Grow and Sustain Readers

Reading is essential for success at every stage in life. Growing readers in our community is at the core of what the Library does.

This year the Library explored dynamic ways to develop early literacy skills. Vox Books give readers the chance to hear the story aloud as they read along with the words. These special books debuted in October at the Main Library and the Francis and Centre Township Branches and were checked out 326 times in 2018.

Reading is a powerful way for teens to process emotion and to experience connection. Through a Great Stories Club grant, SJCPL staff made plans to hold book discussions focusing on the theme of “Empathy” for teens at the Juvenile Justice Center.

The Library is committed to bringing prominent authors to speak to our community to share their insights and wisdom. In 2018, the Library hosted 5 authors. 218 people attended Pulitzer Prize winner Isabel Wilkerson’s talk on the Great Migration and 225 attended Reyna Grande’s discussion of her memoir.

Gather, Experience, Connect

Whether in Library spaces or out in the community, SJCPL strives to make connections with local people and organizations. Our aim is to create opportunities and to strengthen social networks through programming, partnerships, and outreach.

In 2018, the Library continued to develop relationships with community partners—strengthening old ties and forging new ones.

  • The Main Library hosted the Coastline Children’s Film Festival in March, bringing independent films to downtown South Bend.
  • SJCPL staff helped the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County sign up young children for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library.
  • SJCPL staff documented 28 stories depicting the complexity of life in our community for the radio series Michiana Stories, produced in partnership with WVPE.
  • The South Bend Civic Theatre performed a sneak peek of their production In the Heights during the 2018 One Book, One Michiana Reveal Party.

From Spanish language classes and Math Tutoring to Babytime and Teen Gaming, the Library offers diverse programming for people of all ages. Finding a way to engage the many students that come to the Library after school was a priority in 2018. Youth Engagement Assistants debuted at Western and Tutt Branches. Their inventive ideas, including Fitness Fridays, imagination play, and craft time, have created ways to entertain, support, and connect with these children.

The Local & Family History Department houses a unique collection of genealogical and local history materials--newspapers, old yearbooks, and photos. Through programs, discussion groups, one on one consultations, and Michiana Memory’s digitized collection, the Library brings history to light.

At a highly successful Research Sprint in May, 20 volunteers indexed and uploaded 92 articles related to the Holocaust to History Unfolded.

LFH responded to 165 long distance queries in 2018

Important items added this year were issues of The Mirror and Farm News newspapers, 1929 atlas and plat map of St. Joseph County, and local company newsletters.

Guide the Digital Journey

SJCPL was one of the first libraries in the world to have a website, and we have been on the cutting edge of technology ever since.

The Library is a place for people to encounter and experiment with new technologies. Studio 304 expanded the digital equipment in its collection, and checkout of this technology increased by 19% over the year. In Youth Services, Playaway Launchpads were a popular way to get safe educational technology into the hands of young children.

The Library also strove to increase access to the technological tools needed for everyday modern life. In partnership with Hesburgh Libraries, the Library provided free coding classes to children. Google CS teaches kids valuable computer skills in a fun atmosphere.

Strong WiFi signals kept the community connected to the internet, and computer access at all branch locations helped people apply for jobs, pay bills, and communicate with loved ones.

Make it Easy

The doors to the Library are open to everyone. Library staff work hard to break down barriers and make it easier for every single person in the community to use Library services and resources.

The number of people coming into SJCPL locations increased in 2018, and over 8,600 new Library card accounts were created. 3,546 people used Library meeting rooms to host job trainings, board meetings, family gatherings, and social occasions.

Another way that SJCPL makes it easier to use the Library is by providing a rich digital collection. Databases available at the Library or with a Library card, like Morningstar, Mergent Archives and Gale Courses, are repositories of information and knowledge. They give entrepreneurs the data needed to make smart decisions and help job seekers gain new skills. Online checkouts of books, movies, music, and magazines grew at an astonishing rate.

Use of Gale Courses alone increased almost 40% from about 6,000 hours in 2017 to over 8,000 hours in 2018.


Thank you to the many contributors who joined our fundraising efforts in 2018. Your support of our Annual Fund, Science Alive, One Book, One Michiana, Explore-A-Story, and Summer Reading Challenge is greatly appreciated.


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