CL Library Reveals Plan to Expand to CL Avenue

In the latest newsletter from the Crystal Lake Library, a map is published showing how the institution intends to expand its footprint north to the corner of Crystal Lake and McHenry Avenues.

Where the Crystal Lake Library proposes to expand.

Where the Crystal Lake Library proposes to expand.

That would give it the entire eastern side of the northern most block of McHenry Avenue from Paddock Street, where the library is now located, to West Crystal Lake Avenue.

One can see that the current library would be demolished and the space turned into a parking lot.

A possibility for additional parking exists to the east next to the little house where County Board member Ernest Schroeder used to live.

An aerial view of the area, including Bethany Lutheran Church's parking lot.

An aerial view of the area, including Bethany Lutheran Church’s parking lot.

His home remains, but surrounding it is a parking lot owned by Bethany Lutheran Church (where I mowed the grass while memorizing how to count to 100 in German).

You can read the article about the proposed expansion below:

CL Lilbrary Newslatter re new library 2-15 p 1CL Lilbrary Newslatter re new library 2-15 p 2
Here’s some information about the parcels involved provided by Algonquin Township Assessor Bob Kunz:

The parcels outlined in red are not owned by the Crystal Lake Library.

The parcels outlined in red are not owned by the Crystal Lake Library.


CL Library Reveals Plan to Expand to CL Avenue — 10 Comments

  1. Despite being turned down repeatedly by the citizens, the library board continues to agitate for an expensive and unneeded new facility, most recently using taxpayer dollars to make a false case to the public in their newsletter.

    You can be sure the library will not permit an opposing view in the next issue of the newsletter.

    Here are the facts:

    1) How much will the new library cost? That’s not mentioned in the newsletter. Why not? Because it’s embarrassing. The Crystal Lake Library board is pushing a $30 million expansion. That is about $750 a square foot, more than seven times the cost of local commercial space.

    2) What is the main purpose of a library? Would you agree it is to lend books? So, if they build an addition, will you borrow more books? No, you won’t. In fact, borrowing is DOWN at the library; the trend is NEGATIVE. We, the taxpayers, are asked to pay $30 million and we won’t get any more of what we actually use a library for.

    3) Note the careful phrasing about parking: “At the busiest times of day”. Basically, for about twenty minutes on school day afternoons, when people park near the library to pick up their kids from the school next door, the parking lot is sometimes full. How often is that? We don’t know, because they don’t tell us. But it isn’t very often, I can say from personal observation.

    And what about at other times? All the rest of the time the parking lot is rarely even half filled.

    4) “Meeting space… is inadequate.” This is a patently false statement. Their meeting room is booked 32% of the time; the computer lab, 5%; the Storytime room, 29%. And usage of meeting rooms is actually declining. And those are the library’s own figures. Did you see them in the newsletter article?

    5) If you think the library is about books, you are mistaken. Movies and video games comprise 30% of their circulation. And it costs the taxpayers over $4.50 every time the library circulates a DVD. Think about that: RedBox circulates DVDs for a third of that amount and makes a profit.

    6) This is why the Crystal Lake Library costs $320 per family versus $180 in Cary and $150 in Woodstock. Do you hear people in Cary and Woodstock complaining bitterly about the inadequacy of their library? No, you don’t. Why does Crystal Lake cost so much more for what is essentially the identical service? Why has the library board never addressed the cost issue?

    7) This project would increase the library’s tax levy by another FORTY PERCENT! That’s right. Despite the fact that the Crystal Lake library already cost much more than other area library’s they want 40% more tax dollars.


    The real culprit here is the Crystal Lake City Council.

    They have failed their citizens.

    When they appoint people to committees and boards, such as the Library Board, they should appoint stewards of the public’s money, taxpayer watchdogs, skeptics who keep an eagle eye out for waste.

    Instead they appoint nothing but cheerleaders and advocates for the cause.

    And the library board is a prime example.

    Its president is described in the library’s own newsletter as “a passionate library advocate” and “a champion for a new Library facility.”

    It’s time for the City Council to clear these cheerleaders off the library board and appoint people who care about the taxpayers.

  2. You Crystal Lake citizens paying a mere 3% property taxes, with home values clinging to recent levels, should take a look at Woodstock’s recent home price/tax rate history before placing your referendum vote.

    Woodstock passed a spending referendum for D200 in 2006, and not only hasn’t the debt diminished, it has burgeoned.

    Spending has risen without regard for failing economic conditions in the community.


    One can only conclude: because it was made legally possible, through passage of a referendum. Debt is being rolled forward with very creative financial debt and derivative instruments (at about 1% fees to advisors on every transaction), and now:

    Our home values have plummeted and have

    few eligible buyers other than investor buyers who rent out the properties (or maybe public
    employees with guaranteed pensions, required to live within the district).

    Our tax rate is above 4% of home value.

    Tifs are springing up all around that will increase the average citizen’s property tax burden.

    If Crystal Lake citizens can afford 4% tax rates and the effect that has on home values (anybody want to spend money on fixing up a home and raising assessment value(=higher property taxes?) then vote yes on referendums for increased spending.

    Remember when they tell you: “it’s just the cost of a cup of coffee”….a cup of coffee used to cost under a buck.

    The inflation rate on the cup of coffee is pretty steep–and you will be paying off that cup of coffee at future prices, not the price of today.

    What will you be paying for the outcome of the referendum in a few years?

  3. Each village must have the largest library, largest water park, largest dog park even when the taxpayers say no.

    When will it stop?

  4. Government hasn’t ever been run like a business but it can borrow excellent business practices.

    If the library were a private entity with access to the kind of analytics Steve has used above the concern might be there is too much meeting, story time and computer space.

    By the library’s own handout they are needing more room for catalog items so the question seems to be, “Are there any more efficiencies to be gained in the existing space?

    How, specifically, would the new space address the lack of efficiencies in the old space in a more cost effective way than re purposing the existing space?”

    The complete lack of any real business plan on the part of the library pushers is offensive.

    With an expenditure of resources needed to achieve any public or private end there needs to be a net gain for the investment.

    What is the gain?

    A drive through?

    Anyone can take the library pushers by any number of fast food restaurants who added an extra drive through after the original building was in place to illustrate how one might approach the addition.

    In some cases Portillos puts people outside with headsets to take orders ahead to speed up the drive through line.

    In peak times where dozens of cars are lined up around the block to drop off books the librarians could actually walk outside to help expedite the item returns rather than asking for a drive through return.

    With multiple libraries in a “consortium” perhaps efficiencies of shelf space could be gained by all the libraries working together to make certain there is no unnecessary duplication of items.

    The library is not the only repository of public meeting space.

    Perhaps those who need or desire meeting space provided and paid for by the public could be referred to the local municipality, township or county to find an unused room.

    The other side of this is public space shouldn’t always be a slave to efficiency but consider present and future public need.

    How does this plan address this in specific?

    How is the current library incapable of doing so in specific?

    These pushers need to be able to answer these questions.

    Can they?

    At this point we don’t know.

    Please do.

  5. Priest’s points are well taken.

    It begins by asking what the function of a library is.

    Why are the taxpayers providing meeting space through the library?

    If used for library functions (e.g., StoryTime), then okay.

    Otherwise it’s simply not their job.

    Similarly, why are they competing with RedBox by offering multiple copies of every recent blockbuster?

    The original justification for libraries was that, in a democracy, the public needed to be educated.

    That was before public schools.

    In today’s society, exactly what role do they play?

    I have no problem with education, but a subsidized money losing competitor for RedBox at three times RedBox’s cost?

    Quite literally, for what they spend on movies they could buy EVERY family in Crystal Lake a NetFlix subscription.

    How’s that for putting their expenditures into perspective?

  6. Is the quest for a new (unneeded) library ever going to end.

    Haven’t the tax payers overwhelmingly rejected this several times.

    Yet the library board continues to act like it is something the people want and submits proposals over and over again; just because they don’t like the prior answers.

    The taxpayers are constantly on the defensive here.

    I am not a community organizer, but it seems we could use one.

    Let’s create a citizens’ task force to close the library and eliminate the services, or at least cut current funding.

    Let’s put these clowns on the defensive for a change.

  7. Bruce, if you want to curb the library board, you have to convince the City Council to change its composition.

    To do that, you have to have represent a greater threat to or ally for the re-election of the City Council members than the library board members, who are organized and active.

    Anything else is just talk.

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