Space: The Final Library Frontier


Since as far back as 1991, the Park Ridge Library has been whining about not having enough space. 

Back then, in the heat of a Library expansion referendum campaign, the Library staff piled books on the floors to create the false impression that there wasn’t enough shelf space to hold them.  But as soon as the voters rejected the expansion proposal and there was no need to continue that charade, those books mysteriously vanished.

Several years later, the Library Board’s and Staff’s edifice complex was resurrected with plans for Uptown Redevelopment – and the suggestion by then-City Mgr. Tim Schuenke that a new Library could be rolled into that TIF-financed project.  So while Board and Staff deferred needed maintenance and repairs on the existing building, the Uptown Advisory Task Farce included a new Library in its deliberations.

Fast forward to 2002, when plans for a new Library were steaming ahead to the point where the City distributed promotional materials about our community at a national convention that mentioned a new library as if it were a fait accompli.  That kind of arrogance ticked off plenty of citizens, who appealed to members of the City Council to pass a resolution putting an advisory Library referendum on the November 2002 ballot.

When the Council declined, a group of citizen activists conducted a petition drive that collected over 3,700 signatures and put three Library–related issues on the ballot: whether a new library should be built on the current site; whether a new one should be built on a different site; and whether retail should be added to the Library block.

The voters overwhelmingly rejected all three.

But ever since that November 2002 defeat, the Library Board and Staff have been trying to come up with a new scheme to get a bigger building.  Their latest: Create a shortage of staff space by converting some of that space into more room for kids programs, and then tack on a cheesy-looking office trailer or “modular building” to hold the displaced staffers.  

Librarian Janet Van De Carr’s explanation: “We get a lot of requests from parents to provide more programs for children, but right now we have the one library meeting room that must be shared with young adult programs as well as community groups, so we can’t offer any more than we’re offering now.”  

Of course you’ll get “a lot of requests” for kids programs, especially free ones.  We seem to have plenty of parents who want their kids to be as programmed as possible, especially if somebody else (i.e., the taxpayers) is paying for it.  And for the Library Board and Staff, it’s a great way to increase those usage totals they use to argue for that bigger Library that has never left their radar screen. 

But the best part of this plan for the Library Administration is that it will create an “eyesore” – as an office trailer or “modular building” is likely to do – that they expect to be so offensive and irritating to enough Park Ridge residents that it will start a groundswell of support for a new Library, or at least a decent-sized addition.

Actually, it’s a pretty clever scheme, and the Library Crew is pretty devious to come up with it.  The only question is whether the taxpayers are dumb enough to fall for it.

8 comments so far

Another dumb idea by the LIbrary. How much is this trailer or “modular building” going to cost? Is it too much to ask the Library, assuming they make this idiotic move, to start charging for programs so that they cover both the cost of putting on these programs but ALSO the cost of the additional structure?

Yet another dumb idea was to blow money on a garden and sculptures, when those resources could have been used on something practical.

I think Watchdog or Pru wrote awhile ago about how the library could free up space by putting a lot of the low circulating books and materials into off-site storage, but creating more usable space making usable space must not jibe with its expansion plans.

I guess the people who run it would rather make it an entertainment center masquerading as a library.

anon 3:46:

I understand the point that everyone is trying to make. People feel that this is a ploy to try and build new library or add on to the existing library.

Having said that I think your closing paragraph is off base. “I guess the people who run it would rather make it an entertainment center masquerading as a library”. You and others seem to think that this is something unique, as if they are going beyond what the “traditional” concept of a library is. That is just flat out wrong!!

You can debate whether some programs are worth while or should be added, dropped charged for etc. But libraries all over have programs supported by the tax payers and have for years. I grew up in a fairly small town in Wisconsin and 35 years ago I attended many tax payer supported programs at the library. This summer I was on vacation in central Wi and my laptop crapped out. I went to this tiny library in Wisconsin Dells to take care some business and while I was on the computer, my wife and daughter took advantage of a childrens reading program and puppet show (I know I am a freeloader).

Again, I am all for a discussion and differences of opinion on what we should and should not pay for in terms of library programs. But don’t act like what the people running the library is some new thing or perversion of what a library is or has been.

Anon on 12.07.08 9:37 am

The post you critique is not mine, and I agree with your point that libraries all over have become something more than an information reservoir. But with taxes continuing to go up to pay for things that aren’t necessities, just because others are doing it doesn’t make it good or right.

Why can’t the people who use all these programs pay a fair fee for them?

anon: 12:34:

I have never said that I have a problem with that! Go for it!! Just realize that you are changing the general way things work through government. If you are going to do it with the library, are you going to do it with the ice rink? Rec. Center? Senior Center? Nature Center? Park District Halloween Parties? How about Winterfest? Your tax dollars went to support that. Did you go? What about fees to use the baseball fields? How about a fee when my daughter wants to use the monkey bars?

I have no idea who you are so forgive me if I am wrong, but I have to believe there are services or events you take advantage of that are subsidized in some way by government that other Park Ridge Citizens pay for via their taxes yet choose not to use.

What’s even worse is they might even be neglecting otther things.

Earlier this years out webmaster posted this.

Hopfully you’ll be able to click the link without typing up the whole thing butI made 1 comment 2nd to the last comment and to add more they have 1 or 2 microfilm machines that a terrible no matter how you zoom in I don’t think they have a brightness control.

I use to look through old PR papers there and There use to be a whole bunch of them which worked much better and 1 day went in to look over 1 of those and was bothered by how poor the machines are now.

I don’t know how to feel about a bigger building though I understand sometimes libraries have to change and expand but then again that can go to far and because of the times and our high taxes it’s probably for the most part not a good move..

Wish they would have done fundrasing since they first went about this in 1992.

Don’t know if it would of worked and I don’t think an addition would of worked because it would take up parking spaces and unfortunatly the building can’t suppport addtional floors.

An actor in the popular stage production “Blue Man Group” and an assistant principal at Maine East High School in Park Ridge were arrested Monday for engaging in a sex act in a park near Chicago’s lakefront.

The actor, Darren Stephens, 45, of 1400 block of West Leland Avenue, and Michael Pressler, 48, of the 1700 block of North Halsted Street, were each charged with misdemeanor public indecency, police said this morning.

The two were arrested about 5:50 p.m. in the 4500 block of North Simonds Drive, police said. They are due in court Feb 6.

Now these are the kinds of people we want exposed to our kids rather than the homeless – right????

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