Library ShelvesLet’s review, shall we?

A library DISTRICT is an independent taxing body with an elected board.

Though it is attempting to function as one, DeKalb Public Library is NOT a library district. It is a public library and a component unit of the City of DeKalb. The mayor of DeKalb appoints the board members with the advice and consent of the council. It is the city council that approves DKPL’s annual budget, tax levy, and building expansion plans.

Council could also approve the issuance of bonds for a building expansion without having to pass a referendum, so it’s likely DKPL has zero interest in becoming a district. Therefore the city, being stuck with a rogue board, must address the problem. There are at least two approaches: the mayor could dissolve the board and start over, or the city could use its bonding power as leverage to get DKPL back in line.

Last time our city council tried to put the reins on DKPL’s tax levy, the city attorney said it did not have the authority to do so. That was pretty funny, because the council has done so in the past. Also, back in January the city council of Naperville asked its public library to make $300,000 in budget cuts. It is clear that Illinois cities have authority and responsibilities of oversight of their public library boards.

Today’s report in the Daily Chronicle that DKPL is also refusing to say where the money is coming from for its latest efforts at land purchases is especially troubling. A buildup of reserves for undeclared purposes is a slush fund, and has no place in the business of the public.