Naperville Library Wants More Money; Who Doesn’t

A friend once told me, “if I told you to have more fun, you’d make a job out of it”. I thought it was strange, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized he was right. If my family went on vacation, I would research the area, and make a list of everything we wanted to see, and schedule each day to the fullest, with little time for the washroom, to get everything in. It was work scheduling fun.

One summer we decided to go to the St. Louis Zoo and the Milwaukee Zoo, along with sights each city offered including tours of Budweiser and Miller Breweries. The end result was that there were six elephants in St. Louis, and three in Milwaukee, and the Budweiser Brewery was bigger than Miller Brewery. Two elephants would have been adequate, and a smaller sampling of beer would have been sufficient. More doesn’t make it better, it simply makes it more.

Now the Naperville Library is knocking on city council’s door wanting more money to the tune of $599K. Couldn’t they have made it an even $600K; what’s one more “K”. Whomever is working out the numbers, must do a lot of retail shopping where every price ends in a ‘9’ to make it sound less. The thought must be that the council will balk at $600K, but they will gladly fork over $599K.

No doubt that Naperville has a highly regarded library, but it’s time to level off and reduce the expenditures. Unfortunately libraries are trending downward as are newspapers and the postal system. It’s possible someday Naperville’s library will become part of the historical society, so kids of the future can see what a library used to look like.

The library wants more money because they have had a ‘decrease in revenues’. It looks like the library did too good of a job of getting people to return books on time resulting less fines. Maybe the library could take a page out of the red light camera book (pun intended) and raise the fine for returning a book late to $1K per day. 600 days would solve the problem. Remember it’s for the kids.

The library also said they are getting less revenue from investment income. That sounds like an opportunity for a Naperville resident specializing in investment income.

The library board approved a tentative budget for $14.6 million in expenditures vs. last years budget of $13.8 million. My trustworthy little $2.00 (not $1.99) calculator shows an expenditure increase of $800K more this year than last year. Trim that by 75% and bingo, the $600K is covered. If the library has 10 English dictionaries, do they really need another one. Two should be sufficient, just like elephants in a zoo. If they really want to trim expense, keep the Webster’s Dictionary and sell the Funk & Wagnalls dictionary to the Naperville Historical Society; it will be there sooner or later.

Show 3 Comments


  1. Gerard H Schilling

    This is a ridiculous request as our school systems also have their own libraries, real time on line computer systems and Wi-Fi which is all the kids more and more use.

    On the one hand they justify eliminating cursive writing as being obsolete, out of touch, archaic etc. while pushing of print material while the Guttenberg Library Project is putting thousands of books on line every year. Eventually all books will be on line as well as scientific papers and educational courses.

    Libraries to be relevant have morphed into social meeting places instead repositories of literature and reading materials. We simply don’t need more liberal, social meeting places especially when paid for by we conservatives who believe less government is always best for more freedom.

  2. Jim Haselhorst

    The inflation rate for the last year has been around 2.5%, when $13.8 is adjusted for inflation it becomes $14.1 of the $14.6 budget projection. So simply maintaining the status quo would account for all but $500K of this budget. The library needs to stay current which means new book purchases and further modernization of its resources to meet the demands of and evolving society and information system.

    The concept of a library as simply a place one visits to check out books is outdated. The idea the Internet with resource like Wikipedia and the Guttenberg Library Project can meet all of needs of a community is naive at best. New books, both education (text and reference books) and recreational ( literature, hobby, diy, etc) are not given away by publishers and authors, they have to be purchased even on the Internet. Libraries today have to have the ability to loan not just physical books but ebooks as well. Managing ebook takes a completely different set of resources then physical books. It takes sophisticated computer systems, tech support, computer security support, etc. to safeguard ebook resources and the personal information of these people that have checked them out. The cost of ebook licenses, tech and security support contracts along with hardware upgrades and maintenance can cost millions a year just ask the county, township, park district, school district and city how much they spend each year on these resources.

    Just because a society evolves does not mean that the old infrastructure that made that evolution possible is not longer needed or has been out grown. How that infrastructure is used may change but the need does not go away. Just because the old way of using a library is outdated does not make libraries outdated, is simply means the way a community uses its library systems changes. The knowledge and experience of libraries can never be replace by the Internet. One can spend hours doing Google searches to find out were the information they are trying to find is located on the Internet or they can simply visit the library and ask a librarian.

    Are libraries doomed to obsolescence? I can’t imagine so, but that does not mean it is impossible, simply not something that is going to happen anytime soon. It was our library and the system of libraries it evolved into that provided the basic resources and opportunities that our community took advantage of that has lead to the school system we have today. Our library system can still open up opportunities for our community to take advantage if we are wise enough to realize opportunities are priceless, making $600K a bargain.

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