Thank You, Library Board.

August 5th, 2010

The Evanston Public Library Friends applaud the difficult and considered decision made last night by the Evanston Library Board of Trustees to implement a Library Fund model for the Evanston Public Library.

We encourage you to write to your aldermen, and to the Board itself (which is a volunteer Board, appointed by the Mayor and approved by the Council) letting them know that you support this model of funding and appreciate their efforts in support of the libraries on behalf of the citizens of Evanston.

There is much misinformation being circulated, and we anticipate many questions in the coming weeks. We will work together with the Board and the Library staff to provide as much information as possible to explain how the Fund will work specifically, and what it means for the citizens and the future of the Evanston libraries.

In the meantime, below is some general information about the Library Fund model, and more can be found on the page above listed as Library Fund. Being informed yourselves will help you become an ambassador of the facts.

Under the Illinois Local Library Act, 75 ILCS 5/1-.01, et seq., a Public Library Board has specific powers and duties to carry out the intent of the Act in supporting public libraries and library services including exclusive control of the expenditures of all moneys collected for the library.

The Local Library Act gives a Library Board the power to determine the library taxes to be levied, within limitation, and the corporate authorities are obligated to collect those taxes and deposit them into a Library Fund.

Having a tax-supported Library Fund is common practice for non-district public libraries in home rule communities in Illinois. Cities and villages that operate with a Library Fund include, but are not limited to: Skokie, Arlington Heights, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Morton Grove, Highland Park, Naperville, Lake Forest, and more. The Library Fund is one of the four possible models which were explored by the Task Force for Sustainable Funding, and in fact, is an Illinois statute.

The Board is under a duty, by law, to maximize the benefit of the library to residents and taxpayers. The overwhelming majority of library systems in Illinois manage their own budgets instead of coping with what a City Council allocates. They do so either though a library fund or a library district. Since Evanston does not have a separate district, use of a Library Fund is absolutely correct from both a legal and policy standpoint.

A separate library fund does not require the City to raise its own taxes or cut City services. On the contrary, it frees the library from the annual stresses of the City’s budget cycle, and frees the City from direct funding and oversight of the library budget.

A budget prepared by a Library Board with the assistance of professionals who have library expertise is what Illinois law envisions. It’s what Evanston had in mind in 1872 when the Library was formed, and what makes sense for Evanston in the 21st Century.

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