Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Kankakee Public Library's Incredible, Amazing, Super-duper, Tight, Groovy, Cool, Bee's Knees Top Ten List for 2006

It is December, the time of year when just about everybody is coming up with their picks of "the best" of the previous year. So, here's my list of the best things that happened at the Kankakee Public Library in 2006.

#10 - Blogs and Flickr - In November our Library launched two different Blogs - An administrative blog , "She Said, He Said," and a staff blog, "Library Musings;" as well as a account. We hoped that they would be well received, but the response has really been incredible. Two of the most positive repercussions of these initiatives have been the discussions and the excitement that they have generated among our staff.

#9 - Presidential Royalty - Across the pond they have a Queen; here we have a President. Over 200 people came to hear Clifton Truman Daniels, author and grandson of President Harry Truman. Mr. Daniels was witty, entertaining, interesting, personable; in short, wonderful. It was a great program and a great evening at our Library.

#8 - Cool School Groves - We love collaborating with Kankakee School District #111! We usually register around 200 new library users a month, but in August this year more than 400 people registered for public library cards in a single day during school registration. Whew! This year we also collaborated on Family Reading Night programs with most of the schools in the District - attracting crowds of 200-300 students plus their families at each event.

#7 - Project Next Generation - We were surprised and delighted when we received a call last Spring about this state initiative. This grant program from Secretary of State and State Librarian Jessie White and the Illinois State Library enables us to mentor at risk teens using the latest technologies. It has been an inspiring program which is allowing our Library to make a real difference in these young lives.

#6 - ALA Says Were #1 - We were very proud that American Library Association awarded our Library with the 2006 Swap & Shop Best of Show for our Teen Reading Program. We received our award in June in New Orleans at the ALA's Annual Conference.

# 5 - Newbery Author, Lois Lowry Visit - Ms. Lowry is to children's literature, what the Beatles are to popular music. She is a prolific writer, and just about everyone connected with libraries, or books is a fan of her work. We had over 300 people hear her speak at our Library in March. Many, Many thanks to our Friends of the Library group who arranged and paid for her visit to our community. Other groups that helped cover the expenses were our Regional Office of Education, and the Two Rivers Reading Council.

# 4 - Vodcasts and Podcasts - Technically we started podcasting in December 2005 when Arlo Guthrie visited our Library, but that was our first attempt. Since then we have learned a lot and the quality of our recordings has greatly improved. We have received international recognition for our podcasts and vodcasts - which alone is enough to make any library's "Top Ten" list, but I think the real value of producing the podcasts and vodcasts is that they allow us to contribute content to the vast array of information available on the web. Libraries are about sharing, which means giving as well as taking. We're giving back, and giving our Library, and more importantly our community, a voice on the web.

# 3 - The Community Connection - As a city library, we have an entire network of people that help us make the impossible, possible. The best example of this is our Family Fun Day at the Farmer's Market. The vendors of our fabulous Farmer's Market along with our local Kiwanis group pay for the entertainment at this Summer Reading Program Celebration. Over 500 children plus their parents saw the Jessie White Tumblers defy gravity. Along with the entertainment, there was a dunk tank filled by our Fire Department (they also debuted their brand new Fire Safety House). The Mayor and City Clerk serving snow cones, the City's IT Guru offered free computer advice, the Junior High Principal did face painting and got in the dunk tank, our State Representative was on hand to help pass out prize bags, the Friends of the Library sold books, the local Semi-Pro Football Team helped with games. All year long, the support we receive from the City's departments and the community is AWESOME! They are the wind beneath our wings.

# 2 - The Luis Urea Experience - When our Friends of the Library group asked Pulitzer Prize nominated author Luis Urea to speak at a program, I don't think that they, or anyone else had any idea of the repercussions. Over 300 people came out on a cold January night to hear Mr. Urea give a wonderful program. Our Mayor presented Mr. Urea with a key to the city. Mr. Urea was very impressed by our community and Library and blogged, "Kankakee Rocks!" It caused quite a flurry, was in the local newspaper, passed out at City Council and made us all really proud. In June Mr. Urea wrote a column for the New York Times, again speaking very favorably about Kankakee and our Library. All I can say is, Luis Urea Rocks! We have gotten calls from all over the country about what our Library is doing to revitalize our community. Luis Urea is not only our favorite author, but a legendary hero around these parts.

# 1 - Increase Library Usage - This is what is all about. For the third year in a row our Library has broken records for computer usage, visitors/attendance, number of items circulated. All the technology, all the programs, all the accolades pale in comparison. When all is said and done, our goal is to inform, enrich, and empower the people of Kankakee and we are getting better at it every year.

It has been a GREAT year for our Library and we are working on 2007 to be even better! I sincerely hope that 2006 has been great for you too! Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for the New Year from all of us at the Kankakee Public Library.

Cynthia Fuerst
Kankakee Public Library Director


Post a Comment

<< Home