At its Sept. 19 meeting, the Library Board approved a budget that makes clear its mission and results in no increase in the City’s portion of the property tax bill for Library expenses.
It is important to note that the proposed 2013 budget does not include any increase in the property tax levy. Rather we rely upon fines, fees, fundraising and grants to support our budget proposal.
Our transition will continue in 2013. We will spend time gathering community input, continuing to analyze data, and reviewing the outcomes of our programs and services. We will work to identify cost centers (physical locations or program services provided) and report on our progress through the year. Quantifying results will also be a priority.
Identification of barriers to service and opportunities for partnering with other agencies (such as providing library service at the renovated Robert Crown Center) will inform our recommendations. Partnerships will continue to be an important part of our service delivery but we must put structure around these arrangements – not only articulating the service we will provide but stating what we will require from our partners – including measuring impact upon participants.
In preparation for the 2014 budget we hope to define an “arc of services” that identifies areas in the community to be considered for either maintaining existing library locations or creating additional library learning spaces. Investments in spaces will be considered in relationship to intended impact, anticipated results and populations served. As plans for a renovated Robert Crown Center proceed, I have confirmed that 5,000 square feet for the public library is still in the proposal at this time. This location must be part of any discussion. The Robert Crown Center is located at Main and Dodge.
Any spaces identified will be placed in a context of access to services through partner organizations and supplemented by alternative suggestions to access such as vending machines or book mobile service.
I believe that any budget discussion should contain three important parts: a review of proposed expenditures, a review of anticipated revenues, and an expression of priorities for the coming year.
We are at an important point in our transition to a new service model – and not only because of our transition to an independently governed public library which will be in compliance with Illinois Library Law. With our 2013 budget we have the opportunity to affirm our commitment to serving the citizens of Evanston through strategic, innovative and thoughtful service – expanding our role well beyond supplying books, materials and programs – taking another step towards establishing the Evanston Public Library as the important third place in the community.
Our proposed 2013 budget incorporates challenges and risks:
• By relying upon the generosity of our citizens, community leaders and philanthropists for support, we are asking Evanston residents to join together in support of providing free public library service for all
• By linking our ability to support neighborhood services to grant writing and donations, we will need the entire City of Evanston to confirm that high-quality library service is a cornerstone of the community as we celebrate our 150th year
This proposal is in response to an underlying sense of urgency. With each day we have an opportunity to support the educational needs of our youngest patrons, an opportunity to welcome new immigrants, and an opportunity to create communities of interest for adults and seniors.
I believe that each child is precious, every neighbor is important and all of Evanston deserves innovative, creative and compelling library services.
Ambitious plans can yield great rewards. I believe that with this budget proposal we are taking an important step forward and continuing our transition as we redefine library service in Evanston – a definition that continues to include access to information through books, materials and databases, builds upon the excellent and thought-provoking programs produced by our exceptional staff, strengthens partnerships throughout all areas of the City and helps us to create library learning spaces where all are welcome.