We are big fans of the Brookfield Public Library and for what it represents. We frequently visit and utilize the library’s services-sometimes several times a week. We are pleased with the level of support and service that the library provides. The staff is indeed a great group of people.
The library board made an astute move with its participation in the SWAN library system. We now have access to the collections of not one but dozens of public libraries. We can easily order almost any of their books and more, to arrive at our doorstep, the Brookfield Public Library.
While we hold the library and its staff in high regard overall, we are disappointed with the library board’s most recent decision to begin purchasing property in Hollywood for the development of a new library. To consider placing a new library in the eastern most portion of Brookfield, in a residential zoned area unreasonably far from the majority of Brookfield residents, is not considering the best interests of most Brookfield residents.
Why Hollywood? The response has been, “that is where we have an opportunity to secure sufficient land to build.” We wish the answer would have been “we have studied Brookfield and its population, and this is the best strategic location for us to build the new library after reviewing demographic and business and educational needs for our community.”
Indeed why build at all? The library board says that “state standards” show that Brookfield should have a library of over 33,000 square feet. The board further posits examples of North Riverside, LaGrange and LaGrange Park as prime examples of the appropriate size library for our community.
Do we really want to keep up with what our neighbors are doing, just to keep up? We don’t think that this is the appropriate perspective.
In a day and age when more and more people turn to their computer to save themselves time and money online-making purchases, receiving their news, banking, making financial decisions-we think it makes sense to explore options that do not draw the expense of a multimillion dollar for a building that may not serve the needs of our new information age.
We suggest that the library board take a leadership role in providing a method to service those who cannot easily meet the library’s current hours. A “virtual library” would serve the needs of the physically handicapped, the working family and the student that leaves home at 7 a.m. and doesn’t return until 8 p.m. after working a full day and then going to school or a second job.
We suggest that the library board consider complementing the library’s wi-fi access by developing Internet hot spots throughout Brookfield. We are happy to see that, as suggested at the library board’s public hearing in July, the library now offers “take home” computers. In conjunction with a free wireless connection, this service can give the disabled an opportunity to access all of the library’s book fortunes on a 24/7 basis. We suggest that the library board offer e-books-books that users can download to their computer or handheld device for a specified amount of time. This would promote circulation in a very cost-efficient manner.
We suggest that the library board consult with other governmental agencies to coordinate activities and service delivery. Brookfield’s 2020 Master Plan doesn’t even consider a new library in Hollywood. Before the library board considers building a community center, let’s evaluate the demand for and usage of the current facilities. The library made a mistake 20 years ago by not constructing a building that would allow for its growth in Brookfield. Let’s not make a mistake in constructing a building today for 20 years ago. Times have changed-let’s explore a library for the future, not the past.
Francisco & Christina Menchaca are residents of the Hollywood section of Brookfield