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Letters to the Editor

Letter: Material library facts

To the Editor:

The Crystal Lake Library recently sent its “Annual Report,” at taxpayer expense, to all the households in the city. It is not an objective report; it’s a marketing document that omits material facts.

Governments and their boards have an ethical obligation to provide complete and unbiased information to the public. Using taxpayer money for one-sided marketing is worse than waste, it’s purposely deceptive.

I want the library to include all the following facts in their report to the public next year:

For the ninth year in a row, the number of visitors to the library declined, by 4% in fiscal 2019, and by 35% since the peak in fiscal 2010. The number of adult books circulated is down about 25% from the peak, and the number of children’s books is down about 10%.

Of their total budget of about $4.75 million, about $220,000 was spent on books, and the number of books in the library’s collection actually declined 3%.

The library circulated over 230,000 DVDs and video games, mainly recent blockbuster movies. This is about 30% of all physical circulation. The average cost per item circulated is over $5. RedBox rents DVDs for $1.75 and makes a profit.

WiFi usage is down 38% from fiscal 2015. Computer usage dropped 10% last year and the library’s computers were used about 20% of the time they were available.

Our library costs about 60% more per family in property taxes than the Cary Library, and twice as much as the Woodstock Library.

One final note: the library still owns six residential properties it bought very quietly several years ago so they’d have space for the big new library they wanted to build, the big new library the voters turned down.

They paid $1.9 million for those properties, twice the assessor’s estimate of market value. Net income on those properties was about $53,000, for a return on the taxpayers’ “investment” of about 2.8%.

Steve Willson


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