Smile Politely

Champaign Library to start charging Tolono and Mahomet residents

Watch your back Savoy. Here’s the press release in full:

Starting November 1, library patrons with cards from the Mahomet and Tolono public libraries will need to purchase a Champaign library card to check out materials from the Champaign Public Library.

Cards will be available for an annual fee of $200, approximately equal to the annual library tax paid by the owners of an average Champaign home, as part of their property tax.

During a time of declining funding and increased usage, the new policy is intended to preserve access to library materials for Champaign taxpayers. Library usage by residents of nearby towns has been growing especially quickly. Since fiscal year 2006-2007, the number of items checked out at the Champaign library has increased 48 percent overall. Among patrons from outside Champaign, however, usage is up 93 percent.

To determine where to apply the card fee, the Champaign library looked at the number of items each library’s card holders borrow at Champaign compared to their home library. The fee will apply only to libraries in the Lincoln Trail Libraries System whose card holders check out at least 60 percent as many items at the Champaign library as they check out from their home libraries.

“We focused on those communities where library card holders are tending to use our library in place of their home library,” said Champaign Library Director Marsha Grove. Last fiscal year, for every 10 items Mahomet card holders borrowed from their home library, they borrowed close to 8 at Champaign – a total of 86,050 Champaign items. For every 10 items Tolono card holders borrowed at home, they borrowed 17 from Champaign – a total of 167,259 Champaign items.

The new library card fee will help offset the impact of patrons who choose to continue using Champaign’s collections. Grove also hopes to encourage patrons to return to their home libraries and discover all that they have to offer. “These neighboring libraries should also benefit from increased awareness and use,” Grove said.

Grove emphasized that the Champaign library’s primary responsibility is to its taxpayers. “This policy will help us be good stewards of the dollars Champaign residents invest in their library and help us maintain services during a period of constricted budgets,” Grove said.

Property tax revenues, which provide close to 90 percent of the library’s budget, are no longer able to keep up with increasing costs. While the library has worked hard to increase efficiency and reduce expenses, it has been forced to trim staffing and collections-areas that can directly impact the quality of services. Seven staff positions have been left open indefinitely, and funding for library materials has declined 10 percent over the past two years.

The new cards will be available for purchase at the library starting Monday, October 4. An installment payment option will be available, with the addition of a small service fee.


Related Articles