Listed here are highlights that help define who we are, and make us a valuable resource for our community. Find more in our annual report.
We are a 5-Star Library
Only 85 libraries across the United States, and five in Illinois, earned a 5-Star Rating in 2012 from Library Journal. Read more about our 5-Star Rating.
Award-winning green building
Built in 2003, the Main Library's roof, some 12,500 square feet, holds a thin layer of soil and was planted with many native Illinois plants including stonecrop, phlox, and sedum. The soil together with the plant material improve the energy performance of the building and contribute to better air quality in the neighborhood. The green roof, copper wall system, and recycled rubber flooring minimize the building's impact on the natural environment through the use of sustainable building materials and systems. More about our award-winning green building.
Custom app puts the library in your pocket
Our mobile app debuted in 2011, enabling customers to put the power of the library's many resources in their pocket. Log in to download ebooks and audiobooks, use "book look" to scan an item's bar code to see if its in our collection, and more. The app is free and compatible with all web-enabled phones and iPads. More about our app.
Teen gaming = community benefit
Teen gaming began here in 2008 with a successful Mario Kart Wii Tournament. The competition returned in 2009 with a SmashKart Wii Tournament. Players in grades 6 through 12 compete in a simultaneous single elimination tournament. Monthly prizes have included certificates to GameStop. Prizes for the tournament finals have included an iPod Touch, Nintendo DS Lite, and an iPod Nano. In 2011 teens tested our new Kinect system, a controller-free gaming and entertainment experience for the Xbox 360 video game platform. In this video, librarian Monica Harris covers how the tournament helps provide community benefit.
A national first: Transgender Resource Collection
In 2007, we became the first public library in the nation to offer a focused Transgender Resource Collection. Starting with funds from a $3,000 grant, we've build the collection to be one of the country's largest. Learn more about our Transgender Resource Collection and custom toolkit for other librarians.
A local first: engaging an underserved audience in offsite discussions
Also in 2007, we introduced genre X, a monthly book discussion designed to engage people in their 20s and 30s, a typically underserved library audience. Held outside of the library at a neighboring pub, library genre X staff also present after-hours events with a hint of kitsch, such as a spelling bee for grown-ups, hi- and lo-tech gaming nights, social programs including LGBTQ-friendly speed dating and Movieoke. Genre X connects with its online community through genre-x.com and a Goodreads group.
Getting teens more involved in their community
Giving teens the chance to build skills, engage their talents, and give back to their community, our teen summer volunteer program began in 2008. Teens gives two hours each week, engaging in special projects, recommending books to their peers, making videos, creating murals, and more. More about our Teen Volunteer Program.
Implementing rich browsing to make finding what you want easier
In 2008, we reorganized to make our books, movies, and music easier to browse. Children’s picture books are grouped by categories in face-out bins. Children’s fiction books and movies are also shelved in rich browsing sections. Our teen fiction, adult fiction, nonfiction, and movies also feature categories that facilitate browsing. Each shelving section for adult rich browsing categories holds about 50 to 60 books. Top shelves feature face-out books. Bottom shelves hold spine-out titles for replenishing and additional browsing. Books in each rich browsing category have appropriate collection codes in the catalog and are stickered for ease in re-shelving. Adult titles rotate out of rich browsing after about two years and are moved into the regular stacks or are removed from the collection. Our staff sought inspiration and best practices in rich browsing at Richmond Public Library in Vancouver, Canada.
Always asking you to tell us what you want through Spark
In 2011, we launched Spark, our future-focused and community-driven launch pad to gain insights and develop ideas that can enhance the quality of life in Oak Park. We used this two-year initiative, and the community input it generated, to help shape our next strategic plan and goals.
Video games: you asked, we delivered
In 2011, you asked for it, and we answered with a video game collection that recognizes how games engage players in creative thinking and problem solving, and help develop digital literacy. Video games for all ages are available to check out. The collection includes games for Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii, Playstation3, and Xbox 360, with new games always being added. Video games are listed in the library catalog, can be placed a hold, and can be borrowed for up to seven days. We also have analog games (board games, card games).
Yes you can! eat in the library
In 2011, we changed our ways, and prohibited food only in a few designated areas. We believed this change would enhance the library as a comfortable and productive space for our community to gather and learn. This change was anticipated to particularly benefit parents and caregivers who visited with children, teens and kids stopping after school, people with low blood sugar, and people who use the library as their office. We expected this new policy to be both popular and successful, but we also planned to evaluate it for possible revisions during the first six months. Learn more about eating rules in our Rules of Behavior and download the sign (PDF).
We established noise zones in 2007 to ensure everyone has a great place to read, work, and study without unnecessary disturbance or distraction. Visitors are encouraged to find the zone that is appropriate for their needs and to respect the needs of others in the zone. Download the sign (PDF)
- Silent Zones are ideal for patrons who want to work or read with no disturbance.
- Quiet Zones are for those who want to work or read with only whispered conversation and minimal disturbance.
- Social Zones are places for those patrons who want to gather with groups or talk with others.
Rewarding and encouraging our staff
Good customer service is key to our mission, so we follow a multi-faceted reward and recognition program for our staff. Peer-driven “group hugs” celebrate the everyday greatness of our staff. When staff witness or experience an above-and-beyond effort by a coworker they have the opportunity to email send a “group hug.” On a monthly basis, a staff committee collects and sends the “group hugs” via an all-staff email. Annual awards are given for rookie of the year, exemplary customer service, and a third category decided each year.
Book cart drill team
Our Book Cart Drill Team was born in 2002, and added pizzazz to our local parade contingent. We knew other libraries had drill teams, and when we discovered a book had been published on how to form a team, we were on our way.
2009 Annual Library Book Cart Drill Team Championship
"Warrior Librarians" won world championship
- 2008 competition at Illinois Library Association annual conference
"Warrior Librarians" tied for first and voted “Most Outrageous”
- 2007 competition at Illinois Library Association annual conference
"Greased Lightning" placed second and received recognition for originality:
- 2005 1st Annual Library Book Cart Drill Team Championship
“Frog and Princess” placed fourth