Evanston Public Library staff, Friends prepare Twig for new name, reintegration

The library board discussed official integration of The Mighty Twig into the Evanston Public Library system on Wednesday. The Mighty Twig was created by volunteers following the closing of EPL's south branch due to budget constraints.

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The library board discussed official integration of The Mighty Twig into the Evanston Public Library system on Wednesday. The Mighty Twig was created by volunteers following the closing of EPL's south branch due to budget constraints.

Manuel Rapada, Assistant City Desk Editor

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Evanston Public Library staff is grappling with selecting materials and smoothly switching to card-based borrowing at The Mighty Twig, a volunteer-run library that will become part of EPL in 2013

“We are happily anticipating the takeover of The Twig by the library,” said Marcia Mahoney (Weinberg ‘81), EPL Friends president and director of The Mighty Twig.

In September, the library’s board of trustees unanimously approved an option for EPL to take complete responsibility for The Twig. Representatives from both EPL and EPL Friends said Wednesday they were confident of a smooth transition as the Jan. 1 takeover approaches.

EPL expects to negotiate a lease for the building, 900 Chicago Ave., and collaborate with EPL Friends to raise the funds necessary to operate The Twig, renamed the Chicago/Main Library, EPL director Karen Lyons said.

However, both parties are still addressing some issues.

Discussion at Wednesday night’s board meeting centered on how to address patrons’ change in mindset from the current honor-based circulation system to traditional library card borrowing.

If the Chicago/Main Library had both honor system and non-honor system books, for example, Mahoney said children would not appreciate the distinction between those two types of materials.

In the library’s first 18 months, more than 49,000 people visited the library, and children checked out more than 14,000 books, according to its website.

Lyons said the library is considering ways to relax fines for patrons adjusting to the card-based system.

On collections, Lyons said library staff members do not have the capability to properly catalogue all Twig materials before January, resulting in discussions of how much of The Twig’s collection will be kept and how many EPL books will be brought in.

Though patrons appreciate The Twig’s honor system, Mahoney said there is a contingency of patrons who are interested in gaining access to EPL materials to conduct deeper research.

Staff has already looked at materials that were boxed when EPL’s south branch closed in February 2011 in case a branch would reopen in the area, said Jill Skwerski, a library circulation staff member.

Other progress since the September board approval includes city technology employees visiting the location to ensure the library is Internet-ready in January, as well as informing current Twig volunteers of the city’s new process of vetting volunteers, which may include background checks.

Now, just over a month before EPL returns to south Evanston, Lyons said the transition from The Mighty Twig to the Chicago/Main Library is developing smoothly.

“Different pieces are in place,” she said. “We are moving forward so everything can come together.”

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