Monday, February 8, 2016

25 Years of Statistics Show Demand for 21st Century Library Service

Over the last 25 years, public libraries around the world have changed significantly, including the Plainfield Library. Since 1990, use of the Plainfield library by the community has skyrocketed, surpassing even the population boom of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. New technology provides instant access to knowledge and the ability to create and share information and works of the imagination with ease. Undersized for the population served since 2000 according to Serving Our Public: Standards for Illinois Public Libraries 3.0, the Library’s building limits its services.

When construction on the current Plainfield Library began, the official Library District population was 14,123, with five schools in Plainfield School District 202. Today, the Library serves 75,337, with 30 schools in Plainfield School District 202. That same 27,000 square foot Library is serving more than five times as many people. When the Library opened, it offered two word processing computers, typewriters for public use and collections included cassette and VHS tapes. Modern email did not exist. Today, not only are there dozens of public computers used for more than 23,000 hours of public computing sessions annually, the Library also provides WiFi and power for people to bring their own devices. Formats in the collection include DVD, Blu-ray, MP3, eBooks and eAudiobooks, streaming music and video, eReaders, Rokus, and more. The collection is over 209,000 items, which is only possible because it includes over 60,000 virtual items. While population grew 391% since the current facility opened to the public, check outs increased 454% but other library services are even more in demand.

People are using public libraries differently than they did 25 years ago. Librarians are often asked, “Why do we need libraries when we have the Internet?” The Internet cannot provide the personalized help and hands-on instruction of the 21st century library. In 1990, 2,500 reference questions were answered by Plainfield’s librarians. In 2015, it was more than 56,000, over 25 times as many answers. Today’s questions are more complex because the easy answers are readily available. Librarians help when you can’t find what you need on the first page of results from Google. Complex questions, help with devices and teaching new technology skills comprise answers to today’s questions at the Library.

Classes and programs are a huge part of 21st century public library service. 1993 was the first year the Library kept program attendance statistics – with 2,214 attending programs that were only for children. In 2015, over 50,000 attended a Library program, spanning all ages. That’s 22 times more people attending programs in 2015.

25 times more questions answered and 22 times more people attending programs show the shift to 21st century library services. Those services focus on continuous learning, content creation, and making connections to each other and the community. Demand for services exceeds the physical capacity of the building. With a smartphones more powerful than a super computer of 25 years ago, people today need help keeping up with the fast-paced changes in technology. But they also need a place to connect and collaborate, to make things and share things. A 21st century public library is a community center for the way we live today.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Response to Anonymous Email about Referenda

With two referenda before the Plainfield Library’s voters on March 15, getting information out to residents on the proposed plan is a priority for Library Trustees and staff. The Library offers a variety of ways to ensure all have an opportunity to get answers to any questions they may have about the proposed plan: drop in Q&A, representatives at community events, email form for questions, special newsletters and more.

The following response is based on an email reported to be circulating among residents, as forwarded to a Library official. The text in red is the unedited email, as forwarded. The text in black is answers to questions, clarifications and context.
­­­­­­­­­­­­Subject: FW: Library
20 year/39M Bond for project ref
  • True.
The building bond question on the ballot authorizes a 20 year bond for $39,000,000 to build a new library, including buying property, tearing down the old building, making a new parking lot, buying furnishings and equipping the new building, including servers and computers.

100% funded by levy increase ref
  • Partly true.
The building bond portion of the increase is 100% funded by property taxes and will be paid off in 20 years, then automatically removed from your tax bill. The bond repayment tax rate generally decreases over time as new property is annexed or develops, spreading the fixed payment amount over a larger tax base. The bond rate on the existing Library was 0.1657 in its first year, but dropped to 0.0094 by the final (20th) year. Local funding match is required for the Live and Learn Construction Grant for which the Library would apply:
The limiting rate question is for an increase of 19% (0.0039 mils) to operate the proposed library, which is 3 times larger than the current building. Property taxes comprise approximately 85% of the Library’s annual operating revenue. The limiting tax rate increase is ongoing for the operation of the Library, subject to the tax cap after the first year.
Building Going from 27,160 SQ Feet to 72,000 SQ feet
Parking lot to 170 spots
  • True.
The estimated size and number of parking spaces listed are correct. The design will be finalized following a successful referendum. An updated Space Needs Analysis in 2015 initially called for 94,000 sq ft, but was reduced by the Library Board of Trustees to contain costs.

1989 ref failed, failed 1993, failed in 2009 for a 100,000 SQ ft facility reduced from 130,000 ft
  • True.
The three referenda listed were for different purposes. The building bond referendum in 1989 failed. A revised building bond referendum passed in 1990 with the support of the community for the library and its services, resulting in the construction of the current Library. The 1993 limiting tax rate referendum, to operate the new Library that was 10 times larger than the old, failed. Following that failure, half of the staff were laid off, the materials budget frozen and hours of operation slashed to 48 per week (68 per week today). Restoration of services occurred as the building boom began in the late 1990’s. The 2009 limiting tax rate referendum was to fund both building bonds and operation for a renovated and expanded main library and a new branch. The original Space Needs Analysis showed a need for 130,000 sq ft of Library space. The Library Board of Trustees proposed a plan for 100,000 sq ft total library space. Not listed is the 1988 referendum to merge the McClester-Nimmons Village of Plainfield Free Public Library and Plainfield Township Library into the Plainfield Public Library District and expand its service boundaries, which passed.

Marketing Scheme-
1)Hired a firm and haven’t disclosed amount paid to market Ref/design architecture
  • False.
No firm has been hired to market the referendum. The contract for Nagle Hartray Architects for pre-referendum services through schematic design only was approved on April 15, 2015 for $99,000.00. Graham Harwood from CCS International was contracted in January 2015 as owners’ representative with pre-referendum cost estimating for $42,400.00. The Plainfield Library’s monthly financial reports are included in the Board packets posted on the Citizens Information Center web page: Also included in the packets is supporting documentation for Action Items on the agenda, including contracts.

2) Message is that average property tax will only go up $200.00 per year- that is from a sample in the lower end homes in the Bolingbrook Portion of the district- Homes in Plainfield Township that fall in the Lib District est. $350-400 per year,  est. Wheatland $400-650 per year.
  • False.
American Fact Finder, which is the latest census information, was the source for median home values in 2014 (most recent year available). Those were:
Village of Plainfield - $289,300
Plainfield Township - $193,500
Wheatland Township - $358,400
The estimated increase for the median home value in the Village of Plainfield is $172.19, for Plainfield Township is $111.38 and for Wheatland Township is $216.04. Homeowners determine their own home’s estimated increase using the cost calculator found here: 

3) FUD- Fear of Uncertainty and doubt- if it doesn’t pass, capital improvements that have been ignored/not budgeted for
  • False.
What happens if the referenda fail is based not on fear, uncertainty or doubt, but fact. Capital needs have been at the forefront of the Library’s budget and planning process. The Building Evaluation 2-2012 outlines the base capital needs for keeping the current facility operational in the long term. That report, along with Strategic Plan 2011 to 2015, Strategic Plan 2016 and Beyond, and Long Range Budget Plan FY14-FY17 can all be found in the Other Documents section of the Board of Trustees web page here:

Page 72/76 has a staff shower room in the schematics
  • True
The Schematic Building Program shows a staff shower room with an allotment of 75 sq ft, which was intended to also serve for performers in the large event space, combining meeting rooms to seat 290. With the Schematic Building Program listing 77,000 sq ft of space, the final design process, following successful referenda, will include trade-offs or combining spaces, such as adding a shower stall to an accessible restroom. Green design, if the Library Board decides to pursue LEED certification, includes features like a shower room for staff to support bicycling to work.

Drive through book drop causing traffic/safety management- much more parking lot space required
  • False.
A drive up book return and service window eliminate the hazard of cars blocking traffic flow in front of the building in order to return materials, as seen with the current building, and provides safe, convenient access. Delivery and receiving are also accessed by the service drive in the rear. Maintaining an adequate amount of parking was the #1 public comment received about the downtown site. Again, the design will be finalized following successful referenda.
Exponential expansion of space for programs that will compete with the private sector- some of which are already offered by the YMCA
  • Misleading.
Program attendance has grown exponentially – 2,191% since 1993, the first year program attendance was tracked. Classes and programs are a huge part of 21st century public library service. These services reflect the changing world we live in, utilizing the latest technology and responding to the evolving needs of our community. The YMCA and private sector businesses may offer some similar programs, but their missions are different. A public library by definition provides access to knowledge, information and works of the imagination and gives that access freely to all. The Library partners with public and private organizations to further the reach of each by pooling resources when it makes sense to do so.

No scientific Poll showing the residents support this proposal when given the true scope of the project. – they were given a push poll
  • False.
Public Research Group, from Naperville, worked with the Library Board of Trustees and staff, first to determine what information they were seeking and then how to get that information from respondents. The benefit of using a professional survey company is their expertise in developing questions that are unbiased and follow up to confirm the answers given. The report on that telephone survey can be viewed here:

No strategic planning/capital replacement plan- ED since 2000, ADA/Building code violations need attention
  • False.
As item 3) above shows, the Library Board of Trustees has worked diligently to maintain a building with myriad structural and design issues. Compliance with full current building code is triggered when a significant investment is made in the existing building. Addressing the work identified in the Building Program 2-2012 would trigger this compliance.

P 76 to see the shower room planned for the library

  • Links to the Library’s web page.

The entire planning process and documentation is available on the Building & Expansion Planning web page:

If you have further questions, stop by a drop in question and answer session, ask a Library representative at a community event, submit questions online via the web form, call, text or chat with a librarian. Dates and times of drop in sessions and Library representatives at community events are available here:

To submit your questions directly to the Library:

You can also call Library Director Julie M. Milavec at 815-439-2874 or visit the Library’s website at

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Got Questions? The Library Has Answers!

Did you know that the number of questions answered at Plainfield Library has increased 2,100% in the last 25 years? It's true! In 1990, over 2,500 reference questions were answered. In 2015, more than 56,000 questions answered by librarians! FTR - that doesn't count things like "where's the bathroom?" and "what time do you close?" With smartphones and Google answering the easy questions, librarians get the complex questions like device troubleshooting and hands on help - and teach people to be good information consumers.

Thanks to EveryLibrary for this great visual. In person, by phone, via chat, text or email, your librarians are ready to help!

For questions specifically regarding the upcoming referenda on the March 15 ballot, stop by a Drop In Q&A with me 6pm-9pm on Thursday, February 4 or 10:30am-2:30pm in the Lower Level Lobby. I'll be handing out Winter Reading buttons too!

Monday, January 18, 2016

21st Century Public Libraries Help Transform the Workforce

According to this article on CNN Money today, jobs are being lost to redundancy and automation, but created in different sectors, requiring different skills. The article states:

"Countries will have to invest in transforming their workforce if they want to keep up with the changes and avoid a worse case scenario of "talent shortages, mass unemployment and growing inequality," said Klaus Schwab, the founder and chairman of the World Economic Forum.

Investing in education and adult learning programs is a good place to start.

Around 65% of children starting primary school today will end up working in jobs that don't yet exist, and their future training is crucial, according to the report." [emphasis mine]

21st century public libraries support job skills development and adult learning programs, as well as the more traditional roles of supporting early literacy development and education. As the job market changes and in-demand job skills shift, public libraries offer adult learners opportunities to gain and develop the skills employers are seeking as well as supporting education for kids.

The Plainfield Library's proposed building and expansion plans are based on providing 21st century public library service to this community that will help our workforce develop the skills that are in demand in the job market, today and in the future.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Libraries Transform

The new campaign from the American Library Association about the changing role of libraries is very timely for Plainfield! Libraries connect our communities to resources and how to use them. Libraries connect people to each other as community centers. And libraries offer services that are as unique as our community.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Why does Plainfield need a new, larger Library?

How has Plainfield changed since 1991? How has daily life changed? The Library building has not changed to keep up with 25 years of technology and advancement!

When construction on the Library began, the official Library district population was 14,123, with 5 schools in Plainfield School District 202. Today, the Library serves 75,337 with 30 schools in Plainfield School District 202. Over 60,000 more people are being served by the same 27,000 square foot Library. When the Library opened, it offered 2 word processing computers and typewriters for public use and collections included cassette tapes and VHS. Modern email did not exist. Today, more than 30 public computers are used for more than 24,000 hours of public computing sessions annually. Formats include DVD, BluRay, MP3, downloadable books and audiobooks, streaming music and video, ereaders, Rokus, etc. The Library has over 209,000 items in its collection today, possible only due to virtual rather than physical items. That’s four times the 1991 opening day collection of 41,558.

People sometimes ask “Why do we need libraries when we have the Internet?” The Internet cannot provide the personalized help and hands-on instruction of the 21st century Library. In 1991, 2,236 reference questions were asked and answered at the Library. In 2015, it was more than 56,000, over 25 times the number asked in 1990. Today’s questions are more complex because the easy answers are readily available. Complex questions, such as help with devices and teaching new technology skills comprise answers to today’s questions at the Library.

Classes and programs are a huge part of 21st century public library service. 1993 was the first year the Library kept program attendance statistics – with 2,214 attending programs that were only for children. In 2015, over 50,000 attended a library program, spanning all ages. That’s 22 times more people attending programs in 2015.

With more services and devices and formats in demand than ever before, per capita purchasing power has declined. In 1990, the Library District’s median home value of $100,000 paid $103 in property taxes to the Library, about $30.17 per capita. Today’s median home value of $300,000 paid $192.89 in property taxes, about $44.93 per capita. Adjusted for inflation, 1990 per capita revenue would be $51.99 in today’s dollars.

In 2015, the average Plainfield Public Library resident checked out more than 8 items, attended a library program, used a public computer for an average session of 43 minutes and asked a question. That is $256.87 in value for materials and services received for the $44.93 per capita investment in the Library.

Serving five times more people in the Library District, doing 22 and 25 times the business in core services and holding a collection four times larger than when it opened, the physical building has not changed. Its systems have reached and exceeded their useful life. It was not designed for today’s technology and lifestyles. A Library that is designed to support today’s technology, learning environments and opportunities for connecting as a community is the most efficient and cost-effective solution to continue providing quality library service that meets Plainfield’s needs in the 21st century.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Expansion planning process wrapping up

With just two more Library Board meetings in 2015, the expansion planning process is nearly at an end. It’s been more than a year since the Plainfield Public Library District’s Board of Trustees began planning for an expansion to go on the 2016 ballot. By year end, the Library Board is anticipated to vote on the ordinances which would place referendum questions on the ballot for the March 15, 2016 Primary Election.

The planning process began in November 2014 when Anders Dahlgren of Library Planning Associates was contracted to update the building program with population projections and statistics. The public input began in April 2015 with Open Houses to gather community input on services for a 21st century library. Public meetings throughout the summer and fall gathered more feedback as the plans came together, helping to refine the concept plans. A telephone survey tested community support for the targeted maximum tax impact. Ultimately, public support for the project will be measured at the ballot box in March.

Visit the Building and Expansion Planning web page for the latest information on the plans and to provide feedback.

The Library Board meetings are Thursday, December 3 at 7:00pmin the Storytime room and Wednesday, December 16 at 6:30pm in the Small Meeting Room. All are welcome to attend.