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Albany Park residents want input on library

Albany Park residents concerned about lack of public input and interruption of services while a new branch library is built will hold a hearing Saturday, July 24, 2 to 4 p.m., at the Albany Park Library, Foster and Kimball.

Alderman Margaret Laurino (39th Ward) “made a closed-door decision to build a new library by destroying the present library and the affordable housing next door without holding an open community hearing to find out what library users and community people want,” charges a release from the Committee to Save and Improve the Albany Park Library.

The city has refused requests to establish a temporary library during the two-year construction period, instead offering a bookmobile and small outposts at scattered sites, according to the committee.

Participants at the hearing will vote on four options:  renovating the existing library building, renovation along with a two-story addition, building a new library with a temporary library in the neighborhood, or the alderman’s plan.

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Library cuts restored: whose victory?

Mayor Emanuel wants to declare “victory” in his decision to partially rescind library layoffs and reductions in hours. Maybe he’s channelling George Aiken.

Don’t tell the Sun-Times, but it looks a lot more like a (partial) victory for the library workers and their union, AFSCME, which has pushed the city to find funds to keep the libraries open and the library workers at their jobs.

Library workers haven’t given up pushing for full restoration, either – which is why they’re going ahead with plans to join with library patrons for “People’s Library Hours” Monday morning at 10 a.m. in front of shuttered libraries in Beverly (1962 W. 95th), Bucktown (1701 N. Milwaukee), and Little Village (2311 S. Kedzie).

Emanuel now says of the cuts, “I didn’t support this and I don’t want this,” and “I don’t think it’s the right thing to do.”

It’s a comical performance. Emanuel originally proposed the cuts. Now he says they were wrong.

In October Emanuel proposed cutting library spending by $10 million, laying off a third of the library system’s employees, and closing libraries two mornings a week.

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Library cuts and TIF surpluses

Is protecting TIF dollars more important to the chairman of the Chicago Public Library Foundation than protecting branch libraries?

After Mayor Emanuel restored $3 million of a $10 million library budget cut under pressure from aldermen last week, CPL Foundation board chairman Robert A. Wislow issued a statement endorsing the remaining $7 million reduction.

Wislow termed the budget cuts “necessary” and praised Emanuel for “coming up with a thoughtful and creative plan to reduce the impact.”  The “thoughtful and creative plan” was to raise auto sticker fees.

Emanuel’s plan “is the right balance for our children and the city’s budget,” Wislow said in a statement.

At branch libraries, neighborhood supporters were less sanguine.

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Library cuts called ‘devastating’ — and confusing

Librarians and library supporters are planning to stage the popular “story time” program at City Hall on Monday morning to protest budget cuts.

But they’re scratching their heads over a budget proposal that cuts hours and staff to reduce the library budget by $10 million, while increasing the budget for capital improvements at libraries by $11 million.

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