Board to make South Branch decision tonight

Grace Johnson

A design is in place, a location has been found and the enthusiasm is present for a new, temporary Evanston Public Library South Branch. All that’s missing now are the funds to support it.

At last week’s Evanston Public Library Board meeting, board members reviewed the design for the new South Branch location but postponed funding decisions until a special meeting Wednesday.

The board will decide Wednesday if it will divert funds from other areas of the budget to meet the costs of staffing for the temporary location, 900 Chicago Ave. Board President Christopher Stewart estimates the cost of two employees at the location from March through December to be around $57,600.

The South Branch’s lease at its current location, 949 Chicago Ave., will expire Saturday. The branch is closing because of lack of funds allocated to the library in the city budget. Evanston Public Library Friends proposed a plan to the board to fund a temporary location for the South Branch.

“While the Friends are offering this space for free, the conversation at last week’s board meeting concerned where we will get the money to staff it,” Stewart said. “We hadn’t planned for that in the budget.”

There is $45,000 left in the budget for neighborhood services, which include funding for both the North and South Branches. This amount will not cover the $57,600 needed for staffing, as well as an additional $3,000 needed for Internet and other technology services, Stewart said.

The board will consider diverting funds from the North Branch, 2026 Central St., to help fund the South Branch, Stewart said.

“We look at funding for neighborhood services as a whole, not as individual pieces,” Stewart said. “The board has to make a decision about how much of the remaining budget can be diverted to fund activities to provide service in South Evanston.”

At last week’s meeting, the design for the temporary location, should funding be given, was revealed. Thomas Ahleman and Jared Natalino of Studio Talo Architecture created the design free of charge.

“We wanted to create a space that can be reused or relocated elsewhere,” Natalino said. “There’s no built architecture or walls. It’s all created from modular furniture components.”

The furniture is also designed using green technology, Natalino said.

The board was also happy with the design, Stewart said.

“It is a much smaller space than the current South Branch location,” he said. “They did a great job coming up with a creative and interesting design.”

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