An analysis of the Crystal Lake Library by a reader:
CL Library Postpones Bond Issue
The Crystal Lake Library just announced their $30 million bond issue for a new library won’t be on the ballot in April. The library wants to build a new 40,000 square foot building, complete with parking garage, and may want to condemn nearby properties to expand.
So, while we wait until next year for their referendum, here are some fun facts to consider about whether the City needs a new library and whether the cost is reasonable.
- The library paid a consultant to evaluate 24 locations for a new library before deciding to stay where they are. They apparently never considered not expanding.
- The new library will cost $750 a square foot ($30 million divided by 40,000 square feet). Commercial space in Crystal Lake (like Barnes & Noble, which looks an awful lot like a library) costs about $100 to $125 a square foot.
- The Crystal Lake Library already costs taxpayers about twice as much as other area libraries:
- $320 per family versus
- $144 in Woodstock and
- $185 in Cary
- Paying off the bonds for a new library will cost about $1.7 million a year, which will increase the library’s budget by another 40%.
- The City of Crystal Lake is nearly fully developed, meaning there isn’t much room for population to grow. In fact, the Census Bureau says that since 2010, the City’s population has declined by 0.9%.
- The number of Library cardholders peaked in 2012 and has dropped for two straight years, by 1.6% in total.
- Traffic inside the library (what they call “door count”) peaked in 2011 and has declined 14.1% since then. With ebooks and NetFlix and RedBox, people just aren’t using the library as much as they used to.
- The number of books and movies the library lends peaked in 2011 and dropped 6.3% last year!
- More than a third of the items the library lends isn’t books, it’s DVDs and video games, 340,000 of them . You might ask yourself how the taxpayers benefit by the library lending multiple copies of the teen vampire romance Twilight or the ultraviolent video game Grand Theft Auto.
- And speaking of DVDs, it costs the library more than $4.50 to circulate one DVD. You can rent the same DVD from RedBox for $1.50.
- 340,000 DVDs times $4.50 equals $1.5 million. 340,000 DVDs times $1.50 equals $500,000. In other words, it costs the taxpayers a million dollars more to have the library lend DVDs than it would if people just went to RedBox.