An increased focus on security at Oak Park and River Forest High School has cut into the profits generated by the annual Friends of the Oak Park Public Library book fair. The book lovers are looking for a compromise and the high school is saying that higher costs were spelled out in advance.
Security staffing provided by the school for the two day August event soared this summer with a corresponding hike in costs. In past years, says Steve Kirshenbaum, the book fair chair, the high school has charged approximately $800 for security staffing and no rental fee. This year the security cost was initially billed by the high school at $5,755. That was lowered to $5,067 after the book fair organizers expressed concern over the cost, says Karin Sullivan, OPRF's communications and community relations director. She expressed surprise that the cost was still an issue.
Sullivan says book fair organizers were informed during a July 2 meeting of changes to its security procedures and the increased charges associated with it. She said the group was required to have one facilitator/security person at the school during the week of setup before the book sale, five facilitators on the first day of the sale and approximately four the following day.
"Our procedures were spelled out to them," she says. "They were aware that they would need more [facilitators]."
"This is the first that we've heard that they are not happy with the bill," she says.
The book fair committee is still looking for further reduction of the security charge arguing that the $5,000 invoice chipped away at money that could be used for library programming.
"We want to keep on doing the book sale and keep on working with the high school," says Kirshenbaum. "It is important for everybody … to be able to have these programs. We want to be able to keep on funding them and the book sale is the best way to do that."
Kirshenbaum questioned the necessity of having upwards of six facilitators to man each day of the long-established book fair. Previously the event has gotten by with one school staffer and a security guard, he says.
Kirshenbaum could not provide final figures raised during this year's book sale, but estimated the event collected between $25,000 and $27,000.
"We have been able to give the library $35,000 in years past," he said "If we didn't have that extra $5,000 in expenses, it would have been $32,000 to the library," he says.