2008 SEES RECORD USE OF CHICAGO PUBLIC LIBRARY RESOURCES
Circulation up significantly from 2007, more than 1 million visitors a month at CPL’S 79 locations and another million online.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 29, 2008
The Chicago Public Library has just completed an extraordinary year of service to the residents of the City of Chicago. “During tough economic times the Chicago Public Library has seen an historic increase in visitors and online usage, demonstrating that our public libraries are more vital and relevant to the children, adults and families of Chicago than ever before,” said Library Commissioner Mary Dempsey.
With the unparalleled support of Mayor Richard M. Daley, the Library Board of Directors, the Chicago City Council, Chicago’s taxpayers and our philanthropic partners, the dedicated men and women of the Chicago Public Library have continued to expand library services to every corner of Chicago.
CPL 2010: THE LIBRARY’S STRATEGIC PLAN
The Chicago Public Library currently operates under a 5-year strategic plan, CPL 2010, which was unveiled in 2006. The overall objective of CPL 2010 is to use the library system to enhance the lives of the people of Chicago by providing state of the art and visionary library services that will ensure Chicago a primary place in the global economy.
Critical CPL 2010 goals met in 2008 were the launch of the new website, Find It, Chicago!; a new and creative marketing campaign to current non-users of the Chicago Public Library and the expansion of the Library’s CyberNavigator public computer training program, now available in 44 neighborhood library locations.
FIND IT, CHICAGO! LAUNCHES IN 2008
Without question, the most exciting technological enhancement introduced at the Library in 2008 was the first phase of Find It, Chicago! which launched on March 3. Find It, Chicago! is the Library’s new website (www.chipublib.org), online catalog, and circulation system.
This is part of an $11 million city-funded technology overhaul for the Library that will also include a new online book ordering system and internal financial management system.
The public’s reaction to the first phase of Find It, Chicago! has been phenomenal. Through the Library’s website, patrons can check the catalog for an item; read book reviews; place items on hold and direct the Library to deliver the items to a local branch; renew items online; check his or her borrowing record; download digital media; conduct sophisticated research in more than 80 online databases; view the Library’s digital collections; search for author programs and other Library events; and read the Library’s literary blog. The new Find It, Chicago! also contains a bibliographic catalog designed for searching especially by kids called Kids Catalog and a section of the website designed by and for teens. In September 2008, the Library was awarded the Web Marketing Association’s award for excellence in website design in the government category. The website and computer system were funded by proceeds from the lease of the Chicago Skyway.
RECORD INCREASE IN LIBRARY USE
As a result of the new website, and the continuing economic crisis in the country, library usage and circulation has risen dramatically. In October of this year, more than 1.2 million people visited the 79 locations of the Chicago Public Library and the overall circulation was up 34.8% over the same month in 2007. More than 1 million online users per month visit the Library’s website, www.chipublib.org. As one of the few places in Chicago with free Internet access and computers, Chicago Public Library locations have also seen an upswing in traffic from job hunters and students.
Chicagoans are turning to their neighborhood public libraries in greater numbers than ever before for free books, music and movies; financial literacy programs; reading and emergent literacy instruction; homework assistance; access to instruction and technology, and for assistance in searching for and applying for jobs.
This summer, more than 50,000 children participated in the annual summer reading program, Read Green, Live Green and read more than 1.1 million books – a record for participation and number of books read. Educational programs on the environment and nature were produced by CPL librarians in conjunction with the Library’s partners at the Garfield Park Conservatory, the City of Chicago’s Department of the Environment and the Museum of Science and Industry. In addition, approximately 5000 adults participated in the Summer Reads for Adults program, on the same theme, reading more than 10,000 books as part of this program.
The Library presented One Book One Chicago twice this year (spring and fall) featuring The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler and The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe. With partners including DePaul University, the Museum of Science and Industry, Steppenwolf Theater, the Library offered staged readings, panel discussions, outdoor film screenings, and a public conversation with author Tom Wolfe.
The Library hosted nationally renowned authors, including Samantha Power, Salman Rushdie, Cornelia Funke, Elizabeth Berg, Pico Iyer, Sarah Vowell, Junot Diaz and photographer Annie Leibovitz in free public programs. The annual Poetry Fest in April featured the U.S. Poet Laureate Charles Simic.
Teen Volume, a program created by the Library’s Teen Advisory Council, presented book discussions, theater readings and author events throughout the city.
Money Smart monthly financial literacy workshops, presented in conjunction with the Chicago Federal Reserve partners, offered instruction to patrons on how to reduce debt, fix bad credit, apply for a mortgage, avoid foreclosure as well as overall sound personal finance practices.
Law at the Library, presented each month with the Chicago Bar Association, gave patrons the opportunity to learn about pertinent legal issues for free, directly from a licensed attorney.
Twenty seven CPL branches served as early voting sites for the November 2008 election and 42 branches served as polling places on Election Day. Fifty per cent of the early votes cast in the City of Chicago were cast in a Chicago Public Library branch.
As Commissioner Dempsey expressed recently, “We are most grateful that in Chicago, a healthy and free public library system exists today and that through it, we are able to fulfill our mission to preserve and enhance the freedom of all Chicagoans to read, learn and to discover.”