On 11/01/01, in a Letter to the Editor I pointed out the folly of the spending of approximately $500,000.00 for the renovation of the South Side Library. Now, plans are to close that library. Plans call for also closing the recently new RiverWest Library. ( I believe Mr Szynaka told the City Council that RiverWest averaged four patrons a day)
Both libraries were products of the “equality” mindset of some of our leaders in this community. Both libraries are “underutilized” and the money basically wasted. The “use it or lose it” is the politically incorrect phrase that our leaders seem afraid to use.
As a fervid user of all libraries (I would rank in the top 10% of all users in the community) and bookstores, I have had many, many opportunities to observe usage of all the local libraries and bookstores. As a computer user, I know the value of computers in the libraries but also note how free computers in libraries (and other places are often misused).
I have also visited all four Peoria Public High School Librarians and Principals. None of them were consulted by anyone representing Peoria Public Library and its $35 million campaign. One would believe the consultants would want to know how school kids are using school libraries to design public libraries.
Mary Ward, Head Librarian for District #150 told me she has about $500.00 per school per year in her budget while Peoria Public Library has $25,000.00 for the lightly used McClure Branch alone. That is an interesting fact when Peoria Public schools alone have over 250,000 books on shelves.
I have offered to accompany anyone who would ask me to share my observations. Only one councilperson and two community leaders have taken me accepted my offer.
$100,000.00 was spent to promote the advisory referendum. By contrast my County Board successful campaign cost less than $900.00 to collect almost 2300 votes. This $100,000.00 could have been used to hire more employees which is what some current and past employees say they need. Some space would be nice perhaps, but current space could be better utilized.
Council members and the public, you have been given much information some of which is not correct. An example is that not all books that are checked out at any Peoria Public Library must be hand date stamped. They must be hand stamped except for the approximately 15% of Lakeview Library patrons who use self-check-out machines (when these machines work).
Why would Lakeview Library be expanded when a new far north side location is being planned? Remember, Lakeview has over 1000 linear feet of empty bookshelves and three meeting rooms lightly used considering the hours available every day of the week.
I hope those responsible do more homework than was done when half a million was spent on the hardly used South Side and RiverWest Libraries. Many of us believe that this is more of a “bricks and mortar” 35 million tax dollars than actual needs project.
My offer to visit and share my facts is open to anyone including Library Board Members who I would be happy to accompany along with council members.