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Friday, May 28, 2010

Library System Changes And What They Mean For You

Please read this post if you are someone who uses our online catalog to "place holds" - i.e. borrow items - from libraries other than DPPL. This system is about to change - but the option to borrow items from other libraries will remain in other forms. You may have read recent news articles or even heard rumors about the North Suburban Library System and the libraries within the system, including DPPL. Read this post and learn about changes coming in June 2, 2010 and beyond. We want to make sure you are accurately informed while this situation continues to unfold.

1) Beginning June 2, 2010, DPPL patrons will only be able to "Place Holds" in the Catalog on items owned by the Des Plaines Public Library. Holds placed on items owned only by other libraries will not be accepted by the online system. We know our patrons have become very accustomed to using this convenient system. However, there are still other means by which you can borrow items from other libraries - keep reading.

2) Holds that DPPL patrons have placed in the past but that have not yet been filled will remain valid. We will review those holds individually and determine the best way to fill the request. A staff person will contact you about your options.

3) The primary reason for these changes is the loss of daily van delivery service to the Des Plaines Public Library. This service was provided for free by the North Suburban Library System. The system received its funding from the state of Illinois. Due to the state budget crisis, this is no longer an option.

We know that many patrons rely on this inter-library delivery service to return items borrowed from neighboring libraries as well. We will continue to receive van delivery service twice a week, at least through September 15, 2010. It may take longer to get items to the originating library but they will be returned. If timeliness is a concern, you may want to consider making the trip yourself. 

4) Need an item we do not own? Remember, your DPPL library card is valid at libraries across the state. We are considering a number of options by which you will be able to request such items through our Web site. In the meantime, we advise you to:
  • Speak to a staff member in person, via telephone, email or our "Text A Librarian" service (text 66746, type dppl in the body of your msg);

  • Try WorldCat as an alternative. WorldCat is an extensive catalog of libraries around the world. Search by author, title, subject or keyword. When you find an item that IS NOT OWNED BY DPPL, click the link that reads: Borrow this item from another library (Interlibrary Loan) and fill in the online form. This service has worked well for many years and provides a great alternative to the "Place Holds" option in our Catalog. It may not be as fast as local van delivery but we know how important it is for our patrons to be able to borrow and enjoy items from a wide variety of libraries.Please be aware that you cannot request items through WorldCat that our library owns, even if they are currently checked out.
All of these arrangements may change again as the situation with the state budget and the funding of library systems shifts almost daily. We will continue to provide you with gracious assistance, efficient service and generous borrowing policies - just let us know how we can help.
Want to read more?


  1. Thank you for all that you do. My family loves DPPL and we use your services often. Everyone is friendly and helpful. I am so glad to live close to such a wonderful library!

  2. Loralyn J. PerroneMay 31, 2010 at 12:25 PM

    BOGUS! Charge us a small reasonable fee for every book we want from another library in the system OR am I the only one who is going to suffer from this loss of resources that would be willing to pay?
    *Maybe the Van could make 1 weekly trip...I'd be willing to wait longer to get what I request....of course that would compromise the returning of materials on time within the current restraints.
    *Provide us with the addresses/email/tel # of all the libraries that now offer book loans on our DP card so we can continue "feeding our [book] habit".Oh, how the many of us driving to these various libraries would burn up fuel(so ungreen)...not to mention time.
    *Purchasing personal copies of titles is out of the question due to family budget limitations.
    *How am I going to get multiple copies for my church ladies book club? Don't tell me we'll have to disband?!There's no money in our budget, personal or church, to buy our own copies; besides, it is so GREEN to borrow and reuse!
    *Karen, I'd like to know if/how the Friends of the Library are addressing this (I am not currently a member but will join to raise my voice in a moan of loss); other patrons' reaction; to whom or how I might help campaign for reinstitution of this valuable asset.
    *I was a child who helped move books from the old library uptown to the Graceland St. location and a 35 yr. teacher in D62 who used the children's library about a life long relationship!
    *I'll be in touch 1st week of June.
    Loralyn J. Perrone

  3. Loralyn - I think you may not have carefully read the post above. First of all, you can use WorldCat to request all kinds of items, for free, and borrow them, just as you have done in the past.

    Secondly, the van delivery service is continuing two days a week for the time being. Here's a little more detail: in order for DPPL to continue receiving 5 day a week van service AND the "place holds" option in our current catalog, the asking price was $13,000 - for 3 months of service, with no guarantee the service would continue. Our Board of Trustees did not feel they could support that decision, especially since your tax dollars already went to the state of Illinois to cover the cost of that service.

    But please - don't panic. We have WorldCat and other options, too. Requesting items might not be as easy as it was in the past but the option remains firmly in place. As someone who started out in the library business doing what we call "Interlibrary Loan," believe me I understand how important and beloved this service is. We are here for you - nothing "bogus" about it. Try using WorldCat a little and see what you think. It's just a different catalog and the items might take a bit longer to get to us, but you'll be surprised at how much is available in this fantastic resource. Please stop in this week and talk to a staff member - we're all happy to help.

  4. I don't understand how the van service costs $13,000 for every 3 months ($4,333 a month). That seems awfully high. Does every library in the North Suburban Library System also pay that same $4,333 per month?? I'll handle 5 day a week delivery service for $3,000 a month per library. There are at least 25 libraries in the North Suburban Library System. I'll give you a deal. $50,000 a month to handle delivery service between the 25 libraries. That's half the price you pay now.

  5. Excellent comment, anonymous! That high price tag was one of the reasons our Board could not accept this stop-gap measure. You may be interested to know that the Des Plaines Public Library was going to be charged the highest amount of any library in the system, the reason being that we bring the highest volume of traffic to the van delivery system. However, that high volume includes the many thousands of books and other items we lend to other libraries - it didn't seem quite right that we were being asked to pay more for being generous! Believe me, all readers - we are looking at every possible angle to solve this situation in a way that is best for you and best for our budget. That may very well mean hiring a local person as a driver, hiring a local courier service, participating in a merger of library systems that will handle library delivery more cost-effectively or another solution. We have only begun to consider our options. The closing of the library system happened so quickly and the decision about the stop-gap system had to be made within a matter of days. Now that we have a temporary option in place with WorldCat, we can take a few weeks or months to look long-term. I assure all of you that this is not the end of interlibrary borrowing as you knew it.

  6. The delivery service and the ability to place holds on items from other libraries were the most valuable services that DPPL offered to me. I am very disappointed in DPPL for dropping them in favor of WorldCat and the other possibilities you outline. I have used WorldCat before and have been less than impressed, and the other options will come at a price as well.

  7. I appreciate all of the feedback you have provided thus far. I probably can't say this enough: there is a strong possibility that the current situation is only temporary. The library systems are discussing mergers of various kinds and all of us here at DPPL acknowledge how important this kind of interlibrary cooperation is for us and our patrons. We simply could not agree to a temporary stop-gap measure that came with a price tag over $10,000 and virtually no guarantees. Please understand that, up to this time, we paid nothing for this van delivery service, the state of Illinois covered the cost. So when that funding disappeared, there was nothing in our budget to cover this kind of emergency. Next year's budget is already in the planning and again, I assure you, we discuss this delivery situation on a daily basis. All of the feedback left here and through emails, letters, etc. will help us plan the future of interlibrary delivery.

  8. This is disappointing to learn, but I certainly understand the financial reality of the situation. I will continue to hope that the service will resume when possible. If I may make a suggestion: when donors are donating items to the library, check the Des Plaines catalog first, if the item is not held by the Des Plaines library donate it with specific wishes that is be added to the Des Plaines library circulation (as opposed to the Friends of Library sale) - that way we will be enhancing the Des Plaines Library Catalog with items not currently among their holdings. While I appreciate having access to WorldCat, I did not have much success with it in the past - I was only able to request a CD from an out of state library for a $20 fee (it would be less expensive to purchase the CD myself).
    With Much Gratitude for the services provided by the DPPL!

  9. I also feel that this is one of the most valuable services that should continue to be provided to our community. Perhaps money that is currently being budgeted for other resources should be reallocated for this. I know there was much controversy about what has been allocated in the past for travel and seminars. Has consideraction been given to using those funds for this fiscal year until a new budget can be worked out? Have you compared the use of services from the bookmobile to the number of library transfers to consider discontinuing that service instead? I have been a Des Plaines resident and frequent library user for over 30 years. Neither I or any of my family or friends have ever made use of the bookmobile services. I think the libary transfer service is more beneficial to a greater number of residents.

  10. Thank you for your comment. I will be sure that our administration reads your concerns regarding budget allocation and making sure we meet the needs of the largest number of Des Plaines residents. I can tell you that our travel budget has been completely eliminated so there is no money that can be reallocated. Many of the workshops, classes and seminars we attend are free or very low cost - although sadly, many of these were provided by the North Suburban Library System, which has now been closed down! Our Board's budget planning sessions for 2011 will begin very soon and I can assure you all of these concerns will play a role in the decision-making. It's small consolation, but Board members and staff persons at DPPL used the van delivery and hold system as well, so we will experience the inconvenience ourselves. Again, I want to assure patrons of two things: we are grateful for all your comments and will take them seriously, and, the end of this story has not yet been written, so please stay tuned for more details and what I hope is a satisfactory resolution for all.

  11. Everyone needs to remember that this situation is being faced by every single library in Illinois. Des Plaines residents won't be the only ones that will be forced to deal with a reduction in services and access to materials.

    How many libraries will be willing to lend materials that may take weeks to make its way back to their shelves? Not a lot, especially if they are operating on drastically reduced budgets! They are going to want to keep their items on their shelves for their taxpaying residents.

    People need to realize that this situation is not going away, kudos to the DPPL staff for addressing this huge problem in a way that keeps the public informed.

  12. Everyone needs to remember that this situation is being faced by every single library in Illinois. Des Plaines residents won't be the only ones that will be forced to deal with a reduction in services and access to materials.

    How many libraries will be willing to lend materials that may take weeks to make its way back to their shelves? Not a lot, especially if they are operating on drastically reduced budgets! They are going to want to keep their items on their shelves for their taxpaying residents.

    People need to realize that this situation is not going away, kudos to the DPPL staff for addressing this huge problem in a way that keeps the public informed.

  13. Is it possible that a user fee would cover the cost of inter-library transfers? Perhap a @1 charge for each book you have forwarded from another library?

  14. RE: user fees. This idea has been suggested by a number of people, including some of our staff members, and is certainly an option we'll keep in mind. Until we know more about the possible merger of library systems and consolidation of delivery services, it will be difficult for us to move forward with any change in policy. I think we have a strong commitment to offering as many "free" services as possible, since you already pay for the library via property taxes, but a nominal fee for delivery service might not be out of the question. Thanks for taking the time to give us your suggestion.

  15. It seems to me that no matter what the fate of NSLS, reciprocal lending agreements are still in place. That means that Des Plaines patrons can still use other north suburban libraries to check out materials. The only difference is that they have to go to that library to check out and return items. Niles, Park Ridge, Glenview, and Mount Prospect all have good libraries and are within a 20 minute (tops) drive from downtown Des Plaines. They (with the possible exception of Glenview) are easily accessible via public transportation as well.

    If most north suburban libraries are continuing the van service without Des Plaines' participation, there is nothing to stop Des Plaines patrons from logging on to their websites, reserving materials, and going there for pickup. The key is that you have to log onto a website other than Des Plaines. With a Des Plaines card, that's easily doable.

    Don't forget the behemoth to the southeast. Chicago is a participant in the reciprocal lending agreement as well. The only difference is that you have to go to a Chicago branch to get a Chicago card. All you need is your local card and one form of ID (see When you have a Chicago card, you can use their website to reserve books and have them delivered to the nearest branch. Chicago has a 9 day window for pickups, so it's easier to consolidate pickup and return trips.

    The branches nearest to Des Plaines are Oriole Park and Roden. I don't know much about Oriole Park, but Roden is straight down Northwest Highway, a 15 to 20 minute drive from downtown Des Plaines (easily as accessible as Glenview or Niles), and there is plenty of free street parking. It's also right across the street from the Norwood Park Metra station.

  16. Those reciprocal lending agreements remain in place for now. Systems helped facilitate and maintain the agreements. Don't be surprised if reciprocal lending is one of the next things to be eliminated.

  17. Ok:
    Exactly what organization is charging $13K for van delivery? Can you tell us, Karen?? I want to see accountability for this ridiculous and obviously bogus charge. Is it a public office led by a public official? I will let my Vote do the talking if that is the case and can easily rally my fellow library patrons to do the same. will you tell us, Karen, who is in charge of this Van service?

  18. Well, here is the thing: the $13,000 charge was a last-ditch, stop-gap measure requested by the now-defunct North Suburban Library System, to keep van delivery in place. Van delivery is the only remaining service being offered by that library system. All other employees have lost their jobs - from the top down. I do not want to cast any blame upon the system. For 40+ years, their operating expenses were covered by funding from the state of Illinois - your tax dollars. As you surely know from reading the news, the state is woefully behind at meeting its budgeted expenses. NSLS held out for as long as possible but it ran out of money and none appeared to be on the way from the state. So, if you are looking for accountability, our legislators in Springfield would be the place to start. Here is a Web site about advocacy steps you can take to keep the situation from deteriorating:
    Thank you for the comments and questions - keep 'em coming!


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