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On Nov. 26 the City Council passed the City of Evanston’s 2013 budget.  Included in our base operating budget is full funding for library service in 2013 at both the main library and north branch of the Evanston Public Library. The budget also allows the Evanston Public Library to provide library services on Chicago Avenue if we raise $75,000 within the next few weeks and another $75,000 by July, 2013. 

The mission of the Evanston Public Library is to promote the development of independent, self-confident and literate citizens through the provision of open access to cultural, intellectual, and informational resources.

The roles of the Evanston Public Library are many and include:

• Providing opportunities to learn explore and discover

• Creating the important third place in our community for all of our citizens – regardless of age, ethnicity, address or income – to come together in an inviting, welcoming and safe place

• Supporting literacy and early learning

• Collecting, preserving and sharing our culture

• Working in partnership with our sister agencies to provide access to healthcare, small business resources and workforce development

• Bridging the digital divide by providing free Internet access for all

• Acting as the town square for Evanston with meeting rooms, brochures and information about programs and activities throughout the city. 

In November, the Evanston Public Library also launched our most ambitious fund raising effort to date.  Under the leadership of the Fund for Excellence co-chairs Margaret Lurie and Marcia Mahoney and their committee we are seeking support from the generous citizens of Evanston. This year’s campaign has two components. Once again your contributions will provide much needed funding for library books, databases and materials used by citizens throughout the City.

A second critical component supported by the Fund for Excellence is funding for the expansion of library services to the space operated now by the Friends of the Evanston Public Library known as The Mighty Twig.   To execute this plan, the Fund for Excellence must raise $75,000 by the end of 2012 and another $75,000 before July, 2013. This funding will pay for library staff, bring library programs for all ages to Chicago Avenue/Main Street, place new and popular library materials on the shelves and allow patrons to return materials and pick up their holds at this location. 

The tragic shooting deaths this fall and the ongoing community conversations convened by Mayor Tisdahl have underscored the need for safe learning spaces for our teens throughout the City. Anyone who has visited the Mighty Twig on a weekday afternoon can confirm that teens from the surrounding area love to be together on Chicago Avenue. To eliminate this resource and refuge due to lack of funds would be a mistake that we cannot afford.

Teens are enjoying our main library in The Loft – a space dedicated to their learning and recreational needs. On Fridays and Saturdays teens can drop in with their friends to wire LEDs, compose a ring tone for their phone, build an amp, mix chemicals to make gel beads, navigate a robot obstacle course, or one of the other cool challenges we have to offer with our FUSE Studio – a program of the Office of STEM Education Partnerships at Northwestern University.

As we prepare to celebrate the City of Evanston’s 150th birthday and 140 years of public service at the Evanston Public Library, the support, guidance and engagement of every citizen is critical.  We look forward to welcoming patrons at our newest location at Chicago Avenue/Main Street. We look forward to welcoming patrons back to EPL. We welcome new patrons to visit any of our locations to discover the vibrant, exciting and welcoming Evanston Public Library. 

Please visit our libraries or look at our website to learn more about the many creative and engaging programs we provide. Please stop by any Evanston Public Library location for the newest books and DVDs.  You can access our many databases remotely with your library card, or download e-books to keep you entertained over the cold days ahead. When you are on our website please take a couple of moments to complete the survey and share your priorities for library service on the west side.

As you consider the level of your donation to the Fund for Excellence think about the programs which you and your family enjoy, the books and materials your read each month and the information needs which we meet. Input your usage figures into our Library Use Value calculator to learn the value of the Evanston Public Library for you and your family.

As we explore opportunities for expanded library service to new areas of the City and engage in creative partnerships to bring programs and materials to patrons of all ages, in all neighborhoods, we welcome your insights, observations, support and suggestions.