Using your Niles-Maine District Library account you can access many many online research services for free!. Chicago Tribune is no exception. It is frustrating to click on a link to a Chicago Tribune article only to get stopped by a paywall. While it is a great local news source for Niles worth the price of a subscription, not everybody can afford it. No worries because Niles-Maine Distcrivt Library patrons can access it for free!
Use the Chicago Tribune online resource available on the library’s website or use this link right here:
You may see a screen that looks something like this:
Enter your library card number in the box and click the “Login” button.
Do a search for the title of the article and it will pull ups the result for you!
We’re refreshing our monthly email newsletter, which is now entitled “Dispatch”. This will include updates regarding our campaigns and other social justice concerns in our community. Our team of organizers and allies chat regularly and this is one way we can bring some of that into the broader community. But we’ll keep it short!
So many great speakers and public commenters came out to the Niles-Maine District Library including State Senators Ram Villivalam & Laura Murphy! Unfortunately the anti-library trustees steamrolled an austerity budget over the professional staff-proposed budget that pro-library trustees supported.
Library workers are the heart and soul of our library, this is cruel. We will continue to fight alongside library union AFSCME Council 31 for our library and our community!
Makula vs Jesse White
In our last email, we celebrated the State Librarian’s appointment of Umair Quadeer to the long-vacant library board position. But just hours before the board meeting where swearing-in could have taken place, we all learned that Trustee Joe Makula used a private attorney to sue Jesse White and had requested a temporary restraining order against the swearing-in. We mobilized a quick protest and would like to thank all our community members and allies for showing up against this injustice. Illinois statute requires that a district library board be made up of 7 trustees not 6, and Makula, Drblik and Schoenfeldt are doing everything they can to obstruct normal library operations. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
Trustee Suzanne Schoenfeldt Makes Front Page
Local library supporters who are able to have been arriving early for Niles-Maine District Library board meetings to show support for the library and staff. This is one way we can make sure the anti-library trustees experience firsthand the angst they are causing. In September, after being confronted by a middle-schooler on her way into the library board meeting, Trustee Schoenfeldt had to hang her head in shame. A moment captured by a reporter for the Niles Herald-Spectator.
– A few days later, a community member was arrested by Niles police after a police dog indicated the odor of narcotics. What police found instead was cannabis, cash, and guns. Ironically a few blocks away, Rise dispensary also sells cannabis with armed guards.
Turning a person into a disposable criminal is a process called “criminalization”. It subjects them to a punishment system that comes at a great toll to our community so we have many concerns.
Thank you for your interest in the Niles-Maine District Library and social justice issues in and around the Niles community. We are finding many people with an appetite for creating progressive communities. It is crucial work for the sake of our future!
The Illinois Secretary of State appointed Umair Qadeer to the Niles-Maine District Library board!
All year we have been pleading with Library Board President Carolyn Drblik to appoint a qualified candidate to the seat Olivia Hanusiak abandoned. When it was apparent the president was ignoring the community we got busy appealing to higher governing bodies and they listened!
Umair Qadeer was previously a Niles-Maine District Library board trustee but resigned due to an overlooked technicality regarding residency. Now that it’s no longer an issue we’re happy to see him continue serving as an advocate of the library (as one would expect any trustee to be). He will also be the only member of the board from the unincorporated Maine Township part of the library district and the only South Asian American on the board.
The swearing-in for this appointment is happening at the September 21st meeting just days before the upcoming budget hearing! Community members have continued to come out and make public comments; if you’re able to make it to the meeting it’s at 6:30pm, or if you’re unable to attend and would like to have your comment read at the meeting you can email us at email@example.com .
Join us for the #SaveNilesLibrary Budget Hearing Rally
We’re organizing a rally for Monday September 26 just before the budget hearing. Now that we have a majority of pro-library trustees willing to listen to the needs of the community please help us solidify a major win for our library so we can end the cruel hiring freeze and secure much-needed programs and hours of operation that our community deserves! Details here.
New Niles Community Relations Commission
Congrats and welcome to the new commissioners appointed to the Community Relations Commission! It’s now finally official as the first meeting of this expanded commission happened last week September 14th. This is the mission:
“The purpose of the Community Relations Commission shall be to foster and promote understanding, mutual respect, cooperation and positive relations between and among all residents of the Village of Niles regardless of race, color, sexual orientation, religion, gender, age, disability, national origin or ancestry to the end that a sense of shared community among residents is strengthened, the value of each individual is affirmed and the constitutional rights of all are realized. The commission shall promote adequate housing for all the community’s people, to create and/or maintain sound viable neighborhoods, to meet the needs for housing and to expand housing opportunities for all members of the community. The Commission will also assist in the development of public information and related communication programs to enhance the quality of life for all village residents.”
The Niles Coalition mobilized to raise concerns about Commissioner Carolyn Drblik’s participation in the attack on our Niles-Maine District Library. Clearly a conflict of interest in community relations. Thankfully, Carolyn Drblik is no longer a commissioner. We hope this new commission steps in to help make things right but it will still require engagement from our community. We’re following along and we hope you do too!
We have still not heard back from the Park Ridge city council regarding our pleas for healing in the community. Chicago Police Sergeant Michael Vitellaro was recently charged with two felony counts but we know the history of such approaches to community healing will not be sufficient. We are considering a coalition effort around this issue as we speak to more and more community stakeholders. Stay tuned!
Skokie Alliance for Electoral Reform
In April we endorsed the Skokie Alliance for Electoral Reform and they were just getting started to collect signatures. Their team of volunteers hit the streets all summer and successfully collected a whopping 12,000 signatures to get the referendums on the November 8th ballot. CONGRATULATIONS! The work isn’t over yet, now they have to get out the vote and continue the campaign to educate the community about why all three referendums are so important for democracy in Skokie. If you would like to volunteer in solidarity they would be happy to have you. Join them for the upcoming town hall event!
Libraries around the country have been under attack. Locally, an attempt at book-banning in Park Ridge this spring was shut down by the community. Recently the Downers Grove library was targeted for hosting a drag queen bingo event. Close to home in Lincolnwood this week we joined local commenters in support of the LGBTQIA+ community and the library to counter a book-banning attempt (during national Banned Books Week no less). It turns out to #SaveNilesLibrary we’re going to have to save them all!
Whew, thanks for reading, and thanks for your messages of support. We’re glad you’re here with us. Please reach out if you have any questions about Niles Coalition. See you at the library!
Join us for a #SaveNilesLibrary rally on the south lawn of the Niles-Maine District Library. We’ll gather at 5:45, and will head into the library together at 6:15 for the scheduled public hearing where community members can comment on the 2022-23 budget.
Now is the time to show your support for your library and insist on a budget that allows for proper staffing so that much-needed programs and hours of operation can be restored and the building can be safely maintained.
This was a petition to ask State Librarian Jesse White to appoint a qualified trustee to fill the year-long vacancy on the Niles-Maine District Library board before any more damage is done.
To: State Librarian Jesse White
Your constituents in the Niles-Maine library district have been forced to watch three hostile trustees dismantle the library for over a year. Library board president Carolyn Drblik deadlocked the board by not filling a year-long trustee vacancy. None of the current trustees reside in the unincorporated Maine Township half of the district, where community members continue to be impacted by lack of representation.
The situation is dire: the library has lost one third of staff since May of 2021 and is down to 66 total full and part-time staff (the equivalent of 52.13 full time employees, or 52.13 FTE), for a library district size that the Illinois Library Association recommends be served by at least 74 FTE. Due to understaffing there were 30% fewer programs offered in July compared to the same time last year, and the library is only open 66 hours per week instead of the recommended 72+ hours per week. The community is suffering under this incomplete 6-trustee board. Staff morale is low and the union wrote a public letter asking: “Is their ultimate goal to close the library?”
Illinois statute originally relied on library boards to fill trustee vacancies “forthwith”, but in 2021 it became clear that a bloc of trustees could refuse to do so without any remedy for the community whose library suffered under a dysfunctional board, so the Illinois legislature unanimously voted to amend the statute. Now if a board refuses to fulfill the duty of appointing a new trustee to a vacant seat within 90 days, the State Librarian can appoint one in the subsequent 60 days. This means your office will have the ability to appoint a much-needed qualified and sincere trustee to the Niles-Maine District Library’s board on August 27th, and we ask that you do so.
The Niles-Maine District Library’s next regular board meeting is scheduled for September 21, 2022, just 5 days before the scheduled budget hearing for a tentative 2022-23 budget that, if passed, won’t fund the level of staffing that this library district of over 59,000 people need and deserve. We ask that you ensure the community will be represented by a full board of 7 trustees before the September meetings.
THANK YOU! Our petition to ask State Librarian Jesse White to appoint a qualified Niles-Maine District Library board trustee was delivered! Over five hundred signatures and many personal messages from supporters. The community wants a qualified candidate now! #SaveNilesLibrary
In our previous email we expressed our solidarity with Park Ridge youth. A Chicago cop attacked a 14 year old and walked away free and uncharged. To this day, 6 weeks later, the community is still left wondering what police actually do if not the most basic act of protection.
It was the brave acts of bystanders who saved this victim from further brutality and it’s become clear that “we must protect us.” Historically marginalized groups have been building systems of mutual aid to protect themselves when the authorities would not. We need to start learning from these traditions to build a society that works for everyone, not just the privileged few.
To keep up with the campaign follow the #NotInMyTown campaign website and consider showing solidarity by putting up orange ribbons in your neighborhood. We’ll certainly keep an eye on this situation and report back any updates.
Labor History Event at Niles-Maine District Library
Momentum is building across the country. Workers are demanding better pay and working conditions, and are forming unions to foment these rights. In the Niles-Maine library district our library staff are standing up to defend their rights while under constant assault.
Join us in solidarity with the Niles-Maine District Library Employees Union at this talk where we’ll all learn more about historical events and people who made the labor movement strong. Together we can use their inspiring vision to continue improving our community.
The Story of America Through the Lens of Labor History
Thursday, September 1, 6-8pm
Niles-Maine District Library Commons Meeting Room A&B
6960 W. Oakton Street, Niles, IL
Niles-Maine Library Workers Letter to Editor
Earlier this month, unionized workers at the Niles-Maine District Library sent a dire letter to the editor of the Journal & Topics newspaper. They spoke of how the lack of staff has been decimating the capacity of the library. The callousness of Board President Carolyn Drblik and trustees Schoenfeldt, and Makula are taking their toll. They ask:
Secretary of State Appointment – get ready for action
Remember that letter-writing campaign you helped with last year? Well it’s partly because of our collective action that new legislation was passed to allow intervention by the State Librarian. This allows an appointment to fill a vacancy if a library board refuses to do so for more than 90 days. Library board president Carolyn Drblik has allowed a board seat to remain empty for more than 300 days! The board hasn’t been properly representing the community for nearly a year and it’s Carolyn Drblik’s responsibility to make sure the board is operating appropriately. This will only be a Band-Aid on the larger problem that allowed this to happen, but we will continue utilizing every avenue for justice.
Library Board Meeting
The next Niles-Maine District Library board meeting is TODAY Wednesday 8/17 at 6:30 pm, and a discussion and vote on the tentative budget is on the agenda. Community members who are able to do so have been coming out to make public comments, we hope to see you there, or if you aren’t able to attend you can email the board at firstname.lastname@example.org and if you’d like help getting your comment read at the meeting email us at email@example.com
Please continue to reach out to us with your ideas, and keep sharing information about local efforts so we can support the work folks are doing to create the community that we strive for.
When looking for ways that we can make the change we want to see, it’s important to think local. When we see bad news at a national or global scale, it’s easy to feel like there’s nothing we can do or the problems are too big to take on. But at the local level, even a few people can have a big impact. Local elections are decided by just a handful of votes, politicians are moved by a handful of letters, and we can change minds by talking to our neighbors. By planting the seeds of a better world in our own community, we build momentum for the changes we want to see. Local change is the path to building national power.
July began the new fiscal year for the Niles-Maine District Library, and the discussions of budgets are ongoing. In 2021 newly elected library board members and Board President Drblik proposed and passed drastic budget cuts, and for 2022-2023 Joe Makula’s error-ridden proposed budget would cut another 14% from a library already spread thin. Throughout this year’s budget discussions the library management, staff, and executive director have pleaded for increased staffing. Currently the library is working under a year-long hiring freeze and has lost over 30% of the trained staff. Makula, Schoenfeldt, and Drblik want to make this level of understaffing permanent, by cutting the open positions out of the budget. Trustees Keane, Olsen, and Rozanski proposed an alternate budget, with sufficient funds for hiring needed staff, a well-deserved cost of living increase for current staff, and restoring program and book budgets. The difference between the proposed budgets is only about $17 per resident, but the impact on the programming and services available to the community would be significant. Still, Makula and his cohorts are not willing to budge.
There is another meeting this Wednesday– Niles-Maine District Library Board Meeting – 6:30 PM July 20, 2022, 6960 Oakton Street. If you are able to make a public comment this is an opportunity to show support and help defend our community’s valuable resource and hardworking library staff against these draconian budget cuts.
Community Relations Commission
For months, community members sent letters and made public comments requesting that commissioner Carolyn Drblik be held accountable for the harm she has done in her role as President of the Niles-Maine District Library board of trustees. She refused to respond and was finally removed from the Village of Niles’ Community Relations Commission. While new commissioners have been named, it’s mid-July and there has still not been a single meeting of the Community Relations Commission in 2022, despite the requirement that they meet at least once quarterly. We’ve also still never been able to engage with this commission regarding the Village’s response to antisemitic propaganda that was distributed throughout the community. An organizer asked questions on behalf of residents we’ve been hearing from, wanting to know about Village policies on how employees should respond to acts of hate, and whether Village staff and elected officials receive training to help them identify acts of hate and discrimination. The Village Manager asked that she make FOIA requests instead. We are watching to see if the Community Relations Commission will begin following through on their stated mission and do the work that commissioners and Village staff can do to make this community more welcoming and just for all.
On July 1st an off-duty Chicago Police Sergeant pushed his knee into a Park Ridge teen’s back to hold him down. A Niles Coalition organizer delivered a statement to the City Council at their July 5th meeting, expressing our solidarity with the youth of Park Ridge and listing three recommendations:
Create a task force led by experts in prosocial transformative justice to help the community heal from this traumatic event while addressing the victims of this violence and the person who caused it.
Shift funds towards a systemic solution as recommended by this transformative justice task force.
Commend the brave bystanders who intervened. Encourage this behavior by making available bystander intervention training available for everybody in Park Ridge.
Please continue to reach out to us with your ideas, and keep sharing information about local efforts so we can support the work folks are doing to create the community that we strive for.
One of the organizers for the Neighbors Against Hate Rally was Niles West District 219 school board trustee Jill Manrique. She even addressed the crowd at the rally. In her speech she encouraged people to show up and “get uncomfortable in big ways and in small ways”. Jill walks the talk because a week later she attended the Niles West graduation wearing a kuffiyeh in support of the oppressed people of Palestine.
As a result she was viciously defamed by hateful racists. The US Palestinian Community Network invited us to join them in solidarity with Jill Manrique in support of the Arab and Palestinian community at the next D219 board meeting. We were honored to show up and put our pledge into action. But we weren’t the only ones. What we witnessed that evening was an amazing organic show of solidarity and support. The public comment period was packed full of comments in support of Jill’s brave action and a strong message was sent that hate has no home in Niles West or anywhere in our community!
In April’s newsletter we told you about the school lunch program for children that was unable to continue this year due to lack of staff at the Niles-Maine District Library. After months of us raising awareness of this travesty, the library put the squeeze on staff to make it happen. Of course they didn’t end their contrived and brutal “hiring freeze” to help, they just added stress to the staff while cutting other programs. Our library deserves to be full funded and Carolyn Drblik, Suzanne Schoenfeldt, and Joe Makula need to END THE HIRING FREEZE NOW!
Niles-Maine District Library Board Meeting – June 15 2022
It’s budget time again at the library and Trustee Makula is on his usual cruel tear to slash the budget until it bleeds. On the chopping block is the Teen Underground that is specifically tailored to the needs of teens by our expert librarians. Joe Makula is *not* a librarian but can’t help himself imposing his whims on the library we built over the course of generations in our community. Please come out to the board meeting Wednesday and speak out against these drastic cuts.
Niles-Maine District Library Regular Board Meeting
June 15, 2022 6:30 PM
Niles-Maine District Library – Commons Meeting Room
6960 Oakton St. Niles, IL 60714
Our #SaveNilesLibrary campaign organizers and allies continue to show up and leaflet at the library to make sure all patrons know about this continuing attack on our library. We’re dedicated to our goal of saving the library so future generations can have this crucial resource available.