Listed here are highlights that help define who we are, and make us a valuable resource for our community. Find more accomplishments and kudos by year in our annual report.

Serving as one of the nation's best libraries

Read more about our Star Rating, a significant distinction awarded by Library Journal.

Winning architectural recognition

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.

Debuting 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.

Sharing 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.

Putting the library in your pocket

Our first 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. More about our app.

Growing a teen audience

  • Gaming = community benefit. Teen gaming began here in 2008 with a successful Mario Kart Wii Tournament, and continues to flourish. 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, teen services librarian Monica Harris explains how the tournament helps provide community benefit. Watch the teen gaming video.

  • Volunteering = fun. Giving teens the chance to build skills, engage their talents, and give back to their community, our annual teen summer volunteer program began in 2008. Each summer since, teens have given two hours a week, engaging in special projects, recommending books to their peers, making videos, creating murals, and more. 

Asking for your input, ideas and insights

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 strategic plan and goals

Changing our ways for a better library experience

  • Yes you can! Eat at the library. In 2011, the Board of Library Trustees amended policies to allow food more 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. Learn more about eating rules in our Rules of Behavior.
  • Yes you can! Be social at the library. Noise zones were introduced 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 best for their needs and to respect other visitors. The three zones are:
  1. Silent for patrons who want to work or read with no disturbance
  2. Quiet for people who want to work or read with only whispered conversation and minimal disturbance
  3. Social for those visitors who want to gather with groups or talk with others

Making it easier to find what you want

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. Watch our rich browsing video.

Adding pizzazz to our local presence

Now in hiatus, our Book Cart Drill Team was born in 2002, adding pizzazz to local parades.

By 2009, our team of Warrier Librarians had grown to take first place in a national competition.

Watch our "Warrior Librarians" video.

News coverage

More Illinois Library Association awards

  • 2008 "Warrior Librarians" tied for first and voted “Most Outrageous”
  • 2007 "Greased Lightning" placed second and received recognition for originality