Building & Expansion Planning
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Next Board of Trustees Meeting: July 20, 2016
Library Expansion Background Information
1990 was a memorable year in Plainfield. In the spring of that year, Plainfield voters passed the only tax increase in the history of the Library to expand the 1940 building from 2,700 to 27,000 square feet. The Library building addition was the first construction to begin after the 1990 tornado and opened its doors in 1991.
When construction on the Library began, the official Library district population was 14,123, with 5 schools in Plainfield School District 202. Today, the Library serves 75,337 with 30 schools in Plainfield School District 202. Over 60,000 more people are being served by the same 27,000 square foot Library. When the Library opened, it offered 2 word processing computers and typewriters for public use and collections included cassette tapes and VHS. Modern email did not exist. Today, more than 30 public computers are used for more than 35,000 hours of public computing sessions annually. Formats include DVD, BluRay, MP3, downloadable books and audiobooks, streaming music and video, ereaders, rokus, etc. The Library has over 230,000 items in its collection today, possible only due to virtual rather than physical items.
“Why do we need libraries when we have the Internet?” The internet cannot provide the personalized help and hands-on instruction of the 21st century Library. In 1991, 2,236 reference questions were asked and answered at the Library. In 2014, it was over 54,000, nearly 25 times the number asked in 1990. Today’s questions are more complex because the easy answers are readily available. Complex questions, help with devices and teaching new technology skills comprise answers to today’s questions at the Library.
Classes and programs are a huge part of 21st century public library service. 1993 was the first year the Library kept program attendance statistics – with 2,214 attending programs that were only for children. In 2014, nearly 65,000 attended a library program, spanning all ages. That’s 29 times more people attending programs in 2014.
With 5 times more people in the Library district, doing 25 and 29 times the business in core services, the Library’s revenue has not increased that amount. In 1990, the Library district’s median home value of $99,000 paid $103 in property taxes to the Library, for $30.17 per capita. Today’s median home value of $295,300 paid $187.65 in property taxes, for $43.43 per capita. Adjusting for inflation, 1990 per capita revenue is $51.99 in today’s dollars. With more services and devices and formats in demand than ever before, per capita purchasing power has declined.
In 2014, the average Plainfield Public Library resident checked out more than 8 items, attended a library program, used a public computer for an average session of 43 minutes and asked a question. That is $255.75 in value for materials and services received for the $43.43 per capita investment in the Library.
Serving Our Public 3.0: Standards for Illinois Public Libraries sets 4 levels of standards: Minimum, Growing, Established and Advanced. Today, the Plainfield Public Library is below the Minimum standard for Staffing, Hours of Service and Facility Size. It is between Minimum and Growing for Collection Size.