During 2013, as we celebrate 140 years of service to Evanston, the Evanston Public Library has been busy supporting the learning, educational, cultural and recreational needs of patrons throughout our community. Both within the library walls and at venues and events around the City, our talented staff has reconnected with patrons of all ages and shared the power of an Evanston Public Library card with new citizens.

Our statistics demonstrate that in person visits and the use of our collections and facilities continues to grow. Serving as an educational and cultural hub of activity for Evanston helps our businesses and citizens compete and succeed in the global marketplace.

In a difficult economy the Evanston Public Library provides critical services to retirees, job seekers, students, small businesses and entrepreneurs. By supporting employees and helping to grow new employers, the staff, programs and resources of the Library help the City’s economy. 

Our librarians can help fledgling businesses write a business plan and conduct market research. Patrons can attend free classes on word processing and spreadsheet software; receive assistance with their resume and suggestions for their job searching activities – all at no charge at your Evanston Public Library.

By sparking the imagination and challenging the creativity of students, we foster the next generation of inventors, scholars, philosophers and leaders.

Through the provision of online test taking and homework help databases, students of all ages have access to assistance every hour of every day.

Programs for children of all ages foster the love of reading and learning and the exploration of the world around them.

If you visit the Library’s website at www.epl.org  and scroll down the page you will find the library value calculator. By spending a few moments entering information about your library usage – the number of books and materials that you and your family check out each month (along with the e-books, movies and music that you download), the number of programs attended, the number of reference questions answered, your use of our reference databases and Internet computer sessions – you can quickly tally the value provided by the Library.

For the first time this year, the Evanston Public Library was included as a separate line on your property tax bill. Due to the property tax billing cycle, the entire amount of annual property tax support was reflected on the fall bill. In 2014, the funding will be evenly distributed on both bills.

When you multiply the monthly value of your family’s library use for an entire year and compare the amount to your property tax bill, I hope that you agree that the Evanston Public Library provides an excellent return on your investment.

The Library’s 2014 budget will better reflect the full cost of our library operations including both operating functions and debt service previously blended with the City of Evanston’s budget. Both costs and revenues may be transferred from the City’s General Fund to the Library Fund to more fully reflect library operations.

We are seeking your support in order to strengthen our services and programming throughout the City. With strategic additions to our budget we can provide additional services and expand upon our success. By creating a capital budget, we are making timely investments to maintain the facilities paid for by the citizens and used by thousands each month. By creating a capital fund over time, we will save for future building maintenance without incurring additional debt.

The average homeowner’s bill could increase by the cost of two hardcover books. I hope that you agree, investing in a strong public library – an important third place in our City  – is an investment that will pay dividends for years to come.

The Evanston Public Library is so much more than books and programs. The Evanston Public Library is your partner. We are ready to help you make important decisions by providing factual, current information to inform your thinking.

We are a destination – a place to connect with like-minded friends or to meet new ones. We are a place to discuss and debate issues important to our community. We are a safe, learning space for our children and teens. Both within the walls of our libraries and in conjunction with partners throughout the City, we leverage the expertise, education and training of our highly skilled librarians and staff to meet your needs.

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.

Our new logo contains four words: community, events, ideas and resources. With your continued support we will strengthen the foundation of the Evanston Public Library and provide world class library service for our citizens throughout our world class City.

Karen Danczak Lyons is director of the Evanston Public Library.