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Judy Masterson: Readers see red over parking

Thomas Delany Jr. Staff Photographer.
Judy Mastersresporter for The News Sun.

Thomas Delany Jr. Staff Photographer. Judy Masterson, resporter for The News Sun. 7/12/06

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Updated: March 9, 2011 2:15AM

Settle down all you bookworms, or as visitors to libraries are now called — “learners and gatherers.”

I’m talking in particular to a certain voracious reader, who upon learning of the city of Waukegan’s plan to slash free two-hour downtown parking swore as God was his witness, he would never pull a parking coinage from his pocket again! Said Waukegan Public Library patron swore an oath that burns in the ears of all devoted Waukeganites: I’m going to Warren!

Ah, the allure of the west. With its incentivized commerce and its open spaces, especially its free blacktopped parking spaces.

The Waukegan library must be the only library in the county without a dedicated parking lot. The one it used to have was sold years ago to the county for courthouse parking. But despite rumblings by the City Council, the two free hours of parking granted to library patrons is not, I repeat, not going away. Patrons can still park in the city garage, which sits just northeast of the library on County Street. But come May 1, they must get their parking ticket validated by library staff.

City Clerk Wayne Motley said validation seekers should be prepared to prove they have actually used the library. Scofflaws will be grabbed by the ear and ushered to the stacks, where they will be forced to actually read something — preferably from deep inside Dewey Decimal 320.4 — on the structure and functions of government.

While the circulation of books may no longer be the primary purpose of the library, much to my friend’s grumbling chagrin, the institution has taken on a larger purpose, the building of community. Walk into the Waukegan library — or any library for the matter — and you will see why a hissy fit over parking ensued. The place is busy and will, I predict, get even busier, despite planned cuts in service and staff positions.

I visit the library and I see how hard the staff works. The reference librarians are often inundated with requests, especially by a certain muddling, middle-aged gatherer, who can’t remember how to get what’s on her flash drive to print.

Now that we know parking is free, let us remember — I refer you to 320.4 — good libraries are not.

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