Fifty Crystal Lake Library Patrons Surveyed on Expansion Needs

The Crystal Lake Library from the parking lot.

Crystal Lake Library card holder Stephen Willson is on a mission.

You can read his analysis of the Library’s expansion plans here. There have been ten comments so far, including one that started, “This is the most informative article I have read concerning the Library expansion…”

Now Willson reports on a survey he took of patrons at the Library.

Of 58 people he asked, 50 participated.

They, Library personnel “shooed” him away.

Here’s what he found:

“The Crystal Lake Library Board says the library is so crowded it needs to be twice as large as it is now and needs a parking garage, too.

“In 22 years, I’ve never felt crowded there, and I’ve never had a problem finding a parking space, either.

“But I believe public policy decisions should be based on hard evidence, so I decided to stand outside the library and conduct a survey.

“Eventually I was shooed away by the library staff, but not before I got 50 responses. Here are the results.

  • What percent of the time have you been UNABLE TO FIND A PARKING SPACE?
    74%, NEVER; weighted response rate, 1.5% of the time
  • What percent of the time have you had to WAIT TWO WEEKS or more for a book or movie you wanted?
    62%, NEVER; weighted response rate, 7.6% of the time
  • What percent of the time do you FEEL CROWDED in the library?
    80%, NEVER; weighted response rated, 4.3% of the time

“As a professional researcher with more than 30 years experience, I followed good survey protocol.

“The subjects were randomly selected, not self-selected, as in online surveys.

“I was careful to ask every question exactly the same way.

“And I was careful not to identify whether I was with the library or for the library or against the library. The sample size is large enough for statistically significant results.

“The response rate was 86%, which is very good.

“I think the data speak for themselves.

“If the library wishes to confirm or dispute my data by conducting their own properly structured and executed survey, that would be great.

“Of course, they’ll have to stand on the sidewalk or get shooed away.”


Fifty Crystal Lake Library Patrons Surveyed on Expansion Needs — 4 Comments

  1. I have to comment. Fact: I favor putting the decision to the people of Crystal Lake.

    Fact: Wilson claims to live in Lakewood.

    Fact: Lakewood is not within the library district.

    Fact: Wilson claimed to have 6 (i believe) properties in the city of Crystal Lake.

    Assumed: these properties are rentals. Here is where I need to go out on a limb… Is his real problem with this proposal the FACT that any kind of tax increase that the CITIZENS of Crystal Lake may or may not agree to, will have a negative impact on his own personal cash flow?

    Every blog I have seen is dominated by his ( a non Crystal Lake Resident) comments.

    If as he said he owns a library card…I hope he is paying the non resident fee.

    Mr Wilson is not a Crystal Lake resident as I understand from his own testimony.

    I challenge anyone to review my record on Tax Issues within my scope of oversight.

    You will witness my stand.

    However, I cannot sit by and listen to this non resident try to sway my fellow residents of Crystal Lake.

    It is not his call.

    I believe he is invested here for profit.

    THAT IS ALL…..

  2. Gee, Jeff, I’m wounded.

    Some would say that I am the one who likes to dominate blog comments. ;-).

    As a Crystal Lake reisdent and library patron, I think there is a case to be made for an expansion.

    I don’t believe THIS expansion plan is necessarily the right one.

    If the city weants to increase parking, then contend away but the powers that be shouldn’t try to hide the need for a two story parking garage in the library’s needs.

    I for one am intrigued by the idea of moving the library to the JCPenney/former Wal-Mart site.

    I think it would provide more development in that area than Vulcan Lakes/TORA.

    Of course, that’s not in harmony with the desire to build a parking garage that, indirectly or otherwise, is intended to help downtown businesses.

    Downtown clearly has parking issues, I just prefer that people be upfront about it.

    If Mr. Wilson pays the appropriate fees, then he is entitled to comment as much as any other patron.

    On the other hand, I appreciate when a knowledgeable individual comes forth and points out when there may or are ulterior motives involved.

    I appreciate your record on taxes AND other issues, CL represention could use more people like you.

    Your instincts on this issue influence me greatly.

  3. Jeff, I lived in Crystal Lake for ten years.

    When I got married a couple of years ago, my wife and I bought a house in Lakewood.

    That wasn’t because we loved Lakewood and hated Crystal Lake.

    In point of fact we looked all over both towns. But we happened to fall in love with a little Cape Cod we found in Lakewood.

    I still own my Crystal Lake townhouse, so although I am no longer a resident and am now a mere taxpayer, I continue to be entitled to a library card.

    And in the last year I have invested my own money in Crystal Lake, which I see as showing my faith in the community rather than being somehow improper or disqualifying me from having an opinion.

    Because I have always had an abiding interest in public policy, when I read about the Library’s proposal, I analyzed it and decided it was a poor idea.

    When I listened to their presentation to the City Council, I was stunned, not only because they failed to provide any evidence to support the need or that their proposal was the cheapest and best for the taxpayers, but because not one member of the City Council asked a single question!

    As stewards of the public purse, I feel that is their duty.

    Perhaps, though, they intend to conduct a thorough investigation of the issue at some future date. If so, my concerns on this point are ill founded.

    In any case, I proposed a sequential, two part test for the library.

    First, document how much space you need.

    History, my own personal experience, and now survey evidence indicate no addition is needed.

    Second, if a need is demonstrated, show us all the alternatives considered by the library board so we can determine the cheapest/best alternative for the taxpayers, recognizing that cost is a major factor, although not the only factor.

    A 40,000 square foot expansion for $28.6 million works out to $715 per additional square foot.

    Even if it is proven that we need to double the size of the library, I think we should be able to find a plan that costs less than that.

    For the sake of argument, assume that my motives are of the basest kind because I am not a Crystal Lake resident.

    I ask you to do two things.

    First, please explain how these facts invalidate my reasoning or falsify my facts.

    Second, please posit your own test for determining how large an addition is needed, if any, and, if some need is proven, how we determine what and where to build.

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