Author Archive

What is a TIF District?

March 31st, 2010 Comments off

Illinois, as well as other States, allows municipal governments to allocate specific area(s) within the municipality as Tax Increment Financing Districts (TIF).  These TIF districts are designed to support economic growth within the TIF. Sales taxes and property taxes continue to be collected within the TIF district, but these tax revenues are used for improvements specific to the TIF district. These improvements include road repair, new sewers, sidewalks, and other capital improvements. The idea is new economic growth will be encouraged by updating of the TIF district’s infrastructure and increasing the long-term tax revenue of that particular area.

Tax Increment Financing districts are areas chosen from a municipality which are in need of redevelopment from decay or deterioration. Often a community’s deserted downtown area is designated a TIF district in order to support or generate regrowth. This allows the area to be redeveloped, repairing buildings, encouraging businesses to open, etc.

According to the Illinois Tax Increment Association:

“When a TIF redevelopment project area (often called a TIF district) is created, the value of the property in the area is established as the “base” amount. The property taxes paid on this base amount continue to go to the various taxing bodies as they always had, with the amount of this revenue declining only if the base declines (something that the TIF is expected to keep from happening) or the tax rate goes down. It is the growth of the value of the property over the base that generates the tax increment. This increment is collected into a special fund (the Special Tax Increment Allocation Fund) for use by the municipality to make additional investments in the TIF project area. This reinvestment generates additional growth in property value, which results in even more revenue growth for reinvestment.”  From: Illinois Tax Increment Association’s Web site

How does this impact a public library? Over time, the TIF district increases its tax revenue, due to the concentrated improvements and redevelopment, but the library continues to receive property taxes only on the base amount established when the TIF district was created.

Libraries need to know where the area Tax Increment Financing districts are located as they impact the library’ property tax revenue. TIF districts may be the size of a town block, or half the municipality. Additionally, the municipality may establish multiple TIF districts over the years. When a TIF is established, the municipality must inform the taxing bodies which will be impacted, for example the school, community college, and library districts. If the library is a municipal library, it does not need to receive its own notification, as it is considered part of the municipality.

The TIF district(s) are factored into the library’s Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) by the county clerk. This is why the municipality’s EAV might be different from the library’s as time passes. Remember, the library continues to receive property tax revenue from the TIF area, but the sum is factored on the “base” amount of when the TIF was established. Once the TIF district expires the library and other taxing bodies benefit from the increased property values. However, TIF districts do not expire for 20+ years, and they can be extended.

Public libraries (municipal and district) along with other taxing bodies (school, community college, etc), may request TIF funds from the TIF Board of Review. These funds would be used for capital repair or maintenance of the library.  Each TIF district has a review board, so contact your municipality for information on the TIF Board of Review and how to apply for their TIF funding.

Resources for additional information on Tax Increment Financing (TIF):

WebJunction Illinois Guided Tour

March 22nd, 2010 Comments off

WebJunction Illinois has some amazing features for library staff, but often users are overwhelmed by the amount of information in WebJunction. I thought a short, guided tour to some of my favorite sections might raise your comfort level with WebJunction.

First, go to WebJunction Illinois and make sure you are signed in to your WebJunction Illinois account. Not sure? If you are already signed in, the My Account information displays on the right side of the screen. If you are not signed in, the My Account box prompts you to enter Username and Password. You don’t need to sign out of WebJunction Illinois, just close the screen when you are finished.

Once signed into WebJunction Illinois you will see a blue-toned header with Lincoln’s profile (this is Illinois after all) and a series of buttons or tabs across the header. The buttons/tabs are Home, My WebJunction, Illinois Center, Grant, Library Services, Library Management, Technology, IL Course Catalog, and Member Center. I don’t have Home bookmarked, I have Illinois Center as my opening page for WebJunction Illinois; bookmark the page you visit frequently. Regardless of where you are in WebJunction Illinois, these buttons/tabs remain at the top of the screen.

A variety of legal resources are available for WebJunction Illinois participants. You will have access to a law dictionary (FindLaw) and Basic Legal Information Terms are two favorites. And a review of How to Research a Legal Question is the perfect topic for staff meetings, along with What Questions can Librarians Answer? in the documents section. The path to Legal Resources is WebJunction Illinois > Library Services àInformation Services > Government Information in 21st Century > Legal Information. Once at Legal Information, don’t forget to check out the Documents tab for even more information.

The updated Administrative Ready Reference is available in WebJunction Illinois (WebJunction Illinois > Library Management > Administrative Ready Reference). The ARR has information on Illinois’ Public Funds Statement publication, the new FOIA changes, examples of library policies, amongst other topics. I use this weekly, if not daily.

By visiting WebJunction Illinois Grants you can learn about current grant projects such as ILEAD U and Opportunity Online. Or check out the LSTA grants section to see what projects other libraries created for their libraries. This is a great place to customize ideas for your library based on what others have tried and it gives you a contact for more information on the grant project.

And of course, there is the Illinois Course Catalog (WebJunction Illinois > IL Course Catalog). The Course Catalog houses free, online courses for your use. Since WebJunction Illinois is supported by funding from the Illinois State Library, the course catalog is prepaid for Illinois library staff with a WebJunction Illinois account. The Illinois Course Catalog is a perfect resource for libraries wanting to offer continuous learning to staff, but have limited budgets. Course topics include Excel, Visio, Storytelling, Customer Service, Hiring, Dealing with Angry Patrons and Cataloging for Non-Catalogers, definitely something for everyone. Remember, you must be signed into WebJunction Illinois for the courses to be free. If you are not signed in, the courses will have a nominal fee.

Highlights, upcoming Webinars and other information are shared via the WebJunction Illinois Facebook page. To become a Facebook fan, go to WebJunction Illinois, scroll down to Illinois Highlights section and click on the Become a Fan button. You will be prompted for your Facebook e-mail and password.

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Workforce Recovery and Libraries

February 5th, 2010 Comments off

During January, I participated in the Libraries and Workforce Recovery webinar, hosted by WebJunction. The hour long session focused on what public libraries are doing to help patrons find employment, to complete online applications, to develop resumes, and to cope in today’s economy. The webinar was inspirational. Libraries of all sizes are working to help their community. For inspiration at your library, listen to the archive of January’s Libraries and Workforce Recovery Webinar

Libraries & Tough Times in the News shares media articles and interviews highlighting how libraries are helping residents find jobs. You will want to share with your boards and mayors reports as you communicate what your library is contributing to the community. The American Library Association has posted Job-seeking in U.S. Public Libraries, another excellent resource about the impact job-seekers have had on libraries.

A recent Longshots podcast, Helping others cope with the challenges of job loss, focuses on building listening skills, learning about physical and emotional boundaries, among other skills. Longshots is a regular podcast from Sarah Long. A companion article is Addressing emotional challenges of patrons and yourself by Diane Shelton. Another podcast resource is from Fairfield Public Library (Connecticut) on various job skills, from resumes to workplace law. Of special interest are the podcasts for using the library’s online databases to help with job searches.

While this has a North Carolina focus, the Job Search Tool Kit by the State Library of North Carolina, is a wonderful starting point for libraries helping patrons. The Tool Kit is perfect for discussion at a staff meeting and linking from the library’s Web site. And it can be updated for your community and region.

Check out some of the programs Forsyth County Public Library (North Carolina) is hosting for area residents; visit their Survive & Thrive blog.

How is your library supporting residents seeking employment and recovery? Have you seen an increase in patrons using library computers for job searches? What programs have you hosted related to job searching?

Equal Justice For All

January 27th, 2010 Comments off

During January, I was given the opportunity to participate in the Self-Represented Litigation Network’s Training on Public Libraries and Access to Justice in connection with the Technology Initiative Grants (TIG) Conference. The training is co-sponsored by Legal Services Corporation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The two-day conference addressed how public libraries can provide access to free online legal information to their patrons. The conference was a unique opportunity for participants to meet with legal and court experts to discuss strategies for integrating access to free legal information into library programs, including what information to post on library Web sites, how to talk about the content with library patrons, how to work with partners to make sure that needed content is developed, how to share what they have learned statewide, and how to use successful programs to advocate for the importance of public libraries as gateways to government institutions.

Fifteen teams from across the country were selected to attend the conference. The Illinois team consisted of Debra Aggertt, Illinois State Library; Peggy Busceni Grady, 19th Judicial Circuit; Robin Helenthal, Bloomington Public Library; and myself.  We learned about the broad range of currently available free online legal resources, customer-friendly legal tools developed by courts, bar associations, and law libraries, and legal aid programs that support people without access to legal aid or counsel.

The Legal Services Corporation (LSC), funded by the Federal government, is charged with providing civil legal aid for the poor in the nation. Established by Congress in 1974, LSC operates as an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation that promotes equal access to justice and provides grants for high-quality civil legal assistance to low-income Americans. Here in Illinois, the LSC works with Illinois Legal Aid to provide legal self-help information at the state and county levels. Madison and St. Clair are among the 37 counties who already have local legal self-help centers. Over the next three years, the remaining counties will open centers.

What does this mean for Illinois libraries? When patrons contact the library with legal questions, such as: How do I change my name? Change my child support? Create a will?  the library can refer the patron to either Illinois Legal Aid for assistance or one of their free forms or your area’s self-help center. A few simple things your library could do to further aid patrons with these questions might be to add a link to both locations onto the library’s Web site (Illinois Legal Aid marketing) or ask your county’s self-help center to present a program(s) at the library on their resources. Over the next months, you will be hearing more about the legal resources available for your patrons.

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Come Up and See Us Sometime

January 25th, 2010 Comments off

The Lewis & Clark Library System has over 130 members. The members call us with questions. We see members during continuing education events. Members ask us for advice and suggestions. But often it seems we only talk with a member during a crisis situation. So the Consultants have been calling on the members just to visit, to talk, to see how LCLS can help. We are in the midst of year 2 (of a three-year schedule) to visit all our members.

When we developed the visitation list, I asked the consultants to see libraries they did not know well. This has the major benefit of familiarizing both the consultant and the library director with each other, with the services that particular consultant provides to the members and with the services that library offers its residents or students.

So far, we have physically visited nearly 30 members. During the visit we have a few pre-set questions to help start the conversation. But we quickly discovered the members did not need any help to start talking with the consultants! The discussions seem to center on funding, how to enhance library services, what types of programs the library has held/is holding. (I personally love the therapy dogs at Hayner, Glen Carbon and Bunker Hill.) Training for staff is also a frequent point during the visits.

After the visit, the consultant follows up with any promised information to the librarian. We also share our visits with the other consultants by completing a Checklist. We won’t want what we learned to disappear, unused.

Have you not yet had your library’s visit? Not to worry, we will visit you within the next 18 months.

As a by-product of the site visits, the consultants are working to call each member library at least once each six months, to see how things are going and how LCLS can help.

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Researching Communities to Prepare for the Future

January 15th, 2010 Comments off

In 2008-09, the Illinois State Library awarded an LTSA research grant to Lewis & Clark Library System to learn not what a library thought it needed for its community, but rather, to learn what a community needed from its library. The results were fascinating.

Our Researching Communities to Prepare for the Future study gained in-depth insight from 140+ people in communities across Illinois and discovered what community members expect from libraries over the next few years. Fifteen communities across the state participated in the survey, ranging in size from Oak Park and Palatine to Nokomis and Pinckneyville.

Public libraries provide many important services to local communities and as the economic situation across the country continues to slow, libraries are taking on even more responsibilities.  Libraries have traditionally provided reading material to people of all ages and backgrounds, and they continue to do so. However, they now provide Web access and training in online services, community programming, job hunting assistance, and more. For our study we looked at some service possibilities libraries might provide and asked community members to prioritize what services they would hope to receive from the library.

What did we learn?  That communities need 5 easily obtained things from their library:

The interviewed residents clearly stated that a friendly library staff is a service provided by the library. And that the staff needs to be knowledgeable about the community, the library, and other library services.

The library does not need to be a forest of signs, in fact less is more. But if the library staff is too close to the library’s layout, they don’t always see the library because they already know the library. Also, the participating residents definitely see the library’s Web site as part of the library, not a separate function.

While the interviewees don’t expect the library to stand guard over the children and teenagers using the library, they do expect the library to be a place where children/teenagers are welcomed and treated with respect. Staff should familiarize themselves with both physical and cyber safety, along with the library’s emergency plans.

Patrons of all ages are concerned their library does not offer services and programs for impaired patrons.  Often, 1e found that the interviewed resident didn’t know the services the library was already offering. As with the need for a safe place, refamiliarize staff with serving impaired patrons and promoting the library’s services to all audiences.

Libraries have always been a major cultural leader within communities. Most Carnegie-built library buildings have an auditorium, usually on the upper floor. The Researching Communities study showed that residents continue to want and need their library to be a cultural leader for the community.

To help the participating libraries and all Illinois libraries supply these needs, the research grant also developed continuing education training for individual and/or group use. These courses are a first step in continuous learning for all library staff, helping them meet the needs in the library’s community.

A recent American Libraries article highlights how valuable the Researching Communities study is for the library world. The January/February 2010 issue of American Libraries has a wonderful article that supports the concept we used with Researching Communities, what does the community want. Embracing Change for Continuous Improvement by Peter Hernon and Ellen Altman (page 52+)

Here are some quotes from their article, emphasis is mine:
“This belief needs to be set aside in order to determine what matters the most to customers, and how the knowledge gained can be applied to improve service delivery.”

“Present and potential customers make choices. Ease of use and likelihood of obtaining what is desired play an large part of driving these choices.”

“…customers’ view of library performance on such factors as timeliness, helpfulness, courtesy, reliability and responsiveness.”

We are proud of the public libraries in Illinois and hope you share our pride in the library staff at Illinois libraries. The final report and community reports are posted on WebJunction Illinois. Read through the study–how does your library measure up?

Categories: Advocacy Tags:

Using LibraryLearning in 2010

January 4th, 2010 Comments off

If you’re not already taking full advantage of the Library Learning (L2) calendar, make 2010 the year you do so. Here are three suggestions for making the most of it.

Watch for new and upcoming meetings

When you created an account on L2, you were subscribed to the weekly L2 Announce. Persons affiliated with LCLS libraries receive an edition containing announcements of LCLS events, as well as those offered by the Illinois State Library. Review L2 Announce when it arrives in your email inbox, and register for events that you want to attend. L2 Announce is a primary source of information about continuing education opportunities and other events.

No L2 account yet? Just click on Register in the gray box in the upper right of the L2 screen, and follow the steps to create your account. Be sure to choose your library association to get the most out of L2. New accounts are reviewed and approved by library system staff, usually within a day or two. You won’t be able to pay for events with a credit card until your account is approved.

Search for information on Illinois libraries

Click on Libraries (in the gray box in the upper right of the L2 screen) to get a directory of Illinois libraries.

L2 includes the library’s address, phone, fax, Web site address, map, hours, resource sharing policies for interlibrary loan and reciprocal borrowing, delivery route and frequency, OCLC code, ELI control number, and library automation status. Most information was updated in spring 2009 as part of the Illinois State Library’s annual certification process. However, the resource sharing section was added just a few months ago, so much of that information is still lacking.

It’s your library’s responsibility to keep its L2 information updated. Your library director or a designee has the ability to edit your library information, as well as to add/remove staff affiliations and to register staff for L2 events. LCLS library directors may designate another staff member as registrar/editor by emailing Charm Ruhnke. The resource sharing information can be updated by your library’s interlibrary loan or reference staff without them being designated as registrars/editors.

LCLS is now using L2 as its official member directory, so it is important that your library keep its information updated. When you click on the membership directory on the LCLS Web site, you are now taken to the LCLS section of the L2 library directory.

Update your profile

When you opened your L2 account, a basic profile was automatically created for you. You should review your profile periodically to be sure it contains up-to-date information. To review your profile, sign in to L2, and then click on your name. Then click Edit Profile, and make any changes that are necessary.

You should make sure that your email address and library affiliations(s) are correct. If you change your email address, you will then use that new email address to sign into L2. If you have changed jobs or work for more than one library, you should still have only one L2 account. Don’t set up a new account when you get a new library position! Just log into your profile and update your library affiliation(s). You can be affiliated with more than one library.

Other profile information to check includes:

  • Your photo. With so much communication being done by email and phone, it builds community when library staff can associate photos with names and email addresses.
  • Your title
  • Your job responsibilities. If you’re the LCLS contact person for your agency, be sure that System Representative is checked.
  • Your privacy settings


Help is just a click away at the Help link in the upper right of the L2 screen. LCLS members who cannot find the answer should contact Charm Ruhnke

Adapted from a post by Jane Plass of the DuPage Library System

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County Clerks are a Library's Best Friend

December 29th, 2009 Comments off

As you all know, I am a proponent of knowing what information your county clerks have available for libraries. But it has been a while since I last climbed on this soapbox, so with tax levy ordinances being filed by library districts and municipalities now is the perfect time to remind you.

In most states, the office of County Clerk acts as a general location for various county documents. As counties evolved, if no one specifically knew what to do with a piece of information it was given to the County Clerk for safekeeping. Illinois is one of those states.

Your County Clerk is the official keeper of all property tax information, specifically as it impacts libraries –budget & appropriations ordinances for library districts, municipalities, school districts and other taxing bodies within the county. Also on file with the County Clerk are the tax levy ordinances, boring reading but incredibly important to the ongoing existence of libraries.

County Clerk’s also have the information on individual parcels –> who owns them, what taxes are assigned and who paid the taxes. Many libraries contact the County Clerk to verify residency on a specific parcel. The County Clerks’ are working to make this information available via the Internet. Your county will have the information available with a phone call or on their Web site.

Other information housed with the County Clerk concerns Voter Registration. This includes how and where to register, polling places, and voter registration lists. Voter registration lists can be critical when a library is considering any sort of referendum. To gain an idea of the valuable information on the voter registration list, visit Madison County Voter Registration Report.

My personal favorite from the County Clerks’ is the Levy, Valuation and Rate Information they supply to taxing bodies, and anyone who asks. Each County Clerk presents this differently, but the basic information will always be: taxing body, maximum rate allowed, tax fund, levy, actual rate, and the extension. The 2007 Levy, Valuation & Rate Information for Madison is a good example of what all the counties have.

Changes to FOIA and OMA

December 18th, 2009 Comments off

As you know, changes have been made to the State’s Freedom of Information and Open Meetings Acts (FOIA and OMA). These changes go into effect 1 January 2010 with a compliance date of 1 July 2010. Please note additional information on these changes can be found on the LCLS Web site for FOIA, the Attorney General’s FOIA Web site, WebJunction Illinois, among other locations.

Open Meetings Act: Each Public Body must designate a person or persons to receive training on the Open Meetings Act, this is new. Those persons must successfully complete training by July 1, 2010 and their names must be submitted to the Public Access Counselor. Those designated people must annually complete the training program and any new person designated to take training must do so within 30 days after designation.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA): Each public body must designate a Freedom of Information Officer(s), this is not new. However, what is new is, these officers must successfully complete training developed by the Public Access Counselor by July 1, 2010 and successfully repeat training annually. Any new designated Freedom of Information Officer must complete the training in 30 days.

Other changes:

  • The number of days you have to respond to a FOIA request has been reduced from seven (7) to five (5).
  • The fine for non-compliance has increased.
  • The meaning of a public record has changed. Performance Reviews and other documents in the personnel files can be requested. Private/personal information must be redacted from those documents before they are given to a FOIA requester.
  • There is now an Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor (PAC) office to review denied request and complaints from requestors.
  • There are two instances where the library is required to send information directly to the PAC. The first is when you deny disclosure because it would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. The second is when the exemption is for “preliminary drafts, notes, recommendations, memoranda and other records in which opinions are expresses, or policies or actions are formulated.” When this happens you must notify the Requester and the PAC of you intent to deny the request.

Under the changes a library must describe their public body and list the types of documents they hold that can be requested. Examples include: organizational chart, library’s purpose, board minutes, etc. To fulfill this requirement, it is suggested the library modify the Freedom of Information model policy found in the Administrative Ready Reference. The Board adopts this policy and posts it; physically and on the Web site. The documents and record information must be posted at the library and also on the library’s Web site. Please note that it does not matter if you do not operate the site or have only part time staff. If there is a library Web site it MUST be posted.

What you need to do?

  1. Read the FOIA information posted on the System’s Web site, and the attached summary from Attorney General’s FOIA/OMA seminars. Thank you to Kathleen Feher for sharing her summary.
  2. Download the new FOIA model policy, modify it for your library and adopt it at your January Board Meeting.
  3. At the January Board meeting appoint your Freedom of Information Officer(s). You need one but having a person as back up is encouraged so that if one is unavailable when a request is made, the library has time to respond. Also designate your Open Meeting Act officer(s). They can be the same person.
  4. Designated FOIA and OMA officers take and successfully complete the appropriate training. The training should be available on or around 1 January 2010. Notify the PAC once the training is completed.
  5. FOIA officer sets up files and internal procedures for handling FOIA request.

Show me the money

November 19th, 2009 Comments off

Each year, Illinois public library trustees and directors create and adopt a financial budget for their library. This budget is based on anticipated expenses and anticipated income. A key component of the anticipated income is the library’s tax revenue as 75 to 95% of a public library’s financial support comes from taxes on local property.

But knowing the library’s tax revenue is a guessing game, how can you know the future? By knowing the history of the library’s tax revenue, the library director and trustees can make a calculated estimation of future tax income. Knowing the rate of increase in equalized assessed valuation (EAV) helps determine future increases, allowing trustees to adjust the library’s tax rate in order to provide financial support for the library.

Check out the System’s annual review of the public library’s estimated tax revenue, the Analysis of the Public Library Estimated Tax Revenue and the tables Tracking Library Tax Revenue.  Interestingly, four libraries will experience a decrease in EAV for the 2010 year.

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Bibliostat Connect and Library Statistics

May 29th, 2009 Comments off

For two years, Illinois public libraries have used Bibliostat Collect to complete their IPLAR for the Illinois State Library. Prior to this, the libraries used an electronic database from the Library Research Center for about 10 years. Under a contract with the Illinois State Library, Bibliostat has gathered public library statistics from the IPLAR into one database for local library use. Bibliostat Connect is the web-based, user-friendly database that librarians can to query data elements from the Illinois Public Library Annual Reports (IPLAR, 1996-) and the ILLINET Interlibrary Loan Statistics (2005-).

Data elements including, but not limited to, circulation, program attendance, registered borrowers, income, expenses, and others can be compared by library name, peer groups, and benchmarks. The database allows library staff to quickly create tables and graphs, view averages and percentiles, and organize the results into reports and presentations. You can compare the library to the other 650 public libraries in Illinois or the thousands of libraries across the country. Bibliostat Connect is an easy and effective tool to use in your advocacy, fundraising, and marketing efforts.

In addition to the Illinois data files (IPLAR and ILLINET Interlibrary Loan Statistics), other data files include the national public library data files for each state and data from the Public Library Association. A huge wealth of information.

More information on Bibliostat Connect, its features, and its uses can be found at these Baker & Taylor links.


Bibliostat CONNECT can be accessed at via IE at: Please note, currently Bibliostat Connect is accessible only via the IE browser.

Libraries access Bibliostat Connect using their ELI Control/Branch number and ELI password. Your login will be your library’s ELI number. This is the 7 digits.Your password will be your ELI password. If you are unable to login with your current ELI data, contact Julia Pernicka or Charm Ruhnke for your ELI information.


  1. The IPLAR data for FY08 is NOT included yet, but is expected to be available late Fall 2009.
  2. Position analysis/salary comparison data by position is not available as a part of Connect. You will still need to contact the Illinois State Library if you need that data or visit LCLS to review the paper IPLARs.
  3. You will need to download the ActiveX controls, when prompted, the first time you use Connect on a PC. The safe download is necessary to view the graphs and data correctly.
  4. Minimum system requirements necessitate an Internet connection, running Internet Explorer 6.0 or higher, and a monitor with 800×600 resolution with 256 colors (8 bit).
  5. If you receive the a message asking if you want to “stop running this script, click no. Then, call the technical support hotlinefor assistance with making adjustments to your computer.
  6. Remember that census info is from the 2000 Federal census and was collected almost 10 years ago. Keep this in mind as you use the “age data. Example: The 5-9 year olds reported in 2000 are now 14-18 years old! Special census information is not included in the database.

How might you use statistical information to make a point with the library board? The voters? City Hall?

Thanks to Genna Buhr of the Alliance Library System for portions of this information.

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Personal Property Replacement Tax

May 14th, 2009 Comments off

Replacement taxes are revenues collected by the state of Illinois and paid to local governments  such as cities, villages, school districts among others, to replace money that was lost by local governments when their powers to impose personal property taxes on corporations, partnerships, and other business entities were taken away in the mid-1970’s.

These taxes resulted when the new Illinois Constitution directed the legislature to abolish business (corporate) personal property taxes and replace the revenue lost by local government units and school districts. In 1979, a law was enacted to provide for statewide taxes to replace the monies lost to local governments – thus the Personal Property Replacement Tax, or the Replacement Tax.

Public libraries existing prior to 1976, and who received a portion of their municipality’s Personal Property Tax, continue to receive their share of the Personal Property Replacement Tax. This includes public libraries which have converted to library district, such as East Alton PLD, and Litchfield PLD.

If the public library or library district did not exist prior to 1976, they do not receive a share of the Replacement Tax. For example, Farmersville-Waggoner PLD and Brighton PL established in the 1980’s so neither library receives a share of the Replacement Taxes.

Illinois Law clearly protects the public library’s portion, see 30 ILCS 115/12 for the complete text,

Any municipality or township, other than a municipality with a population in excess of 500,000, which receives an allocation based in whole or in part on personal property taxes which it levied pursuant to Sections 3‑1, 3‑4 and 3‑6 of the Illinois Local Library Act and which was previously required to be paid over to a public library shall immediately pay over to that library a proportionate share of the personal property tax replacement funds which such municipality or township receives; provided that if such a public library has converted to a library organized under The Illinois Public Library District Act, regardless of whether such conversion has occurred on, after or before January 1, 1988, such proportionate share shall be immediately paid over to the library district which maintains and operates the library. However, any library that has converted prior to January 1, 1988, and which hitherto has not received the personal property tax replacement funds, shall receive such funds commencing on January 1, 1988.

Under state statute, the Illinois Department of Revenue  provides an estimation of the amount of Personal Property Replacement Taxes to be paid for each Fiscal Year.

This is from the Illinois Department of Revenue’s Web site:

Personal Property Replacement Taxes to be allocated for FY 2009 is estimated to be $1,528 million.  This is a decline of 2.1% from FY08’s allocations of $1,561 million.  Replacement tax allocations are estimated to be lower for several reasons, replacement income tax are expected to be flat, invested capital and telecommunication receipts are estimated to decline in FY09.

To see what amounts have been paid to your municipality, check this portion of the Department of Revenue’s Web Site. This information is for Fiscal Year 2008-09, (FY09). Use the Find feature to locate your municipality and learn the estimated amount coming to the municipality.

Recycling Library Books

May 8th, 2009 Comments off

When libraries weed their collections, removing out-of-date or damaged books we are still faced with how to gracefully dispose of these weeded books. Librarians have never been comfortable with putting these books into the dumpster, after all we were raised to reuse, reduce and recycle.

The Reuse concept is easy. Libraries have book sales, allowing residents a chance to purchase favorite authors or add other books to their personal collection.

What about Reduce? Combined Reduce/Reuse ideas include: building furniture out of the books, giving the books or magazines to teachers for art projects, sending the books to underdeveloped areas such as Kenya’s Camel Book Mobile or Better World Books.

But what about the book sale leftovers and the items too damaged to for reuse? Recycling handles those items.

Most recyclers will accept paperback books, newspaper and magazines; you don’t even need to remove the covers! Few area recyclers accept hardback books. They don’t have the equipment to shred the book covers. An ongoing library project could be removing the hardback covers, freeing the pages for recycling. Remember, not all communities have the same recycling capabilities, so check with your recycling center for exact information applicable to your library.

Waste Parchment, Millersburg, Ohio, accepts hardback books; they just drop the cardboard box full of books into their shredder. They will come to the St. Louis area for a large book load. Call Waste Parchment for more details, (800-282-2454).

We Care Recycling may not take hardback books anymore, have not been able to reach their office for details. Randy Duncan, 217-854-8888, Carlinville, IL

Phoenix Recycling and Shredding, 2795 South Belt West, Belleville, 618-235-2712, and 800-282-2454. They will take books and computer equipment. If they have to send a truck for pick up a fee is charged.

Other Resources:
Illinois counties have Recycling contacts

Local Recycling Centers

The names and contact information listed in this post was accurate as of 5/8/2009. What resources has your library used to reuse, reduce and recycle books, magazines, and equipment?

Does your library have a recycling bin for staff and patron use to collect paper products?

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ALA Distributes Issue Papers

March 30th, 2009 Comments off

Ever at a loss for words when an official questions why the library needs more computers? Or when the school superintendent says the students have the school library, why do they need the public library?

The American Library Association (ALA) has created two wonderful responses for  you to use, Job-seeking in U.S. Public Libraries and Supporting Learners in U.S. Public Libraries about students using library resources.

For years, the ALA Office for Research & Statistics has tracked technology use in public libraries. Their Public Library Funding & Technology Access Study gathers a range of data concerning technology access in U.S. public libraries. The new briefs are based on this study.

Library staff are encouraged to use these papers as educational tools with library boards, mayors and other elected officials, newspaper reporters, among others to highlight the library’s support of the community. Or attach copies to the library’s budget and annual report.

How will you use the informational Issue Papers to support your library?

Fun and Instructive Videos

March 5th, 2009 Comments off

Last year Amanda McKay introduced me to to Commoncraft, a company that creates short instructive videos on complicated topics such as mortgages and podcasting. We liked the Commoncraft concept so well we are using it for the delivery packaging best-practices video Mercy and Kevin are editing.

The Commoncraft idea uses papercut-outs and voice-over narration to explain a concept, theory or application in less then 10 minutes. Most of their videos are 5 minutes in length, perfect for introducing the topic without overwhelming the viewer. The newest Commoncraft video is Computer Hardware in Plain English,, The video is an easy way to learn about memory (basement storage), RAM (closets) and processers (Butlers).

Check out Commoncraft to see the other Plain English videos they have created. They are a perfect way to include staff development training in small but fun bites. Or to create a library instruction video for your students.

Surviving These Economic Times

February 19th, 2009 Comments off

As a history buff, I am fascinated by the cycles society and civilizations go through. For example, my grandmothers would giggle about the free ’60’s, saying the roaring ’20’s were much wilder. And apparently the gay 1890’s were pretty out there, according to Grandma Lillie.

Less fun is the downward economic cycle we are currently experiencing. During my professional life, there were the slides of the early 1980’s, the early 1990’s, and who can forget 2000-2001? Each time the economy drops, amazing pressure is put on libraries. Our revenue shrinks, yet usage and demand for our services increases. Definitely keeping library directors and managers awake at night.

Over the years, librarians have shared their ideas to successfully save and/or reduce library-related costs. In fact, during the 2003 ILA conference, Anita Driver (Jerseyville Public Library) chaired a panel, Cutting Cost in Small Libraries and Still Providing Great Service, devoted to this topic. In today’s economic , it seems appropriate to share ideas to keep costs low while allowing us to continue serving our patrons.

  • To supplement staff, work with community service groups such as the National Honor Society, high school students, or practicum students to do projects for the library.
  • The keep building expenses low, ask retired electricians to volunteer working with the library.
  • Collaborate with local greenhouse to use the library’s grounds to showcase the greenhouse. Or ask area Master Gardeners to maintain the library’s yard.
  • Stretching the collection includes purchasing used DVDs from area video stores, or purchasing a DVD/CD cleaning matching to extend the life of the CD/DVDs
  • Ask local businesses to donate prizes for programs. Some of the prizes libraries have received include certificates for hair cuts, school supplies, bikes, meals, and pizzas
  • Always use the Illinois Department of Revenue’s sales tax exemption letter when purchasing items for the library
  • Join the Illinois System Directors’ Fund for Illinois Libraries for 501(c)3 status
  • Recycle, recycle, and recycle
  • Another way to stretch the library’s training dollars? Use the free WebJunction Illinois online courses for staff training. Course topics include Dealing with Angry Patrons, Directors ASK!, Merchandising that Works, and Accompanying the Young Reader. WebJunction Illinois also has the popular Shelving with Dewey. To access these free courses, log into your WebJunction Illinois account at, choosing IL Course Catalog at the main page.

You might also want to read Shifting Gears: rethinking resources in tough times from the Alliance Library System.

What ideas have worked at your library? Please share your ideas by posting them in the comments section of this post.

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Delivery Codes Change in January 2009

December 18th, 2008 Comments off

Beginning in January 2009, the Lewis & Clark Library System will stop using the three-letter delivery codes. Instead, the System will use the library’s actual name as the library’s delivery code. For example, rather than GLE or b4a, items going to Glen Carbon Centennial Library will be marked as Glen Carbon Centennial. This change helps eliminate confusion between letters and/or numbers in the current codes, allowing us to reduce misdirected material.

GateNet Libraries

LCLS is using the library’s name as it displays on the GateNet transit slip. GateNet libraries using receipt printers to create the transit slips will see no change. If your library currently writes a three-letter code on a yellow delivery band, beginnning 2 January 2009 your library’s staff will write out the library’s name on the band. For example, books formerly marked BVA will be marked Jerseyville Public or BOA will be marked Millstadt Public.

All Members
When a member library sends Freebies, cataloging book buddy boxes, and other items to another LCLS member, please write out the library’s name before attaching the note/slip to the freebies, cataloging book buddy boxes, and other items. Then put the freebies, buddy boxes, etc. into your courier tubs/bags for pick-up.

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