Magazine article American Libraries

IMLS Grant Advance Saves Illinois Town's Library

Magazine article American Libraries

IMLS Grant Advance Saves Illinois Town's Library

Article excerpt

The south suburban Chicago town of Robbins will continue to enjoy uninterrupted public library service thanks to the infusion of $25,500 in emergency grant funding it was promised just days before a lack of revenue would have closed its doors as of September 1. The August 20 reprieve came two days after some 50 area residents joined Robbins Mayor Irene H. Brodie for a press conference held at the William Leonard Public Library, at which town officials and library patrons pleaded for donations to keep the library open until year's end.

A town whose average household income is $24,000, Robbins was already struggling with dwindling property-tax revenues--the Chicago Southtown Star reported August 19 that 9% more property owners had defaulted on their taxes in 2008 than in 2007--when the Illinois State Library notified the state's nine multitype regional library systems August 12 to anticipate a 16% cut in state aid for FY2009. Multitype officials warned member libraries they would shortly be reexamining budget priorities, but the bottom line for Leonard Library Administrator Priscilla Coatney was having enough money to operate at all.

"Last year, I laid myself off for five weeks to keep this place running," she admitted, telling the Star that the town has "a lot of poor senior citizens who just can't afford to pay their taxes [as well as] other people who have been victims of the economy, just like anyplace else."

Some $295,000 of the library's $360,000 annual budget comes from property taxes; Coatney's salary is $35,000 a year. …

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