Bloomington Library continues traffic decline

By:  Diane Benjamin

PDF page 14 – Bloomington Public Library Board Meeting:


The “Active Users” is the only number that has increased.

PDF pages 29 and 30 show E-book and computer use are both higher than last year.

More space for books is obviously not needed since circulation numbers continue to decrease.

The library does hold many events and programs.  See this link – things for all ages you get to pay for even if you never attend:

See the Discover Programs and Kids/Teens tabs.




24 thoughts on “Bloomington Library continues traffic decline

  1. No matter what they do, technology and the Age of Information has made libraries obsolete. The numbers will continue to decline until it is apparent to everyone (yes even Tari and the city council) that the library is dead.

      1. Yes it is the only way they can keep their numbers up. So without the events the numbers (realistic library use) would be much lower.

  2. The vast amount of made up “events” that are not at all related to books at both our libraries are incredible. Just checking the Normal Library’s “events” calendars we are paying for: Legos, Quilting, Jam Sessions, Knitting and Crocheting, Regression Session (whatever the hell that is?), Lunchtime Yoga, Contra Dancing… etc, etc, ad nauseum. GOOD GRIEF!!!! Just another government taxing agency deviating from their purpose to increase their employee count and tax increase “needs”!

  3. Hopedale Illinois residents showed common sense when they defeated the question of funding a library thru taxes last election. Tazwell county showed a lot of common sense when they defeated the 1% sales tax as well. See what happens when you don’t have a bunch of socialists like Tari Renner, ISU, IWU propped up by controlled media like Pantagraph, WGLT, 1230AM and company.

  4. I like our libraries and programs. Unfortunately they can reasonably argued to be ‘nice to haves’ and both mayors have put them near the bottom of their priority lists.
    If any library advocate says “We can’t cut / have to expand our library!”, tell them you’re very sympathetic, but the council already spent the library funds on our new sports complex, and naked magicians, and subsidizing luxury apartments, and (put pet boondoggle here). A good library should certainly be prioritized above all those things – perhaps they should vote for a new mayor and a new council.

  5. I’m glad everyone here on this forum is rich. Everyone must have their to computers and be able to buy those book and ebooks, audiobooks you’re talking about which if you go on Amazon add up. What about those who are so rich or lack access to computers?

    Library funds are SEPARATE from any other taxes especially if you’re talking about a library district like Bloomington. It must be fashionable to bash libraries now by people who obviously don’t use a public library.

    The programs and classes you’re bashing address digital literacy on introductory skills for Microsoft Office, genealogical research online and coding clubs for those interested in learning computer programing. Access to tax preparation information addresses financial literacy. Material literacy is offered through maker-spaces and large references on everything from cooking, gardening and vehicle maintenance to home repair. Public libraries have actual research materials and research databases. Libraries offer safe space to read, write or learn without being compel to buy for using that space. I could go on.

      1. And for a good public library it is well worth it. Two months attendance during one of the coldest winters in years isn’t a good measurement of anything. The fact that patrons were downloading books tells you how the library was being using during a extreme cold winter. Libraries are not a business and are were never meant to be a money making entity. They are non-profits and like any good community resource, they are there for anyone and everyone. Bloomington Library tax rate is less than 3% or .025296 of your property taxes. If you don’t like libraries, then fine. Don’t bash what you don’t use. The same goes for public schools. There are many people who value what a good public library gives them.

    1. News flash Margot: I am almost 68 years old – used to use the library all the time – haven’t been in one for years – yes I have a computer – “Digital literacy?” MS Office training is the taxpayers job? – “Tax preparation?” Taxpayers job to provide? It’s call Turbo Tax – “Material Literacy?” Everything is on line – “Research materials and research databases” – It’s called the Internet and EVERYTHING is available – “Safe space to read, write or learn?” I have one too… it’s call home or anywhere with WiFi.

      In conclusion: No matter how much people like you Margot want to save libraries they cannot and will not exist in just a few years. I am an avid reader and a writer. Do I buy books? Yes, all the time via a download to my e-reader (many cost 99 cents). Do I write? Yes with my computer not with a pen and a pencil. I can visit the digital Library of Congress with two mouse clicks. I can find anything I want within seconds. Why do I (or anyone else need) a library?

      Libraries are dinosaurs in the Age of Mammals. They are the Block Buster Video stores of movie rentals. There is no need to print words on dead trees and store them in a repository called a library. The Age of Information has changed everything. Should we provide access to computers for those who can’t afford them? Yes, but not with a taxpayer funded huge staff, facility, and big budget. 20 computers and two staff members is all that is needed. Everything else is online for anyone who has the drive and desire to find it. And if you WANT to learn anything…. it is available online 24/7.

      1. “they cannot and will not exist in just a few years”

        And you know this how? If libraries are “disappearing” and are dinosaurs, why when I travel over seas I find libraries in the smallest towns? Predictions of the future have been wildly off the mark. Age of Information has changed things? If future predictions were true, we would have flying cars.

        Not everything on the internet is true or can be used as source. Wikipedia is case in point. No professor would accept Wikipedia as a source for a paper.
        99 cent books? That may or may not be true. Amazon may let you buy a e-book for that amount, but any e-book that’s in copyright with a contemporary author goes for at least 15 to 20 dollars depending on the author and title.
        You can’t check out those book or resources on the Library of Congress web site. In fact if you want a title on the Library of Congress web site you have to go through your local public library.

    2. I agree with you Margot, but we also need to look at the library in the contexts of efficiencies and priorities. If there are ways we can deliver services like those you list more efficiently, we should always be open to considering our options. And what are our funding priorities? Whether we actually fund one, both, or neither, at a purely ‘rank your priorities’ level, I think Bloomington needs a new library more than it needs a new Connect Transit bus terminal. That’s something it seems both mayors and the most of both councils have backwards, imo.

      1. You are funny Karl! Since you ran for city council… perhaps you can elaborate on your “contexts of efficiencies and priorities”?

        And since you were running for city council… I will bring you up to speed on: Bloomington council rejects library relocation: So the library doesn’t want a new library…. so your point is?

        And now the bus terminal: Can you, in good conscience recommend a new bus terminal considering the ridership numbers and the massive drain on taxpayer money?

        And now for funding priorities: You are talking about a new library that the library doesn’t want and a bus terminal for a transportation system that has failed and continues to fail, while things like basic infrastructure (like our roads) continue to fall into disrepair?

        Since you obviously have future political aspirations, I would like you to respond to my questions. As is stands right now (from your posting) you are someone I would not vote for. Prove me and this thread of people wrong by speaking your mind and not what you think is politically expedient. FYI: There are more who think like me than Margot…..

      2. Karl! Where is my response, buddy? Cat got you tongue? We are waiting for you to respond to my very valid questions about your positions?

      3. @NeverSilent – Perhaps I was not clear in my post, but I don’t see where we disagree.
        – Bloomington doesn’t want a new library? That’s great as then one doesn’t have to argue about it. My apologies for getting that issue confused, as I’m a Normalite, and there has been talk (t)here of a new library for literally more than a decade.
        – How can I recommend a new bus terminal? Simple – I can’t, and don’t see how anyone else can either.

        My intended points were
        – Priorities: Even though I like libraries, I concede that there are legitimate concerns about whether they are a good use of funds in the digital age. Whatever one’s view on that subject, it seems both mayors/councils are funding/pushing items that Should be even lower priorities. As such, our first order of business should be to stop funding the ‘bad’ (like the bus terminal) before we consider funding the ‘good or debatable’.
        – Efficiencies: I like the library programs as well, along with the other aspects Margot listed. Even so, that does not automatically mean ‘new library’. Are there better ways to deliver those services? The proposed design for the Normal library included a number of ‘green’ design features. How many of those are cost effective good ideas vs how many of those are unnecessary expense so the mayor/council can pat themselves on the back for having a good LEED rating?

        So we agree on the bus terminal issue, and somewhat disagree on library issues – you seem to think libraries are money pits that should be gotten rid of (intended as a factual statement, no tone to be read into it), and I think they are still worthwhile, but like all government expenses they should be reviewed to ensure we are getting as much bang for our buck as possible, whether it be new construction, ongoing operations, or considering ending a program or service.

        Apologies for the delay – I’m not always on here every day or have the time to create a well-thought-out post. I always welcome healthy debate – It’s the best way to teach people, imo, even when ‘people’ ends up being me. 🙂

  6. “2 months? Ask the library of they teach reading!”

    You’re basing your “traffic decline” on only two months of 2019 which were very cold. Patrons were downloading books, so they were actually very much USING the library. In order to use the library app for downloading books and audiobooks, you have to have a library card.

    People who are declaring libraries are ‘”obsolete” are those who never used a library and wouldn’t be caught dead in a library. They don’t care about learning and don’t value reading.

    Libraries definitely teach reading, they have always been on the forefront of literacy for ALL ages. All libraries have programs that teach young children how to retain their read skills and the simple joy of reading for fun. Libraries also are involved in adult literacy. Libraries invest in resources that teach the written English language to those who are learning English as their second language. This includes those who never learned to read or have low reading skills either because of gaps in their education or learning disorders.

    1. If you read it right – traffic has been declining for years All the events are only so they can keep a job there is no need for. Libraries shouldn’t be using money from poor people to entertain others.

      1. Oh Margot…. you are completely clueless about the Age of Information and the Exponential Rate of Technological change. So I will educate you.

        “And you know this how?”

        Because I am the closest you will ever come to a futurist. In 2017 I wrote a paper “The End of Bloomington-Normal as We Know It” in which I predicted the downsizing of State Farm and the disruption that is currently challenging it. This piece was published many places (including this site) – So take a look at it.

        In the same paper, I predicted that ISU and hundreds of other colleges and universities are overpriced and obsolete and will be forced to close. Yes and when this happens it will be fast and hundreds will close quickly (just like retail).

        Yes I predicted the downfall of retail at about the same time. Would you have ever predicted that thousands of retail outlets across the country would close just 3 years ago? That our mall would die? I did

        Here is an excerpt from my paper:

        Exponential Technological Change

        Everyone alive today is witnessing the beginning of an age like no other in human history. From the beginning of our first tool making until quite recently, the rate of our technological advancements has been relatively slow. The Dark Ages in Europe stopped the advancement of science and technology and delayed what we are experiencing today by several hundred years. There have been spurts of rapid change due to things like the introduction of machines in factories. But for the most part, the change has come at a rate that allowed us to adjust. We humans have pretty much been able to adapt to everything that technology has thrown at us, so far.
        All of what we knew and experienced in the 20th Century and before, about technological change is now ancient history and cannot be used as a predictor of the future. We are at the beginning, a launch point of sorts, that has taken thousands of years to get to. We are at the beginning of the Age of Exponential Technological Change. We are at the beginning of what is going to be a geometric progression of change of unimaginable size and scope.
        We are experiencing the intuitive effects of exponential technological change in our lives every day. Things seem to be moving very fast. Your latest and greatest phone becomes dinosaur-like in a very short period of time. There are new tools, new devices and new everything coming out almost daily. This of course is just the beginning of what is to come in the 21st Century. Significant advancements in areas like artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, material sciences and bio-medical technology (to name just a few) are right around the corner. There are estimates that the 21st Century will usher in technological advances equal to 200 Centuries of our past advancements!
        A recent study in Europe found that roughly 53 percent of all the current jobs can or will be able to be done in the near future by machines. Yes, coming to your workplace soon is a machine to replace you or a new system that makes you obsolete. That is assuming that the company you work for still exists! Life cycles of companies in the past have ranged from decades to over a hundred years (in rare occasions). That is all about to change. The accelerated rate of change is going to make companies sometimes instantly obsolete or unable to compete. Technological advancements are going to lead to disruption events that will ultimately effect most of the companies whose roots are in the 20th Century. Even the most progressive and adaptable among them will not be able to escape the axe of a disruptive technology that in one swing makes everything they do obsolete or worthless.

        Vulnerabilities of State Farm and ISU

        Technology was always driven by our human desire to make things easier and more efficient. Our technology now has evolved to a point where it is self-generating more and more efficiency into every aspect of our lives and our world. So this drive toward more efficiency is somewhat of a runaway train. We cannot stop it. We can only try to adjust to the new realities it is creating each day.
        Large bureaucratic management systems are pinnacles in the evolution of hierarchical control. Thousands of years of hierarchical control combined with the 20th Century economies of scale and stable markets, resulted in the evolution of large Zeppelin-like systems that still manage many companies today. We have at the heart of the two economic drivers of Bloomington/Normal (State Farm and ISU), 20th Century Zeppelin-like hierarchical control systems.
        So what does this mean for the institution and the company that we rely on for the lion’s share of our economic activity? Neither are very adaptable. Neither are very quick to change. Both have inefficiencies and inflexibilities build into their management systems. Both have just too many unnecessary people working in service to their bloated bureaucratic systems. Both have brick and mortar assets that tie them to their past way of doing business or educating. Both have nurtured corporate/institutional cultures that make them less able to adapt.
        So we have two entities driving our economy that are essentially coasting on the momentum they gathered from the 20th Century. They are both ripe for massive disruption.
        Illinois State University
        The bubble that higher education is currently riding high on is about to burst. The first question that will be asked is “ISU is doing great, they fill their enrollment every year – how are they in trouble?” Yes, for the moment ISU appears to be doing well but it is coasting on the momentum it gathered in the 20th Century. Higher education has priced itself out of the market. They have added layers of worthless bureaucracy and spent years turning educational institutions into resort-like atmospheres. All of which was paid for by raising tuitions. Tuitions that were paid for by loans that were raised each year to keep pace with the tuition increases. So we are that a point now that the money needed to get through college far exceeds any expected return on any job acquired after. In fact many graduates face the reality of working jobs that barely allow them to service their college debt, let alone buy a house or start a family. Student loan debt is crippling an entire generation. It is only a matter of time before the students just stop coming.
        Even if we were to forgive all the current student loans and make all college free, higher education still has a systemic problem. Their hierarchical control systems are slow to change or change at all. Higher education is disconnected from the real world. That disconnect combined with an inability to change and adapt, means that students are not being prepared to compete in a 21st Century world. They will (because of their bureaucratic system and culture) refuse to change or the changes they initiate will be so slow that they will end up being meaningless.
        So young people will be forced to abandon the holy grail of a college education because: 1) the expense far outweighs the benefits 2) education is freely available to anyone who has an internet connection and a desire to learn 3) the new opportunities to leverage technology is allowing young people to start businesses or make money outside traditional companies.

        State Farm

        For a number of years State Farm has been streamlining their organization. They have been consolidating their operations all over the country. As technology has been transforming the insurance industry they have at least made an attempt to adjust their operational structure. They have been doing what a well run 20th Century oriented hierarchically controlled bureaucratic system would do. It is what they are not doing or can’t do that is important for their future survival.
        One of the most important things they can’t do is change very quickly. The sheer size of their operations makes change glacial. The inability to change quickly means that their ability to adapt to the constantly evolving business environment of the 21st Century is seriously challenged. For example, their extensive network of agents are vestiges of the past and are no longer needed. Millennials don’t care about having an agent. They shop on-line for the lowest rate. Yet State Farm continues to keep their agent network in spite of the fact that agents are no longer needed. So this puts them at a competitive disadvantage with a company who does not have agents. I imagine that even suggesting the elimination of the agent network would be seen as a blasphemous assault of the “like a good neighbor culture ” that State Farm has perpetuated for years both inside and outside their company.
        One of the most important things they are not doing is changing their corporate culture, specifically the leadership component. The kind of young people who are needed to really make changes in State Farm would not be hired because of their inability to fit into their corporate culture. Leadership at State Farm does not go to the youngest, most innovative and brightest stars. It goes to those who work well within the system, those who keep their heads down and their nose to the grindstone for many years. So a leadership that has been groomed by the expectations of a 20th Century bureaucracy cannot move State Farm forward.
        The most significant threat that State Farm faces is from high technology startups. These companies come out of nowhere and within a very short period of time leverage technology to take significant market share from existing companies. Uber is a great example of this. They came out of nowhere to leverage technology, now eclipsing cab companies with a current net worth of over 6 billion dollars. There is most likely a Uber- like insurance startup right now working on a plan to upend the insurance industry. State Farm is not in any way prepared for an assault on their business by lean high technology startups. They would quickly be overwhelmed and unable to compete in a market that they once dominated.

  7. Never Silent: Accurate on all counts. Sad that people at ISU and State Farm would never take your arguments into serious consideration. I too made the argument about companies lasting only a generation or two to several leaders in this town and was scorned and laughed at.

    1. Thanks! I really wish I was not accurate on all counts considering the implications for our towns. As we move farther into the 21st Century, company life cycles will get increasingly shorter. I know it’s hard to imagine all the buildings and the people connected to State Farm and ISU going obsolete, but it is going to happen. It is not if but when.. And instead of dealing with this reality, our leadership denies it’s happening while doing nothing to move our area into a 21st Century economy.

  8. OK Karl…. You just came out and said that you agreed with Margot. Margot is not completely understanding the world that millions of us now live in and that her world exists only in her mind. Do we need to address the problems of poor and disadvantaged people not having access to information? Yes of course, but we need to address this from a 21st Century perspective. Libraries are vestiges of the past. There are better and cheaper ways to bring information to people. And no libraries are not community centers or educational facilities, they are places to keep and share books that impart information to the public. The question is: What does the library do that we need to keep and what does it do that we no longer need? The books are certainly not necessary anymore (sorry Margot). To me, some computers and printers and some tech savvy staff is all that is needed. Everything that is currently happening with the rise of technology in our world is oriented to making everything we do more efficient. Holding on to the vestiges of the past (like libraries) is not only silly but is an extremely inefficient use of public resources. And in the long run, the people who would use a 21st Century library would be better served by something that is modern and up-to-date. So do we want to cling to the past or move our library into the future?

Leave a Reply