“The Aurora Public Library” by S.M. O’Connor

The Aurora Public Library operates three libraries (a central library and two branches), plus a bookmobile in the satellite city of Aurora, Illinois in the Fox River Valley west of Chicago.  The Aurora Public Library is not to be confused with the Aurora Public Library in Aurora, Minnesota or the Aurora Free Library in Aurora, New York.  The APL’s central library is the Richard and Gina Santori Library of Aurora, also known as the Main Library, located at 101 South River Street, which replaced the Aurora Public Library, also known as the Main Library, at 1 East Benton Street. The two branch libraries are the Eola Road Branch Library at 555 South Eola Road, and the West Branch Library at 233 South Constitution Drive.

Introduction[1]

       Aurora has one of the oldest libraries in the state.  The Young Men’s Association opened the first subscription library in Aurora.[2]  Association members each paid $2.[3]  They accumulated a collection of 600 volumes.[4]  Burr Winton was the librarian, and maintained the library in his house.[5]  In 1858, The Young Men’s Association & Historical Society, which had a collection of about 400 volumes, opened a subscription library.[6]  Soon after it opened, the organization merged with the Young Men’s Association and was renamed the Young Men’s Literary Association of Aurora.[7]  It fell into disuse during the Civil War.[8]  In 1865, it transferred its books to the newly-formed Aurora Library Association.[9]  The Aurora Library Association incorporated on February 16, 1864.[10]

A committee formed to build a Civil War monument in 1869, but little progress was made until Fred O. White visited Foxboro, Massachusetts, where he saw a building that was both a Civil War monument and a public library, and, when he returned home, suggested that Aurora should follow Foxboro’s example.[11]  In 1878, the Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall at 23 East Downer Place on Stolp Island opened on Independence Day (Thursday, July 4, 1878).[12]  A group of two or three civic-minded men met at the Aurora Herald newspaper to discuss the possibility of taking advantage of the law the Illinois General Assembly had passed in 1872 to allow municipalities to levy a tax of not more than two mills on the dollar to support public libraries.[13]  They perceived Alderman W.W. Bishop would oppose them because he never wanted to raise taxes, so they appealed to his vanity with the suggestion to him that if he introduced the bill he would Father of the Aurora Public Library.[14]  Consequently, he introduced a measure to impose a tax of one mill per dollar.[15]

On Thursday, June 1, 1882, the Aurora Public Library (A.P.L.) opened as a municipal library and gained possession of the book collection of the earlier private libraries.[16]  For twenty-three years, the organization was housed in the Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall.  [This is the exact opposite of the Chicago Public Library’s first central library, also known as the Chicago Public Library (and now the Chicago Cultural Center), a dual-use building that also housed a Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall.] It is an octagonally-shaped Gothic Revival-style masonry structure built with locally-mined limestone.

The problem was that the Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall was cramped by 1883.[17]  There was a collection of books from which Aurora residents could borrow, but there was no reading room where they could read on-site.[18]  In 1885, a 44’x54’ annex was built, which relieved the pressure.[19]  The collection moved into the annex and the old building became a reading room for library patrons and a meeting room for Civil War veterans.[20]

 

Part I

      The A.P.L.’s old central library, the Main Library, was housed for over a century in the Carnegie Library on Stolp Island. The address was 1 East Benton Street.  This was the southeast corner of Stolp Island.  It was built with a $50,000 grant from industrialist-turned-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie (1835-1912), who is best known now for his gifts of free public library buildings. Other towns in Illinois that have or had library buildings erected with money supplied by industrialist-turned-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie (1835-1912) include Chicago Heights, Downers Grove, Glen Ellyn, Highland Park, La Grange, and Waukegan  in Chicagoland, plus Delavan in Central Illinois.  After considering several different locations, the Aurora Public Library Board voted to build the Carnegie Library on land donated by the Stolp family on Stolp Island.[21]  This building, erected on Stolp Island in 1904, was designed by Otis, Holden, and Malmer.

Statistics published in the interwar years by the Illinois Library Extension Commission and the Illinois State Library (I.S.L.) illustrate how rapidly Aurora’s population grew in the 1920s (the Roaring Twenties) and the collections of the Aurora Public Library correspondingly grew and expenditures increased.  The Illinois Library Extension Commission reported that, in 1918, the Aurora Public Library spent $1,200 on the salary of the Librarian; $3,737.80 on the salaries of the Assistants; and $600 on the salary of the Janitor.[22]  The Aurora Public Library spent $1,584.69 on books, $450.44 on binding, and $400 on periodicals.[23]

The I.S.L.’s Extension Division reported that, in 1921, the Aurora Public Library spent $1,600 on the salary of the Librarian; $6,644.10 on the salaries of the Assistants; and $1,370 on the salary of the Janitor.[24]  The Aurora Public Library spent $2,315.76 on books, $842.78 on binding, $561.40 on periodicals, $517.96 on light, $471.15 on insurance, $244.77 on repairs, $42.90 on furniture, $246.93 on supplies, and $173.56 on miscellaneous expenses, with a total of $15,105.39.[25]  The A.P.L. circulated 116,857 items with a population of 36,397 people, which gave it a circulation per capita of 3.2.[26]

The I.S.L.’s Extension Division reported that, in 1923, the Aurora Public Library served a population of 36,397 people, of whom 10,206 borrowers.[27]  The Aurora Public Library added 3,759 volumes.[28]  The A.P.L. had subscriptions to eighty-three periodicals, a total collection of 46,682 volumes, circulated 153,202 items, with a circulation per capita of 4.2.[29]  The Librarian, James Shaw, earned a three-week-long vacation.[30]  The total income was $27,375.47 and the total expenditure was $20,865.18.[31]

The I.S.L.’s Extension Division reported that, in 1925, the Aurora Public Library served a population of 45,000 people, of whom 7,097 were borrowers.[32]  The Aurora Public Library added 2,955 volumes.[33]   The A.P.L. had subscriptions to 112 periodicals, a total collection of 49,508 volumes, circulated 190,346 items, with a circulation per capita of 4.4.[34]  The total income was $23,379 and the total expenditure was $20,576.45.[35]  The Librarian, James Shaw, earned a three-week-long vacation.[36]

The I.S.L.’s Extension Division reported that, in 1927, the Aurora Public Library spent $2,240 on the salary of the Librarian; $10,835.52 on the salaries of the Assistants; and $1,800 on the salary of the Janitor.[37]  The Aurora Public Library spent $4,449.94 on books, $807.23 on binding, $585.34 on periodicals, $824.36 on heat, $698.40 on light, $433.54 on paving, $699.90 on insurance, $1,398.74 on repairs, $1,340 on furniture, $514.99 on supplies, and $359.37 on other expenses, with a total expenditure of $26,987.32.[38]  The total income was $36,039.28 and the total expenditure was $26,987.32.[39]  The A.P.L. served a population of 45,900 people, of whom 11,478 were borrowers, added 3,889 volumes, subscribed to 177 periodicals, had a total collection of 53,397 volumes, and circulated 179,293 items with a per capita circulation of 3.9.[40]  The Librarian, Julia M. Fink, earned a vacation of three-to-four weeks.[41]

The I.S.L.’s Extension Division reported that, in 1929, the Aurora Public Library spent $2,400 on the salary of the Librarian; $14,635.48 on the salaries of the Assistants; and $2,396.75 on the salary of the Janitor.[42]  The Aurora Public Library spent $7,137.42 on books; $851.02 on binding; $167.46 on periodicals; $1,002.89 on heat; $1,226.19 on light; $533.55 on paving; $30 on insurance; $331.23 on repairs; $6,529.81 on furniture; $41.50 printing; $849.92 on supplies; $756.86 on postage, express and freight; and $221.60 on other expenses, with a total expenditure of $39,111.68.[43]  The total income was $42,109.02 and the total expenditure was $39,111.68.[44]  The A.P.L. served a population of 47,100 people, of whom 11,959 were borrowers, added 5,579 volumes, subscribed to 247 periodicals, had a total collection of 55,285 volumes, and circulated 233,132 items with a per capita circulation of 4.5.[45]  The Librarian, Julia M. Fink, earned a vacation of three-to-four weeks.[46]

The I.S.L.’s Extension Division reported that, in 1931, the Aurora Public Library 1931 served a population of 46,589 people, of whom 14,203 were borrowers (30.48%).[47]  The collection of 62,734 volumes were comprised of 45,271 were for adults and 17,463 were for juveniles.[48]  The number of volumes per capita was 1.35.[49]  The Aurora Public Library had income of $59,936.96, of which $42,264.43 was tax income, and a total expenditure of $35,689.44.[50]  Salaries accounted for $16,823.34.[51]  The Librarian’s salary was $2,400.[52]  The A.P.L. added 5,587 volumes, and circulated 285,850 volumes.[53]  Of the volumes circulated, 128,036 (77.92%) were adult fiction, 36,280 (22.08%) were adult non-fiction, and 115,824 (40.52%) were juvenile.[54]

Beginning in 1941, the A.P.L. embarked on a sixteen-year-long, $100,000 pay-as-you-go remodeling program.  Firstly, came the redecoration of the first floor.  Secondly, came the creation of three new departments – art and technology, periodicals, and music – on the second floor after work undertaken there in 1952-53.

In 1969, the Main Library building was remodeled and enlarged in a $500,000 project.  The architectural firm employed this time was O. Kleb & Associates.  Two three-story wings were added.  The three-and-a-half story building gained a new façade as well when it was re-sheathed in dark tinted glass and gray limestone on a black granite base.  The new façade was necessitated by the unavailability of new bricks for the additions that would match the bricks of the original building.  The A.P.L. freed up space in the basement by the translation of documents that had been stored there to microfishe. In 1980, the Young People’s Department was enlarged.

In 1909, the first branch of the Aurora Public Library opened in Oak Park School.[55]  Between 1919 and 1936, the A.P.L. had four branches housed in elementary schools: Indian Creek School, Brady School, Abraham Lincoln School, and Bardwell School.[56]  These were gradually phased out by 1965 as the schools’ needs for space in their own buildings increased.  The Abraham Lincoln Branch Library closed in November of 1944.[57]  In February of 1946, the collection of the Alice Doty Wernicke Music Branch, then located at 512 main Street (now East Galena) moved to the Main Library.[58]  The East Branch Library closed in 1953.[59]  Outreach to neighborhoods took on a new form when, in 1953, the Librarian, Eleanor Plain, entered a contract for Bookmobile service with the I.S.L., gearing service to area schoolchildren.  That first bookmobile was a 1945 Chevrolet bus.[60]  Pleased with the result, the A.P.L. purchased its first bookmobile from the I.S.L. and has replaced it four times, in 1957, 1968, 1986, and 2003.  When I first wrote about the Aurora Public Library in 2011, it made twenty-eight stops.  Now, it makes nine stops.  In addition to Bookmobile service, the A.P.L. now operates two branch libraries.

Part II

      In the 1990s, two new branches of the Aurora Public Library opened and the A.P.L. Board of Directors promoted a new Library Director.  In October of 1989, the Fox Valley Branch Library opened in McCarty Elementary School at 3000 Village Green Drive.[61]  The Fox Valley Branch Library served the East Side of Aurora until the Eola Road Branch Library opened in 1993.[62]

The Eola Road Branch Library, on the east side of town, opened in 1993 as a 14,000-square-foot facility in the Eola Community Center, which is shared with the Fox Valley Park District.  In June of 1997, the A.P.L. hired Eva Lunckinbill to head Extension Services (now called Outreach Services).  In April 1999, she was promoted to Executive Director of the Aurora Public Library, otherwise known as the Library Director, a post which she held until she retired in 2014.  She was formerly Assistant Library Director of the Lisle Public Library District for three years.  As Executive Director, Ms. Luckinbell oversaw construction of a two-story addition to the Eola Road Branch Library and three remodeling projects.  In 2003, the very busy east branch expanded from 14,000 square feet to 27,000 square feet.  Six years later, in 2009, the Eola Road Branch Library’s circulation area was restructured.  A new front welcome desk was installed where patrons can get directions within the library, find out about events in that branch, or get promotional literature about the A.P.L.  A new service desk was installed with three check-out points and a separate area for library card registration and problem resolution.

Meanwhile, the West Branch Library, a 20,000-square-foot facility, opened in 1998. This building is shared with Washington Middle School.  Ms. Luckinbill oversaw a renovation of this branch library that was still ongoing when she announced in 2014 that she would retire.  In 2009, Diana Kocunik, West Branch Children’s Librarian, rode her horse Gallant Quest in President Barack Hussein Obama Junior’s inaugural parade. She was first employed by the A.P.L. in 2002 as a clerk in the Main Library’s Young People’s Department.  Six years later, she received her M.L.S. (Master’s degree in Library Science) from Dominican University (formerly Rosary College) and was chosen to take over the position of Children’s Librarian at the West Branch.  In her free time, Ms. Kocunik is a horsewoman and belongs to Southern Ohio Ladies Aside (S.O.L.A.) and the Fox Valley Saddle Association.  Founded in 1991, S.O.L.A. members ride horses the ladylike way: sidesaddle, which means their legs are draped over the left side of the horse. The ladies of S.O.L.A. were invited to ride in the inaugural parade on January 20, 2009. She told the Aurora Public Library Community Newsletter, “It was exciting to witness the inauguration of the country’s first black president.  I’ll be able to tell my grandchildren I rode; I was there.”

In 2001, the A.P.L. leased 6,000 square feet of space from Alarm Detection Systems, Inc., on Church Road.  The A.P.L. used this space to house the Technical Services and Outreach Services Departments, thus freeing up space in the Main Library for its growing needs. The Main Library was increasingly cramped, so there were plans to build a New Main Library in downtown Aurora at the intersection of Benton Street and River Street, one block west of the current Main Library.  The A.P.L. acquired this property from The Vanstrand Group.

“We are very excited about this site for our new library because it will accomplish all of our long-range goals for both expansion and modernization of the main downtown library,” said Library Director Eva Luckinbill. “We now have the site where we can develop a modern facility to efficiently and effectively serve Aurora’s fast-growing need for information and vital library services,” she said.

In 2010, a Mini Bookmobile began operations.  It brings books to homebound library patrons.

When I first wrote about the Aurora Public Library for Examiner.com Chicago in 2011, the Main Library had a staff of forty-three and Elizabeth Bumgarner was the Main Library Coordinator, the Eola Road Branch Library had a staff of twenty-four and Shannon Halikias was the Eola Branch Coordinator, and the West Branch Library had a staff of ten and Debra Stombres was the West Branch Coordinator.  The work of the staff is supplemented by the Aurora Public Library Foundation’s Spotlight Club Members.  According to the A.P.L. Foundation, Spotlight Club Members “enjoy ‘putting the spotlight’ on library” patrons in need, including children, the unemployed, and homebound.  The A.P.L. Foundation’s Imagine 2010 fundraiser, chaired by Arlene and Dick Hawks, brought in $16,000.  This money was divided between the A.P.L.’s Project RISE Service for the unemployed and Teen Services.  The latter purchased podcasting equipment.  The APL also acquired e-books for children in English and Spanish.

 

Part III

      Illinois Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White awarded a $10,800,000 Public Library Construction Act grant to the Aurora Public Library at a ceremony held at the library on Monday, March 4, 2013.  Secretary White and Reaching Across Illinois Library System (R.A.I.L.S.) Executive Director Deirdre (Dee) Brennan attended the ceremony on March 4, 2013, along with other library officials and dignitaries: Aurora Public Library Executive Director Eva Luckinbill, Aurora Public Library Board President John Savage, who has been a board member since at least 2011, and Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner.[63]

“Public libraries like the Aurora Public Library are the cornerstones of our communities providing educational enjoyment to all,” White said. “This new program allows my office to allocate as much as $50 million to libraries throughout Illinois. Together with funds generated locally, we are ensuring that these public libraries can continue to fulfill the important information needs of their patrons. I congratulate the Aurora Public Library on being the first library to receive a grant under this important new public library construction program.”

“This grant will help fund the construction of a state-of-the-art library for users of all ages while greatly lessening the impact on Aurora’s taxpayers,” said Mayor Weisner. “The new library will be an educational epicenter that— along with Waubonsee Community College’s new building, RiverEdge Park, the new Downer Place bridges, and several other projects— will positively impact downtown development. It will also help create a better educated workforce, which is important to the long-term economic vitality of the entire community. On behalf of all Aurora citizens, I want to thank Secretary of State Jesse White and the State of Illinois for their generous support as we enter this new and exciting chapter for Aurora.”

 

The $10,800,000 grant was applied to the $28,000,000 cost of building a new downtown public library. The City of Aurora was responsible for matching the state funding, in order to receive the grant by June 30, 2013.  Construction was set to begin this spring on a 92,000-square-foot facility to be built on the southwest corner of River and Benton streets.  The Public Library Construction Grant Program is part of a $31,000,000,000 capital construction program approved in 2009 by Governor Pat Quinn and the Illinois General Assembly.

Groundbreaking for the Aurora Public Library’s Main Library took place at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at the southwest corner of the intersection of River Street and Benton Street.  The public was invited to attend the event. Back then, the new Main Library was expected to be open to the public by late 2014 or early 2015. By state law, the City of Aurora had the first right to purchase the current Main Library building from the Aurora Public Library.  The 92,000-square-foot, $28,000,000 Main Library was built on a parcel of land that the A.P.L. purchased in 2009. The site had been the home of The Beacon-News from April 1953 until March of 2008.  The A.P.L. demolished the old newspaper building at 101 South River Street in 2009.  The A.P.L. also purchased three small parcels between Lake Street and Middle Avenue to convert into a parking lot.  The site is one block from Waubonsee Community College’s new Downtown Aurora Campus (now called Waubonsee Community College – Aurora) at 18 South River Street in downtown Aurora.

“The new Aurora Public Library will meet the needs of our community while preparing future generations to become world-class learners and leaders. We are excited to break ground and build a first-class facility that will become a technological and educational epicenter for Aurora,” said Mayor Tom Weisner.

The keywords of the new library are “flexibility” and “technology,” according to then-Library Executive Director Eva Luckinbill, who added that “a flexible design will allow the library to grow and adapt to whatever the educational and informational needs of the community are in the years ahead.”

“The explosion of technological advances requires nimbleness in library services to meet the needs of a learning community,” Ms. Luckinbill added. “The library embraces the Aurora Early Literacy Council mission, the SPARK (Strong, Prepared and Ready for Kindergarten) program and the recently announced Pathways to Prosperity program. The creation of spaces within the new building to support and enhance these initiatives is of utmost importance.”

The A.P.L. stated, “The new Main Library will feature state-of-the-art materials handling technology, expanded space for programs for children and teenagers, a dedicated space for experimentation with new technology, and areas for public gatherings. As a LEED-certified building, it has been designed to reduce waste, conserve energy and water, and lower operating costs.”[64]

“This is going to make a major impact on changing the fabric and character of the downtown,” said Library Board President John Savage, adding that national statistics show dramatic increases in patron use in the first three years after a library is built. “We have seen a genesis of a cultural focus in the downtown, and we are excited to be part of that.”

The project’s architectural firm is Cordogan Clark & Associates. R.C. Wegman Construction Company is the construction management firm.  Schoppe Design Associates is the landscape architect.  KDI Design Interiors is the interior design firm.  Outsource Solutions Group, Inc. is the technology design consultant.  Horizon Engineering Associates is the LEED commissioning agent. Barbara Kattermann will be the owner’s representative on the project.

Branch locations on the east and west sides of Aurora – the Eola Road Branch Library and the West Branch Library – also received significant upgrades as part of a bond issue approved by the Aurora City Council in April of 2012.  The Express Center, a new satellite facility in northeast Aurora, opened in September, 2012, at the corner of Church Road and Edison Avenue as part of the A.P.L.’s push to make library services more convenient for patrons around the city.  The address was 1100 Church Road, Aurora, Illinois 60505.

Later in 2013, Dr. Gina Santori, nee Bakiares donated $3,000,000 to create a technology endowment to ensure the new Main Library and the two branches would have up-to-date technology.  In 2011, she had donated $1,250,000 to the Rush Copley Foundation in honor of her late husband, Lieutenant Richard J. Santori (1936-2010), a businessman who had owned auto dealerships in and around Aurora for forty-five years, such as Valley Honda, Valley Imports, and Valley Mazda Volkswagon, who had died on November 5, 2010.[65]    The Rush Copley Foundation used the money to build a new surgical suite at Rush-Copley Medical Center. Dr. Santorini was a podiatrist on the staff of Rush-Copley Medical Center in Aurora and a resident of Aurora who practiced medicine on a pro bono basis for renal and diabetic patients. [66]   The Aurora Public Library announced her generous donation on Monday, December 23, 2013.  At that time, the A.P.L. also announced the new Main Library would be named the Richard and Gina Santori Public Library of Aurora.

“There are not adequate words to describe how grateful we are to Dr. Santori,” stated John Savage, Aurora Public Library Board of Directors.  “The impact of her investment into Aurora is truly immeasurable,” stated A.P.L. Foundation Board President Todd Drafall.

Part IV

      In January of 2014, Eva Luckinbill announced she would retire later in the year, and would remain as a consultant for her successor through the completion of the new library building.[67]  A.P.L. Board President Savage stated the A.P.L. Board of Trustees would be hiring an executive search firm by the end of February to find Ms. Luckinbell’s replacement.[68]

“Eva Luckinbill has served the community well for the past 15 years as an effective leader of the library,” stated Mr. Savage.[69]  “She was instrumental in securing the site the new library and is now overseeing the construction process, has expanded community outreach (including the procurement of a new bookmobile), oversaw the opening of the new Express Center, and has helped to lead advancements in technology throughout the entire library system.”[70]

“This is going to be a national search and we anticipate that we will get extremely qualified candidates for the job,” stated Savage.[71]  In August of 2014, the Aurora Public Library Board of Directors hired Daisy Porter-Reynolds to be the new Executive Director, effective in September.  Her starting salary was $128,000, whereas Ms. Luckinbell’s salary had been $118,352.[72]  Mrs. Porter-Reynolds and her husband were residents of northwest suburban Palatine, Illinois.[73]  Previously, she was Deputy Director of the Arlington Heights Memorial Library from 2012 to 2014.  She had held two successive posts at the San Jose Public Library, where she was Manager of Innovation from 2010 to 2011 and Manager of Access, Collections and Technical Services from 2011 to 2012.  Mrs. Porter-Reynolds earned her B.A. in Linguistics and Women’s Studies at Northwestern University in 1998 and her M.L.S. at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2002.  Savage stated she “is very focused in the areas of customer service, technology, and programming.”  He added, “She also has a strong focus on building partnerships with schools, the business community and various ethnic groups, which are important traits as we go into the next phase of what the Aurora Public Library system will provide to this community going forward.”[74]

The Aurora Public Library’s Main Library moved approximately two blocks west, onto the mainland, placing it west of the Fox River.  The address is 101 South River Street, Aurora, Illinois 60506.  The grand opening of the new Main Library, the Richard and Gina Santori Library of Aurora, was on Sunday, June 14, 2015.[75]  Over 2,000 people attended the grand opening.[76]  Mayor Weisner, Library Board President Savage, Congressman Bill Foster, and Dr. Gina Santori were the featured speakers.[77]  The Ides of March, a rock and roll band that formed in Berwyn, Illinois, in 1964 as The Shon-Dels, performed three songs.[78]  Members of the West Aurora High School Air Force Junior R.O.T.C. raised the national and state flags on the new flagpoles for the first time.[79]  Cub Scouts from Troop 358 (Hall Elementary School) led those gathered for the grand opening in saying the Pledge of Allegiance.[80]  The featured speakers, aldermen, and library board members participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony, after which the public was able to enter the building.[81]  The Richard and Gina Santori Public Library of Aurora opened for business on Monday, June 15, 2015.[82]  The Juvenile Protective Association Children’s Nature Garden and Parker Garden opened on Saturday, August 15, 2015.

On Wednesday, June 8, 2016, Steve Lord reported in The Beacon-News that the Aurora Public Library had announced at the previous night’s meeting of the Aurora City Council’s Committee of the Whole that the A.P.L. would reduce services and lay-off workers in the face of a projected budget deficit of $1-to-$2 million.  Savage had explained the deficit was projected for the end of the 2016 budget, and the planned remedy would address the problem in time for the 2017 budget.  The Express Center on the East Side of Aurora would close in 2017.  Quarters for Outreach Services, where the Bookmobile was restocked, would move to the new Main Library.  Savage argued that patronage of the Express Center had declined and there was still unused space at the new Santori Library.[83]

The budget cuts included the lay-off of twenty-one workers.  Eleven of the twenty-one workers were full-timers, and ten were part-timers.  Six were managers, nine were union members, and the remainder were seasonal, part-time workers.  Savage told the aldermen that “four or five” of the workers were eligible for retirement and could leave that way rather than being laid-off.  This came at a time when the A.P.L. workforce was already ten people short because ten open posts had not been filled.  Savage believed this lay-off would save $800,000. [84]

Further, hours would be cut at the West Side Branch.  Instead of being open sixty-eight hours per week, it would be open for forty-four hours per week, effective Saturday, August 20, 2016.  It would be closed on Sundays.  Usage of the West Side Branch had declined 20% since the Santori Library had opened.  Circulation had declined 11%.  Tina Bohman, 1st Ward Alderwoman, said while she was “sorry to see…it go.  But if you don’t use it, you lost it.”  She added, “Numbers don’t lie.” [85]

Altogether, these cuts would save $1,000,000, Savage explained.  “I commend the library for working hard at facing the realities that are out there,” said Alderman Robert O’Connor, Chairman of the Finance Committee.[86]  The Aurora Public Library had had financial difficulties for years.  Until 2015, the A.P.L. had been able to solve this problem by dipping into reserve funds.  In 2015, the Aurora City Council agreed to increase the Aurora Public Library tax levy by 1%, the first such increase in nearly twenty years.  The Library Board chose to make the budget cuts rather than ask for another tax levy increase. [87]

“Technology is having a huge impact on libraries,” said Mayor Tom Weisner, who drew attention to the fact the budget cuts were made possible by the new Main Library’s labor-saving devices.  It has automated check-out stations, which meant it was no longer necessary for patrons to bring books or other items to the front desk.  The new Main Library also has a conveyor belt to help workers sort through returned books. [88]

On Tuesday, November 15, 2016, Mr. Lord reported in The Beacon-News that Steve Silverman, Chief of the Illinois Attorney General’s Public Access Bureau, had stated in a letter that the Aurora Public Library had violated the Public Meetings Act in the course of a meeting on Wednesday, May 25, 2016.[89]  The A.P.L. Board of Directors had held a closed session because A.P.L. Executive Director Daisy Porter-Reynolds was going to discuss with the Board of Directors specific staff members and whether they would remain employed.[90]  Mr. Silverman had written the letter to Savage and former Aurora Mayor David Pierce, who had filed a complaint about the closed meeting.[91]  Pierce further believed the A.P.L. Board of Directors had made budgetary decisions about the closure of the Express Center, the reduction of hours at the other two branches, and layoffs while in closed session.[92]  However, on this other matter, Silverman concluded that he did not have sufficient information to prove the Board of Directors had “taken final action while in closed session.”[93] Silverman pointed out the Board of Directors had not kept minutes of the meeting.[94]  The Board of Directors countered in a letter written in response that the device they used to record meetings had malfunctioned at that meeting.[95]  In addition, it is the Aurora City Council that makes budgetary decisions, so the Board of Directors argued they had “never taken action (during a closed or open session meeting) with respect to the budget, including but not limited to balancing the budget, or decreasing expenditures.”[96]  Silverman stipulated that his opinion was non-binding and that both Aurora Public Library staff members and the Board of Directors had taken Public Meetings Act compliance training.[97]  He also noted the A.P.L. had acquired new recording equipment and in the future the Secretary would keep written notes.[98]  Ultimately, the A.P.L. did not lay-off all twenty-one people because the A.P.L. had been able to find new jobs for some of them.[99]

Part V

      Michaela Haberkern has been the Deputy Director since January of 2016.  Previously, she was Assistant Director and Adult Services Manager of the Hinsdale Public Library from May of 2013 to December of 2015.  She was Adult Services Manager of the Hinsdale Public Library from May of 2007 to May of 2013.  Prior to that post, she was Reference Librarian at the Skokie Public Library from May of 2003 to May of 2007.  Before that post, she was Manager of Reader Service at the St. Louis County Library from January of 2001 to April of 2003.

Since September of 2015, Heather Sturm has been the Director of Neighborhood Services.  She is in charge of the two branch libraries.  This is a promotion, as she became Branch Coordinator in April of 2014.  Previously, she was Director of the Manchester District Library in Michigan from July of 2004 to August of 2013.  She was Adult Services Librarian in Elkhorn, Wisconsin from 2001 to 2004.  Ms. Sturm earned her B.A. at Drake University in 1994 and her M.A. in Library and Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2001.

Kathleen Butzen is the Manager of Outreach Services.  Formerly, her title was Manager of Outreach Services and the Express Center.  She is in charge of Outreach Services and the Bookmobile.  In October of 2017, she received the John Phillip Award from the Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services (A.B.O.S.), a 501(c)3 organization and an affiliate of the American Library Association (A.L.A.), at the 2017 A.B.O.S. Annual Conference in Pittsburgh.[100]  She was President of the Midwest Bookmobile and Library Outreach Networking Group (B’LONG).[101]  At that time, she had worked for the Aurora Public Library for nearly thirteen years and previously had worked for the Roselle Public Library.[102]  David Kelsey, Outreach Services at the St. Charles Public Library District, presented her with the award.[103]  Executive Director Daisy Porter-Reynolds had submitted the nomination unbeknownst to her.[104]

The Aurora Public Library is closed on Sundays between Memorial Day and Labor Day.  It is also closed on these holidays: New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.

The address of the Santori Library is 101 South River Street, Aurora, Illinois 60506.  This is in Kane County.  It is open from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Sundays (except in summertime, when it is closed); from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. from Mondays to Thursdays; and from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

The address of the Eola Road Branch Library is 555 South Eola Road, Aurora, Illinois 60504.  This is in DuPage County.  It is open from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Sundays (except in summertime, when it is closed); from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. from Mondays to Thursdays; and from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

The address of the West Branch Library is 233 South Constitution Drive, Aurora, Illinois 60506.  This is in Kane County.  It is open from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Sundays (except in summertime, when it is closed); from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays; from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays; from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Fridays; and from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

 

[1] This article represents an extensive revision and expansion of three articles I wrote for Examerin.com in 2011 and 2013.

[2] Frank Patterson, “History: With each beginning, history becomes more important,” Aurora Public Library (http://www.aurorapubliclibrary.org/about-the-library/aurora-history/) Accessed 03/05/18

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid

[5] Ibid

[6] Gwladys Spencer, The Chicago Public Library: Origins and Backgrounds. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press (1943), p. 181

See also Frank Patterson, “History: With each beginning, history becomes more important,” Aurora Public Library (http://www.aurorapubliclibrary.org/about-the-library/aurora-history/) Accessed 03/05/18

[7] Spencer, p. 181

See also Patterson

[8] Frank Patterson, “History: With each beginning, history becomes more important,” Aurora Public Library (http://www.aurorapubliclibrary.org/about-the-library/aurora-history/) Accessed 03/05/18

[9] Spencer, p. 181

[10] Frank Patterson, “History: With each beginning, history becomes more important,” Aurora Public Library (http://www.aurorapubliclibrary.org/about-the-library/aurora-history/) Accessed 03/05/18

[11] Ibid

[12] Ibid

[13] Ibid

[14] Ibid

[15] Ibid

[16] Spencer, p. 181

[17] Frank Patterson, “History: With each beginning, history becomes more important,” Aurora Public Library (http://www.aurorapubliclibrary.org/about-the-library/aurora-history/) Accessed 03/05/18

[18] Ibid

[19] Ibid

[20] Ibid

[21] Frank Patterson, “History: With each beginning, history becomes more important,” Aurora Public Library (http://www.aurorapubliclibrary.org/about-the-library/aurora-history/) Accessed 03/05/18

[22] Illinois Library Extension Commission, Fourth Biennial Report of the Illinois Library Extension Commission January 1, 1917 –December 31, 1918.  Springfield, Illinois: Schnepp & Barnes, Printers (1919), p. 20

[23] Illinois Library Extension Commission, p. 20

[24] Illinois State Library, Report of the Library Extension Division – A Continuation of the Illinois Library Extension Commission for January 1, 1919 to December 31, 1921.  Springfield, Illinois: Illinois State Journal Company  (1922), p. 26

[25] Illinois State Library, pages 26 and 27

[26] Illinois State Library, p. 46

[27] Illinois State Library, Report of the Library Extension Division for January 1, 1922 to December 31, 1923.  Danville, Illinois: Illinois Printing Company  (1924), pages 34 and 42

[28] Illinois State Library, p. 34

[29] Illinois State Library, pages 35 and 42

[30] Illinois State Library, p. 35

[31] Illinois State Library, p. 42

[32] Illinois State Library, Report of the Library Extension Division for January 1, 1924 to December 31, 1925. Springfield, Illinois (1926), pages 38 and 46

[33] Illinois State Library, p. 38

[34] Illinois State Library, pages 39 and 46

[35] Illinois State Library, p. 46

[36] Illinois State Library, p. 39

[37] Illinois State Library, Report of the Library Extension Division for January 1, 1926 to December 31, 1927.  Springfield, Illinois (1928), p. 32

[38] Illinois State Library, pages 32 and 33

[39] Illinois State Library, p. 48

[40] Illinois State Library, pages 40, 41, and 48

[41] Illinois State Library, p. 41

[42] Illinois State Library, Report of the Library Extension Division for January 1, 1928 to December 31, 1929.  Danville, Illinois: Illinois Printing Company (1930), p. 38

[43] Illinois State Library, pages 38 and 39

[44] Illinois State Library, p. 54

[45] Illinois State Library, pages 46, 47, and 54

[46] Illinois State Library, p. 47

[47] Illinois State Library, Report of the Library Extension Division for January 1, 1930 to December 31, 1931.  Danville, Illinois: Illinois Printing Company (1932), p. 40

[48] Illinois State Library, p. 40

[49] Illinois State Library, p. 40

[50] Illinois State Library, p. 40

[51] Illinois State Library, p. 41

[52] Illinois State Library, p. 41

[53] Illinois State Library, p. 41

[54] Illinois State Library, p. 41

[55] Frank Patterson, “History: With each beginning, history becomes more important,” Aurora Public Library (http://www.aurorapubliclibrary.org/about-the-library/aurora-history/) Accessed 03/05/18

[56] Frank Patterson, “History: With each beginning, history becomes more important,” Aurora Public Library (http://www.aurorapubliclibrary.org/about-the-library/aurora-history/) Accessed 03/05/18

[57] Frank Patterson, “History: With each beginning, history becomes more important,” Aurora Public Library (http://www.aurorapubliclibrary.org/about-the-library/aurora-history/) Accessed 03/05/18

[58] Frank Patterson, “History: With each beginning, history becomes more important,” Aurora Public Library (http://www.aurorapubliclibrary.org/about-the-library/aurora-history/) Accessed 03/05/18

[59] Frank Patterson, “History: With each beginning, history becomes more important,” Aurora Public Library (http://www.aurorapubliclibrary.org/about-the-library/aurora-history/) Accessed 03/05/18

[60] Frank Patterson, “History: With each beginning, history becomes more important,” Aurora Public Library (http://www.aurorapubliclibrary.org/about-the-library/aurora-history/) Accessed 03/05/18

[61] Frank Patterson, “History: With each beginning, history becomes more important,” Aurora Public Library (http://www.aurorapubliclibrary.org/about-the-library/aurora-history/) Accessed 03/05/18

[62] Frank Patterson, “History: With each beginning, history becomes more important,” Aurora Public Library (http://www.aurorapubliclibrary.org/about-the-library/aurora-history/) Accessed 03/05/18

[63] A total of $50,000,000 was provided for permanent capital improvements to public libraries.  The Office of the Secretary of State and the Illinois State Library were authorized to administer the funding.  The efforts of Illinois State Senator Linda Holmes and Illinois State Reps. Linda Chapa La Via, Stephanie Kifowit, Mike Fortner, and Tom Cross supported library initiatives throughout Illinois.  The program was funded by the sale of state bonds and was designed to assist libraries with major construction and remodeling needs. Applications were ranked based on the age of library buildings and the last time substantial work was completed on the facilities; the size of the library in relation to the population it serves; and whether life/safety issues were being addressed with the building improvements. The amount of state funding awarded to each library was only a percentage of the total cost of the project, and was determined by a mathematical formula included in the legislation. Any remaining project costs are a local responsibility, and libraries that received the funding in FY 2013 (July 1, 2012-June 30, 2013) only if local financing was arranged and approved by June 30, 2013.  On Monday, July 11, 2011, the Illinois Supreme Court unanimously upheld as constitutional a $31,000,000,000 capital construction program the Illinois General Assembly had approved in 2009.  This reversed an appellate court ruling in January.

[64] LEED stands for “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.”

[65] Mr. Santori was active in the Chicago Area Automotive Dealers Association and sat on the board of The University of Chicago Foundation.  He was a committee member of the Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce, Community Counseling Center, and the New York Street Business Association.

[66] Gina Marie Bakiares earned her R.N. degree at Truman College in Chicago.  She wed Richard J. Santori at Holy Name Cathedral in downtown Chicago on December 5, 1987.  After caring for patients as a nurse, she went to the University of Illinois to earn her M.D. degree and to the College of Podiatric Medicine in Chicago to her earn her Doctor of Podiatric Medicine degree.  At the time of her donation to the Aurora Public Library, she was seeking yet another degree, a master’s degree in bioethics.  Mrs. Santori, whose husband had been a had pilot for both the U.S. Army Reserves and U.S. Air Force Reserves, had commercial pilot licenses for both land and sea and guided the charitable foundation her husband had established to support the Santori School in Prey Veng, Cambodia.

[67] “Library Director to Retire,” Downtown Aurora Where It’s @ (http://www.auroradowntown.org/library-director-to-retire/) Accessed 03/05/18

[68] Ibid

[69] Ibid

[70] Ibid

[71] Ibid

[72] Justin Kmitch, “Aurora library tabs new director from Arlington Heights,” Daily Herald, 21 August, 2014 (http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20140821/news/140829714/) Accessed 03/05/18

[73] Ibid

[74] Ibid

[75] Frank Patterson, “History: With each beginning, history becomes more important,” Aurora Public Library (http://www.aurorapubliclibrary.org/about-the-library/aurora-history/) Accessed 03/05/18

[76] Ibid

[77] Ibid

[78] Ibid

[79] Ibid

[80] Ibid

[81] Ibid

[82] Ibid

[83] Steve Lord, “Layoffs, service cuts announced for Aurora library,” The Beacon-News, 8 June 2016 (http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/aurora-beacon-news/news/ct-abn-aurora-library-st-0608-20160607-story.html?=) Accessed 02/27/18

[84] Steve Lord, “Layoffs, service cuts announced for Aurora library,” The Beacon-News, 8 June 2016 (http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/aurora-beacon-news/news/ct-abn-aurora-library-st-0608-20160607-story.html?=) Accessed 02/27/18

[85] Steve Lord, “Layoffs, service cuts announced for Aurora library,” The Beacon-News, 8 June 2016 (http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/aurora-beacon-news/news/ct-abn-aurora-library-st-0608-20160607-story.html?=) Accessed 02/27/18

[86] We are not closely related, as far as I know.

[87] Steve Lord, “Layoffs, service cuts announced for Aurora library,” The Beacon-News, 8 June 2016 (http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/aurora-beacon-news/news/ct-abn-aurora-library-st-0608-20160607-story.html?=) Accessed 02/27/18

[88] Steve Lord, “Layoffs, service cuts announced for Aurora library,” The Beacon-News, 8 June 2016 (http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/aurora-beacon-news/news/ct-abn-aurora-library-st-0608-20160607-story.html?=) Accessed 02/27/18

[89] Steve Lord, “Attorney general says Aurora Library Board held illegal closed meeting,” The Beacon-News, 15 November, 2016 (http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/aurora-beacon-news/news/ct-abn-aurora-library-st-1116-20161115-story.html) Accessed 03/06/18

[90] Ibid

[91] Ibid

[92] Ibid

[93] Ibid

[94] Ibid

[95] Ibid

[96] Ibid

[97] Ibid

[98] Ibid

[99] Ibid

[100] Amy Roth, “John Philip Roth goes to Aurora Library Outreach Services manager,” The Beacon-News, 13 November, 2017 (http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/aurora-beacon-news/community/chi-ugc-article-john-philip-award-goes-to-aurora-library-outr-2017-11-13-story.html) Accessed 03/05/18

[101] Ibid

[102] Ibid

[103] Ibid

[104] Ibid

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