The Arlington Heights Memorial Library (AHML) truly is one of the gems in the community.
With more than 2.6 million checkouts over the past year, it not only is the second busiest, single building public library in the country, but for the 5th consecutive year, it has been named a 5-Star Library - the highest rating from Library Journal’s national public library ratings.
Despite those accolades, AHML continues to strive for the highest level of service, and excellence for its users.
“Libraries need to stay on the cutting edge of the community’s needs,” said Jason Kuhl, executive director of AHML. “Libraries have moved from being grocery stores to kitchens.”
Kuhl explained that library uses have evolved and changed over the years. In part because of resources available on the Internet, reference questions, for example, numbered 250,000 in 1999, and dropped to 35,000 for the year 2008.
New uses have emerged, Kuhl said, which include the library being used more as a gathering place for young people, because schoolwork has become more collaborative.
Business people, especially new entrepreneurs, have a vast array of free resources available to them. Even groups such as quilters can utilize the meeting spaces to gather together to enjoy their craft.
Kuhl said the library has taken a number of steps that “seek to meet expectations” which include providing a convenient drive-up window to drop off books that are due, and a new mobile app that allows users a self-checkout option, the ability to search the catalog for items, download books and a host of other services and options.
A recent renovation of the 120,000 square foot building was the first in more than 20 years, Kuhl said.
Changes included opening up spaces, and creating more places for people to gather – offering comfortable seating, more splashes of color and display areas to highlight local artwork and other programs or projects.
A number of new services, and spaces to offer them in are now available. They include:
The Hub. Opened April 15, this space is for teenagers in grades seven through twelve, and provides MacBook Airs and other laptops to use for homework, a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) area, where young people can read or enjoy PS3, Xbox and Wii. A comfortable, colorful space promotes either studying or socializing in groups. The area is open Monday-Friday from 3 p.m. until 9 p.m. and noon to 5:30 p.m. on weekends. Homework help is also available.
The Marketplace. More than 20,000 items are available, and include movies, music and books, all of which are arranged by category and topic. A trending section within the Marketplace highlights current events in the news, and exhibits can be seen on display there. Currently, artwork from District 25 students is available for viewing.
Kids’ World. This area is geared toward the younger library attendees, which even equates to child-level bookshelves. The area is bright and engaging, and filled with books and activities for the little ones. Story times are regularly held, and a summer reading program dubbed Red. Discover. Create Begins on June 3. Teens in grades seven through 12 can volunteer to work with the younger children over the summer. Applications are being accepted through May 13.
Studio: Audio/video equipment including cameras, camcorders, tripods and records can be checkout on one-week loan, and suites are provided for post-production work and small-group collaboration. Additional opportunities include lighting kits, sound recording booths, video conversion station and electronic drum set. Individual assistance from library personnel is also available.
Training Center: More than 50 free classes are offered each month for Arlington Heights cardholders, on topics including resume reviews, QR codes for business, business marketing research, in addition to information you can use at school or home. Additional opportunities include Photoshop, Office Suite, basic computers and other timely topics. One on one appointments can also be made.
Info Desk: What sets AHML apart from other libraries is that the Info Desk is the place you go for everything. Whether it’s a question on availability of books, movies or music to check out, if you want to register for a program or just have a question, this is where you go.
Business Center: Support is offered in the Business Center to members of the business community, to assist with technology and how to engage customers. Business prospects, contacts and mailing lists can be generated, and one-on-one assistance is available. Arlington Heights businesses can also get a business library card and allow up to three employees to check out materials on it.
Fireplace (The Living Room): This quiet reading area is situated with comfortable couches and a fireplace, offering a cozy place to read a book, newspaper or magazine.
Conference Rooms: Fourteen conference rooms are available, that are ideal for tutoring, groups projects and small business meetings. Large-screen monitors, video projectors and large tables and chairs for meetings are available in select rooms. One conference room has a sofa for seating up to 10 people for group discussions.
Kuhl said the renovation combines traditional services offered by the library, mixed with new needs of the new generation.
“Arlington Heights Memorial Library offers functionality, durability and flexibility, we offer something for every generation in our community,” Kuhl said.
For more information on the many services and programs available at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library, visit their website at www.ahml.info