the curriculum. Examples of programs in District 202 schools include presenting storytime at Bonnie McBeth Preschool, facilitating lunchtime book discussion groups at middle schools, and presenting programs to meet Common Core learning objectives. Since the current Library building was built in 1990-1991, District 202 has added 25 school buildings. The space constraints of the undersized library building limit the amount of books and other library materials that can be retained to support the curriculum of District 202.