Is the Sugar Grove Public Library a poor excuse for a library, with not enough books, magazines, computers and programs?
Or is it just fine for the price taxpayers are willing to pay?
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The answer probably lies in what individuals want out of the library, what they think it is worth, and what they are willing to pay.
"We're woefully underfunded," library board President Daniel Herkes said.
He noted circulation has increased substantially the past three years.
The library also has managed to increase its hours a little and offer more programming by shifting employee schedules and changing spending priorities.
The library aims to give patrons what they said they wanted in several surveys: more hours, more programming and more materials, he added.
"But until we have more money coming in, that's hard to do," Herkes said.
That's particularly true, he said, because expenses for the building at 125 S. Municipal Drive, such as utilities, repairs and snowplowing, continue to rise.
Voters being asked on March 18 to pay more taxes might be interested in how the Sugar Grove library stacks up compared to others in the area.
Using the comparison tool on the website of the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Daily Herald compared the Sugar Grove library district to its seven neighbors: Aurora Public Library, Messenger Public Library in North Aurora, Oswego Public Library, Yorkville Public Library, Kaneville Public Library, Batavia Public Library and Town and Country Public Library in Elburn.
The data are from 2011, the latest available.
Sugar Grove ranked sixth of the eight when it came to print items available per person; print serial publications per 1,000 residents; audio items per 1,000 residents; and in operating hours.
It ranked eighth in video items per 1,000 residents; in total revenue per person; in local revenue per person; and in operating spending per person.
Sugar Grove spent $36.88 per person on operations. The two libraries closest in size, Yorkville and Messenger, spent $56.72 and $77.81, respectively, according to the institute.
It was third in terms of interlibrary loans received per 1,000 residents.
Herkes said the library board has done similar comparisons.
Sugar Grove is asking for a tax rate increase of 7.6 cents per $100 of equalized assessed valuation. It estimates that would raise about $25 per $100,000 of market value of property. The village of Sugar Grove had a median home value of $224,200 in 2013, so taxes would increase about $56 a year on such a property.
The total tax rate, including taxes collected to pay debt, is currently 27.6 cents per $100 equalized assessed valuation, for a tax bill of about $206, without exemptions.
Library officials say the tax increase would help the facility improve, with more materials, more programming, more employees and more hours of operation, according to a pamphlet and video on the library's website.