In a move that appears to be laying the foundation for a referendum campaign next year, the Facility Advisory Committee of the Brookfield Pubic Library has formed a group called PLACE 2016. 

PLACE stands for Public Library Advancement of Community Engagement. The three co-chairs of PLACE 2016 are former North Riverside Public Library Director Bob Lifka, Marty McNulty and Suzanne Williams.

All three co-chairs of PLACE 2016 have experience in writing and communications. Lifka is a former editor of the Suburban Life Newspaper who has also been a contributor to the Riverside-Brookfield Landmark. McNulty is freelance graphic designer and writer, and Williams is a writer, editor and web content developer for Argonne National Laboratory.

The library board hopes to build a new library, and is tentatively planning to put a referendum question on the November 2016 ballot seeking to borrow the money to build it. 

Final plans for a new library are tentatively scheduled to be discussed by the Brookfield Planning and Zoning Commission at its October meeting.

PLACE 2016 is described as a new planning and “community engagement” initiative, but it also appears designed to build public support for a new library. The group hold five “community engagement meetings,” the first of which will be on Oct. 6 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the St. Barbara Parish Center, 4015 Prairie Ave.

 “The purpose of the meeting is to create a dialogue for people to understand the situation the library is in,” said Brookfield Public Library Director Kimberly Coughran. 

McNulty said that the meetings are designed to get public input.

“I believe the more citizen input there is in any government project the better,” McNulty said in the press release. “The PLACE 2016 meetings will let everyone in Brookfield learn about the challenges of the current library, review the details of the new library plan, and offer critiques and suggestions. Whether you are initially enthusiastic or skeptical your thoughts are welcome. We hope all will take part in this important community endeavor.”

A PLACE 2016 website and Facebook page have also been created along with a logo and a motto: “One PLACE, Many Reasons.”

“I think it is important to engage the community in what we’re doing,” said library board President Jennifer Perry.

According to the press release, input from the PLACE workshops “will serve as the basis for the final decision making by the Library Board of Trustees.”

But the group could also serve as the foundation for, or evolve into, a referendum campaign committee. 

Parts of the press release sound similar to a campaign document.

“The success of PLACE 2016 relies on participation from a broad-based representation of community members, so an extensive recruiting effort is planned to involve parents, non-parents, business owners, employees, senior citizens, teen, bilingual households, the homeschooling community and other community members in the process,” the press release states.

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