PRINCETON — Every year the Illinois State Library (ISL) requires Princeton Public Library and all other public libraries to report if they offer cards to non-residential members, how much they charge and how they calculate the amount. Princeton Public Library’s response for 2013-2014 year is due Thursday. Most libraries, including Princeton Public Library, opt to offer non-resident card service to people living outside of the city limits. Whether someone is inside or outside of the city (that is “resident” or “nonresident”) depends on if that person pays taxes to the city of Princeton. The ISL maintains that non-resident patrons must apply for the card at their nearest library.
Under state law, the fee amount for a non-resident card may be based on one of three options. The Princeton Public Library Board of Trustees has adopted the option it has determined to be most appropriate, called the General Mathematical Formula, which is arrived at by dividing the library’s income via local property taxes by the city’s population and multiplying that per capita figure by the average number of persons per household to arrive at a family card fee. Under this option, the non-residential card fee will increase from $84 to $94, effective Thursday. This is because the loibrary is required to use “The most recent federal census information available.”
There are important factors the library board wants to emphasize:
• The card is issued annually. If a card is purchased before July 18, for $84, the increase will not become effective until the card is renewed in July 2014.
• Princeton Public Library is restricted by the Illinois State Library from accepting or offering the non-residential fee lower than an equitable amount to that paid by city residents, “The board shall charge a non-resident fee for the privileges and use of the library at least equal to the cost paid by residents of the district, with the cost to be determined according to the formula established by the Illinois State Library.” In other words, the library can not offer discounts on the non-resident fee.
• The non-resident card provides the exact same services as the city resident cards, “A valid non-resident library card shall accord the non-resident cardholder all the services the issuing public library provides to its residents including reciprocal borrowing privileges.”
• Likewise, Princeton Public Library honors library cards from other libraries, as mentioned above. However, Princeton Public Library cannot place holds for interlibrary loan books for reciprocal cardholders; these hold requests must be placed at the home library.
• If a person owns property within the city and is taxed for library services, they are not required to apply for a non-resident card but will be eligible for a resident library card. A copy of the Princeton tax bill showing library tax must be presented yearly to maintain resident library card status.
In the past there has been concern about denying resources to the public based on individual ability to afford the non-residential fee. There are two things that are relevant to this issue.
• The majority of resources at the Princeton Public Library, including use of public computers and databases, is available to the general public regardless of card status. The main difference between cardholders and the general public is the ability to borrow items, which is a service solely available to cardholders. Although children without a library card are not able to participate in the summer reading book rewards program, families are welcome to attend and participate in all summer reading events.
• Through the generosity of their membership and organization, the Princeton Masonic Lodge 587 has agreed to contribute to the expense of an individual’s non-resident fee on a case-by-case basis.