Here's our complete 2011 annual report. To read more highlights that define who we are, review our innovations .
2011: It’s Been a 4-Star Year
We received 4 stars in Library Journal’s national rating of public libraries in 2011, a noted "reflection of outstanding service to the Oak Park community.” This distinction is measured by numbers of borrowed materials, visits, program attendance, and library computer use. In addition to the 4-star rating, the Library Journal Index of Public Library Service ranked Oak Park Public Library second in the state within its category. In 2012, we're shooting for 5 stars.
You Borrowed 1,471,000 Items
One key measure of our success is the number of times items are borrowed. In 2011, you borrowed more items than ever - 1,471,000 items - up 9,000 from 2010 and a 39% increase from 2006. Audio-Visual materials accounted for 39 percent of the total - up from 34 percent in 2010.
And Made 770,000 Visits
You made 770,000 visits through our doors, and 445,000 visits to our website. The library continues to be a busy place, serving many people in many ways.
We Delivered Expanded Virtual Services, Including a New Website
2011 debuted new virtual library services -- making our services available anytime, from anywhere. Customers can now chat with a librarian for reference answers, use a new custom app to manage their account, download ebooks, and more. New website features included more high technology learning opportunities, and tracking system for interlibrary loan requests. We've continued to add features, and improve things based on feedback we get from you. Get in touch  and tell us what you think.
Successful Summer Reading Programs
Our 2011 summer reading programs were hugely successful. The activity and excitement was fantastic as children, teens, and adults engaged in reading clubs that celebrated traveling around the world via books. We set a record for first day enrollment in our kids' summer reading program, which for the first time included an opportunity to read for charity.
Debut of Love Your Library! Show Your Card!
Debuting in the summer of 2011, we encouraged you to Love Your Library! Show Your Card! Many of you took advantage of library card discounts with 19 of our Oak Park business partners. And a surprising number of you stood in front of the camera to enthusiastically share your love for us on video!
An All-New Popular Video Game Collection
In response to public demand, we introduced an intensely popular video game collection in the summer of 2011. “Games engage players in creative thinking and problem solving and help develop digital literacy,” said Monica Harris, Assistant Manager of Adult and Teen Services. If your game of choice is already checked out, you can place a hold. Games can be borrowed for 7 days. The collection includes games for Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii, Playstation3, and Xbox 360.
More Free Instructional Offerings
We broadened our free instructional offerings with ereader petting zoos, one-on-one computer help sessions, online classes , and in-person classes targeted to basic- and advanced-level technology skill sets. We aim to provide Oak Parkers with the technology access, tools, and skills, you need to be successful.
Dedicated Volunteers Donated 4,300 Hours
Again in 2011 we mobilized the talents of our many dedicated volunteers. Among other achievements these individuals made over 3,300 home deliveries to those unable to visit the library, provided assistance to computer users, operated our machine to clean DVDs and CDs, and kept library materials in order on the shelves. Collectively our volunteers contributed over 4,300 hours to help keep the library operational.
Energetic Teen Volunteers
A record number of teens participated in our teen summer volunteer program. These teens contributed in so many ways. One team created the Pass It On project as a way to foster a love of reading in the wider community, especially in people who might not regularly come in to the library. One team painted a mural for the teen space at the Main Library. Another team created a video tour of the Main Library’s green roof. Yet another team taped interviews about why people love the Oak Park Public Library. Teens also helped keep our shelves organized and helped with the summer reading program. “It’s wonderful having the teens here during the summer. It keeps us connected to their interests, helps us serve them better, and gives them a better understanding of library services,” stated Rebecca Teasdale, Assistant Director for Public Services and Programs. “And obviously their work speaks for itself.”
Outstanding Staff Awards
Three staff members received awards at the Illinois Library Association's annual conference in 2011. Lori Pulliam, Branch Services Manager and Interim Circulation Services Manager, received the Davis Cup Award for outstanding contributions in library service to young people. Librarian Michele Paladines received the Crosman Memorial Award for achievements as a new professional. Circulation Supervisor/ library student Margita Lidaka received the Sylvia Murphy Williams Award to provide additional support to Illinois recipients of the ALA Spectrum Initiative Scholarship
New Welcoming Experience
Early in 2011 we improved your welcome at the Main Library by assigning customer care experts to the front entrance. This change led to improvements in both customer service and building security and we received many positive comments.
Homework Hub for Kids
To support young students, the library created a new Homework Hub at the Main Library. This space in the first floor Children’s Room offers lots of work books and supplies like a calculator and protractor. Computers in the space are installed with software for special needs, phonics programs, typing instruction programs, and educational games.
Teen Study Week
We invited teens to the library during their academic finals week for more than just a quiet place to study. Teens were offered brain food snacks and spaces to study in groups. Reference librarians were on hand to provide moral support and answer tough questions.
Fax for the Public
We began offering self-service fax service at the Main Library in the spring of 2011. The public machine in the alcove off the first floor lobby serves as copier, fax, and scanner. Sending a fax costs $.50 per page.
Online Class Registration
Online registration is now an option for library classes and events. “We are happy to facilitate the registration process for those who have Internet access outside the library. Of course we also take registrations via phone and in person,” explains Elsworth Rockefeller, Manager of Adult and Teen Services.
Job Seeeker Resources
We continued to provide resources for job seekers, including classes to build technology skills. Our print materials and free online resources assist with career exploration, skill building, writing resumes and cover letters, and preparing for job interviews. In 2012 we will offer even more free support for job seekers.
Laptops Available for Check Out
Using a laptop computer became an option at our Maze Branch Library in November 2011. Like those available at the Dole Branch, these laptops are advantageous in their flexibility. “We not only have additional computers for our visitors, but people can use laptops in a number of seating areas. So you can choose if you prefer to sit in a chair or at a table.” stated Lori Pulliam, Manager of Branch Services. You can use these laptops for up to 2 hours with your Oak Park Public Library card. These laptops were checked out over 300 times at the Dole Branch and Maze Branch in 2011.
As ever, Oak Park kids and their caregivers love storytimes at the library! With sessions for babies through second graders, library storytimes use age-appropriate books and songs to help develop literacy skills.
Expanded ebook Collection
We added even more ebooks to keep up with demand for this format. You downloaded 14,000 ebooks and e-audiobooks from our collection in 2011. For potential ereader consumers, we offered “try before you buy” – a hands on introductory and comparison experience – for several days leading up to the winter holidays.
An Oak Park Cultural Center
Maurice Sendak exhibit and events
We hosted a traveling exhibit about the art and influences of Maurice Sendak for seven weeks starting in late October 2011. More than 20 events at the library added opportunities to learn about and celebrate this beloved author and illustrator. Visitors of all ages were particularly enthralled with Moishe, a hand-crafted Wild Thing modeled after Sendak’s, who welcomed people to the Main Library.
Barbara Ballinger Lecture
Speaking about his writing process and his work, award-winning writer Scott Turow presented the sixth Barbara Ballinger Lecture on October 25, 2011. This lecture series is hosted by the Friends of the Oak Park Public Library in appreciation for her 34 years at the library in service to the community. Attendees particularly enjoyed the reception with both Turow and Ballinger that followed the lecture.
Wasmuth Portfolio Exhibit
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Frank Lloyd Wright's Wasmuth Portfolio, we offered a rare two-day public viewing of this historic work in October 2011. Oak Park Public Library owns a presentation copy of the Wasmuth Portfolio, a collection of Wright's works and drawings. This copy, acquired from Wright's son, is one of 11 known to still exist. A number of anniversary activities rounded-out the celebration.
Local art is making a strong showing at the Maze Branch Library where aMAZEing Art debuted in 2011. Artists sign up for a month-long exhibit and have the opportunity during their exhibit to present a program about their work. “We love having rotating exhibits to warm up the building,” states project coordinator and Maze staffer Jessica Roble-Cinelli. “This really reinforces the library’s commitment to art and extends the Harrison Street art district to Gunderson Avenue.”
A great number of excited spectators and nervous competitors came to our after-hours spelling competition! Of the 35 who competed, six spellers made it to the Death Match where they faced ridiculously tough words like “Reykjavik” and “scilicet.” In the end, one speller emerged as the champion. This event for spellers and spectators ages 21+ was hosted by genre X, the library’s book discussion group for those in their 20s and 30s.
In 2011 we hosted a huge number of author readings, from Henry Rollins, Michele Weldon, and Bill German to Daniel Greenstone, Elizabeth Berg, Michael Bracey, Marcy Kubat, and Lee Brooke. Working in partnership to create the Writers at Wright series, we brought you names like Jim Lehrer, Sarah Vowell, Chris Kimball, and Lynda Barry, Natalie Y. Moore, and Lance Williams.
Spring Break at Dole Branch
We lightened spirits at the Dole Branch in March 2011. We had a great time giving high fives to visitors during High Five Day. We dressed in green and displayed all things green for Green Week. And we celebrated the books, movies, music, and fashion of the 80s during 80s Week. All super cool ways to get out of the winter funk!
LEGO Club Encourages Young Builders
Young builders and their caregivers showed up in droves for our monthly LEGO club at the Main Library. This program, started in January 2011, quickly grew in popularity and saw 70 kids at the April meeting. Because of this success and your enthusiastic feedback, we recently started a LEGO Club at the Dole Branch Library.
Curiosity Club Stimulates Young Minds
Older elementary students learned about science at our regular curiosity club events. These kids dressed for mess and, along with an adult lab partner, heard stories and participated in science experiments.
Yes You Can! Eat at the Library
As expected, allowing eating in the library proved both popular and successful. “We evaluated the new rules of behavior during the first six months and found things were working as intended. We have not experienced any problems or disruption,” states Executive Director Deirdre Brennan. Trustees approved the new rules of behavior, which contain a few restrictions on eating, at the April 2011 Library Board meeting, effective June 1. “This is an important step as we keep working to make the library a comfortable and productive space for our community to gather and learn,” explains Library Trustee Matthew Fruth.
Behind the Scenes...
Here at the library we’re serious about playing games. In 2011 we spent 10 minutes at many a staff meeting playing games – card games, party games, team building games, video games. “Play encourages creativity and innovation, promotes a more comfortable work environment, and decreases tension,” states Deirdre Brennan, Executive Director. “We encourage staff to play, to investigate, to ‘tinker’ with technology in order to stretch brain muscles and learn new skills – while having fun!” Also in 2011, a staff game night introduced many of us to games available in our new video game collection. Among the skills needed for success in the 21st century, flexibility and adaptability can be practiced in just a few minutes of game play.
Staff Day Sparks Innovation
As an organization we aim to problem solve and innovate. Staff Day 2011 afforded us the opportunity to reflect on the work we do for our community and focus on new solutions. We quickly implemented one of the ideas raised at Staff Day: plants in the Main Library Lobby. We also worked together on ideas for the Main Library’s teen space and Idea Box.
Looking Beyond Libraries for Inspiration
Staff attended a broader range of conferences and meetings in 2011. We found inspiration and innovations at the Consumer Electronics Show, the Games + Learning + Society conference, and Digipalooza. Staff members also attended annual conferences by the American Libraries Association, Illinois Library Association, and Public Library Association. These educational opportunities help staff develop new skills and think creatively about serving Oak Park.
Once again Oak Park Public Library proved itself a leader among libraries. In 2011 our staff advocated for and pioneered a time-saving procedure which benefits other libraries in the SWAN consortium. After several months of set up and testing, staff in our Technical Services department were the first to use Quick Clicks to streamline the complicated acquisitions process for new library materials. This eliminates much hand keying and speeds up the process for putting new materials on the shelves for the public!
Staff share knowledge through presentations
Our staff continued to share our own innovations and experience with colleagues at other libraries. 2011 presentations topics included: how to host book parties for kids, our "Topics to Talk About" collection for kids, our transgender resource collection, technology for library trustees, working with interns, and staff rewards and recognition.
Responsible Stewards of Tax Dollars
In-house maintenance of key system
Our automated material handling (AMH) system is both an integral part of our infrastructure and a major capital investment. In 2011 our facilities team did some amazing work on the AMH rollers, belts, and bands throughout the Main Library. They successfully changed out many aging parts with little or no interruptions in service, including some very tricky work on the curving sections. This level of staff mastery of the AMH saves the library money in hiring outside expertise and keeps service interruptions to a minimum.
Remember the snow storm that buried Oak Park? That was the first time in recent history that the library closed due to weather. Our facilities team did a phenomenal job under particularly trying conditions. We were able to remove snow at our buildings without incurring overtime which kept unexpected expenses down.
Updates keep children’s area fresh
In 2011 we replaced worn furniture with comfortable, stylish seating in the children’s area at the Main Library. Much to the joy of our young visitors, we installed a pirate ship with moving parts. This served as an excellent backdrop to our “One World, Many Stories” Summer Reading program.
Friends support library mission
The Friends of the Library continued to raise funds to support the work of Oak Park Public Library. 2011's membership drive, Annual Book Fair, and Smartypants Trivia Night raised more than $65,000.
Green roof enjoys celebrity status
The green roof of the Main Library is one of the oldest ones in the area. As such, we have much to share about the natural life cycle of this type of roofing. In 2011 a group from the
Ohio State University Horticulture School toured the green roof. Established when the building opened in 2003, the green roof, along with the recycled copper wall system, recycled rubber flooring, and ceramic fritted glass windows, meets one of the building’s design goals: to minimize impact on the natural environment. Because this roof is not routinely open
to visitors, in 2011 teen volunteers created a video to share this feature with the wider world.
View the video .
Cards from Recycled Plastic, Checkout Receipts on Recycled Paper
In 2011 we switched brands of library cards. We now issue library cards made from nearly 100% recycled PVC plastic. We are now looking into the next generation of library cards that will do away with the magnetic strip. We also switched brands of paper for our checkout receipts, made from 70% post-consumer-waste and BPA free. The core of the paper roll is recyclable, as is the carton in which it is shipped. Best of all is the price, which is the same as what we had been paying.
About Us & Our Community
- “This library is becoming not just a library, not just a place for discussions, but a cultural center for Oak Park and the surrounding area.”
- “My fiancé proposed to me in front of this library because he knows it’s my favorite place in world.”
- “Its very existence enhances society.”
- “I love this place.”
- “I'm glad you are here!”
- “The Oak Park Public Library is one of our community's true treasures - as essential and vital to quality of life as the schools, public transportation, parks and many other treasured community resources. I don't know what my family would do without it! It is worth every cent of the tax dollars we contribute. Now, if only I would stop racking up the overdue fines. . .”
- “Love it! Great staff, great resources."
- “This is such a nice library – I’m coming here to study from now on.” – teen during finals week
- “This building is like a beacon with the beautiful lights and high roofline. Stunning.”
- “I love what you’ve done with the place. The new couches are fantastic!” - 11 year old visiting the refurbished children’s area at the Main Library
- “We’re never leaving this place.” – new library cardholder
- “I am a library evangelist! My friends had no idea how awesome you guys were until I started talking about it incessantly at parties.”
- “Investing more $ in public libraries at this economically challenging time makes sense to me.”
- “The library is my second home.”
- “Our library is an essential community resource and a model for community service on a personal and institutional level. Fund it lavishly.”\
- “Now we’re going to Peterson’s to get 20% off our ice cream with our library card—this library is a pretty sweet deal!”
About (and said by) Kids
- “There are 3 things I want to be—a movie star, a librarian, and a paleontologist!” - 8 year old
- “I love the library—sometimes I come here every day!” - 6 year old
- “Can you tell my daughter to stop reading so late at night?” – Mom of a young reader
- “I am such a fussy reader and you do such a wonderful job of sending me what I want.” – recipient of home deliveries
- “There were no zombie parties at the library when I was a kid. This is nice for the younger generation.”
- “My kid is so motivated to read now.” – parent of a summer reading enthusiast
- “I’m sorry I only read four books. I haven’t been to the library in two whole weeks.” – 4th grader doing charity summer reading program
- “I've done homework and research here. It's nice to have a quiet place to work and read away from home.”
About Our Events
- “I skipped my yoga class so I could come here to discuss this book.”
- “I love the new summer reading program because I love nonfiction. Thanks for pushing me to read more!” - teen
- “This series has been so rich…it’s been a wonderful experience to watch each of the films I’ve attended.”
About Our Services, Resources And Staff
- “We love, love, love the library. It is truly full of total access to a world of books that we could never afford to buy and access to knowledge that we otherwise would not know existed. Without sounding too dramatic, the library, this library in particular, is our lifeline.”
- “There's a ton of selection at Oak Park Public Library! You can find every periodical, book, movie or CD with the catalog. And if they don't have it, the turnaround time for orders are less than a few days. Super simple. Thanks!”
- “You people at Maze are the nicest and most well-informed librarians in the whole of the Chicagoland area, and I know that because I’ve visited a lot of libraries.”
- “Outstanding volume and librarian assistance. Very professional staff.”
- “With all the changes to Netflix, I’m relying on the library more than ever for my DVDs. I’m so glad you have this collection.”
- “I just love this system. I ordered three books, and they all came in four days. It's like they come from all over the world.”
- “Thank you so much for offering this service program to my daughter. I love the library and I want to instill that love in her too.” - parent of teen volunteer
- “Good 2 Go 4 Grownups is awesome! Nothing got done in the house yesterday because I couldn’t put down my book.” – happy parent
- “I can use these computers for free? Any of them? This is the best news I’ve had all week.” – new library cardholder
- “Please make sure to keep the enlarger here. It is the only way I can see the letters and drawings my grandchildren send me. Some weeks I use the machine more than once a day.”
About Our Classes
- “I especially appreciate expanding hours in tough economic times when everyone else is cutting back. Rising to the challenge during difficult conditions requires work and courage.”
- “This class was great! I learned about new websites and how to buy the lowest priced tickets. I am so grateful for the classes here.”
- “I appreciate this resource, because it offers multiple options in the lives of all of us. The library reaches across socio-economic status.”
For Numbers Junkies
(2011 numbers with % change from 2010)
Checkouts+Renewals 1,470,702 +0.60%
Emedia downloads 14,010
Property Tax $6,618,761 +23.63%
Parking Garage $27,174 -21.32%
Other $522,079 -6.32%
Total $7,168,014 +20.56%
Staff $3,253,101 -20.82%
Collection $792,564 +2.43%
Other $2,553,193 +104.90%
Total $6,598,858 +7.68%
Library Cards issued for free 4,311 new cards
Self Checkout Use 581,764
Library Visits 769,772
Visits to Website 444,881
Mobile App Users 500+ monthly
Computer Use 181,000 sessions
Laptop Checkouts 320
Children's Program Attendance 26,445
Kids Summer Reading Program 2,698 participants, 1,032 finishers
Teen Program Attendance 1,513
Adult Program Attendance 9,387
Volunteer Hours 4,395 (does not include summer volunteer programs)
List of Friends
Thanks to everyone who became a Friend of the Library in 2011. Below is a list of Friends who support the library at donor level or above.
Candelario & Elizabeth Celio
Oak Park Runners Club
Pat & John Allen
Ms. Barbara Ballinger
Donna & Bill Barrows
Joni E. Beam
Laurie & Rob Bellmar
Keith Fiels & Deirdre Brennan
Peter & Nancy Clark
Bruce & Gloria Cox
Mrs. Irene Goren
Lane S. Hart
Amy Goodman & Gordon Hellwig
Mr. and Mrs. Paul Koko
John R. Gann & M. Kathi Kyrias
Donna Myers & Aaron Lebovitz
Gary & Kim McCullough
Charles & Mary Louise Morrison
Michael and Flavia Morrissey
Robert E. Nied, Jr.
Lynne & Rick Palmore
Allen and Georga Parchem
Viktoras L. Petroliunas
Meredith & David Schacht
Linda and Michael Schiffer
Sandra & David Sokol
Marilyn Cantisano & Donald Southworth
Antonieta Garcia-Strain & Derek Strain
Janina Levy & James Strait
Barbara Purington & Chet Taranowski
Bonnie, Terry & Ellie VanderWell
Byron Lee & Audrey Williams-Lee
Donna & Scott Anderson
Ms. Doris W. Angell
Rick & Marcia Ashton
William H. Baker
Ira Allen Bartfeld
Mark & Kristen Coe
Dr. & Mrs. John S. Coon IV
John H. Cooper
Mary Davis Fournier
Alan & Winifred Fox
Mary Jo Furgal
Dorothy & Robert Hetzel
Thomas & Nancy Holmes
Mr. Jerome Huhman
Dee & Ray Lefevour
Frank & Theresa Lipo
Mr. & Mrs. W. S. Mikol
The Mitchener Family
Mary J. & Laurence Msall
Frank & Kaye Murphy
Donald and Betty Peaslee
Jean & Bill Peterman
Barbara & Neal Peyser
Thomas & Mary Rasmussen
Rick Sumner & Judy Weik
Visit Oak Park
Coming in 2012....
Engaging community conversations
We asked you what it means to be a library of the future and sparked a number of community conversations in 2011. We hosted four Chicago Humanities Festival events and a virtual conversation with Lee Rainie from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. Your input will help develop our strategic plan for 2013+.
We aim to provide Oak Parkers with the technology access, tools, and skills you need to be successful.
We will provide even more ebooks, emusic, and videos.
We will continue to work with other government agencies and stakeholders in Oak Park to reduce costs through online services and sharing resources.
This raw, transformable space at the Main Library will open March 12, 2012 with a pop-up library from the Read/Write Library of Chicago. This will be the first of many installations to engage the Oak Park community.
Beginning this spring Oak Park Public Library cards will no longer expire. Instead we will periodically check that your mailing address is accurate. We hope this convenience keeps you coming back for more great stuff from the library!
Expanded Branch Hours
In January 2012 we added Sunday hours and an additional hour to weekdays at our branch libraries. Sundays are very busy and popular at both the Dole Branch and Maze Branch. We’ve been receiving compliments for expanding hours during tough times when people most need library service.
What’s in your future?