Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Meeting Thursday at Bookworm

For anyone who would like to attend, we'll be meeting this Thursday (February 2) at 6pm at the Bookworm Cafe inside of the East branch library. We will discuss what our next steps should be. Sunday's paper reported the board still would like to obtain the Sullivan Center. It is concerning because the proposal for the Sullivan Center is labeled a transitional plan as a way to ultimately move to the first plan (going 95% digital). It doesn't mean this will necessarily happen as Mr. Logli continues to say it won't for a years, but the acquisition of the Sullivan Center will likely mean branch closures and possibly further emphasis of the digital library model. Regardless, it may be helpful for everyone to get together and discuss what our next steps will be. So if you're able, we'll meet Thursday at 6pm at the Bookworm Cafe.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Word on SOL "Membership" and Meeting

One question that has come up repeatedly in interviews with the media is "how many members does SOL have?" To which the same answer is given: "Membership is loosely defined. SOL is not so much an organization as a community based initiative."
Lately people who support the efforts of SOL have also been asking, "How can I join?"
It appears it may be time to shift this initiative into more of an organization and schedule a meeting for supporters to come together and figure out what our next steps will be.
The Rockford Register Star has a lot of coverage and commentary on the library issue in today's paper. Corina Curry has a story that the board still wants to move forward with the Sullivan Center acquisition. It seems like a good time to try to get everyone together to decide what action concerned library patrons and community members should take.
We may have to try several different meeting times and days before finding one or two that will work well for most people, but let's schedule one for this Thursday evening, February 2 at 6pm. Location TBA. Check back on the blog or comment below to suggest a location. It is unclear whether we need to reserve a space or be granted permission prior to declaring a meeting at a local coffee shop. (Or perhaps we can try to serve a room at the Main branch library?) Again, feel free to comment if you have a suggestion, but please check back in the next day or two for a definite location and time. Right now though we can all plan on this Thursday at 6pm. Hopefully there will be another good turnout as there's strength in numbers.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


David H. Rothman, Co-founder and Editor-Publisher of  LibraryCity.org contacted SOL to explain that though he runs an e-book related site and supports digitalization of libraries, he is opposed to the plans set before the board. He wrote an article about the Rockford debate that can be found here: http://librarycity.org/?p=3332

There are a lot of interesting articles about the digital divide, the idea of a national digital library system, and more with the opportunity to post and/or share essays.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Thank you!

Thank you to everyone who came out tonight to the board meeting! It was inspiring to see so many people come together in support of our library! Our community feels like a better, stronger place after witnessing how we were able to unite.

Unfortunately only 14 people were able to speak, so if you were not one of the 14 (or got cut off due to time constraints) please feel free to contact board members to have your voice heard. There was a strong presence there tonight and the board seemed to listen.

So again, THANK YOU!!!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Board Meeting Tomorrow (Monday)

Just a reminder that the board meeting is tomorrow (Monday) at 5:30pm at the East Branch library. (Please note that it is not at Main as was reported in the Rockford Register Star today. Someone did call Paul Logli to verify the location. It is at East.)

The board has been backpedaling now that the media is asking them questions about these documents. Read them again if you have doubts about the purpose of them. Novak and Logli have stated the board asked Novak to put them together to generate discussion. However, look at the 5th page of the second proposal and you'll read, "I believe this plan has great merit, otherwise I would not be putting it forward for board review and approval." Something is not adding up... which is why we need to all show up to stand against these plans.

Logli has stated the language in the plans is "inartful" but many would argue it is disrespectful and degrading to our hardworking library staff and the Rockford community. The way the plans are written is troubling as the director of our library should have more respect for RPL. Please consider coming to the meeting to help save our library!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Link to Article

Marilyn Johnson wrote a book called This Book Is Overdue, which is a tribute to librarians and how they are needed now in the age of Google more than ever. (Hear that? Librarians--and we would include librarian assistants here--do much more than give directions to the restroom.) She wrote an article on her blog about cuts to libraries across the country and mentioned that Novak's proposals are the unkindest of them all. It's a great article and worth checking out:


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Story on WNIJ... with comments from SOL

For those of you who missed this morning's story on WNIJ, here is a link. (It is about a minute longer than the piece that aired so even if you heard it, you may want to listen again and/or read the transcript.)


SOL would like to respond to the assertion that the board asked Novak to put together these plans (that aren't plans...???) SOL does not have information as to the context of the first plan, but will try to uncover this information. However, SOL is aware that the board was asked to vote on the second plan at the last board meeting in November. The board, thankfully, did not agree to do so without first reading the plan. But Novak indeed was pushing for its implementation, so the idea that they were intended to be "theoretical" is likely a safe sound bite.

SOL believes that the board and Novak are backpedaling. Our voices are being heard and they can feel our anger. But what would have happened if we had not spoken up? SOL is not so sure that the public would have been invited to have this discussion. Logli states that the plans were made to generate discussion, but if this was true, why were they not made public? Why was the second plan stamped 'confidential'? When, if at all, would the public have been informed? Novak told the board when he gave them the first plan that they would revisit it in the new year. With so much secrecy surrounding the plans and it now being the new year, SOL felt it was our responsibility to the community to unveil the documents and share them with the public.

Even though the board is trying to mollify us, we still need to attend the board meeting, perhaps now more than ever. We are being heard, but we need to show them just how many people stand against these plans. If we back off now, they'll think that it wasn't so important to us. Let's show them how important it is!

Board Meeting- January 23

There has been some confusion about when and where the next board meeting is (and unfortunately that information is not in the yellow flyer that is being circulated). The meeting is this Monday, January 23 at 5:30pm at the East Branch Library- 6685 East State Street. Parking is likely to get tight and we may need to park in the adjacent lot over by Monkey Joe's and American, but please don't let that be a deterrent. We need to make a strong showing to send a message to the board that we care about what happens with the library and that we want to have a voice in what happens with RPL and its collection.

Some have suggested that everyone bring a book, that we are seen by board members with books in hand. You can bring a book, or pull one off a shelf... we still have them there-- let's keep it that way!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Articles Out Today to Check Out...

There are four great articles that were published today that are worth checking out... Three spectacular guest columns are in the Rock River Times-- Amy Orvis's "Public Input Needed on Rockford Public Library Decisions," Kara Anderson's "Books Should be the Focus of the Library," and Emily Klonicki's "Libraries Walk Fine Line Balancing E-book Investments." Pick up a copy of the Rock River Times or read it online:

Also, the story was picked up by American Libraries magazine. Here's the link to the article:

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

SOL now on Facebook!

Find us Save Our Rockford Library on Facebook!

Link to Petition

How inspiring this movement has become! SOL just received an email from a woman whose twelve year old son created a website/ petition to stand against the proposals. What an incredible kid! Please sign his petition and send this link to your family and friends to sign as well.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Frank Novak's Vision for the Future of Your Library

Here are the two plans that have been submitted to the Board:

Facilities and Digital Library Plan-- This is the original "vision" that was distributed to the board in August for consideration, with the intention of officially addressing the concept of this proposal at a later time.

-- This is the proposal that was handed out to the board in November.  Please note that the plan, although it discusses moving into the Sullivan Center, is really the Facilities and Digital Library Plan, snuggled slyly into a proposal about acquiring the Sullivan Center. 

The reason for this is Secrecy.  By cloaking the proposal this way, the Board is able to meet in a closed session under 5ILCS 120/2 which lists an exception to the provision that states that "all meetings of public bodies shall be open to the public."  The exception reads as follows: "A public body may hold closed meeting to discuss... the purchase or lease of real property for the use of the public body, including meetings held for the purpose of discussing whether a particular parcel should be acquired" 

 The Board was asked to vote on this proposal when it was handed out in November. Thankfully they declined to vote on a proposal they had not had the time to read

Sunday, January 15, 2012

News Coverage on the Press Conference

Anyone at Friday's 'press conference' knows that the event that took place was far different than what was reported by the news media. If you only saw the news, you would have no idea that SOL released two confidential, controversial proposals-- which happened and was actual news. Instead, it was reported that SOL had complaints about the move to a 35% allocation for digital material (old news!) and one station reported that the 35% allocation was a proposal! (?) Another station reported that the board meeting will be held on Sunday, January 22 (It is actually on Monday, January 23.) It was sad to see how the truth was contorted to fit into the perimeters of their two minute news story. Watching it you would think that SOL is a bunch of luddites who hated the mere mention of e-readers. For the record, SOL is not against digital readers and actually embraces the new technology. There are much bigger issues at stake--branch closures, staff layoffs, elimination of paper books (here's a visual of how many: imagine all the books at Rockton Center, Montague, Rock River, Lewis Lemon, and the top two floors of Main... now imagine all of those books out of RPL's system!!!)... these are the issues that we tried to bring to light on Friday with the press conference.

Since the news was not reported about the proposals, SOL has scanned copies of both proposals and will post it here on the blog as soon as possible. (Hopefully tomorrow.) People need to read what our public library's director has in mind for the future of the Rockford Public Library. It is terrifying. Stay tuned.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Official statement from SOL to the media

SOL wants the public to be aware of the two controversial proposals set before the Rockford Public Library Board of Trustees.

We are concerned about the two proposals provided to the Library Board of Trustees by library director, Frank Novak, for the following reasons:

-Proposed branch closures: Having six locations in Rockford helps make getting to the library easier for patrons. Research has shown that patrons do not want to have to travel far distances to get to the library. The branch locations are important and valuable resources in this community.

-Further push towards digital: The library e-book lending arena is still unregulated and uncertain. The further push towards digital is very concerning because many see it as gambling with our tax dollars and there are equity issues. 63% of Rockford residents are considered low-income and are likely unable to afford e-readers, widening the digital divide.

-Lack of public input: The library has not asked the public how many patrons own e-readers and how many people want more digital resources. A library is a democratic institution and it is problematic that such huge decisions are being made about our collection budget without an invitation for public input.

-The acquisition of the Sullivan Center: Though a cultural center would be a wonderful asset to the community, the cost to maintain it would be too much of a burden on RPL's stressed budget. The price of obtaining the free building (branch closings, print materials discarded, staff layoffs) is too high of a burden for RPL and this community.

-Staff lay-offs: Pages, clerks, and librarian assistants would all lose their jobs, contributing to a higher unemployment rate in our community and decreasing the service the library can offer its patrons.

-SOL is also concerned that the library board members' contact information is not readily accessible on the library's website.

Transcript from press conference

Welcome and thank you for coming. SOL, Save Our Library, is not so much an organization, but a community-based initiative to raise awareness about pertinent issues involving the Rockford Public Library.

And public awareness is desperately needed now as six months ago our library director, Mr. Frank Novak, presented the Library Board of Trustees a proposal that contains his vision for OUR public library.

What is that vision? Novak wants a completely digital library. His first proposal suggests a move to 90% digital, 10% printed books. He wants to close Rock River, Rockton Center, Montague as a circulation branch, and Lewis Lemon—though in his second proposal, a transitional plan to help move towards implementation of the first, he suggests keeping Lewis Lemon open to avoid an east side/ west side political struggle. Novak not only wants to purchase more digital materials, he wants to GET RID OF BOOKS! Even the books that the library already owns would be discarded. Novak believes that cutting out books would be cheaper because all of the employees who shelf, check out, and help us find our books would no longer be necessary and neither would the spaces that currently house our books. Most of Rockford Public Library's employees would be laid off, contributing even more to our city's high unemployment rate. And it is important to note, the overall budget stays the same as it is now, but the money spent on staff, branches, and books would be funneled into the collection budget. It would be a large collection, but then it would have to be as we'd no longer have print materials to lend to other libraries as part of the interlibrary loans program, therefore we could no longer borrow materials from other libraries.

The library will respond that there is a trend with e-books and they are trying to stay ahead of the curve. (The trend is with e-book sales, however. Libraries and book stores are not the same and libraries should not be run the same as for-profit retailers.) It is important to note that the American Library Association reports that most public libraries plan to spend between eight and ten percent of their collection budget on digital materials by 2016. We are a community where 63% of our residents are considered low income and we are spending over three times that on digital materials now. Most libraries are careful to tread in the uncertain and unregulated waters of e-book lending as publishers continue to pull their titles away from library e-book lending. Already four major publishers,including Harper Collins and Penguin, are limiting the access libraries have to their e-book titles. The board is gambling with our tax dollars in uncharted territory.

The board's recent decision to spend over a third of the collection budget on digital materials raises some questions-- why haven't they sought public input? Have they done their research? Do they understand library services and the role our library plays in our community? How often do they visit the library? Do they even have library cards? These are questions we need the board to answer.

But we also need them accessible to us. Currently no contact information for board members is listed on the website. SOL has collected this information and is working to get it to the public. We posted it on our website this morning.

Representatives from the different media outlets will receive copies of the proposals, SOL's official statement, and a professional response from Jane Pearlmutter, Library Science professor at the University of Wisconsin.

SOL wants the public to be aware of these proposals and to educate themselves about how these changes will effect Rockford Public Library services, how our tax dollars are spent, and the community at large. The public needs to have a voice in this discussion about such drastic measures being taken with our public library.

There is a board meeting scheduled for Monday, January 23. However, again we have the issue of transparency as the website says 6:30 but the minutes say 5:30. The public needs to be informed of the correct time so that everyone can attend. SOL is asking the public to contact board members prior to the next meeting.

SOL has a blog to serve as a free website where we will be posting articles and information, including a transcript of this statement today. Please share the site's information—http://www.saveourrockfordlibrary.blogspot.com/

Thank you for coming.

Contact Information for Library Board

Since there is no contact information for the library board members listed on the library's website, SOL collected this information and is posting it so that RPL patrons can have a voice about Frank Novak's proposed changes:

Ovester Armstrong, Jr.
3540 St. Anthony Way #2 61101-1880
Res. 815-962-9311

Lisa A. Frost
3423 Burlwood Drive 61114-8152
Res. 815-282-6429

Edward J. Geeser
4319 Forest View Avenue 61108-6402
Res. 815-397-8171
Jeffrey M. Glass
2710 Rural St. 61107-4644
Res. 815-395-8305

Paul A. Logli
1935 Harlem Boulevard 61103-6345
Res. 815-962-3642

Bradley M. Long
325 S. Highland Ave. 61104-2419
Cell. 815-263-2865

Daniel T. Ross
6911 Spring Brook Rd. 61114-6754
Res. 815-636-2734

Donald B. Thayer
1400 National Ave. 61103-7144
Res. 815-964-1400

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The library does not own its e-books!

When a library buys a paper book, they have what is called “first sale rights” to the book. That means that they can use the book in any way they like within the limitations of copyright law. They can lend the book as many times as they like, they may sell the book when they are done with it, or they may give the book away. In short, as you would expect, they own the book they have purchased. Conversely, when a library “buys” an e-book, what they are actually paying for is a license to that title with limitations set (and changed without notice) by the title’s publishers and by the content management site (OverDrive). Limitations may include the number of times the title can be checked out before the library has to pay for the book again (renew its license) and how many patrons can download the title at the same time (in essence the number of “copies” the library “owns”) and now, after a drastic move by Penguin Publishers last week that disabled Kindles from downloading library-lent Penguin titles, what devices it will allow to access the title. In short, the library is basically borrowing the rights to the title which can be changed, eliminated, or made more expensive to the library at any time.
You don’t have to be a lawyer to see the many problems with this model. Those problems will continue to plague libraries as they work to build digital collections until the courts settle the policies and laws that govern the e-book lending arena. And don’t hold your breath… it’s not going to be any time soon—we’ll be lucky to see reliable regulation in the next 10 years. Until then, libraries have very little control over the content they purchase, as their e-content collections will be at the mercy of any whim that OverDrive (the virtual landlord of their e-book collection), Amazon, and any publisher may have.
 OverDrive has virtually monopolized the market of providing digital content to libraries. 
What happens when one company monopolizes a market that has little-to-no regulation, of yet?  We all know what happens... they raise rent.  And what happens if that company were to fail?

These are serious, real concerns, which is why we need a large showing at the press conference on Friday morning, January 13. It will be at 9:30am and is scheduled to be held in front of the Main library at 215 N. Wyman St. (Check back with this site to make sure the location has not changed due to the weather.) The posts on this site will become more frequent. Please stay tuned.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Where Is the Public Input?

Rockford Public Library's Executive Director, Frank Novak, stated that public libraries are phasing out print books. However, according to the American Library Association (ALA), most public libraries plan to devote between 8 percent and 10 percent of their total collection budget to digital material by 2016. This is significantly lower than the 34 percent our library is currently allotting. The question raised previously was do our city’s demographics reflect the need to spend 34 percent of our collection budget on ebooks. There is an even bigger question that needs to be asked­— where was the public input before making allocations for our collection budget?

Neither the library board of directors nor the administration have asked library patrons to participate in any kind of survey about how many people own ereaders and if patrons want to see an increase in the digital collection budget. A public library is a democratic institution and, therefore, should ask public opinion before launching into something of this size. Remember, most libraries are planning to spend 8 percent to 10 percent of their collection budget on digital materials by 2016. No one is denying a national trend toward ebooks, but the decision to move to 34 percent is permanent and appears out of touch with Rockford Public Library cardholders.

More than 70 percent of Rockford Public School students are on free or reduced lunch. For those of us who fall into that lower socioeconomic status, an ereader is not affordable. Some people do not have the money to buy food for their children, much less an electronic device that costs around $100. But we don't know how many people own ereaders in Rockford. Such a poll has not been done.

The only way any of us can find out is by polling the public. For a democratic institution, we should expect nothing less than an invitation for public input.

Monday, January 2, 2012

34% of our library budget going to electronic books?

On January 18, 2010, the Rockford Public Library reduced its hours, a decision many of us are still trying to recover from. No longer are we able to visit our library in the morning but two days a week, and only the East Branch is open six days. We went from being able to visit the library on Mondays from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. to noon-8 p.m., or not at all if we intended to visit Main. And what about the hack job they did to Lewis Lemon’s hours? (Read: In half. They were cut in half.)

The library is currently setting aside $400,000 for electronic digital and audio books. $400,000 on materials that only a percentage of our city will have access to. We have no idea how many Rockford library cardholders own eReaders, but we do know our community is 63.29 percent low income. It seems safe to assume that very few of those of us who fall into that 63.29 percent own an electronic device that costs a minimum of $79. Of course, it is not likely that everyone who falls into the other 36.71 percent owns one. Many elderly probably do not, as well as people who find comfort in the feel and smell of a paper book. Of course, this could turn the corner into a whole discussion of eReaders vs. paper books, one that doesn’t pertain to this discussion at all. The rising use of eReaders is not the problem.

It is true that the demand for digital media is rising, but so is its accessibility outside of the library. Amazon.com now offers a Kindle Owner’s Lending Library, where owners can choose from more than 1,000 books they are able to borrow for free. That’s more than 1,000 free books that are only accessible to people with the income to afford an eReader. The rest of us have to contend with a cut in the rest of the collection — a 27.4 percent cut from last year’s allocation.

Rockford’s unemployment rate is 13.4 percent, much higher than the state (10 percent) and national (9.1 percent) averages. Our crime rates continue to soar. Where is our saving grace? It is the library, that wonderful institution that creates educated communities by promoting self-learning, lifelong learning, and self-improvement, levels the playing field for all city residents regardless of income, age, race, religion, gender or ability. And yet, the doors to this all-important institution continue to be locked more often than not; our library’s hours of operation are significantly shorter than smaller area libraries such as the North Suburban District Library. Our library offers computer classes, both conversational English and Spanish classes, food safety classes, and classes on how to pay for college. These programs can help us build job skills, something we need more of, not less.

On September 10, Paul Logli was the keynote speaker at the Rockford Public Schools Parent Leadership Conference. He discussed the problem of the digital divide. He then mentioned the growing importance of eReaders and a time in the near future when paper books would be obsolete. He said he saw a future where libraries would go completely digital. It is important to note that Mr. Logli is currently the president of the library's board of directors.

Right now, our city needs more hours, services and programming, not electronic resources. There may be a time in the future when it is time to increase our budget for these resources, but it seems rather misguided to do so now, when so many of our residents need the library to be opened more hours so we have more time to search for a job so someday we can afford to buy eReaders, too.