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Case Study and Updates out of the Downers Grove Public Library

Updated: May 15


May 15th UPDATE: In April 2024, Awake Downers Grove chapter chair Noel Manley exposed the alleged unlawful sharing of more than 25,000 card holders information by Downers Grove Library.

The Attorney General affirmed all the library card denials regarding Noel's FOIA for library cardholder names from the Westmont, Oak Brook, Hinsdale, Indian Prairie and Naperville public libraries. It appears the Downers Grove Public Library’s release of 28,031 library cardholders’ names is an outlier for sharing the library card holder information in what appears to be an unlawful violation of the Library Confidentiality Act . In 2011, the library's attorney outlined the privacy provisions of the Act pertaining to child pornography use on library computers. The DuPage State's Attorney has now launched an investigation.






MAY 9th UPDATE: Awake Downers Grove chapter chair Noel Manley is granted an Attorney General review of alleged Open Meetings Act violations committed by Downers Grove Library.

DONATE to the Awake Downers Grove Chapter advocacy efforts HERE.




 


  1. How do woke libraries FAIL? Look no further than Downers Grove Public Library; a case study. Use the interactive review above or scroll down for full blog review with FOIA links and source links.

  2. Show your support for Bill Nienburg, a Downers Grove Public Library board member who has faced a communist struggle session for 2 years and believes in putting library programming ahead of drag queen bingo and woke activism. Share this form with all of your community contacts.






 

Bill Nienburg and the Downers Grove Public Library

This review is parallel to the 2-year witch hunt Bill Nienburg has endured as a law-abiding and ethical board member.


The politically active Downers Grove Public Library administration and library board moved on February 28, 2024 to censure nonconforming library board member Bill Nienburg for sharing nonconfidential information with a Downers Grove taxpayer regarding a window painting policy at the library.  In a 5-0 vote the board moved to censure Mr. Nienburg and entered a request to the Downers Grove Village Council for his removal from the board.  These actions all occurred when Mr. Nienburg was out of town and unable to attend this meeting and thereby denying him an opportunity to defend himself. 


Bill Nienburg began his tenure with the Downers Grove Public Library Board in May 2022.  In this role as a library board member Mr. Nienburg is known for his fiduciary duty to the Downers Grove taxpayer by asking tough questions to and holding the library administration to account. 

Two years ago, Bill Nienburg asked why a Native Land Statement is read before each meeting, but no Pledge of Allegiance.  Soon after, the Pledge began to be recited before each meeting. 

During budget review Mr. Nienburg asked specific questions regarding increases to certain budget items, as well as how the budget can be proposed with no exact numbers.  And he questioned why the library staff, on its own accord, modified the native land statement with an anti-Christian update associating Christian Churches with native genocide.  


SEE MINUTE 55:00 OF BOARD MEETING RECORDING


In the broader context, this is the same activist library administration and board majority who





(3) developed and recites a native land statement that serves as a virtue signal with no real substance regarding native injustice. WATCH VIDEO BELOW OF BOARD RECITING THE LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT, NO PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE.



Mr. Nienburg’s censure was not enough to satisfy the board majority.  During the February 28, 2024, Library Board Meeting board members made disrespectful and mean-spirited remarks that likely violated board policy and by laws regarding respect and civil tone at board meetings.  One board member, Carissa Dougherty openly violated Mr. Nienburg’s privacy by discussing his library card during the meeting and was a likely violation of the Illinois Library Records Confidentiality Act 75 ILCS 70/1.


On March 5, 2024, the Downers Grove Village Council voted 4-3 to investigate the removal of Mr. Nienburg from the Downers Grove Public Library Board.   Again, no substantive policy violation was identified beyond alleged good governance.  However, speakers during public comment made direct points regarding policy and law violations by the library administration and board members regarding the open discussion of Mr. Nienburg’s library card.  


At the March 20, 2024, Downers Grove Public Library Board meeting speaker Noel Manley asserted that board member Carissa Dougherty may have violated the Illinois Library Records Confidentiality Act during her attack on board member Nienburg.  Ms. Dougherty, during board comments, asserted she checked this matter with an attorney and that this was not protected information.   Note that in a FOIA dated April 1, 2024 an email dated March 13, 2024 was produced from the firm Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins arguing that “card holder status isn’t exempt information under the Library Confidentiality Act…”  To test this assertion, in the same FOIA a request for a list of all active library card holders over the age of 18 was made.  And the FOIA officer released a 510-page list of 28,031 names Downers Grove Public Library card holders (click "USER REPORT" file link below or see FOIA link).


User Report Over 18_Redacted
.pdf
Download PDF • 3.41MB



Similar requests for active library card holder lists were made to the Westmont Public Library, the Oak Brook Public Library, the Hinsdale Public Library, and the Indian Prairie Public Library District.  All denied this requested citing the same language in the Illinois Library Records Confidentiality Act (see photos below). 




To compound the inconsistent application of library policy, at the April 9, 2024, Downers Grove Village Council meeting a former library employee spoke at public comment regarding her employment at the library. 

Specifically, she presented the council with her experience of sexual and criminal harassment from library patrons and the lack of response from the library administration.  In fact, when she addressed this matter with the Downers Grove Police, she was placed on an employee improvement plan for failing to follow library protocol.  Note that she cited the library employee handbook’s regarding harassment and sexual harassment.  A policy that was not enforced. Feeling humiliated and abandoned in by the library administration, this violated woman resigned. SEE TIMESTAMP 11:12 at video below.


The consistent element of the Downers Grove Public Library’s administration and board majority is to deny due process to any board member or employee who fails to conform to their will.  In the case of Bill Nienburg and the former library employee, if you step outside your lane, you will be punished with selective and unspecific policy enforcement.   However, if you violate the law, you get a pass. 


The Downers Grove Public Library community requested Awake Illinois post this review and also provide a form to send support for Bill Nienburg to Downers Grove Village Board.


We agreed out of support for the lawful petitioning of policy makers and for the 1st amendment right to free speech.



MEDIA CONTACT:

Noel Manley, Awake IL Downers Grove Chairperson



 

Sources:


February 28, 2024 Library Board Meeting:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qxb_6koIqTw



March 20, 2024 Library Board Meeting:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jFgBF_CYsQ



Illinois Library Records Confidentiality Act 75 ILCS 70/1:  https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=1004


FOIA to Downers Grove Library Dated March 29, 2024:  https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1wRlM7NlVOmJ3Fk97kLjd3TFLW6IOglze

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