The Champaign County Library’s 0.8-mill, five-year renewal levy for current operating expenses is the only countywide issue on local Nov. 3 general election ballots.
“The library has always enjoyed local support for levies, and we’re very appreciative of that and hope to receive that support in November,” said library Director Ty Henderson.
Approved by voters in 2010 and renewed in 2015, the levy garners an estimated $393,000 each year for the main library in Urbana and its branch library in North Lewisburg and costs the owner of a $100,000 property an estimated $21.90 a year.
As it has been for many, 2020 has been a trying year for the library, closed several weeks due to the COVID-19 threat, re-opened with limited service, then temporarily unable to offer copying and faxing services after a vehicle slammed into a front window and took out the copier.
“Libraries have always been the busiest during down economies and in other tough times,” Henderson said. “That’s what was so difficult. Being shut down in March and April, it was difficult to provide the services we knew people were needing.”
Drive-up service was the first step in slowly re-opening both library sites. This no-contact service remains available and is encouraged.
“People were so thankful to be able to get items again,” Henderson said of the response to the drive-up service. “It was a joy on both sides.”
Now limited, express service inside the libraries also is offered and traffic continues to increase.
“There have been days when it feels like things are back to where they were before the pandemic,” Henderson said.
He said that while there was steady online activity during the shutdown, there continued to be a demand for physical materials, including materials for students.
“It was a challenge with schools still being in session and not being able to provide materials for students,” he said.
Henderson noted WiFi is available in the libraries and in both parking lots.
“We extended the WiFi signal in the parking lot, so people could have more access to the library when it’s closed,” he said, adding the library’s dedicated internet line is one of the fastest in the county.
And, to those eager to trade in books purchased at the last Friends of the Library book sale, Henderson says the Friends are exploring safe ways sales may be possible and, no, the library is not accepting books patrons purchased, read and want to donate back to the Friends for future sales. Not yet, anyway.
“Our storage space is overflowing,” he said.
Kathy Fox can be reached at 937-652-1331, ext. 1773.