With some of their top-tier priorities already checked off the to-do list, staffers at the Forest Park Public Library are now diverting a windfall of cash toward other projects that otherwise would not be possible were it not for a referendum in 2006 that substantially boosts the organization’s budget, according to library officials.
Of the more visible projects taking place in the near future is the repaving of the entryway. Library Director Rodger Brayden said the building will be closed in early April to accommodate the work, but steps are being taken to ensure a minimal amount of inconvenience to library users. The project is expected to cost between $14,000 and $15,000, said Brayden, and represents one of several improvements made possible by the tax referendum approved more than a year ago.
“We’re able to plan and look ahead,” Brayden said of the additional funding.
By voting to increase the limiting rate in the village’s property taxes, residents opened the gates for the library to receive an additional $500,000 annually for four years. That money nearly doubles the library’s operating budget of $700,000 at the time of the vote.
Andrea Blaylock, the president of the library’s Board of Trustees, said many of the most pressing needs at the facility are being tended to now that the funding from the referendum is pouring in. The walkway project-and several others-represent the next phase of reinvestment, she said.
“Pretty much everything that we marked as a priority has been taken care of,” Blaylock said. “Now we’re looking at what would be our priority B list.”
Beginning April 1, the paving and walkway that leads to the main entrance facing Desplaines Avenue will be reconstructed, said Brayden, and will require the library be closed for two days.
Normal hours will resume Thursday, April 3, but patrons will be redirected to an entrance on the northeast side of the building for several days while crews continue to repair the main walkways.
Bookworms and frequent users may have also noticed that the bathrooms at the library were recently outfitted with fully automated amenities, something that Brayden said should reduce the spread of germs and make patrons more comfortable.
A new full-time hire was made in the children’s department in early February to help expand services there, and the library expects to bring in six more computers for the public to use.
Brayden is particularly excited about being able to “beef up” the collection budget, an enhancement he acknowledged isn’t as sexy to the average library card holder. But by boosting this line item by some 50 percent, said Brayden, the library will be able to purchase multiple copies of popular books and DVDs.
“There are authors with a following,” Brayden said. “If their name is on it, it’s going to fly off the shelves in the bookstores and the library.” The staff is also purchasing new versions of older material.