Support Chicago’s Libraries

Mayor Emmanuel has presented his proposed budget before the City Council. With a $637 million projected shortfall, the city is in for a rough ride. Initially it seemed that libraries had been spared with none slated for closing. But closer inspection of the budget revealed that major changes to libraries were coming. The budget included another reduction in hours in addition to the staggered schedule we currently suffer through and staff reductions, cuts that will directly impact each branch library in the system.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-library-cuts-focus-20111025,0,2434094.story

The mayor’s office says this is better than closing branches but in fact with reduced hours and levels of service, the community will suffer. Hours at libraries were reduced in 2010 as branches went to a staggered schedule that resembled a maze and closing times that left children on the street at 6pm and shortened hours for programming. When pages (the staff that reshelves books and processes your holds) were eliminated in 2010, books remained unshelved and the time you waited for the material you put on hold went from 7 to 45 days. This is the wrong direction for our children and our communities.

Our community must take action now.

Here’s what you can do:

1. Contact the alderman. Every branch in the system will be affected so if you receive this email and you’re not in the 4th Ward (Ald. Will Burns, Ward04@cityofchicago.org ), find your alderman’s contact information and let him know that you want a fully functioning library, not just a shell.

2. Express your concern to local newspapers including the Hyde Park Herald (Letters@hpherald.com ), the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Suntimes.

3. If you’re a blogger, let your support for quality libraries be known to your blog community.

4. Show your support on our blog http://www.friendsofblackstone.wordpress.com . Connect with us on Facebook.

We all need to support our libraries as centers of culture, knowledge, and access to tools that help us make the transitions that life is requiring of all of us in these times. Support libraries where we build and foster the type of society in which we want to live.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Support Chicago’s Libraries

  1. Kelly

    Alderman Burns: I’m writing to express my strong concerns about further reductions in library services. I’m a new resident in your district (50th and Dorchester) and one of the advantages I see to my new home is that it is 3 blocks from Blackstone Library. I have always been an active library patron, including volunteering for the summer reading program. I visit libraries throughout the city and what I find remarkable is how BUSY they are. I’ve lived in many other cities and towns and have never seen busier libraries—not just the expected children and teens but also many adults of all economic classes use the libraries.

    Economic times are challenging and difficult budget decisions have to be made, but:
    – If the city is pushing for improved education, why cut one of the mainstays to early reading and access to BOOKS and knowledge?
    – If the city is working on youth violence prevention, why cut one of the places that children can safely go after school to either participate in great programming or to safely hang out and do school work?
    – If the city needs to decrease unemployment, why cut one of the major sites adults use to access online job search programs?
    – If the city needs to provide cooling or warming stations during bad weather, why cut one of the main places that elderly, disadvantaged, or homeless people go to stay out of the elements?

    The city has already made major cuts to the library in both staff (do you know how frustrating it is to see all of the unshelved books or to stand in line for the ONE staff member left?) and hours (do you know how many times I’ve stopped by the library on my way to/from work to find it closed?). Reducing the staff more AND reducing the hours of operation by EIGHT more hours a week is completely unreasonable.

    What options do the mayor and city council have? I don’t know since I’m not elected by the city tax payers to make the city work. All I can say is that proposing a BAD plan and then saying “Well, if you don’t like it, propose something better” is NOT a way to govern a city. This doesn’t let the city council off the hook. They helped to get us in this situation and I DO expect them to come up with an alternate plan.

    The city can’t work if on one hand we are funding school improvements while on the other hand handicapping those community resources (public libraries) that allow schools to meet their goals. At the very least it is short sighted and bad policy and at the worst it is a schizophrenic, sound-bite babbling waste of our tax dollars.

    Please inform me, and the rest of your constituents, how you will address the issue of cuts in library services.

    Sincerely,

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