Bet you’re here to keep tabs on the Niles Coalition’s #SaveNilesLibrary campaign, and that’s SUPER awesome! Thanks for signing up! We formed as a group relatively recently to fight for a more inclusive community here in Niles, Illinois. But the catalyst happened when the Northwest Side Coalition Against Racism and Hate saw community concern after their Open Letter to Niles Police Department.
We’ve learned a LOT since then and are so excited to create a more inclusive community. There are a lot of wonderful efforts happening that are not always apparent. We hope to bring more awareness, celebrate, and double down on these things. The Niles-Maine District Library is definitely on this list.
Now the library is facing an existential crisis. But this is not an isolated incident by any means. The fight is happening in communities all around us as well. Together we will fight for our library and in solidarity we’ll fight for our neighbors’ as well! If you feel the same way and want to get involved in the work please let us know and/or share this message with folks in your network who are allied in the cause.
And now onto our most recent update!
Thank you to all of the community members who came out to bear witness to and express their concerns at Monday’s extremely long Special Meeting of the Library Board of Trustees. A handful of the new trustees’ supporters came early to grab most of the spots for public comments, but our presence let the board know that their anti-library actions don’t represent the community and we will continue to hold them accountable. While we wait for the board’s official minutes to be written and approved, here is some of what we saw and heard:
- The contract with Steven Yasell was approved, despite the dissent of the 3 pro-library trustees and many attendees due to the obvious conflict of interests (since he was their campaigns’ videographer) and lack of experience performing audits of IT equipment and procedures (only in the last couple of days did he add a list of services on his website that make it look like he does consulting work – archived link here). Here is Jennifer Johnson’s reporting: Niles Library board votes to hire man, but some trustees object to conflict of interest, unknown qualifications
- When the board was informed that raising the employees’ cost for their health insurance as high as Joe Makula suggested would actually cause the insurance company to drop the library’s plan altogether, he and the other trustees in his bloc voted to raise the cost as high as they were able to.
- The trustees who were pushing for a freeze on building improvements and purchasing seemed to contradict each other at times, so exactly which building improvements and new purchases were suspended through June 30th is not entirely clear. A hiring freeze was put in place that prevents replacing much-needed staff members who left the library in the last year.
- We are still trying to understand all of the changes made to the trustee manual and will be able to comment on this more once we can read the minutes.
- In the Executive Session, the Executive Director and Assistant Director were excluded from the session but were not fired as many of us had feared. Instead a new lawyer was hired. When the trustees returned to the public meeting details were not shared beyond the name of the lawyer and their firm, so we’ll keep an eye out for more information.
We’re taking a minute to breathe and then we’ll be sharing more about what you can do to #SaveNilesLibrary. In the meantime please help spread awareness and share this email with friends, family, and other supporters.
Thanks for reading!