By Laura Katauskas
What can $1.38 a month do for you—keep your local library open longer, increase services for seniors and help build a digital lab—that’s the message the White Oak Library District is trying to get across, during its third attempt to pass a referendum this April 4 election.
Library Director Scott Pointon explains the library needs to expand its hours of operation to meet the demands of its users, opening earlier on weekdays and adding more hours on weekends.
If approved, the referendum would also allow the district to offer more classes, and create a digital media lab where patrons can transfer VHS to DVD, restore family photos, create modern promotional materials, record audio podcasts, film captivating videos, compose music, among other digital projects.
The library district poses a referendum that would raise the limiting rate for tax purposes to 22.6 cents (a difference of 3 cents); essentially equating to $1.38 per month for the average home in the district or $10 more in taxes per year for a property valued at $100,000.
Pointon believes the referendum has failed in the past for a variety of reasons, pointing out many voters may have confused the White Oak referendum with the Plainfield library referendum which is separate. Voters in the White Oak library district will only be voting for the White Oak referendum and the Plainfield referendum is separate and has no financial impact on Romeoville residents.
Pointon said feedback reported that some residents voted against the referendum “because the words “limiting rate” sounded bad for the library (even though that is the wording the State uses to describe the operating rate.)
The district, this time around, is also trying to clarify the actual annual impact of a successful referendum, which would be $1.38 per month for the average homeowner as some voters were confused about the amount in November.
In the past fiscal year, the library checked out 674,163 items to its patrons; a 7.8 percent increase in usage over the previous year, and a 21 percent increase over usage from five years ago.
The White Oak Library District consists of three branches, Crest Hill, Lockport, and Romeoville; and serves 80,000 residents in those towns and unincorporated areas.