McHenry to offer enhanced library services to nonresidents

McHENRY – Some people who work in McHenry but live elsewhere have made the McHenry Public Library their home library, its executive director said.

Using the library card from the town they live in, these visitors can check out books and make use of many library services, but those services are not the same as those offered to tax-paying residents.

To bridge the gap, starting Aug. 1 the McHenry Public Library District will offer enhanced library cards, which will cost $45 and be valid for one year, Executive Director James Scholtz said.

"We have a lot of people that come from River East and from Woodstock and from Richmond, amazingly, and from Johnsburg," Scholtz said. "Whether or not they will pay the extra fee for the enhanced services, I don’t know. I wanted to stress that we make this affordable because this is the cost of maybe one or two video games."

The ability to check out video games is one of the services enhanced card users will have that other nonresident library users won't.

They also won't get bumped in the hold queue, can register for library programs and request interlibrary loans.

Naperville Public Library is the only other library in Illinois where Scholtz has found this kind of program, he said, and while the Illinois State Library couldn't find anything in state statutes prohibiting it, the library doesn't endorse it.

State statute does prohibit the other proposal the library's board of trustees considered at its last meeting – library cards issued to a business as opposed to an individual.

Also starting Aug. 1, the library will begin issuing a fine for holds not picked up.

The number of holds requested – which include requesting a book the library owns as well as interlibrary loan requests – exploded, growing to more than 8,000 a month from 1,500 in 2007, Scholtz said.

About 40 percent of those holds aren't picked up, he said, and the district hopes to recoup some of the cost the library incurred in getting the book to the library.

Scholtz, however, wanted to stress the enhanced library card and holds fee were not a revenue grab, just a way to recoup costs associated with the services.

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