Monday, April 14, 2014

Celebrate National Library Week with Us!

The Plainfield Public Library District is facing many of the same issues that libraries across the country are facing today: a perception that public libraries are irrelevant, just warehouses for books. However, the role of the public library is evolving, not becoming irrelevant, as shown in Libraries are Dying? Think Again on CNN today. A strong library is able to not only withstand change, but thrive within it. The internet was seen as a threat to libraries, but people are learning that getting thousands of results for a search was not as useful (or quick!) as having a professional sort through that information to provide needed answers. The library’s role as a gathering and collaboration space has grown as people seek connection to the community beyond home and work. Embracing this evolving role requires looking at things differently and getting people to experience the reality of today’s library. 

Celebrate National Library Week with us and experience how we can connect you to information, to fun and to your community! 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

My Neglected Blog and a Front-Page Article

Apologies for the quiet here on the blog! There are half a dozen unfinished posts for this blog that I really should have finished and posted.

Well, 2014 is a new year and things are hopping at the Library. But our perennial issues remain. Check out yesterday's Joliet Herald News front page article on the Library and our space issues:
Librarians Look for Elbow Room

We're doing our best with what we've got - and kudos to our staff for staying positive and finding creative solutions for our most pressing needs.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Parking Lot Project Underway!

It would be impossible not to notice the construction being done on parking lots around the Library if you have visited the Library or driven by on Route 59! The pavement has been removed from the Village's Illinois Street lot and the lot beside the Library. The Library's vacant lot fronting Route 59 has been cleared and leveled in preparation for paving. The redesign and expansion of parking around the Library is a cooperative project with the Village of Plainfield. It will result in a continuous parking lot with wider spaces and aisles for public parking to serve both the Library and the downtown area. Features of the new lot will include landscape barriers, a new location for the Library's dumpsters for trash and recycling, and a walkway to Lockport Street along the access drive beside the former Baci building.

Residents have expressed two main concerns regarding the project:

To achieve the most functional and efficient design, trees on the Library's vacant lot fronting Route 59 were removed. As many as possible were saved along the northern side of the lot. While the removal of existing trees was necessary, improvements to the adjacent landscaping are planned for the Library property in addition to the landscape barriers included in the parking lot design. In the Spring, the Library will undertake a project to address both the issues of drainage on the southeast corner of its property, a need identified in the 2012 Library Building Evaluation, and the aesthetic improvement of its grounds.

Concern about cars cutting through the redesigned lot from Illinois Street to Route 59 has been expressed in social media. The design of the new lot will not have direct access from Illinois Street to Route 59, to deter its use as a cut through. Should this still become an issue, measures to slow through traffic, such as speed bumps, would be installed.

Though the construction and lot closures are an inconvenience at this time, the end result will be a larger, functional public parking lot to serve the Plainfield community. The Library Board of Trustees and staff appreciate your patience  as this project moves toward completion.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Question of the Day: Is there anywhere quiet in the Library where I can study?

With an average of 1,500 visitors per day to our 27,000 sq ft facility, finding a quite time and space in the Library is challenging at best. At just over 1/3 the size it should be to serve today’s population of 75,000 residents (according to Illinois Public Library Standards), the Library building just is not large enough to provide all of space our residents want and need. 

There is a single Study Room, available on a first-come, first-served basis. But that room is also regularly scheduled for staff use and for our literacy volunteers to meet with their students. The Study Room is also adjacent to the Youth Services area, which can be noisy during times when lots of classes and programs are being held. The Original Library Room is available, but quiet cannot be assured, since tables there are frequently used by tutors and newspapers and magazines are shelved there. 

Making do with the building we have requires compromise on all sides. The constraints of our current space are apparent everywhere in the building, from using top and bottom shelves on the 90” shelving units in the Adult collections to the tight aisles that just meet ADA accessibility requirements to the lack of quiet study space. With your support, the Library will address these space needs in the future.

As you may notice, this is a variation on the same theme as the last Question of the Day. It is feedback we hear frequently. Unfortunately, there simply isn't anywhere in the Library to put another Study Room or designate as a quiet area because every room, every area in the Library is multi-purpose to the point of excluding those options.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Question of the Day: Why is it so loud in the Library?

Summer Reading in particular, with the additional foot traffic and programming for children, is a very noisy time in the library. Checking the events calendar before visiting can help you target times for visiting when fewer programs are offered. For example, Fridays are often one of the quietest days in the library.

There are two additional options available for seeking quiet space in the Library: the Study Room and the bay window area on the upper level. The Study Room, along the hallway to the Youth Services Area on the lower level, is available on a first-come first-served basis. You may request to use this room by stopping at the Youth Services or Check Out Desks. It is the only quiet study room available, and is also used as a staff meeting space. The upper level bay window area, which contains the last remaining study carrels in the Library, is generally one of the quietest areas of the Library, particularly during the day on weekdays. However, with an average of 145 visitors per hour the library is open, quiet cannot be guaranteed in any open area of the Library.

Limited space makes separation of noisy and quiet uses of the library impossible. The space constraints of the Library's building, the volume of use it supports and collection it houses necessitates that each space in the Library serve multiple functions. The building is approximately 1/3 the size necessary to serve the current population of the library district, which severely limits its functionality in providing space for all of the services offered.

Community support will be needed to correct the deficiencies of the library facility. Following the failed referendum for library expansion in 2009 (which included additional quiet reading and group study rooms as well as improved program spaces), a revised plan for addressing facility deficiencies through a 2012 referendum did not garner enough community support to be placed on the ballot. The support of users, especially those who have experienced the issues of an undersized facility, will be needed in the future if these deficiencies are to be corrected.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Long Range Budget Plan Sets Future Direction

The Plainfield Public Library District’s Board of Trustees passed a four-year budget plan on April 25, 2013. Beginning with the Fiscal Year 2013-2014 which started July 1, this Long Range Budget Plan addresses the repair and replacement needs of the Library facility while maintaining the high level of library service the Plainfield community expects.

Three levels, or Tiers, of facility repair and replacement needs were identified in the 2012 Building Evaluation completed by KJWW Engineering Consultants. Tier 1, the most immediate needs, was completed in the last fiscal year. Tier 2, intermediate term needs, contains smaller projects spread over the next four years, such as light fixture replacements and plumbing fixture replacements. Tier 3, long term repair and replacement needs, are slated to begin in Fiscal Year 2017-2018, the culmination of the Long Range Budget Plan.

The Long Range Budget Plan sets aside $35,000 annually for Tier 2 projects and transfers $60,000 annually into the Special Reserve Fund, which is exclusively for emergencies and capital repairs, for Tier 3 projects. Budget line freezes and reductions and reorganizing staff achieve the reduction of operating expenses by $95,000 to fund these repairs and replacements.

Two significant changes will occur in FY2013-2014: the elimination of the Head of Outreach Services position and newsletter advertising sales to offset bulk mail newsletter costs. Outreach Services will continue, with staff reassigned to other departments in the Library and existing supervisory staff overseeing Outreach activities. Newsletter advertising sales are anticipated to reduce newsletter costs annually, with a goal of 100% cost recovery for the bulk mail newsletter.

The Board of Trustees is committed to focusing on Service Excellence, Community Focus and Stewardship for the Library, as outlined in Strategic Plan 2011-2015. These plans referred to here can be found at

Friday, June 7, 2013

Wrapping Up Building Projects, Parking Lot Improvements to Come Next!

The Library's wrapping up its Tier 1 (immediate needs) Building Evaluation projects! With just a bit of trim painting remaining, we anticipate ending the fiscal year on June 30 with all Tier 1 projects completed. This is just in time to embark on a new project, which I am thankful will be handled primarily by the Village of Plainfield, to expand and improve the parking lots surrounding the Library.

The HVAC roof top unit replacement and new control system was the largest project of Tier 1. The new, energy-efficient roof top units and updated control systems, along with the air balancing throughout the building that was included in the project, are already reducing utility costs. The air quality throughout the Library is improved by using more outside air when temperatures are moderate.

The replacement of the shingled roof has resolved the leak problems experienced in the past year. There was one glitch, where the roof top cupolas required recaulking, but was quickly remedied by the contractor. The new shingles have a lifetime warranty.

The final project of Tier 1 was replacement of the windows in the Bay Window Area on both the upper and lower levels. The original windows had been improperly sealed during installation in 1990/1991, a condition that was not discovered for many years. Once discovered, the seals were redone, but the wood frames had already begun to deteriorate, shortening their useful life. The new vinyl-clad windows are also energy-efficient and slightly tinted to reduce the effect of UV light on books shelved near the windows as well as reducing glare in the adjacent seating areas.

Look for the parking lot improvements to begin later this summer! Funded by the downtown Tax Increment Finance District, this cooperative project with the Village of Plainfield is made possible by an intergovernmental agreement. The project is tentatively scheduled to begin with the expansion and improvement of the two pieces of property on the Route 59 side of the building. The public parking lot there will be reconfigured and expanded to include the vacant lot adjacent to it. Once that portion is complete, two parking lots north of the library (one on each side of the hedge) will be reconfigured and repaved, eventually allowing all of these pieces to connect and become one functional parking lot! We're very excited, particularly about bringing the lots up to current standards for width of spaces and aisles. I realize it will be messy and inconvenient during the construction, but the end result will be well worth it for the Library and the downtown area.

And PS - don't forget to register for Summer Reading!