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.