Posts Tagged ‘Illinois’

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):

60 Seconds of Tech Podcast #3

March 23rd, 2010 Comments off

Resources discussed:

Categories: Technology Tags: , , ,

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.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , , ,

Librarians Talk with Legislators about Value of Libraries

March 1st, 2010 Comments off

Elaine Steingrubey, director at Morrison-Talbott Public Library, and Erica Pyle, director at Columbia Public Library, and I traveled to the Sparta and Okawville offices of Representative Reitz and Senator Luechtefeld to talk with them about the value of libraries and their importance to the legislators’ constituents.  We also shared with them the SNAPSHOT activities in their libraries and here at the System.  Having those stats and comments made an impression on the legislators in a meaningful way.  Both legislators gave us all the time we wanted and helped us to understand what will need to be done to improve Illinois’s economic climate and repair the damage done to the budget.  I will be booking visits to other LCLS legislators and will be contacting directors to come along.  It was a very enlightening experience for the three of us.

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.

Categories: Uncategorized 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

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , , , ,

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.

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.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , , ,

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?

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , , ,

On a Positive Note

April 6th, 2009 Comments off

Kitty Pope, Executive Director from Alliance Library System, has been writing a series of articles about how to handle the current woes of the world with a positive spin on things. You can find all of the articles here. She usually updates articles on Monday.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , ,

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.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , , ,

2009 ALA Midwinter Meeting – Illinois Chapter Councilor Report

February 6th, 2009 Comments off

Sunday, January 25, 2009

9:00 am – Information Session

Candidates for President Elect:

  • Kenton Oliver, Executive Director, Stark County Dist Library, Ohio
  • Roberta Stevens, Outreach Projects & Partnerships Officer, LC, Washington DC

Illinois Candidates for Councilor at Large:

  • Nanette Donohue, Tech Services Manager, Champaign PL
  • Tracie Hall, Principal Consultant, The GoodSeed Group, Chicago
  • Gail Tobin, Branch Coordinator, Hanover Park Branch, Schaumburg TDL
  • Patricia Hogan, Director, Poplar Creek Library, Streamwood
  • Nann Blaine Hilyard, Director, Zion-Benton PL
  • Al Kagen, U of I African Studies Library, U of I

Voting occurs March 17 – April 24 – completely online (although print ballots are available by request if no Internet access or disability).  Election results will be announced May 1st.

We previewed a cool video on “Being a Councilor.”  This will be on both You Tube and the ALA Web site.

10:00 am – APA Information Session

LSSCP (Library Support Staff Certification Program) – Nancy Bolt reported that it will be taken to ALA- APA Ex Board at the upcoming annual conference.  Expect to begin accepting candidates January 2, 2010.

10:45 am – Council I

Keith M. Fiels – oral report on council transparency.  Governance office currently in process of working with several folks to attempt to develop a master matrix with the costs associated with increased access and electronic participation.  1st draft expected to be ready to discuss with BARC in May in order to be shared with council at the Annual meeting.  Looking at ways to make records of proceedings more widely available.

Monday, January 26, 2009

10:15 am – APA Council

The APA is being restructured to be more integrated in ALA budgetarily.

Standing Committee on the Salaries & Status of Library Workers

  • Fair Pay Act
  • Paycheck Fairness Act

When at annual in Chicago, 2 resolutions will come forward: 1) overtime pay, and 2) outsourcing.

Also at annual, a popular program that was presented in Anaheim will be presented again: Toot Your Horn: Image Building with Donna Cardillo.

1:30 pm – Chapter Relations Committee II

ALA representatives would like to appear at Chapter conferences to hold an ALA forum to assist in formulating “the foci of the next ALA strategic plan.”  I have emailed Dan and Sharon Wiseman, conference co-chairs requesting they respond to Michael Dowling (ALA Chapter Relations) regarding this request.

Aside: Nann Blaine Hilyard suggested that ILSDO put together some type of practical resource for libraries to respond to the Consumer Protection Safety Act.  Emily Sheketoff from the Washington Office suggests not to do anything (other than call those folks in DC – both the acting chair and Tom Moore) regarding books – she strongly expects that library books will be exempted from the Act.  The Act impacts anybody with any product (owned or produced) created for a child under 12.  (see below for a further development on this topic)

April 14th is National Library Workers Day.

The Stimulus – America Recovery Reinvestment Act – is $79 Billion total.  Of that amount, approximately $30 billion will be available to be spent at the discretion of Governors.  Need to lobby for $ coming to the state – probably need to contact Lt Gov Pat Quinn to get him on board now.  Look at what happened in Milwaukee where the mayor kept the public library in $ with police & fire when every other department received a 20% cut.  Mayor stated that the public library is the safety net for the community.

FY2009 Fed budget ready to be passed any day now.  More for LSTA & school improvement.  Obama is interested in the SKILLS Act.

E-government becoming more important.  Public & community college libraries will be called upon for this effort.  Wash Office is producing a tool kit to support the libraries.  Looking for local governments to partner with local libraries.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

9:15 am – Council II

Pat Hogan, Poplar Creek, Streamwood Illinois was elected to the Executive Board.

Major discussion (both council 2 & 3) revolved around electronic member participation; see more at:

Pat Hogan asked if I would initiate a memorial resolution about Jane Shaw for Annual conference.  I agreed to do so.

1:30 Chapter Forum

Chapter councilors are interested in a hosted event/reception in Chicago at annual, open to all councilors not only chapter councilors.  Money collected above what is needed to cover the costs of the event will be donated to the ALA-APA.  Tina will follow up with ILA Chicago office staff to see what kind of venues might be available, and what arrangements might be able to be made.

Discussion revolved around communications – especially when new chapter councilors come on board.  Several documents regarding chapter councilors were handed out.  I will share these with the new chapter councilor when that person has been elected.

6:00 Chapter Councilors Reception – Denver Public Library

The Denver Chapter Councilor made arrangements for a small catered event for chapter councilors.  Councilors paid $25.00 to cover food costs as well as a donation to the Spectrum Scholarship fund.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

8:00 am – Council III

Mention was made that lead and books is being put on hold by the commission while they investigate the issue.  There is no action required of libraries at this time.

All council related information can and, if not already there, will be able to be accessed at

Additional interesting information:

Freedom to Read Foundation will have a 40th anniversary celebration on Sunday July 12 in the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago see for more information.

Talking Library Value to local government and schools:

Categories: Advocacy Tags: , , ,

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.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , ,

Wifi Police/y

November 26th, 2008 Comments off

The other day a librarian asked me about wifi policies – who needs one, what should it say, is the library liable for wifi use/abuse, etc.  The first two questions are easy: everyone needs a wifi policy.  No exceptions.  It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece- you could borrow some of the language of your current internet access policy, perhaps adding a few lines like “don’t abuse our wifi by hogging bandwidth, and only use it for legal purposes“.  It could also be helpful to let people know whether or not your wifi is encrypted; it may keep them from risking personal information on an open wifi connection.

The question of library liability is trickier- I’m no expert on law, so I sought the opinion of Phil Lenzini, the System’s attorney.  Here is his response:

This is a great question and I wish I had a great answer, but I really  don't
(yet).  As you probably realize although Wifi has been around for a  while
now and has installation in both public libraries and schools, but also  the
"private sector" (Starbucks, et al) there isn't really any "law" yet in the
sense of any court decisions I know of regarding any liability issues.   That
could be because it takes a bit of time to generate lawsuits and for them  to get
through the courts to a "court of review" which publishes their decisions  and
would have some precedental value.  Plus is may be that any  "liability," or
the precursor "any injury" or damage, has not in fact happened  to even
generate litigation. (The only case I know of dealing with Wifi is out  of Germany
last year and the only thing we can learn from it, in my view, is  that first,
the troublemakers were "stealing" the access [which in our  library/Starbucks
set up wouldn't be working in our favor] and second, the  lawsuit was brought
by copyrighted stuff wanting to stop infringers [if they  could "find" them],
which is likely to be our biggest real court problem too. In  any event the
court found the Wifi "provider" wasn't liable - but remember it  was being
I will say that I don't really see any real negatives when comparing the
library installation with the "private sector" though and I do see some slight
positive difference in the "partial immunities" that local governments still
have in Illinois (more against negligence claims but not "wilful and wanton" or
 intentional acts).
I do think disclosures or warnings would always be useful if they are
factually accurate and clearly or simply enough stated as to be understandable  by
the average consumer, but I think prohibitory language about illegal,
inappropriate uses and copyright violations to be equally important  elements.  I
don't know what the technology in place would permit us to do,  and I suspect it
varies depending on choices we make as to the Wifi structure in  place.  For
instance if it is totally "open" as I believe Starbucks is, it  may not have any
"threshold" except the laptop, with Wifi capability,  simply signing on.  If
instead you have it locked down and it can only  be accessed by a password (or
a hack) then I suspect at that threshold you could  require the patron to
sign or click through at least a screen with the  disclosure/warning.  But as I
understand your question, you're talking the  "open" type and about all the
library could do would be to have adopted a  policy on Wifi and access (which I
do think would be wise, though perhaps very  difficult to enforce) somewhat
similar to their old internet access policies,  where they prohibit use of the
network or internet access if anything illegal or  inappropriate is involved.
That policy could also include all  disclaimers and warnings and at least be
"published" in the same way all of its  policies and regulations are (usually
just a handbook of patron policies  somewhere in the Library).  Again I'm not
sure how enforceable that may be  and my techie days are a bit behind on all of
our Wifi and networking  capabilities.  I do know that the library itself may
be the contact point  for the FBI or law enforcement when using a Wifi (or
other internet connection)  as far as IP addresses go, and the difficulty in
trying to track back as to the  individual user who may have used the connection
illegally always seems to be a  problem.
It's a tough question, especially at this point in time, but my "gut"
feeling is that other than a policy itself, there isn't much liability avoidance
that can be done, but there isn't that much risk either.  I do think that  the
patron assuming they have a Wifi ready laptop will likely be held to some
standard (like an "assumption of the risk" or a "buyer beware") that  further
relieves the provider/library of some of the liability (at least as long  as the
Library is acting responsibly in it's creation and maintenance of the  router,
the network, internet gateway, etc).
Hope that helps somewhat, but keep me advised if problems arise.

Phillip B.  Lenzini

It seems like the issue of liability for library wifi internet access is still largely untested in court.  Without worrying about the vicissitudes of the law, I think it is essential to at least have a wifi access policy that is in line with how you imagine wifi should be used at your library (with similar rules to your regular internet access policy, perhaps).  Even if it’s not written in water-tight legalese, it will still help you avoid a litany of problems.

If your library already has a wifi internet access policy, what does it look like?