The Champaign Public Library is a treasure that must be preserved and supported. There are many children who learn to read there, as I did, and countless organizations that have used the meeting rooms to serve the public good, and many people in our community who use it as their only access to literature and computers.
The city and the library must do what needs to be done to keep the library alive and thriving. With the $500,000 budget shortfall and most residents' understandable reluctance to accept a tax increase, this will require some creative thinking.
Would it be possible to reduce the hours in the west side of the library, which houses the books and computers, and keep open the east side of the library, which has the cafe as well as two meeting rooms for the community? The library could then use that area to host small concerts and other events that would bring people in but would make too much noise for people trying to use the library for studying purposes during regular hours, and also continue to use the meeting rooms.
If we could do this, we could reduce the amount of supplementary funding that the library has to ask for and take less away from our vital needs in our already stressed fire and police departments. I don't proclaim to have all the answers, but I urge our leaders to look outside of simple answers and get creative with their thinking.