Lincoln Trail board will consider Champaign decision

Lincoln Trail board will consider Champaign decision

CHAMPAIGN – The implications of the Champaign Public Library's decision to charge residents of the Mahomet and Tolono library districts to check out materials at the Champaign library likely will not be known until Sept. 20.

That is when the board members of the Lincoln Trail Libraries System, the network that forms a conduit for the exchange of materials among area libraries, will meet to discuss Champaign's new rule.

Earlier this week, the library announced that it would charge some non-resident users $200 annually for a special library card to continue their use of Champaign materials. Only residents of the Mahomet and Tolono library districts (the Tolono library district also serves Savoy residents) will be affected.

But an action the Lincoln Trail Libraries System board of directors took in July made it easier for the Champaign library to levy the fee on Mahomet and Tolono residents, said Champaign Library Director Marsha Grove.

Rosanne Reidner, the president of the Lincoln Trail board, said she "didn't know this was coming" before first hearing about Champaign's decision this week. She limited her comments on Thursday, saying she needed more time to discuss it with library officials.

"We really haven't had a chance to go over any information or discuss any of this," Reidner said. That discussion likely will happen during the board's next regular meeting on Sept. 20.

The Lincoln Trail board includes representatives from different types of libraries from across Central Illinois, each of whom is selected to sit on the board through an application process. If a library were to be found in violation of the system's policies, the board would have the power to remove that library from membership.

A general policy governs libraries which are members of the network and dictates how those members interact with each other. It includes guidelines on "reciprocal borrowing," by which a library lends materials to cardholders of a different library, and interlibrary loans, which is when a library sends materials to a different library for use by a patron who requested it there.

Grove, who has headed the Champaign Public Library for 7 1/2 years, said a policy that libraries may limit borrowing by cardholders of different districts existed when she started in Champaign. The Lincoln Trail board removed the policy shortly thereafter, and then reinstated it in July at the urging of Champaign library staff.

The policy now allows libraries to "restrict access by the users of those libraries who have created a significant imbalance," according to the minutes from the board's July 19 meeting. That imbalance is defined as a home library that is providing less than 60 percent of the total items checked out by residents of its district.

According to a press release from the Champaign library on Tuesday, Tolono cardholders borrowed 17 items in Champaign for every 10 they checked out at their own library – a total of 167,259 Champaign materials during the last fiscal year. Mahomet residents checked out eight items in Champaign for every 10 they checked out in Mahomet, a total of 86,050 items.

"I've been asking about it for 7 years that we need to do something," Grove said. "I brought it up quite frequently."

The Champaign Public Library receives materials from the other two libraries via interlibrary loans – a service that will continue to Champaign cardholders – but Grove said the numbers are not balanced.

"Yes, we do receive quite a few items," Grove said. "But nowhere near like 86,000. It's under 5,000, maybe, from Mahomet."

Before the July amendments, the policy stated that member libraries must loan "all materials in any format, which are available for loan to local borrowers on the same basis as for local borrowers."

The policy now reads "all materials in any format, as generously as possible," according to meeting minutes.

Champaign library board president Rusty Freeland said compliance with Lincoln Trail policies was among the considerations when the library board approved the $200 annual fee.

"We considered that and have been considering that for months, and have been working with Lincoln Trail to get the policies changed," Freeland said.

The board made the decision based on property tax rates – the average Champaign property owner pays more into the library budget than does a resident of the Mahomet or Tolono districts – and the unbalanced use between the libraries.

"We believe our new policy complies with the Lincoln Trail policy," Freeland said.

Grove said Champaign may have been allowed to charge non-residents even under the older policy.

"It is suggested that libraries participate in reciprocal borrowing is the way I read the law," Grove said. "It doesn't say 'must.'"

Grove said even patrons who choose not to pay $200 for a special card will still find the materials they need through the local – and maybe even the national – network in which Champaign participates.

"There are a lot of other libraries that might loan it," Grove said.

Comments

Comments for this post are read only.

danschreiber wrote on September 03, 2010 at 10:09 am

I assume that the spirit behind inter-library loan is the ability to get materials that exist at other libraries that are not available at your own. I think it abuses the spirit of ILL to use a neighboring library as your primary library, especially if your district has consistently voted down library referendums (Mahomet) or joined lower-tax library districts (Savoy) as a way to avoid paying for the library you actually use.

dd1961 wrote on September 03, 2010 at 10:09 am

The rule here says less than 60%. Mahomet was at 44%, which I agree is too high, but different measure could enforce it down, plus with the new library that Mahomet residents did approve a tax referendum for, I think the use would go down. Not sure what to do with Tolono, since I think the majority of Tolono residents are using their library, and probably Savoy is not. Tolono has a nice library.

danschreiber wrote on September 03, 2010 at 11:09 am

I feel bad for the actual Tolono residents caught in the middle of a Savoy/Champaign tiff. This issue would go away if Savoy decided to be responsible about it's library funding and joined the CPL tax district.

bookworm wrote on September 03, 2010 at 1:09 pm

And the other problem here is that Savoy students all go to Champaign schools. So a Savoy student needing a book will have to pay $200 to check it out at CPL if it's unavailable at Tolono P.L. They can always drive to Mahomet, Urbana, Philo, etc., but coming into the library after school is traditional for most middle/high school students. Maybe their friends who live in the city limits will check out for them.

danschreiber wrote on September 03, 2010 at 2:09 pm

OK, there is an easy solution to that. Savoy should join the CPL tax district and contribute something to its primary library.

Feltrino wrote on September 03, 2010 at 10:09 pm

What a novel idea, John.

This commentary was crying out for a pun.

Nix wrote on September 05, 2010 at 1:09 pm

As I noted in an earlier post CPL has traditionally a net borrower, and would be hard pressed to serve the needs of its patrons without local interlibrary loans. CPL is a net borrower from our little library.-Eric Rittman

Feltrino wrote on September 06, 2010 at 11:09 am

Eric, you're missing the point. It is not about whether any given library is a net loaner or borrower. I assume that when you say that CPL is a net borrower from your little library that you are implying that CPL borrows more books from your little library than they loan to your little library. That being the case, your argument is only relevant if, and only if, 60% of the total books loaned by CPL came from your little library. Let us say that in any given year, CPL users check out a total of 100,000 books from CPL. I highly doubt that 60,000+ of them came from your little library ONLY. That is the case with Mahomet and Tolono.

You are correct when you state that a library, any library, would be hard pressed to serve the needs of its patrons without local interlibrary loans. LTS has determined that WITHOUT interlibrary loans, you must have on the shelves enough materials to meet a minimum standard. They have determined that a library does not meet that standard when 60% of the books borrowed by their patrons come from a single library. This is the same group, LTS, that these libraries have agreed to participate in. LTS does not present guidelines on what a member library is to do when others in the group don't meet the standard so CPL chose the most prudent course.

John O'Connor wrote on September 03, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Yes, this would all be solved if we created a unified district in which all residents paid equally. But, realistically, how much of a chance is there that Savoy, Tolono and Mahomet voters would approve such a move?

Feltrino wrote on September 03, 2010 at 11:09 am

The 44% calculation is not accurate. That figure compares what the Mahomet library checks out and what the Champaign library loans to Mahomet. It doesn't take into consideration materials loaned to Mahomet from libraries other than Champaign.

bookworm wrote on September 03, 2010 at 10:09 am

The $30,000,000 Champaign Public Library is being paid for by Tolono and Mahomet residents who shop in Champaign. Champaign wants us to pay for the library, just not use it. So I hope all Tolono and Mahomet residents boycott Champaign stores. Shop Mahomet! Shop Tolono! Shop Savoy! Shop Urbana! Shop anywhere but the greedy City of Champaign!!! P.S. The guy ahead of me checked out 70 DVDs. Maybe having limits would help. Look in the holds area -- some people have dozens of DVDs on hold. Limits would solve their problems more than $200 fees.

danschreiber wrote on September 03, 2010 at 11:09 am

My understanding is that 90% of CPL funds come from property taxes and 0% comes from sales taxes.

I have a better idea than boycotts if libraries really are important to you. If you live in Savoy, convince the city to join the CPL tax district. If you live in Mahomet, advocate for more library resources. Have your cities pull their own weight when it comes to library resources.

dd1961 wrote on September 03, 2010 at 11:09 am

For Mahomet, I actually think that is in the process of happening. This is why this is so odd to happen at this time. The new library opened a little over a month ago. The old library did not have enough space, so even if you donated books to it, they had to sell them because of lack of room. While it is not a huge library now, it definitely has more space, and therefore it should have more resources. So I would think usage of CPL would naturally fall if CPL had allowed it to happen. Instead they are taking this hard line. I still think limiting resources would have been the answer. This really could snowball, and then inter-library resources everywhere may cease to exists. That would be sad.

Feltrino wrote on September 03, 2010 at 11:09 am

Tolono and Mahomet residents spend enough money in Champaign to generate $30,000,000 in tax revenue? That's what you want us to believe? The library, as you well know, is supported by property taxes and not sales taxes.

"Champaign wants us to pay for the library, just not use it." You couldn't be more wrong. If you pay for it, you can use it. You just object to paying for it.

I have been following this discussion and am disturbed by your latest post. Is it the practice of librarians to publicly discuss individual users accounts and usage history?

bookworm wrote on September 03, 2010 at 1:09 pm

No, Feltrino. The building is being paid for by sales tax, not property taxes. The property taxes run the building, pay the staff, buy the materials -- but they don't pay for the 30 million dollar building. So anyone who shops in Champaign is paying higher sales tax to pay off the bonds that the city issued to pay for their 30 million dollar extravaganza. I pay, you pay, we all pay if we shop Champaign. So I say don't shop Champaign. Let the Champaign taxpayers pay for their library.

Feltrino wrote on September 03, 2010 at 4:09 pm

Help me with my math for a second, according to you, Mahomet and Tolono residents are paying for the $30,000,000 "extravaganza" through sales tax revenue collected by the City of Champaign. Given a city sales tax rate of somewhere around 1.25% that means that Mahomet and Tolono residents are spending $2,400,000,000.00 in Champaign. Wow, you'd think you folks could afford better stocked libraries in your own communities.

By the way, you never addressed my question about using your position as a librarian to look up what other posters have checked out and have reserved. Is it a common practice to publicly comment on people's library habits?

John O'Connor wrote on September 03, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Some of the people who want to continue accessing CPL without paying for it are not very receptive to logic or reason. It's much more satisfying to cry about no longer being able to game the system having an official home library that costs very little but being able to have full access to a fuller, and more expensive to maintain, library that they don't have to support.

cs917 wrote on September 03, 2010 at 1:09 pm

I believe Champaign Public Library's rule violates state reciprocal borrowing law. I have placed a call to the State Library who told me they are looking into the legality of this issue.

What a shame Champaign took this step. Why not limit the number of items from Mahomet and Tolono? Why deny interlibrary loans? Presumably ILL are for items that Tolono or Mahomet Libraries do not have.

I presume most of the borrowing is from people who work in Champaign but live in Savoy, Mahomet or Tolono. If this is the case then I think they should LIMIT check-outs from the Champaign building for Tolono/Mahomet cardholders, but keep interlibrary loans. This would encourage people to visit their home libraries first.

IF the new Champaign rule is in line with Lincoln Trails Library System, then I question if Lincoln Trails is in line with Illinois State law. I understand where Champaign is coming from, but I think this decision is wrong on several levels and could have been handled differently.

This will ruin their HAPLR rating for the future since this new rule will lower their circulation numbers. Guess they can't brag they are one of the "Top 10 Libraries" anymore.

bookworm24 wrote on September 03, 2010 at 1:09 pm

CPL and its director have never been known for thinking things through before they act. This whole issue is just another example.

cs917 wrote on September 03, 2010 at 2:09 pm

It could turn into a real mess if CPL has opened themselves to a lawsuit.

My hope would be that they reconsider this rule before the Nov. 1 deadline and put LIMITS on what Tolono/Mahomet residents could check out. This seems very reasonable to me. It would encourage people to visit their home libraries first which would be very good.

That being said - my kids and I are off to the Tolono Library. It's a great place. They love it and I encourage Savoy residents to travel a few minutes south to check it out.

dd1961 wrote on September 03, 2010 at 2:09 pm

I agree with this. I would have no problem with limits, I would not have problems with a per check out fee to cover costs, both of which would encourage using the home library first.

peabody wrote on September 03, 2010 at 3:09 pm

I feel very strongly about literacy and I consider my $200 property tax contribution to CPL to be an investment in the future. I don't think of it as buying admission. If all it takes is $200 from each of us to give area children access to free books and a magnificent building, then I think we should be proud of what we've accomplished instead of grousing over who pays what. We should throw the doors open. We're going to be paying $200 for CPL whether they serve out-of-towners or not. I'd feel better about making those payments if I was convinced the librarians cared more about literacy than property tax receipts, but this wasn't an issue until THEY brought it up. Unbelievable. When I grew up the head librarian in my hometown was a stern little busybody who would have taken a bullet for literacy. I never heard her thoughts on funding, but deep down I know what her reaction would be had people started demanding property tax receipts before a child was allowed to check out a book. Somebody would have been ejected from the library and it wouldn't have been the kid from the next town over. Was she an exception? Am I overly idealistic about public libraries because she was unrealistic and bad at managing money? I hope not.

Feltrino wrote on September 03, 2010 at 10:09 pm

"We should throw the doors open. We're going to be paying $200 for CPL whether they serve out-of-towners or not."

The problem is that continuing to serve out-of-towners will end up costing you more than $200. "Area" children, at least those in the area that support the CPL, will continue to have access to free books. And, children from other areas, Mahomet and Savoy/Tolono, have access to free books as well, just not as many as they did before. If the taxpayers in those areas would like to increase the number of books available to those children they will need to increase the number of volumes available. Now, they can easily do this by raising more revenue (read: taxes) to purchase books for their libraries or they can pay the CPL.

danrice56 wrote on September 03, 2010 at 3:09 pm

They're trying to balance between serving all and serving their own community. If Mahomet and Tolono had NO library, I would be dead set against this woman and all she stood for.
As she says, there is the Tolono and Mahomet libraries, as well as all the other libraries in the LTS, and apparently, there's even a nationwide system Tolono and Savoy and Mahomet residents have access to.
That's fine, but I don't think that's enough of a stop gap measure for enough citizens.
For example, what about the internet? Many don't have access to the internet, a valuable resource tool, except at the library. One might say, they can go to Tolono. What if they don't have access to a vehicle? They can catch the bus to CPL, but if that library is denied them, then they have no access to the internet.
I feel that, at the very least, the computers should still be available for web browsing for all.
Also, if the number of items being taken out is the problem, why not restrict that amount, instead of implementing a prohibitive fee which will keep people from having access to the collection whatsoever?
What this fee really is is a restriction on the poor. Also, what of those who do not use CPL as their home library, but only occasionally? Both these groups are being punished.
Either this policy should be done away with altogether, or a sliding scale should be implemented, and look at individual usage in implementing that, or at the very least those proving hardship should be excepted.
The director says this was a problem for some time. Why has it never been made public knowledge before now? No warning, out of the blue, bam, you're cut off.
And that's what this is. When you say we need to, and I quote, "restrict usage", then you announce a high fee, what you are saying is that is your restriction. The 200.00. What else is 200.00 a restriction on except those in most need of a library, the poor?
This policy punishes the poor.

danschreiber wrote on September 03, 2010 at 4:09 pm

But don't you think that if a poor person in Savoy can afford to drive to Champaign, they can afford to drive to Tolono? Savoy as a city has identified Tolono as it's home library, as a way to avoid paying for CPL. Really, Savoy should do the right thing here and contribute to their real primary library, which is CPL.

Does anyone know what it takes for Savoy to switch from the Tolono library district to Champaign's? A referendum? A city council vote?

John O'Connor wrote on September 03, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Frankly, Savoy has a long history of trying to opt out of CU tax entities but still wanting access to those services.

Nosinaj wrote on September 03, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Section 3030.50(k)(3) of the Illinois Library Law dealing with reciprocal borrowing (i.e. the ability of Mahomet patrons to use CPL) - direct quote as follows:

(A) Member public libraries should provide reciprocal borrowing to persons holding a valid library card from a public library in Illinois.

and

(C) Member public libraries should circulate materials to eligible reciprocal borrowers under the same conditions that they circulate those materials to their own patrons. (end quote)

Library systems in Illinois have been funded over the years by special revenue grants from the Stae of Illinois to build the various online data bases so that ALL member libraries (note the stressed "ALL") can benefit from interlibrary loan and reciprocal borrowing. CPL also benefits from interlibrary loans and reciprocal borrowing.

Something that hasn't been noted is that it's not only the individual taxpayer that pays the property taxes that fund public libraries. Champaign businesses also pay a good percentage of the property taxes to fund libraries. If these businesses happen to have employees who live in Mahomet, why can't these employees use CPL?

John O'Connor wrote on September 03, 2010 at 5:09 pm

The key word is 'reciprocal.' The Tolono district residents, probably mostly Savoy residents, andthe Mahomet district residents were using CPL as their de facto home library while only paying the much cheaper rates for the Tolono and Mahomet districts. The stats show the relationship was far from reciprocal but, instead, was way out of balance. CPL does benefit from reciprocal borrowing but they don't focus all their borrowing on a single library, as the residents of the Tolono and Mahomet districts are doing. And your point about employees of Champaign business who live in Champaign is irrelevant.

jbr wrote on September 04, 2010 at 7:09 am
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Reciprocal is not the same as equal. It means that members of each library can use other libraries' services. Mahomet and Tolono users aren't focusing all their borrowing on a single library--they are appropriately using available resources.

Feltrino wrote on September 04, 2010 at 9:09 am

Put another way, Mahomet and Tolono libraries are not contributing to the resources of the collective in proportion to their usage. This is the issue. Mahomet users/voters have voted against raising revenue to support their library and Savoy users/voters have opted to join a library district that costs less to them with the knowledge that they can benefit from a better funded library.

If a library borrows more than 60% of their items from a neighboring library, they obviously do not have enough materials in their own library. If the Mahomet library increased the number of items in circulation (their contribution to the collective resource) they would not be as dependent upon other libraries. Since the voters of Mahomet refuse to increase revenue to address this inequity, CPL has decided to do it for them. Savoy users are simply scamming the system. They send their children to school in Champaign but don't want to have to pay the taxes to support the CPL, choosing instead to join a district that costs them less in taxes.

John O'Connor wrote on September 04, 2010 at 11:09 am

Well, in fact, they are focusing an inordinate amount of their use on the CPL. Many are actually using the CPL as their de facto home library.

danschreiber wrote on September 04, 2010 at 10:09 am

Having Champaign employees live in Mahomet benefits Champaign not at all. In fact, it is taking a job away from someone in Champaign who would otherwise being paying property taxes and fully contributing to the city.

The argument that "I pay sales taxes so am entitled to services offered by Champaign" is silly. Whatever amount paid in sales taxes is easily eaten up by the roads required to drive on while here, the police and fire departments that protect them while they are here.

The bottom line is that Savoy and Mahomet residents desire to live in a low tax area. And that is their right. But the consequence of that is that they need to tone down their sense of entitlement of the services that those taxes would have provided, and especially their entitlement of services offered by neighboring communities.

dd1961 wrote on September 04, 2010 at 10:09 am

Again, Mahomet is not a low tax area. So you want all the outlying areas employees to NOT work in Champaign. OK, let's see how far that gets your businesses. This is just getting silly.

CPL should have put in restrictions on lending materials instead of slapping a 200 fee. They are part of the LTS and with that comes lending responsibilities, which they get a benefit from. Limiting materials would have corrected the problem of overuse, and occasional users would still have the benefit of getting material that their home library does not have.

John O'Connor wrote on September 04, 2010 at 11:09 am

Jesus, when did he say that? Talk about silly.

I'm sure pretty much the same group of people would be complaining now if they did restrict usage. Do you seriously doubt that? CPL, as all libraries, benefit from inter library loans. They are being taken advantage of, however, by people paying for cheaper libraries but using CPL as their de facto home library. I'm sure CPL's borrowing isn't characterized by inordinate borrowing from a single library, or two. The numbers clearly show that Tolono and Mahomet district residents are focusing just on CPL. Your refusal to acknowledge this crucial fact does nothing to build your credibility.

dd1961 wrote on September 04, 2010 at 12:09 pm

"Having Champaign employees live in Mahomet benefits Champaign not at all. In fact, it is taking a job away from someone in Champaign who would otherwise being paying property taxes and fully contributing to the city."

This infers that he does not want outlying people taking jobs in Champaign,

You are right that if limits were put on the libraries, some of the same people would be complaining. I would not be, as I am an occasional user of CPL, Mahomet being my primary library. I think limits would be more effective with Mahomet than Savoy. There are two different issues with these two towns. Mahomet did not have an adequate facility until August of this year. Its resources will be improving, and limits would force the over-users of CPL to rediscover and use Mahomet. They might complain at first, but they would learn that their primary library is adequate. Savoy is another story. Their children go to Champaign schools, I do find it odd they go to Tolono for the library. However, I don't think all that blame lies in Savoy. Tolono most certainly benefits from additional tax dollars that they would not have if Savoy went to Champaign. Savoy is used to going to Champaign, not Tolono, since they work, go to school, shop, in Champaign. Tolono is out of the way for them. Mahomet's library is not out of the way, in fact, it is on the way home from work for most people.

I still belive that limits instead of the high fee should be used, That keeps the goal of the LTS intact.

John O'Connor wrote on September 04, 2010 at 1:09 pm

You may have inferred it but that doesn't mean he implied it. Feltrino is right that the basic problem is that the Tolono and Mahomet libraries are underfunded. People in those districts have voted to underfund their libraries. You should do the responsible thing and adequately fund your libraries so they can pull their own weight in the LTS and then so many residents of those districts wouldn't have to focus on CPL as their de facto home library without supporting it. Or, as has been suggested many times, lobby to join the CPL district, pay your share and have full access.

Feltrino wrote on September 04, 2010 at 1:09 pm

I'm sure a $200 fee will cause over-users of CPL to rediscover and use Mahomet too. You have a nice new building but do you have any money to buy books for it? Indications are, no. A building does not a library make, a collection does.

Savoy residents are just cheap! A previous poster commented that they were upset about the decision because they go to CPL on Sundays because the Tolono library is closed. The Tolono library is closed because they don't have enough money!

A large tax base presents economies of scale that can't be achieved in a smaller tax base. Either adequately fund your own libraries or fund the one you use anyway.

Feltrino wrote on September 04, 2010 at 12:09 pm

"They are part of the LTS and with that comes lending responsibilities, which they get a benefit from." So are the Mahomet and Tolono libraries a part of the LTS but they are not acting responsibly. CPL is complying with their responsibility, it is Mahomet and Tolono that are not. LTS says that any member may restrict the access of another member which is not able to address the needs of their users. Mahomoet and Tolono libraries are not able to meet the needs of their users with their own collections and rely on meeting the needs of their users by borrowing 60% or more from another library. If Mahomet and Tolono had enough items in their collection such that they did not rely on another library to meet their users' needs there would be no problem. Indeed, one can assume that since these two libraries were singled out that the remainder of the libraries that borrow from CPL are able to meet their responsibility. At the 60% threshhold, LTS has determined that a library does not adequately meet the needs of its users to be a part of the LTS and does not have to be treated as a member. The only equitable solution for CPL is to treat Mahomet and Tolono residents as members of CPL and assess them accordingly. I feel that CPL is being generous! I know this will receive some flack but $200 is arbitrary. It is the average revenue generated by property owners in Champaign but it is less than I contribute and I am quite certain that there are many property owners in the Mahomet and Tolono districts whose assessed evaluation would exceed mine. For many of them, $200 is a bargain. Forget about what you are paying to your own library district now. It's a waste of money, it does not adequately meet your needs. The taxpayers of Mahomet and Tolono have brought this on themselves. Your libraries are underfunded.

Do the responsible thing and increase funding to your home library district so that you don't have to exploit others.

danschreiber wrote on September 04, 2010 at 1:09 pm

I didn't say I didn't want out of towners to not work here. I am responding to your comment that out of town employees benefit the city of Champaign's tax base. They don't. They drain tax money that would otherwise be going to Champaign.

The argument that sales taxes helped pay for the building are beside the point anyway. It's a public building, and anyone can go in and enjoy it. It's the collection and the operations that are the issue here, which are not supported by sales tax, but by the CPL tax district.

Marti Wilkinson wrote on September 04, 2010 at 4:09 am

I live in Champaign and have no problem with allowing residents from neighboring communities in the area to check out materials. My concern is that if we start charging people for the privilege of taking advantage of the library, it would result in a selective allocation of resources. One of the reasons why the Urbana Free Library has the word "Free" is because libraries used to charge subscription fees to patrons. If we start to charge library card usage to non-residents who live in towns that have reciprocal agreements, then who is to say that this practice will not extend to Champaign residents in the forms of additional fees.

I earned a masters degree from Eastern Illinois University last May, and I'm grateful I was able to use my Student ID to check out materials from the University of Illinois and Parkland College. I was also able to request Inter-Library loan materials, and pick them up at Parkland. While I was able to use the EIU library on the days I commuted to classes, being able to get stuff locally was a real plus for me. I also wrote my thesis after I was done with all of my physical classes, and not having to make the drive to Charleston just to do research worked out well for me. Some of my classmates and professors from EIU would drive to Champaign-Urbana to use the library systems here.

It can be argued that the reason why the Champaign Public Library is used so heavily is because they have all of these resources. So if the patron-ship of the library drops as a result of this rule, how will that impact the quality of the materials available for check-out? If the demand for books happens to decrease as a result of charging fees, then how will the library be able to justify acquisitions of new materials? I think this is something that Champaign needs to take into consideration before applying this new rule.

belgofanfireman wrote on September 05, 2010 at 10:09 am

Here's a radical idea. How about Mahomet and Tolono take some of the requests they would have routed to Champaign, and route them to other libraries in the system instead? This may require some reprogramming to the computer system that decides where to pull a book from when it exists at multiple sources, but it would reduce the burden on Champaign, and increase the participation statistics of the other small libraries. Everybody wins.

lovie_01 wrote on September 05, 2010 at 11:09 am

I think to some extent it is already done that way. I have requested books via the computer system that are on shelf at Champaign and/or Urbana. When I receive them they never come from there. One book I waited over 3 months for and it came from Tuscola. Whenever I checked on the status it was always on shelf at one of those libraries and I was 1 on the list.
The real issue is people going to the Champaign Library and using it as their home library. I'm not sure what the outcome will be, but really do think this is the wrong way to handle the situation.

Nix wrote on September 05, 2010 at 1:09 pm

As I noted in an earlier post, Champaign Public Library has traditionally a net borrower, and would be hard pressed to serve the needs of its patrons without local interlibrary loans. Champaign Public Library is a net borrower from our little library often scooping up a lot of our new materials through interlibrary loans, the same type of materials that Champaign Public Library refuses to send out via interlibrary loans. We will not adopt the same restrictions, believing an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.-Eric Rittman

John O'Connor wrote on September 05, 2010 at 3:09 pm

What is the status of most libraries? Are you implying CPL is the sole net borrower? What about your 'little library'?

As has been noted many times, the problem is that enough residents of these two districts use CPL as their de facto home library that it causes gross imbalances in what is meant to be an equitable sharing system. This is because voters in those districts voted to underfund their own libraries knowing they would have full access to CPL. In short, they're not pulling their own weight and are abusing the system by having residents of the CPL district subsidize their library use. And now some are angry because they can no longer game the system.

hd2006 wrote on September 05, 2010 at 3:09 pm

You keep saying the smaller communities are underfunding the library system. You do realize that the funding is based on the size of the community. If anyone thinks that the small communities like Mahomet, Tolono or even Rantoul can fund a library the size of CPL they are living in a dream world. That is why we have the Lincoln Trail system. Maybe the ideal thing would be for CPL to remove itself from the LTS and let the smaller systems work with each other and leave CPL out of the mix. Champaign citizens could then do nothing but worry about their own library. Sounds simple to me but maybe I'm way off base.

John O'Connor wrote on September 05, 2010 at 4:09 pm

I never said all the smaller communities were underfunding their libraries. It's about funding and use. This new policy affects only the Tolono and Mahomet districts. What's different about them?

It's the underfunding of their home libraries combined with their use of the CPL as their de facto home library that constitutes an abuse of the system. Residents of the other area districts are not using their home library for less than 60% of their loans, as residents of the Tolono and Mahomet districts are. And my guess is that, in the case of the Tolono district, it's mainly residents of Savoy who voted to join the much less expensive Tolono district while all the time expecting to use CPL as their actual home library. And do you really think it would be a good idea to take CPL 'out of the mix'?

lovie_01 wrote on September 05, 2010 at 7:09 pm

I think to some extent you are missing the point. There doesn't seem to be anyone that isn't acknowledging that the some of the Mahomet and Tolono library members are using the Champaign Library as their home library. What others are trying to say, I think, is that the action the Champaign Library is taking is not the best option. The approximate population of Mahomet, Tolono and Savoy combined is about 15,000 of which I am sure a portion are either outside of the library taxing area and/or don't use the library. If the library is in so much trouble that the use of it by these areas is causing so much of a strain, there are bigger issues going on. I still haven't seen anything about how much of a financial impact this is having. The biggest concern is that this is a slippery slope, how long before it is other libraries they cut off, or before other libraries start cutting off, etc. I'm interested in knowing how much all the other libraries are borrowing from Champaign and Urbana and vice versa and how close others are to this 60% number. Champaign has a lot of items that other libraries do not, due to their size. It would be expected that they would loan out a larger number of items. I realize libraries across the country are suffering right now, and measures need to be taken to ensure they are able to stay open. I guess in my opinion I don't see how this is going to save or earn Champaign Library enough money to solve any problems they are having. I think they could have released this information to Mahomet and Tolono Library members and asked them to use their home libraries first. They could limit the number of items non-members could check out from Champaign. This issue is more complicated than Mahomet and Tolono need to increase funding.

Feltrino wrote on September 06, 2010 at 12:09 pm

I'm sorry, but you are missing the point. The financial impact is irrelevant. What is relevant is opportunity costs. An inordinate number of materials are not available to CPL residents BECAUSE Mahomet and Tolono residents check out too many books. And, these libraries are not acting responsibly in the LTS system.

Limiting the number of books these people could check out probably goes against everything that a library stands for. Charging them to use the library does not. That is the fundamental principle behind public institutions. You mentioned it yourself, there are probably a lot of people in these districts that do not use the library. I would assert that there are enough that this is the fundamental reason they have not been able to increase revenue to these libraries through taxes, these residents vote it down.

To paraphrase, "Champaign has a lot of items that other libraries do not, due to funding." If other libraries had a commensurate amount of funding based on population and usage, this would not be a problem. Obviously, since these libraries have been singled out, others in the area do support there libraries and their patrons act responsibly.

" I think they could have released this information to Mahomet and Tolono Library members and asked them to use their home libraries first." First of all, we don't know that they haven't. Second, it is irresponsible of these libraries to not have taken measures to address this imbalance amongst its members. They attend the LTS meetings and know the rules. Indeed, they have tried but taxpayers have refused to increase funding to these libraries.

Whether CPL can "afford" this additional burden on the library is irrelevant. The real issue is that the CPL and taxpayers of this district are being exploited by the Mahomet and Tolono patrons. Is there a threshhold below which exploitation is acceptable?

lovie_01 wrote on September 06, 2010 at 2:09 pm

You act as though only members of Mahomet and Tolono do this, just because more people in these communities do, does not mean that others from other libraries do not. Even if Mahomet, was funded at the exact same rate as Champaign is, it would still not have the same amount of materials as Champaign. Apparently to you if less than 60% borrowed than that is okay... There are people in Mahomet and Tolono that use the Champaign library appropriately and the action that Champaign is taking by dealing with the issue this way is doing nothing to solve the problem that you are complaining about. You will still be allowing people that use the Champaign Library as a home library from other communities and you are not allowing people that use the library appropriately from Mahomet and Tolono. You are not solving the budget problem by charging a fee. They did not warn people, at least not here in Mahomet. I go to the library weekly and I use the website frequently. This was never addressed by Champaign or Mahomet Library in the past two years that I have lived here. I am not saying that it is okay, I am saying that I do not think this is the best way to deal with the problem. And I do not think it is in the spirit of the library system to deny anyone access to books, regardless of the fact that others that live there "exploit" the system. If you have a problem with people doing that, target those people, not the communities. Also, as addressed in this article it is stated that the "rules" were just changed and Champaign announced this decision, without notifying Lincoln Trail or the other libraries before doing it.

Feltrino wrote on September 06, 2010 at 10:09 pm

"Even if Mahomet, was funded at the exact same rate as Champaign is, it would still not have the same amount of materials as Champaign." Mahomet doesn't need to have the same amount of materials as Champaign, that would be excessive. It needs to have enough to meet the needs of its patrons.

"Apparently to you if less than 60% borrowed than that is okay..." Actually, it is 60% from a single library and that is not my threshhold but rather that of the LTS. A group that Mahomet belongs to.

"You are not solving the budget problem by charging a fee." You are interjecting budget as an issue. The only budget issue is that of the Mahomet library that does not have enough funds to meet the minimum needs, as determined by LTS, of its patrons. CPL is not claiming a budget problem, the resources of the library are being consumed by nonpatrons at an excessive rate.

" I am not saying that it is okay, I am saying that I do not think this is the best way to deal with the problem." Unfortunately, you do not have a say in the matter. You are not a contributor to the CPL. Your constituents may bear the burden, but it is not your place to object.

"This was never addressed by Champaign or Mahomet Library in the past two years that I have lived here." In fact, it has been addressed through referenda that the voters in Mahomet failed to pass. They had the opportunity to increase funding for the library but voted against it. They did agree to build a new building which is nice of them, but they refused to increase funding to buy books to put in it.

Take this scenario: A community of 15,000 belongs to the LTS system and decides to stock their library with only a single volume, say Dante's Divine Comedies (actually three volumes). The patrons of this library can borrow books from other libraries, even libraries that are located where they work and play. Only so many people want to read Dante so they borrow the majority of their books from a single library. Is this truly a library? Is this consistent with the spirit of an interlibrary loan system? A single volume is an extreme example and a ridiculous one at that. But, how few books can a library have before it no longer meets the needs of its patrons? The answer is that when 60% of the books borrowed by this library come from another one, they have too few volumes in their own collection to be considered a contributing member of the cooperative, LTS.

" If you have a problem with people doing that, target those people, not the communities." Why don't you target those people in your community that vote against funding their library instead. Personally, I would like to see CPL levee this fee upon every resident in Mahomet whether they use the library or not but they don't have the authority to do so. The principle behind public funding of institutions is that it is for the common good whether you partake of the service or not. So, even people from Mahomet who do not abuse the CPL are benefitting from it and should have to contribute to it.

lovie_01 wrote on September 07, 2010 at 8:09 am

Why do you think limits won't work? It is what other libraries I've been involved with has done. In Rockford IL, you are only allowed 5 items at a time through ILL. In Chicago, you can only have 30 total books out at time. Chicago will not lend new items or entertainment items (CDs, DVDs) through ILL. I'm sure people would complain about this scenario, but it seems more fair. It would encourage everyone to use their home library, but still allow some access to Champaign. It would target all people that take advantage of using Champaign because of it's location. In my opinion even if funding was increased to Mahomet and Tolono, the same people would use Champaign because they could. Again I understand what is going on, my opinion is the decision they made is a poor one, that will not address the problem. Obviously it is not my decision to make, I am just stating my opinion. I was addressing the budget issue, because that is indicated as the reason why they are doing this in the letter that was emailed to me and posted online from the Champaign Library.

John O'Connor wrote on September 06, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Frankly, I'd say you're missing the point that CPL district residents are sick of subsidizing people in the Mahomet and Tolono districts who are deliberateley underfunding their libraries because they knew they could game the LTS system and have us subsidize their library use. It's time for them to pay their fair share and pull their own weight in the LTS system.

dd1961 wrote on September 06, 2010 at 6:09 pm

Really? We are nasty people deliberately underfunding our libraries? Gaming the system? Geez, most people doing this were just reading books, and probably did not realize there was a problem. You are making suppositions that are just dead wrong. It really shrinks your credibility.

As far as the tax referendum in Mahomet. In my opinion, they did it wrong. They put two referendum on, and it was a confusing ballet. I think there should have been more information about the two , one being to build the library, and the other to fund it. I voted yes to both, but I know people who did not understand why there was two. It should have been wrapped into one question, but who knows, maybe election laws prevented it. We gave a nice library, and over time the resources will be there....unless CPL borrows them all from us.

John O'Connor wrote on September 06, 2010 at 6:09 pm

Jesus, you're a bit over sensitive, don't you think? I never said 'nasty' -- that's your word, not mine.

And yes, as you then go on to acknowledge, Mahomet library district voters did vote to underfund their library. That is just a fact. I don't understand why you should take offense simply because I also noted that fact. And your last crack about CPL borrowing all your resources is ludicrous. As I suspect is likely the case with most libraries, including yours, CPL is, barely, a net borrower from the entire LTS. As has been noted multiple times, the problem is that a large number of M and T district patrons were focusing most if not all of their borrowing on CPL, treating it like their home library but not contributing to it's support.

That is a simple fact. And combined with the other simple fact that voters in those districts are not adequately funding their libraries, it is an abuse of what is supposed to be an equitable sharing system. I'm sure some people were not aware of the inequality. But I would have thought that, once they became aware of the situation, they would have wanted to stop taking advantage of their neighbors. Instead, we have people on this post complaining that they will no longer be able to take advantage of the system and postulating bizarro world situations in which Champaign residents are somehow hogging all of Mahomet's resources.

And this last little joke of yours is quite illuminating. It shows that you wouldn't want Champaign residents to take advantage of the system and unfairly consume all your resources; yet you don't seem to have a problem with the reverse, which is the current situation. Thanks for illustrating a very common double standard.

dd1961 wrote on September 06, 2010 at 8:09 pm

Nope, wrong. As part of the LTS system CPL should get to borrow, except they want to borrow, but not allow borrowing. That seems a bit hypocritical. I have said I think the solution was limits. If people who were overusing the CPL library were limited, it would force them to use their home libraries, and hopefully rediscover them. They are not bad libraries, in fact both libraries are quite nice. I have used the Mahomet library for 21 years and did not even step foot into the CPL until 2 years ago, when I needed a book that Mahomet did not have. 10 books in 2 years, I hope your tax dollars can afford that.

Your post was nasty. You act like we people in the outskirts plot to bilk the tax payers of Champaign, when they were using a service their tax dollars paid for, LTS. Yes, the overuse needs to stop so place limits.

Anyway, what is done is done. It actually does not hurt me that much, because I do not use CPL much, but it goes against what LTS stands for. That bothers me. I also think this could snowball, and interlibrary loaning will completely end. That will hurt everyone. Limits would have worked.

John O'Connor wrote on September 06, 2010 at 9:09 pm

Which comment are you referring to and how was it 'nasty'?

As has been noted many times, you are, deliberately it seems, interjecting an irrelevant point. All libraries borrow from other libraries. CPL simply wants to end the abuse of the system. Enough people in these two districts were abusing the LTS that it became a problem. People in the other LTS districts aren't doing this.

You seem to object to the fact that I have the impudence to point out that people from these two districts have been abusing the system. You might not like to hear it, but the usage stats clearly bear this out. You can't expect people not to mention facts that you happen not to like.

And do you seriously think people wouldn't be complaining if CPL did impose limits on patrons from districts that were abusing the system?

Feltrino wrote on September 06, 2010 at 10:09 pm

"As part of the LTS system CPL should get to borrow, except they want to borrow, but not allow borrowing. That seems a bit hypocritical." I am amused by how you, and others, want to stand on ceremony and say that because we belong to LTS we are entitled to do this. By definition, Mahomet and Tolono are not contributing members of LTS! Case in point, " it goes against what LTS stands for."

Numerous posters commented that they use CPL because they can walk there from work, stop by after work, or go there on Sundays because their library is closed. "Yes, the overuse needs to stop so place limits." I hope that $200 is a sufficient limit. I agree that the future of interlibrary loaning could be in jeopardy. If so, it won't be by the actions of the CPL but rather the freeloading (yes, I do believe, and other posts would indicate, that some plot to bilk the taxpayers of Champaign) libraries that refuse to adequately contribute to the interlibrary loan system.

Limits would not work. What would work is increasing funding to your home library such that it is not substandard. Better yet, dissolve your library district, join the CPL district and I am sure they will be happy to include a Mahomet and Tolono branch. Of course, this means that you will have to pay taxes consistent with other members of the CPL tax district which just happen to average about $200.

Feltrino wrote on September 06, 2010 at 12:09 pm

You are way off base. If Mahomet and Tolono did not have access to CPL they would be left desperately wanting for books which is the probelm in the first place. If their libraries had more books, they wouldn't need to borrow so many from CPL. Remove CPL from the mix and they would be in dire straits. The more prudent measure would be to ask Mahomet and Tolono to remove themselves from the LTS, afterall, they don't meet the needs of their patrons or the standards of LTS anyway. Instead, CPL has decided to allow those who are the offenders pay for what the taxpayers of these communities have refused to pay for: access to books!

Imagine the impact of removing CPL from the LTS system. All of the materials checked out from CPL would have to come from somewhere else. This would put an additional strain on these libraries and there would be fewer items to check out or longer waits. An alternative is to generate revenue to make up for the lack of resources in these two libraries. Since the taxpayers in those communities refuse to do that, CPL has decided to do it for them. It still isn't fair to CPL residents but it is a good first step.

Funding is based on the size of the community. They don't need to fund a library the size of CPL, they just need to fund one that is commensurate with their needs. I fund a library, CPL, that is commensurate with the needs of the users. Why should I find a library that makes up for the underfunding of another library? At some point, if not already, my contribution to the library district is subsidizing Mahomet and Tolono users. In time, I may be asked to increase funding because these communities refuse to do so and they are using an inordinate amount of resources from CPL. There is no fairness there now is there? Indeed, if Mahomet and Tolono users start paying the $200 to use CPL, I may not be asked for a tax increase sooner.

danschreiber wrote on September 05, 2010 at 4:09 pm

But the issue isn't whether one library is a net borrower or net lender to another library. It is whether a library district is using another library as its home library. I don't know which library you are referring to, but I would guess Champaign residents are not treating it as their home library. And, I would guess that CPL would need to borrow fewer items from other libraries if Savoy and Mahomet residents were either 1) not such heavy users of the CPL collection or 2) paid their fair share into CPL.

John O'Connor wrote on September 06, 2010 at 10:09 pm

Frankly, I think at least some of the anger and defensiveness of some of the commenters from the Tolono and Mahomet library districts is due to the fact that they are in something of a state of shock at having terms like 'freeloading,' 'abusing the system' and 'sense of entitlement' used to describe them and their actions. After all, those terms are only supposed to be used in reference to other people...

bigdog27 wrote on September 06, 2010 at 10:09 pm

And this comment is productive in what way?

John O'Connor wrote on September 06, 2010 at 11:09 pm

It's just an observation about what I think is at least partially driving some of the commenters on here. Are you implying that you think it's unhelpful? If so, why?

bigdog27 wrote on September 06, 2010 at 11:09 pm

Just saw nothing positive out of it is all. But while I'm here I did have the opportunity to drive to Mahomet and Tolono to take a look at what they have. Mahomet's new library is very nice but lacking a bit. But I'm sure they are working on that. Tolono, well so so. I must say what they also don't have, what CPL has is the homeless guy sleeping on the bench and urinating in the bushes. But hey that's a whole different issue. But then again maybe with the new income from the CPL fees they can hire some security to deal with it.

John O'Connor wrote on September 06, 2010 at 11:09 pm

Well, what's negative about it?

And anyway, your comment is pretty negative and a cursory look at your posting history shows that this certainly seems to be a pattern. Do you reserve the right to be hostile while requiring everyone else to be 'positive,' however you define that?

bigdog27 wrote on September 06, 2010 at 11:09 pm

did not mean it to be hostile. I pay taxes in Champaign and just stating that I would like to visit CPL without seeing the homeless sleeping on the property and using the new building as an outdoor restroom. I would hope you would like the same. And when it come to the use of the library all should pay their fair share. Simple as that. Something again I think we can agree on.

John O'Connor wrote on September 07, 2010 at 12:09 am

Yes, we do agree that people shouldn't game the system.

I didn't mean your comments on this thread were hostile; I was referring to some of your comments on other threads. Maybe I should have used a different word but, in any event, I certainly don't object to an adversarial stance in discourse. As is clear from my own commenting history, I'm definitely adversarial or even hostile if it seems warranted.

The question about homeless people is complex and part of a larger problem. Many, if not most, or perhaps even all of them are struggling with compounded mental health and substance abuse problems that, I'd advocate, could and should be addressed with more services. But that's another discussion.

bigdog27 wrote on September 07, 2010 at 12:09 am

I too have been, well lets call it "hot headed" at times but I guess that means I'm human. Oh well lets just all read a good book and figure this whole mess out later. It is however late so have a good night my friend.

hd2006 wrote on September 06, 2010 at 11:09 pm

I saw nothing negative about bigdog27 post. He stated a fact and as a person that has property in both champaign and Mahomet and pay taxes in both library system I would like to go to a library and not see it being used by homeless people in such a manner. I think their actions are negative not the post.

danrice56 wrote on September 07, 2010 at 7:09 am

According the the editorial in the News-Gazette, Tolono has a "fine" library. Not surprising coming from a Champaign paper.
The Tolono library does what it can, but it is woefully inadequate compared to the CPL.
And, as far as the News-Gazette's suggestion that whatever Mahomet and Tolono users can't get at their local libraries, they can get from libraries in the LTS other than Champaign....
Yeah, until those libraries decide they're being overtaxed and attempt to price themselves out of the system, as CPL is doing.
Because that's what it is. Regardless of budget constraints, a library's mission should be to be open freely for all, not just those select few who live within a certain radius.
There are solutions to this besides excommunicating Mahomet and Tolono from their doors.