For Library in Robbins, IL, Precarious Survival
Administrator will strech funds until tax receipts begin
Norman Oder -- Library Journal, 10/30/2009
- Lower, delayed taxes a problem
- Town native Dwyane Wade gave $25,000
- New computers needed
The William Leonard Public Library District (WLPLD) in the impoverished south of Chicago suburb Robbins, IL, remains open, and should do so through November, but “every day is a struggle,” says administrator Priscilla Coatney.
That’s because the library, which faced closure in September, raised funds for the month, and then got $25,000 from basketball star (and town native) Dwyane Wade for October, hasn’t solved its fundamental problem: its expected tax receipts are less than the $23,000 a month needed to keep the doors open.
And that’s because so many people are out of work they can’t pay their taxes; Coatney expects only 60% of what should arrive, when tax bills come due December 1.
With about $21,000 on hand for November, Coatney said she hoped the library could raise more money or defer some payments to survive the month. “I am cautiously optimistic,” she said.
Along with two $10,000 federal grants courtesy of Rep. Bobby Rush, Coatney said the library community has been generous. Donations include some $6000 (the proceeds of several book sales) from the Skokie Public Library (in Chicago’s northern suburbs) via its Friends group, checks from every board member, and individual patron gifts.
She also expressed thanks for donations from those associated with libraries in other Illinois towns, including Blue Island, Palos Heights, and Markham
“This cycle is going to repeat itself, unless we can figure out a way to get funding,” Coatney said, noting that some $50,000 would have to be raised each year via grants and private donors just to keep the doors open. She said she hoped for state legislative aid, as well.
Meanwhile, as library use in Robbins increases, the library’s ten public use computers, which date from 1999, are “on life support,” Coatney said. A Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant should fund six new computers over the next two years, assuming the library raises $1950 next year and $3900 in 2011 in matching funds.
But the library needs more. “I need new state-of-the-art computers, but I’ll take second generation,” she said.
“This has been gratifying: so many people really do care,” Coatney reflected, “but if you have to worry about the day-to-day operations of an institution, it weighs upon you. When the tax bill arrives, I know on December 1, funds will start coming in, and I can exhale.”
How to help
If people would like to contribute to the library, said Coatney, they can send checks or money orders to:
The William Leonard Public Library District
13822 Central Park Avenue
Robbins, IL 60472