You would think that everyone in Evanston would have heard about the financial problem, but it appears it is not sinking in.  One example is keeping the branch libraries open. First of all, I strongly support education and use of libraries. However who is using them and for what?  Reading novels is fine, but I doubt that with the budgets the branches can stock many “educational” books, and so I suspect the branches main offering is novels.   More importantly, the Main Library is also hurt by lack of funds.   Recently a librarian said that as of December 2008, the Main Library no longer can afford to carry academic journals.   I don’t know the full list of those dropped, but several are ones Northwestern University no longer has paper copies of – electronic only – so using NU for these is excluded or greatly reduced. I hope the City and Library keep track of usage and number of patrons. But who are they?  The story is that it is the elderly and parents with children.  I would guess that if they live outside of five blocks, they drive anyway, and with parking at the branches difficult, they probably can find parking better downtown.  I live a few blocks from the North Branch and probably have been there ten times in 20 years, and when I lived closer to the South Branch, maybe ten times in ten years – in both cases only when I was near them for something else.   I find it hard to believe that children find the branch libraries more inviting than the Main Library – or was all that money for the new Children’s section and Loft wasted? Given the geography, trains and buses, you would think if a branch was needed it would be on the west side – not the affluent north and near east sides.  Nice to have, but can we afford everything? Evanston has a big financial problem.  People will have to start making decisions about what we really need.   We will remain a college town – though with Kendall and National Louis gone and Seabury up in the air, even that is less than certain.  The next thing is we are a multi-racial – though hardly integrated – community. Given the numbers in that regard probably won’t change – but the taxes may change that.  The middle class may also reach their limit and move.  What else may change/go?  Retirement homes?  Halfway houses? Shelters? Non-profits (other than NU and hospitals)   Business and corporations? We already have so few businesses that answer shopping needs that people go to the Malls or the Loop. We have fewer and fewer corporations that hire – forget industry; that was pushed out long ago. Folks, we can’t have everything.  Money does not grow on trees.  There is “no free lunch.”  We must decide. — John Fuqua