Library Addresses Accessibility, Transparency Issues

Board members continue to try to clear the air.

Ever since news broke of the , the new library board has been trying to turn the page toward a fresh start.

At last night's board meeting, members continued to discuss various topics focusing on how to make the library a more transparent and accessible place for patrons.

Earlier: .

Complying with accessibility standards

Board member Paul Berg said troubleshooting has begun regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance for the library.

ADA lists various standards for building designs in order to assist those with disabilities including wheelchair ramps and accessible routes. 

The library currently doesn’t meet certain accessibility code standards for those with disabilities. Berg said the library will work with an outside consultant to determine the scope of work and a timeline for the project, which is still in its infancy.

“Obviously nothing is in cement,” he said. “We are just starting the proposal.”

Resident Laura Frisch voiced her concern about the library’s current lack of accessibility during the public participation portion of the meeting.

“My mother is wheelchair-bound and she lives in Morton Grove and she couldn’t come to activities in (the Baxter Room). She couldn’t access 90 percent of the non-fiction books that are here in the library. I do appreciate that circulation and reference is wonderful about getting books for people," she said. “But it’s still a matter of we’re living in the 1970s, early 1980s, in this library for accessibility.” 

Berg said it would cost an estimated $4.1 million dollars to get the building up to Illinois Accessibility Code standards.

Library appoints FOIA officers

Board members approved the appointment of Natalya Fishman, head of reference services, and Kevin Justie, interim co-director, as the library's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) officers. Both Fishman and Justie will "receive Open Meetings Act training from the Illinois attorney general.”

At last month's board meeting, Justie noted that the library also made FOIA request information available on the bulletin board and on the library's website.

Recently Patch obtained a series of papers through a FOIA request regarding issues with the previous board. In the papers, current board members allege that previous board members had  so that the library could fund a new building.

Also during the meeting, the board adopted an email and record retention/destruction policy. The policy requires that all library-related emails between personnel be retained for one year.  

New Head of Youth Services 

Board members announced their new head of the Youth Services Department Ann Finstad. Finstad previously served as a children’s librarian at the Winnetka Public Library. She started her position at the Morton Grove Public Library this past Monday, Oct. 10.


Stay tuned to Patch for more information on the Morton Grove Library board.

Pat Craig October 14, 2011 at 01:10 PM
It is interesting that Ms. Frisch is expressing concern NOW that the new board is addressing the issue. Where was her concern, (except to push for a new $20 million plus building), when SHE was a member of the previous board? It appears that the current board is making a concerted effort to right the ship. I hope they continue to do so.
sherwin dubren October 14, 2011 at 04:15 PM
Although Patch told me over a week ago that they were looking into the new Skokie Library restriction of no more than 3 items per non-resident, we see nothing mentioned about it. The Morton Grove library board has not responded to this, to my knowledge. It appears that certain people from Morton Grove put pressure on Skokie Library to adopt this draconian policy with the idea that it would pressure MG residents into a more favorable view of building a new expensive library here. Skokie library unjustifiably thinks Morton Grove has big bucks to spend on a new library and they can help out their buddies there by putting on this indirect pressure on MG residents. Actually, MG people were accounting for about 3 percent of the total Skokie circulation, so we were not burdening their resources. This is all part of the mind set these former MB library trustees have and to what extent they will go to get their own way.
sherwin dubren October 14, 2011 at 04:17 PM
Sorry for the typo. That last sentence should have read MG library trustees.
Collin Czarnecki October 14, 2011 at 04:41 PM
Hi Sherwin, We are continuing to work on the story regarding Skokie Library's new reciprocal borrowing policy. We will have information available to readers shortly. Thank you for reading and your patience.
Pat Craig October 14, 2011 at 05:59 PM
It has been said that if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem is treated like a nail. The previous boards, (and Ms. Frisch's) answer to everything was apparently to build a new and expensive library building. The only NEW wrinkle is that now Ms. Fritsch is saying that making the current building ADA compliant would make it too small to accommodate the needs of Morton Grove, (funny, we didn't hear that argument before the election). The voters rejected that vision of the previous board at the last election, yet, apparently there are those who didn't get the message.
PROLibraryMG October 14, 2011 at 10:42 PM
The letter Mr. Dubren mentioned is now on the PROLibrary facebook page here: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.258692070832943.54336.169281509774000&type=3 All of the current trustees and local press has had a copy of this letter for several weeks already. The letter clearly blames certain newly elected trustees for the new limited reciprocal borrowing policy: "In the election this past spring, several persons were elected to the Morton Grove Library Board after publicly campaigning to stop plans for any expansion or improvement of the Morton Grove Public Library unnecessary because Skokie Public Library is a big library right nearby."
grandpa October 14, 2011 at 10:55 PM
Mr. Dubrin; Just as a reminder, the Pro Library Morton Grove site is the political voice for the previous board. On April 2, 2011 this was on their Facebook page: http://www.prolibrarymg.com/ "Like" us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/prolibrarymg Follow us on twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/PROLibraryMG E-mail us at prolibrarymg@gmail.com Call us at 847-834-9065 NEW! Donate with a credit card at http://www.prolibrarymg.com/Donations.html A copy of our report filed with the State Board of Elections is (or will be) available on the Board's official website http://www.elections.il.gov or for purchase from the State Board of Elections, Springfield, Illinois. Paid for by the PROLibrary Committee for the election of Bernadette Fahy, Laura Frisch, Lawrence Levin and Renée Miller. The site is a political site masquerading as a community watchdog. Sounds like something you would expect from a used car salesman... or a machine politician.
grandpa October 15, 2011 at 03:27 AM
Ms. Fritsch would like to redirect the conversation but the facts are that the ProLibrary facebook page was started as, operated as and continues to be a political site fostering the agenda of a failed political campaign. The use of unsupported accusations in the attempt at furthering a scheme that was soundly rejected by the voters in April apparently does not dissuade the four unsuccessful past board members and their minions from continuing on their obstructionist path. The real issue Ms. Fritsch is that your campaign failed, your vision was rejected by the citizens who voted and your continual sour grapes has nothing whatsoever to do with the well being of Morton Grove. It has been said that if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. I believe that the citizens of Morton Grove are smarter than that.
sherwin dubren October 15, 2011 at 06:55 AM
It appears as if the former library trustees are trying their best to discredit the current elected members with the hope of convincing the residents to change their minds about paying for a new expensive library. The former trustees have shown shameful behavior in concealing funds to get a building started before the residents would have a say in the matter. I am also hearing that one of them actually went to Skokie to tell them about remarks about MG residents using their library with the intention of getting them to curtail services to MG library users. I think this action will backfire, as many MG residents are upset by this Skokie Library curtailment of services to us. There was no burden on the Skokie Library, so one can only view this as indirect pressure being put on MG residents to shell out big bucks for a library we cannot afford. The pro-new MG library people are grasping for whatever support they can garner by pointing out deficiencies in our current library, like better handicap access. Maybe they can get the Federal or State governments to put up the money. As pointed out earlier, the handicap access issue has been around for many years, but now it is being put forward as political leverage to get the village to build an exotic new building.
sherwin dubren October 15, 2011 at 06:55 AM
Libraries have changed their image as a place for meetings and recreation for young people from the more traditional place of reading and audio/visual material. Suburbs like Skokie and Glenview have the money to provide these extra services, but they are not necessary. Schools have libraries. We have a Civic Center and Park District facilities for meetings. Let's make good use of what we already have. Can we improve the existing MG Library? I think so, without putting us in the poor house.
Stuward October 15, 2011 at 10:02 PM
I think the intention of Patch was to exchange ideas & grow communication. Not rehash an election six months ago. It is over, people voted, Its' done, Move on, Run again in 2013, Get a life, You had your turn. Every admistration should be judge by what it accomplish. The new board has had less than 6 months. Everyone needs time to mature in office and get the feel of the job. So everybody , RELAX. the next election is just 18 months away.
Tony Kovacs October 16, 2011 at 04:05 AM
I guess a lot of people think as Blanch DuBois did in "Streetcar Named Desire" that we could "rely on the kindness of strangers", i.e., Skokie can act as our Library. Reciprocity means just that. Borrowing can not be a one way street. I doubt Skokie residents use our Library that much. Any figures on this would be interesting? I can live with three books at a time as I don't multi-task!
Pat Craig October 16, 2011 at 11:28 AM
THE SYSTEM OF INTERLIBRARY LOAN STILL RESTS ON THE BELIEF THAT ALL LIBRARIES SHOULD BE WILLING TO LEND IF THEY ARE WILLING TO BORROW, (-ALA website) Morton Grove, Evanston, Skokie and a number of other libraries in the area are part of a consortium that has an interlibrary loan agreement. To the best of my knowledge, they all ascribe to the principles of the American Library Association. One of those principles is that a member library may not use interlibrary loans as a substitutes for local collection responsibility, however, their code is quite specific regarding the intent of the agreement. Specifically: "Interlibrary loan (ILL) is intended to complement local collections and is not a substitute for good library collections intended to meet the routine needs of users. ILL is based on a tradition of sharing resources between various types and sizes of libraries and rests on the belief that no library, no matter how large or well supported, is self-sufficient in today's world. It is also evident that some libraries are net borrowers (borrow more than they lend) and others are net lenders (lend more than they borrow), BUT THE SYSTEM OF INTERLIBRARY LOAN STILL RESTS ON THE BELIEF THAT ALL LIBRARIES SHOULD BE WILLING TO LEND IF THEY ARE WILLING TO BORROW."( Source ALA web site http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/rusa/resources/guidelines/interlibraryloancode.cfm )
Tony Kovacs October 16, 2011 at 04:40 PM
Partick, Sounds like "from each according to their ability, to each according to their need!" But at a certain point, Skokie must decide if Morton Grove meets the basic requirement you cite. T
Bob W. October 18, 2011 at 04:40 PM
That kid from the bugle already wrote about skokie http://www.buglenewspapers.com/news/article_fd007a64-eb87-11e0-a5a5-0019bb30f31a.html I agree. It's about time to give some of this up.
sherwin dubren October 18, 2011 at 08:44 PM
Trustee Daniel Hoffman was quoted in the Niles Bugle that much of the current problems with Skokie Library was the result of an ugly election. If it was ugly, it was the consequence of the former MG library board with their end run tactics to get a new library building despite the objections of a majority of MG residents. There was evidence of cover ups revealed from FOI's. Hyering of lawyers by this former board to find ways around the legal roadblocks to get a new library built, etc. Laura Frisch's comments about doing a referendum on the current budget is hypocritical, since she and others never pushed for one to build a new library. I believe someone in Morton Grove made it well known to Skokie about a passing comment of residents here using their library. I think that issue was not the crux of the BPAC campaign. It was all about not wanting to spend over 20 million for a new library. Skokie felt we are abusing their lending privileges, and extended their restrictions to other libraries to make it appear as if they were not picking just on Morton Grove. Their reactions to comments made at Morton Grove are mean spirited, and have no basis in logic or foundation in improving efficiency at their end.


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