Director of Marketing
2009 SEES CONTINUED INCREASE IN USE OF
CHICAGO PUBLIC LIBRARY RESOURCES
As the economy weakened in 2009, more and more Chicagoans turned to their local library for the free resources offered in 79 locations across the city. After experiencing a record increase in use in 2008, the trend continued as Chicagoans who had lost jobs turned to their neighborhood libraries for free access to computers, books, programs, information and free entertainment. Many more attended financial literacy programs or sent their children to free educational programs in lieu of paying a fee for such assistance. A recent count showed that more than 1.1 million people visit a Chicago Public Library location each month and more than 1 million visit the Library’s website and online resources each month.
All CPL locations continue to be stocked with the latest books, magazines, online databases, free WiFi and speedy Internet access through new and upgraded computers. And the public has responded by using those resources in record numbers. During the first eleven months of 2009, CPL locations circulated 9.2 million items. At that pace, the Library projects that total circulation for 2009 will exceed 2008 totals, which were record breaking.
In addition to rich print and digital collections, the Chicago Public Library maintains approximately 3800 public access computers systemwide, and free WiFi at all locations for laptop users. Trained CyberNavigators (technology tutors) work 20 hours each week in 42 branch libraries. Increasingly, our librarians and CyberNavigators report that the public is seeking their assistance and the Library’s free computers to search for jobs, prepare resumes and submit online job and school applications.
The Chicago Public Library has, for many years, promoted digital excellence and access for all Chicagoans. Thanks to the Library’s free computers, tens of thousands of Chicagoans were able to conduct research via online databases or the Internet and seek essential human services that are increasingly only available to those with access to technology. From January through November of this year, all locations of the Library provided 3.4 million free Internet sessions to the public. An average of 34,000 patrons per month access the Library’s free WiFi system with their personal laptops or with laptops checked out for in library use.
With the strong 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 will continue to offer library services seven days a week.
New Branch Library Hours in 2010
Effective January 2, 2010, the branch locations of the Chicago Public Library will remain open six days a week, but move to new hours of 48 hours a week. All locations will be open after school and on Saturday, regardless of time changes. The new hours have been planned in a way to ensure that each community has a library location which will open at 10 a.m. and a location that will stay open until 8 p.m., Monday through Thursday. As in the past, all branch locations will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
All branch libraries will continue to operate 6 days a week as they do now. All branch libraries will continue to provide early childhood, juvenile, teen and adult programs; afterschool programs; reference services; and technology training. The new hours and permanent staff assignments will ensure that the level of service is consistent in all libraries.
Because so many library patrons rely on the Harold Washington, Sulzer and Woodson libraries for services, those three locations will continue to operate 7 days a week at their current 68 hours of service per week.
CPL 2010: The Library’s Strategic Plan
The Library continues to operate under its five 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.
At the completion of the fourth year of the plan, implementation of the plan’s goals has resulted in significant work by Library staff at all levels related to enhanced public service, systemwide staff and public training, additional technology for the public, further development of collections and measurement of the impact of Library services.
2009 Program Highlights
One Book, One Chicago
For the eighth year, the Library presented One Book, One Chicago, the city wide book club offered each spring and fall. In 2009 the city read Chicago native Sandra Cisneros’ The House on Mango Street and Carl Smith’s The Plan of Chicago: Daniel Burnham and the Remaking of the American City, the story of how the Burnham Plan transformed Chicago in the last century. As with all One Book programs, CPL librarians created resource guides and conducted book discussions citywide. DePaul University, Steppenwolf Theater Company and the Burnham Centennial Celebration generously assisted the Library in presenting classes, programs and discussions relating to the One Book, One Chicago selections this year.
Summer Reading: Land of Lincoln Readers
To celebrate the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, the Chicago Public Library, in partnership with the Chicago History Museum, presented its annual summer reading programs for both children and adults. More than 5,000 adults and a record breaking 50,000 children read a stunning 1.2 million books during the summer as part of Land of Lincoln Readers.
Through Money Smart, a citywide financial literacy initiative produced in cooperation with the Federal Reserve Bank and local financial institutions, the Library offered dozens of financial literacy programs for teens and adults throughout the year across the city. The goal of these programs is to promote education about savings and investments through speakers, books, databases and financial literacy classes. The demand for these free programs rose dramatically in 2009 as the recession affected families throughout the City, including our own employees.
YOUmedia: a Digital Space for Teens
The Library created an exciting new initiative for teens called YOUmedia, located on the first floor of the Harold Washington Library Center. YOUmedia is an innovative 21st century learning space that connects young adults, books, digital technologies and Chicago’s educational and cultural communities inspiring creativity and collaboration. YOUmedia was designed to increase the number of youth in Chicago who use online information, digital technologies and traditional library resources as tools to engage in inquiry about their relationship to their neighborhood, the City of Chicago and the world. YOUmedia teens were featured presenters at UN World Habitat Day in Washington DC on October 5, 2009. YOUmedia was created by the Library with funding from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Pearson Foundation.
The popular Teen Volume program continued its focus on building new book collections and innovative programs for teens ages 14-19. Working with a steering committee of librarians and teens from throughout the city, the Teen Volume program developed a Reader’s Theater performance troupe in 2008, and continued to engage teens in book discussions in 45 branch libraries; select new book titles for teen collections citywide; and conduct online book discussions for teens. The goals of Teen Volume are to get teens excited about reading and discussing books; writing workshops; and to show teens how the information resources at the public library can help them in school and in life. Teen Volume is made possible through a grant from the Chicago Public Library Foundation
On November 21st, the Library welcomed more than 6000 children and parents to Bookamania, the Library’s annual celebration of children’s books. Bookamania invites young readers to meet authors, illustrators, storybook characters and to participate in a variety of activities designed to encourage a love of reading. This annual event is funded this year by the Chicago Public Library Foundation and Target.
CPL is branching out – new library buildings
Working in cooperation with the Public Building Commission, construction of a new branch library in Beverly was completed and the new library opened in June 2009. The Public Building Commission will begin construction on new branch libraries in the Dunning, West Humboldt Park, Greater Grand Crossing and Little Village neighborhoods in late 2009; and the Department of General Services has already begun renovations to create a new branch library for the West Town neighborhood. These new state of the art, fully equipped branch libraries will replace inadequate storefront facilities or bring library services to neighborhoods which previously had none.
Working with the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, the Chicago Office of Tourism and the Chicago Water Department, CPL opened a small outpost of the Harold Washington Library Center’s Popular Library in the Visitor’s Information Center at the Water Works building located at 163 East Pearson Street. At less than 300 square feet, this space is not a full service library, but has a small collection and is a great place to pick up items placed on hold on the Library’s website.
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, to learn and to discover. The fact that its citizens are using our resources in record numbers illustrates that never has it been more important for Chicago to support its public libraries.”