Posts Tagged ‘libraries’

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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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.

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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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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.

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.

Digital Preservation

May 11th, 2009 Comments off

Check out this video on digital preservation!

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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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.

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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?

Economic Crisis LibGuide

March 24th, 2009 Comments off

The Reference Department at the Mitchell Memorial Library, Mississippi State University, has created a LibGuide of resources about the crisis. Be sure to check it frequently over the next few months as they intend to continue updating it as the economic situation evolves.

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