Timing is bad for library proposals

 
Updated 10/25/2010 12:09 AM

Circulation at the St. Charles Public Library has skyrocketed 333 percent in the past 20 years and the number of registered users has shot up 58 percent. The library is exceedingly busier today than it has been in the last two decades. That's a testament, in large part, to how well the library and its staff have adapted to the electronic information age.

Stop in any day and you'll find the tables filled with students getting tutored or helping each other with homework. People line up to use computers to conduct research and find the books (yes, actual books) that will fill their minds with knowledge. Like any prospering business, the library is a victim of its own success.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

To some people, the clientele has outgrown the library's capacity. While library personnel believe the structure needs to double in size to flourish, they couldn't have picked a worse time to bang the drum.

Some library trustees say they'd be happy to see their tax bill go up if the library's two referendums (bonds to build and additional funds to operate) get the thumbs-up Nov. 2. Look to your left and then to your right and we suspect you'll find people living within their means staring at a $35 million price tag and shaking their heads.

Bond rates and construction costs are favorable, and it will almost certainly be more expensive to upgrade the library a couple years from now. However, a bigger, better structure means little if overall tax bills force residents to move from the library's service area. Additionally, books are being digitized and, in the age of direct-to-DVR movies and online music sites, DVDs and CDs (available at the library) face an uncertain future. In two years, technologies will not regress.

The library's heart is in the right place, its timing not so much. We encourage residents to vote "No" in the referendums. And we encourage the library to try again during better economic times and see if the extra space is still necessary.