2020 Year in Review Scroll down to begin

2020 is a year that many of us hope to put behind us as quickly as possible. But there are still things to celebrate! Although we were physically distanced for much of the time, we found new ways to connect. And we came together as a community to support each other and adapt to a new way of life.

The bookmobile making a special community stop for curbside pickup

The library stayed open online, bringing you news and health information, resources for small businesses and job seekers, support for parents facing new challenges at home, digital collections, and virtual events. We worked with community partners to get WiFi access to families without internet access. And we eliminated all overdue fines.

In the midst of the movement for racial equity and justice that was sparked this summer, library staff and community members had difficult conversations, shared their experiences, and learned more about anti-racism. We're examining our practices and recommitting to furthering equity in our library and community.

Browsing the newly renovated second floor

Our renovation project continued and remains on schedule. We opened the brand-new second floor for computer use by appointment. The west side also opened for holds pickup, and we'll add services inside the building as the public health situation allows.

Meleesa hosts a video storytime on YouTube

We're so proud of what we've accomplished with your support. Let's look at some of the other moments that made 2020 worth remembering.

A Resilient Community

We're working to build a more resilient community; one in which people experience well-being, including a strong sense of belonging and connection to one another.

Penny shares some of her favorite titles on Instagram

We learned how to keep the conversation going by moving established groups—including ESL Café, Teen Library Council, Low Vision Support Group, Friend Squad, Job Talk, and our many book discussions—to online platforms like Zoom, Instagram Live, and Discord.

Our staff spent more than 73 hours talking about books in online discussions this year!

We were awarded a Skokie Community Foundation grant to collaborate with Response for Teens (JCFS Chicago) on a year-long event series called Connect, Transform, Act. This series helps teens discuss issues that affect them personally, investigate the roots of these problems, and work towards potential local solutions with supportive monthly mental health programming.

Mandy and her puppet friends host Preschool Puppet Playtime online

Our long-running Booking with a Buddy summer experience for 1st-3rd graders moved online, pairing 34 children and 27 teen volunteers to build literacy skills through reading aloud and playing word games. We also came up with creative new ways to connect, like Face-to-Face Time, which brings children and librarians together through Zoom for storytime and show-and-tell.

We organized at-home activities and online events to encourage positive community spirit in support of the Village’s Skokie Spirit Shines Through campaign during the stay-at-home order.

An Engaged Community

We are building a more engaged community, a community in which people have the knowledge, skills, empowerment, and sense of hope that they can make a positive impact on the life of their community.

From signing up for Medicare to filing or appealing taxes to filling out the Census, we helped people find the information they needed. For the 2020 election, we presented a series of events online, through social media, and even hosted Civic Labs on the Village Green to help people register to vote, research ballots and issues, and make a voting plan. Our “What’s Your Voting Plan?” video featured library staff sharing information in English, Hindi, Russian, Spanish, and Telugu.

Patrons use apps to identify local plants during a physically distanced event outside the library

To help everyone stay entertained, we created a weekly list of fun things to do at home, and brought the STEAM learning of the BOOMbox into living rooms (and kitchens!) with a blog series.

Leah and her family participate in an online cooking workshop

We used YouTube to publish video versions of library events, including storytimes, workshops, how-tos, and even live musical performances.

We also hosted online visits with authors, including R. Eric Thomas, Francisco X. Stork, Kelly Yang, Jessie Ann Foley, Chad Sell, and Ibram X. Kendi.

Of course, Summer Reading looked a bit different this year. We were able to expand the experience to every household in Skokie by mailing out our Idea Book inside the library newsletter.

An Inclusive Community

We're working to build a more inclusive community, one in which people actively seek to better understand themselves and others.

Sue distributes meal boxes

In partnership with The Greater Chicago Food Depository, we’ve been providing meal boxes to families with children younger than 18 and to adults with disabilities three days a week. We have also been giving out art kits and books with the meal boxes.

With the Skokie Community Foundation, Turning Point, and other community partners, we hosted a public health symposium called Coping with COVID-19, which invited participants to engage with experts and each other while building skills for self-care, supporting their families, and staying connected with the community.

Along with Skokie Cares partners, we continued to offer SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) equity training to the community, moving the format online.

To continue supporting patrons with disabilities, we moved our Let’s Get Together Book Club and Fun with Rainbow Therapy Dogs events online, and launched a new Supported Cooking workshop.

We invited everyone to make meaning of their 2020 experiences by creating stories, images, and expressions and sharing them with us as part of our Skokie Stories: COVID-19 Collection.

Vincent stocks the shelves of the bookmobile

We made it easier to get a library card by moving the application process completely online and emailing numbers to new cardholders so that everyone could access our services as quickly as possible.

We also significantly expanded our digital collections and resources, including adding Scholastic Teachables, expanding access to Ancestry Library Edition, World Book Online, and TumbleMath. We also added CreativeBug, which features online arts and crafts workshops, as well as access to the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and New York Times. And we quadrupled the number of world language eBooks and downloadable audiobooks for adults and kids on OverDrive, adding hundreds of digital materials in Russian, Spanish, Polish, Urdu, Korean, Hebrew, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Arabic.

Our expert staff published more than 140 lists of books, movies, and music for all ages and tastes, featuring diverse perspectives and world views. We also made thousands of personalized recommendations through social media, Bookmatch, Screenmatch, and the newly launched Bookmatch for Kids, inviting everyone to discover something they didn't expect that could become their next favorite title. Our Beginner's Guides also invited patrons to try a new genre they may not have been familiar with.

To make sure everyone could get library materials while the building was closed, we launched a curbside pickup service that used the bookmobile to provide access to requested items at locations throughout Skokie.

New windows are installed on the east side of the second floor

Renovation Project

Books came out of storage and were shelved in their new locations

With work completed on the second floor and west side of the first floor, we are now in the final phase of the project, which includes the youth area and the east entrance. While the pandemic prevents us from celebrating the new spaces in the way we'd hoped, we're so excited about welcoming you back once it's safe to do so.


Skokie Public Library staff and volunteers

Board of Trustees

  • Mark Prosperi, President
  • Eugene F. Griffin, Vice President
  • Shabnam Mahmood, Secretary
  • Mira Barbir
  • Jonathan H. Maks, MD
  • Michelle Mallari
  • Magnolia Rivera-Pulex

Management Team

  • Director, Richard Kong
  • Deputy Director, Laura McGrath
  • Access Services Manager, Annabelle Mortensen
  • Building Services Manager, Tim Murphy
  • Communications and Multimedia Engagement Manager, Jane Hanna
  • Community Engagement Manager, Nancy Kim Phillips
  • Human Resources Manager, Elizabeth Dostert
  • IT Manager, Mark Kadzie
  • Learning and Development Manager, Leah White
  • Learning Experiences Manager, Amy Koester
  • Patron Engagement Manager, Lynnanne Pearson
  • Safety Manager, Thalma Brooms
  • Young Adult Services Manager, Laurel Johnson
  • Youth Services Manager, Shelley Sutherland