FROM OUR DIRECTOR
Whether six feet apart, across town, or across the country, distance has been on everyone’s mind this year. Carefully measured, deeply felt distances now seem to govern our lives – including how we interact, share, and spend time with our loved ones and friends.
Bridging distances between people, cultures, and ideas lives at the core of what we do at the Barrington Area Library. Librarians and library staff are intensely interested in helping folks make connections: to the Barrington area’s thriving nonprofit community; to information and voices that help us make sense of complicated times; to our neighbors during exhilarating experiences like Creator Fair or the Yule Ball; and to thousands of library resources that inform and inspire.
We’ve felt the same distance that many of you are experiencing this year, and we've used that feeling to explore new ways of doing what we do best: making space for our community to come together. In this Annual Report, we’re proud to share with you the ways that you’ve found connection here, even during the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thanks for reading – and keep in touch.
Jesse Henning, Executive Director
Launched in February 2020, the Seed Library distributed 6,741 seed packets to customers. We offered more than 60 unique types of seeds, focusing on native flowers and grasses to attract pollinators, but also veggies and herbs for customers to plant in their kitchen gardens.
We also brought expertise to local gardeners with an outstanding series of online programs offered in partnership with the Land Conservancy of McHenry County. These five programs attracted a total of almost 1,000 attendees.
We’re already preparing for the coming year with new seed varieties and expanded programming to teach area gardeners, both novice and expert, additional skills and techniques. We can't wait to welcome you to our new Teaching Garden, created in partnership with the Barrington Breakfast Rotary Club.
"Little pea shoots are coming up! Thanks for the #seedlibrary, BALibrary!" Katie Schmitt, Twitter post
MAKING A DIFFERENCE: TOGETHER WE READ
On March 13, 2020, the Barrington Area Library building temporarily closed, in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. As the staff prepared to offer remote library services, they also discussed ways to help the community stay connected and hopeful during the challenging days ahead. Together We Read, an all-ages digital reading club, was launched just a few days into the temporary closure.
More than 200 customers of all ages participated in Together We Read. In addition to tracking their own reading and other fun activities, participants could compete in weekly challenges, sponsored by local nonprofits. As each challenge was met, the selected nonprofit would make a $200 donation to our local food pantries at Barrington Township and Cuba Township. Through these efforts, $1,400 was raised for the pantries. We are grateful to the enthusiastic readers of the Barrington area, and our seven nonprofit sponsors:
- BStrong Together
- Go Green Barrington
- Barrington Breakfast Rotary
- Daughters of the American Revolution – Signal Hill Chapter
- Barrington Area Ministerial Association
- Barrington 220 Educational Foundation
- Advocate Good Shepherd Community Relations
MAKING A DIFFERENCe: EAR GUARDS & the Makerlab
Medical professionals and many others providing essential services during the pandemic have to wear face masks for their entire shift. Tension from the elastic can make their ears sore. In April, Digital Services Specialist Ken Fritz responded to a request from a local physician and 3D-printed these ear guards, which reduce the pressure from elastic straps and ease the pain. Ken produced 150 ear guards, and then coordinated the delivery of the ear guards to Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital.
The guards worked so well that Ken printed an additional 100 sets for BALibrary staff to wear when they returned to on-site work.
MakerLab By The Numbers
- 561 3-D Print jobs, 244 since the March 2020 closing.
- 324 Laser-Etched projects, 215 since the March 2020 closing.
"I just completed this tutorial. I am 60+ years old and am over the moon happy that with Ken's precise instructions I was able to complete this project. THANK YOU Ken. THANK YOU BAL for providing this at home project during a very difficult time. Please keep these 'at home' instructional videos coming...." Customer comment on a MakerLab video tutorial
EXPANDING THE DIGITAL LIBRARY
The Barrington Area Library has long been noted for its outstanding collections of e-books, e-audiobooks, streaming video, and other forms of digital content. Our annual circulation of digital content places us within the top 1% of public libraries in the US, and makes up more than 1/3 of our total circulation. When the Library building temporarily closed its physical doors to help contain the COVID-19 pandemic, the digital library became even more important to our community of readers and learners.
In FY 19-20, BALibrary cardholders checked out 226,155 digital items.
"My ability to download books has kept me sane. Thank you." Trish Ehlers, Facebook comment
From another customer: "I would like to note my appreciation for providing access to Chicago Tribune and other newspapers through PressReader. I have rarely used the public library in the past but this kind of digital access will certainly help use of public library." This comment inspired us to add the daily digital New York Times to our offerings as well.
BOOK OF THE SUMMER:
Look Out For The Fitzgerald-Trouts by Esta Spalding was our 2020 Book of the Summer. The book was our most circulated juvenile title of the summer, with 116 readers earning a "Book of The Summer" digital badge, and a total of 152 readers logging in Look Out... or one of its sequels.
"The Fitzgerald-Trouts are a bit crazy, but when they act like themselves, they fit in perfectly, with each other. I think this is really the summer to stand out, to show that you are not afraid! So get out, (make sure you wear a mask) and do what you do best! Not for me, but for the Fitzgerald-Trouts!" Customer review of the Book of The Summer
PARKING LOT PICk-up
The Library began offering Parking Lot Pick-Up service on June 15, 2020. More than 10,000 items were circulated during the first phase of Parking Lot Pick-Up, and we continue to offer this popular service.
"Curbside pickup was excellent!" Christine Olson, Google review
"Thank you! I've appreciated this service!" Cori Gullion Fiddes, Facebook comment
"Thank you so much for your hard work and service to our community. We appreciate your efforts and time so much." Tiffany de Harde, Instagram comment
24,857 BALibrary cardholders and 5,033 reciprocal borrowers checked out a total of 664,865 items, including 438,710 physical items and 226,155 digital items in FY 19-20. That's an average of 22 items per borrower, a great return on your investment!
Check-Outs By Item Type:
- Books: 263,350
- DVDs: 150,538
- E-Books: 103,478
- Digital Magazines & Newspapers: 45,306
- E-Audiobooks: 43,852
- Digital Music: 24,885
- CDs: 17,524
- Streaming Video: 8,634
- Print Magazines: 6,068
- Miscellaneous: 1,230
- TOTAL: 664,865
At The Reference Desk:
Library staff answered approximately 8,200 reference questions, and provided 258 one-one-one instructional sessions.
- Items loaned: 5,811
- Items borrowed: 4,365
- Wi-Fi Sessions: 167,492
- Public Internet Computer Sessions: 14,917
What's On Shelf?
- 120,557 books
- 37,642 e-books
- 273 print magazines, newspapers, serials
- 3,929 CD audiobooks
- 14,295 e-audiobooks
- 8,246 CDs of music/spoken word
- Millions of downloadable/streamable songs
- 41,864 downloadable/streamable movies and TV shows
Top Titles for 2019-20
Top Five Adult Fiction Books:
- Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
- Little Fire Everywhere by Celeste Ng
- The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
- 1984 by George Orwell
- The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
Top Juvenile Books:
- Seven titles from the Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney
- Wishtree by Katherine Applegate
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling
- The Wild Robot by Peter Brown
- Game of Thrones, seasons 1, 3, 5, 7
- The Greatest Showman
- Green Book
- Big Little Lies, season 1