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Evanston Public Library requests expanded budget for new programming

Karen+Danczak+Lyons%2C+director+at+Evanston+Public+Library%2C+presents+a+plan+for+the+library%E2%80%99s+2016+budget+before+aldermen+at+a+special+City+Council+meeting+Saturday+morning.+The+proposed+tax+levy+increases+library+funding+by+about+4+percent.
Karen Danczak Lyons, director at Evanston Public Library, presents a plan for the library’s 2016 budget before aldermen at a special City Council meeting Saturday morning. The proposed tax levy increases library funding by about 4 percent.

Karen Danczak Lyons, director at Evanston Public Library, presents a plan for the library’s 2016 budget before aldermen at a special City Council meeting Saturday morning. The proposed tax levy increases library funding by about 4 percent.

Julia Jacobs/Daily Senior Staffer

Julia Jacobs/Daily Senior Staffer

Karen Danczak Lyons, director at Evanston Public Library, presents a plan for the library’s 2016 budget before aldermen at a special City Council meeting Saturday morning. The proposed tax levy increases library funding by about 4 percent.

Julia Jacobs, City Editor

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Evanston Public Library requested the city increase the library’s tax levy about 4 percent to fund expanded programming and new staffing for the coming year.

Aldermen voted unanimously at a special City Council meeting Saturday morning to introduce the library’s 2016 proposed tax levy with additional funds to hire an extra security guard and to allow individuals to access Wi-Fi from their homes through library devices.

EPL director Karen Danczak Lyons, told aldermen at the meeting that the safety of the library could benefit from an additional security guard considering there is currently no guard on duty in the morning. However, Ald. Delores Holmes (5th) questioned if an increased security presence would make library patrons feel more safe.

“Sometimes having security guards and the police around gives the opposite feeling to people because they think they’re not safe,” Holmes said. “It would seem to me that another discipline is more appropriate than a security guard.”

Danczak Lyons responded by saying that library security is not solely tasked with escorting people from the building but meant to assist library patrons — particularly homeless populations who tend to congregate in the building — with connecting to social services. The current lack of a state budget is affecting a certain population of library-goers by reducing access to social services, she said.

“Recognizing that the state funding is going to affect some of our most fragile patrons, I’m trying to get in front of the problem,” Danczak Lyons said.

The library also plans to launch a pilot program next year in which library patrons can check out a device and connect to free Wi-Fi outside library walls. The program would help bridge the gap between families that can afford Wi-Fi in their homes and those that cannot, Danczak Lyons said.

In the library’s future are also plans to introduce a new media streaming service allowing people to directly download items in the library collections and form new partnerships with home-based day care providers to increase young children’s’ access to books. Danczak Lyons said the library currently has a partnership with established day care centers but not with those based out of homes.

“We know that reading and literacy and being ready to learn in kindergarten is critical to (children’s) success,” she said.

In presenting next year’s library budget to aldermen, Danczak Lyons added that the library is aware that if the state were to follow through on the proposed property tax freeze, the library would be more affected than any other department in the city.

City manager Wally Bobkiewicz said if the potential property tax freeze were enacted, it would likely affect Evanston after 2016, but staff is still attempting to minimize the impact on institutions such as the library.

The tax levy for the library was proposed at $6.2 million, which City Council will consider for adoption at its Nov. 23 meeting.

Correction: A previous version of the article incorrectly stated what aldermen approved for introduction. Aldermen voted to introduce the library’s proposed tax levy. The Daily regrets the error.

Email: juliajacobs2018@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @juliarebeccaj

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