Yo, Evanstonians: Please shop at Whole Foods on Wednesday, June 30th. Both Whole Foods Evanston locations will donate 5% of ALL PURCHASES to support Evanston Public Libraries.

Last night, I attended another city council meeting to support Evanston Public Library Friends. As a special order of business, Lori Keenan, the group’s VP, reported on fundraising progress toward keeping Evanston, IL branch libraries open until March 2011. (Here’s my initial take.)

I arrived well-fed and watered, ready for the long haul (unlike last time, ahem).

EPLF VP Lori Keenan (left) and EPLF homegirl Alderman Wynne

These city guys don’t quit. They really, seriously don’t. At least three aldermen slowed the show by: 1) Pre-debating the EPLF report; 2) Asking a city task-force leader before the report to confirm the facts in the report; 3) Motioning that tonight’s presentation be called a “status” report rather than an interim report. Yeah. And I was late to the party. Who knows what beauro-fun I missed?!

Meanwhile, many other Aldermen asked that we move on to the report itself. Wowee!

When EPLF VP Lori Keenan finally got the floor, she summarized the original fundraising challenge laid out four months ago: 1) Raise $160,000 during a recession; 2) Explore outreach to the west side; 3) Develop a sustainable funding plan for Evanston, IL libraries.

Lori then hurtled for the jugular – the question on everyone’s mind (and out of Ald. Rainey’s mouth prematurely):

The EPLF exceeded its fundraising goal. Not in the year they’d asked for. Not in the six months they were given. No – in four months.

Best line of the night: Could you library people please be quiet?

I can’t say I’m surprised. The energy of this group astounds me, as I’ve said, but witnessing the show of outside reaction opened my eyes.

Call me naive; I was surprised by the indifference (and general poo-ooing) from some aldermen to the EPLF’s extraordinary groundswell of support. Ald. Burrus (one of two aldermanic poo-poo’ers) actually complained that FoIA (the Freedom of Information Act) allowed the EPLF to use information a little too freely. Rrrhuh?

No bother. All other aldermen – especially Alds. Wynne and Wilson – and Mayor Tisdahl expressed awe and pleased surprise in EPLF’s swift accomplishments.

Before moving on to the next agenda item, Alderman Wilson moved that the council commit to keeping branch libraries open until March 2011, as long as EPLF provides the agreed funds by the August 1 deadline. Said motion was passed.

Libraries. Are. GO!

On our way out of the meeting room, I believe it was Mayor Tisdahl who said, “Could the Library Friends please be quiet?” Ahh, irony.

A word from Lori Keenan

While EPLF was the catalyst, we all recognize that our success in the last four months is because the citizens of Evanston believe in and support the library.

This is just the beginning… We want to thank the citizens of Evanston for showing us a source of revenue and volunteers that many did not realize existed.

Thank you for this opportunity and for helping all of us see the potential.

Thank you for your tireless dedication, Lori. Time away from your family (and other EPL Friends’ time away from theirs) has meant six more months of branch libraries for Evanston. Now, get some sleep! P.S.: Lori, I will accept the title of “EPLF’s Favorite Blogger.” Shall I craft a crown and scepter?

Report Highlights

  • Last month’s Armchair Auction attracted item donations from bestselling authors Audrey Niffenegger and Scott Turow (among over 300 items) and raised over $34,000. (Some of my very own heroic friends donated their wares to raise a lot of library love!)
  • More than 170 local businesses are participating in the Windowbooks Awareness campaign.
  • EPLF’s first donor request letters went out last week. Donations in the mailbox this week totaled over $18,000. And support has come from as far as New Zealand.
  • The EPLF raised more than $171,000, with over $125,000 from individual donations, and another $50,000 in donations from the Library Board.
  • Evanston’s Mayor Tisdahl herself is an EPLF member.
  • More than a dozen grant-writers are interested in helping EPLF secure sustainable funding sources.

If you haven’t yet, please consider supporting the EPLF.
Libraries mean so much more than books. And books mean the world!

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