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[EMAIL] July 20 Action Plan to Save Niles Library

Hi Neighbor,

We have a small Niles Coalition update with an important #SaveNilesLibrary plan to join. Check it out!

Niles Coalition

We have a new logo! Notice anything familiar? 👀

#SaveNilesLibrary Campaign

Our Niles Coalition #SaveNilesLibrary campaign is growing thanks to supporters like you! We have a number of opportunities available for you.

The next meeting of the library Board of Trustees is a really important one. On July 20th, they will hear public comments on the budget they proposed, which makes sweeping cuts to hours, staff, materials, and services. We want them to hear from as many different people as possible, so we need to get the word out.

Here’s the action plan list, how many can you check off?  ✅

Sign the petition to support the Niles-Maine District Library

Sign up for a yard sign

Sign up to pass out 25 flyers in your neighborhood or at a local event

RSVP for the rally on the 20th

☐ Like and share our #SaveNilesLibrary Facebook page

☐ Like and share our Niles Coalition Facebook page

Follow and share our Instagram account

Follow and share our Twitter account

☐ Share our website: savenileslibrary.org

☐ Talk to your friends, family, & neighbors

Thanks! Let’s get the community out on July 20th to Save Niles Library!

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Email List Save Niles Library

[EMAIL] Get Off the Internet!

[Niles Coalition]

Solidarity Card Events

Like the amazing activist, grassroots organizer, and educator Mariame Kaba says:
It isn’t true that ‘noone is doing X’. In fact, it’s always true that ‘someone is doing X’”. That is to say that everywhere people are creating all sorts of ways to help others out. Niles is no exception because we just discovered the Solidarity Cards for Incarcerated Teens event programming at the Niles-Maine DIstrict Library for youth in grades 7-12. Inspired by Circles & Ciphers, it’s an amazing opportunity for our community. More of this please!

Public Meeting Access

The Village of Niles board meetings have just gotten less accessible. During the pandemic meetings were virtual which allowed for remote access, public comments over zoom and emailed comments. On June 18th the Village quietly announced in an online newsletter that because Covid restrictions are being lifted there are no more options for remote participation of any form, including emailed comments.

A community is cared for best when all voices are accommodated. This return to less accessibility is an appalling direction for our government to take. Contact us if your voice is being silenced or if you know somebody who is being systematically excluded like this.

[#SaveNilesLibrary]

Joe Makula’s Buddy Steven Yasell

It’s reported that patrons at the library saw Trustee Joe Makula shepherding Steven Yasell around the library on Friday June 29th. Does this mean they hired him anyway regardless of the public outcry? Did he even pass the background check they agreed to require like other library workers? Is this how they’re paying him for their campaign video work? Is our patron information safe in his hands? So many questions, so little transparency.

Capitol Fax: “Elections have consequences”

Speaking of which, Rich Miller of Capitol Fax took notice of this attack on our community and wrote this blog post mentioning Steven Yasell (check out that “oppo file”), the unionization of library workers, and the ousting of Susan Dove Lempke.

>> ACTION ITEMS 🔥

So many people have been wanting to take action, we hear you! Here is a whole smorgasbord of opportunities to fight for our library, to fight for justice!

🔥 Last Minute Special Board Meeting Wednesday, June 30th 6:30pm

The library board just added the SEVENTH meeting for June; another Special Board Meeting with only 2 days’ notice. Trustee Suzanne Schoenfeldt claimsPersonal satisfaction comes from working for, and with people of the community”. How is this meeting schedule in any way accommodating the people of the community? The agenda includes a motion to deny public access to the library down to only 54 hours per week! That is below the Illinois Library Association’s standards for a library district our size. They’re also planning to add restrictive anti-transparency policies regarding press and communications. Public comments can be made in person or via email to: books@nileslibrary.org by 5:30pm.

🔥 4th of July Parade

We’re marching in the parade y’all! We have parade spots still open but filling up fast! There are other ways to join too for people who want to join us to show appreciation for the library and staff and raise awareness. It’s going to be a great time so please come on out and cheer for the Niles-Maine District Library! Fill out this form to sign up!

🔥 Join us on July 20th

This is the one, mark your calendar NOW because you won’t want to miss it! We are bringing our voices together in person to let the anti-library board what we think of their grim austerity budget that is gutting our Niles-Maine District Library. More details to come but we are asking everybody to come out for this one.

Budget cuts are numerous and include:

  • Cuts to hours and staffing putting our library’s per capita grant funding at risk. Per Illinois law (see 75 ILCS 10/8.1.) there are certain standards that public libraries must meet in order to receive state funding. Our library board’s slashed budget and the return to pandemic-level operating hours will make it impossible for us to meet some of these standards.

  • Significant cuts to the Teen AV budget. We don’t understand why Joe Makula is targeting the Teen Underground for reduced access. Making the library less appealing to teens doesn’t help anyone. TEENS RISE UP!

  • Cuts to staff salaries that are partially due to the board refusing to allow the library to fill any vacancies ($144,299) and the rest of the cuts will impact the wages of existing staff ($415,118). Staff will either be fired or have their pay drastically cut. This includes a direct attack on employees even in the lowest pay grade.

  • Discontinuing all school and nursing home outreach. The trustees have heard passionate testimony regarding the importance of school outreach from our library’s former director, staff, the local school district administrators, and many residents. Yet they plan to disregard this important role of our library.

Local news outlets have been covering the extreme cuts and loathsome behavior of the anti-library clan of trustees: Carolyn Drblik, Joe Makula, Olivia Hanusiak, & Suzanne Schoenfeldt.

Chicago Tribune: Divided Niles Library Board tentatively approves $1.5 million in budget cuts, reduced building hours

Journal & Topics: Tentative Niles-Maine District Library Budget Adopted With Spending Slashed

Thanks for reading, see you in the streets! 📢


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[EMAIL] We Knew This Was Coming

The lessons we’re learning from the #SaveNilesLibrary campaign have been informing the organizational structure of the Niles Coalition. We’ve been networking and making so many new friends. We’re excited to connect with so many of you. Another world is possible, we just know it!

#SaveNilesLibrary Update

As you know, our cherished Niles-Maine District Library was taken over by an anti-library bloc of trustees: Carolyn Drblik, Olivia Hanusiak, Suzanne Schoenfeldt, & Joe Makula. Their heartless attitude toward the library staff and patrons is such a cruel and shameful display that is causing so much anguish in our community. But we continue to bear witness during meeting after intolerable meeting.

🏆 Ok, first of all, the community really SHOWED UP when we asked for y’all to send letters to reject the Steven Yasell corrupt contract. The Mayor of Niles was compelled to make a public comment at the June 16th library board meeting to plead with the board to work together. He cited the over 150 emails, text messages, and phone calls. The situation is ongoing but congratulations and thank you!

🌟 Secondly and even bigger news is that the employees of Niles-Maine District Library are organizing their union with AFSCME Council 31! Through the tireless efforts of library workers and allies they accomplished this amazing feat in such a short time frame. We were honored to sign on as a supporter of this effort to secure worker rights! We hope this helps protect them from the brunt of the wrecking ball but we aren’t slowing down to find out!

🕊 Unfortunately, through all these wins, the anti-library bloc confirmed one of our worst suspicions on the night of June 18th, 2021. After an unprecedented 4-hour closed executive session while desperate library workers waited and waited, the board forced the resignation of beloved Executive Director Susan Dove Lempke. (video) The impact upon the community is devastating.

📄 You can always read out blog post updates at our campaign page at SaveNilesLibrary.org. Two new blog posts have been published recently:

📢 What’s next you ask? We have been inundated with requests for action. We hear you and we will be reaching out with specific opportunities. For one, the Niles 4th of July parade is coming up and we want to get as many people as possible along the route wearing buttons, stickers, building awareness, and cheering on the librarians. Specific details about that and future actions will be sent soon. Please stay tuned!

In Solidarity,

Niles Coalition

PS- here are some signs you can print out and put in your windows!

SaveNilesLibrary.org Sign, GreyscaleSaveNilesLibrary.org Sign, Color


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Email List Save Niles Library

[EMAIL] Niles Coalition Progress & #SaveNilesLibrary Action Alert

We’re so excited about all of the support and interest from those of you in the community who’ve signed up for our NilesCoalition mailing list! If you want to be more involved in where we focus our attention as a group please let us know so we can set up a time to meet before our next big meeting. Just respond to this email and we’ll be in touch!

We also have two actions you can take as we work together to #SaveNilesLibrary:

  1. ✉️ While our public comments and letters to library board trustees have been making a difference, the fight is far from over. The new trustees are awarding their campaign videographer access to the library systems for $100 an hour. This blatant corruption must be challenged. Please take a few minutes to contribute to this letter-writing campaign and put the board on notice! We have a handy lil’ easy-peasy tool right here for you: https://www.nilescoalition.org/2021/05/28/reject-the-corrupt-contract/
  2. 🗣 If you’re able to submit a written comment by 5:30 pm on the day of a meeting or make a comment in-person at any of the upcoming library budget workshops this Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday at the library that will be a great way to make sure your voice is heard! Here’s the information about those meetings so you can see which day will cover subjects that you want to comment about (for example, Digital Services and Materials Services on Wednesday; Adult, Teen, Youth, and Outreach Services on Thursday): https://www.nileslibrary.org/board-trustees . If you have any questions about how to do this just email us and we can help!

One of our community’s most cherished resources is in jeopardy, and this is a symptom of larger looming issues. It is time to unite and make a stance for justice!

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[EMAIL] #SaveNilesLibrary Update: 5-24-2021 Board Meeting

Hello World!

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!

Update: Library Special Board Meeting 5-24-2021

#SaveNilesLibrary Organizer faces the hostile library board speaking truth to power.

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:

#SaveNilesLibrary Organizers take a selfie.

  • 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.

A message written in chalk on a wall that reads Save Niles Library .org.

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!