Growing Together: Annual Report 2007-2008

library at night

How Do You See Your Library?

"I have grown with the library and the library has grown with me.... Throughout the years...the library has been there like a constant, steady friend. Its doors are open to all, teaching people and bringing people together in an atmosphere of learning and inspiration." (Linda Howard, library patron)

A BEAUTIFUL NEW BUILDING FULL OF POSSIBILITIES — that’s one way to see the Champaign Public Library. Caring staff focused on listening to you and nurturing your family. A place where everyone can be inspired and moved toward their potential. The spot where, more than anyplace else, our whole community can meet and grow together. Or perhaps, as patron Linda Howard put it, ”a constant, steady friend.”

In this annual report, we’ll let you know how your library has been all of these things this past year — a year of growth and transformation that has literally laid the foundation for a vital future. As a community-wide investment, our new library is already showing great returns. Our light-filled, environmentally friendly building has attracted 25 percent more visitors. The number of people getting library cards is up more than 70 percent. In the transition, our collection grew by more than a third. Use of children’s books has gone way up, and teens are reading more, too.

Last year, we asked patrons to tell us how they see the library. Here, you’ll find some of their answers, life-changing stories that started with a library card, a book, or a helpful librarian. We also share highlights of outstanding ways the library served its community this year. And we thank the donors who made our new library possible.

“I have grown with the library and the library has grown with me.” We look forward to continuing to grow — together.

My Best Friend

New Library Cards 8,808 (+71%)
Total Visitors 697,262 (+6%)
Visitors to New Library 2,000 per day (+23%)

"The Champaign Public Library is my best friend!

In October of 2005, I found myself here in Champaign, newly relocated from the South with not a friend in sight and our family in financial duress. When money is tight, moms have to get creative in coming up with new, fun activities for their kids. So, one day, it occurred to me that maybe it would be fun to see what the library had for toddlers....

The first day I visited the Champaign Public Library was an eye-opener for me! To think that I could obtain a library card free of charge, was beyond belief. (When I was a kid, we had always had to pay for our cards.) Free access to any book under the sun? This was too good to be true.

The next hour or so passed quickly as I found myself lost in the rows and rows of books. It was intoxicating. I realized there was a treasure trove of adventure, information, and inspiration in those shelves, just waiting to be uncovered.... What a wonderful gift it was to be able to borrow anything and everything I wished to, with the swipe of my new library card!" (Kimberly T.)

FORTUNATELY, the temperature hovered near 50 degrees on January 6, 2008 — a good thing, because people were standing outside, waiting. They wanted to be among the first to see Champaign’s new library. After a few official words of recognition, a drum roll started and the crowd was ushered in on a wave of applause from staff members — a gesture of both welcome and gratitude, acknowledging that everyone in our city helped make the new library possible. Visitors poured in all day, but they weren’t there just to look, although there was a lot to look at: eco-friendly bamboo walls and skylights, majestic limestone, and an irresistibly colorful children’s desk. No, in the midst of all that activity, people got down to business, settling into soft chairs, reading with a child, and checking out books by the thousands. Since then, many more have discovered their public library for the first time or, for the first time in a long time, have returned to seek that “treasure trove” in its walls.

Courtesy, Respect, and Thoroughness

Questions Answered 169,894 (+32%)

"I always thought of the library as my friend--right up there with my love of dogs, which may sound funny at first, but there's a link....

I have grown with the library and the library has grown with me. Throughout my life, it has supported my personal interests, my academic career, my recovery from setbacks and illness, and my needs for entertainment and the enrichment of my creativity. It has done so through the encouragement, knowledge, expertise and real personableness of its staff of librarians.... I know firsthand how much patience, attention to detail, courtesy, and resourcefulness are beneficial and necessary to the job. When I come to the library, I know the assistants will give me the time I need to absorb new information [and] provide me with avenues of research I had not even thought of...all done with courtesy, respect and thoroughness....

What does the library have to do with dogs, you may wonder? What I know is, throughout the years, through good times and bad, in good health and not-so-good health, in school and out of school, the library has been there like a constant, steady friend." (Linda H.)

“YOUR PEOPLE ARE VERY EFFICIENT, willing, cordial, helpful — don’t change that.” One way we find out what our patrons are thinking is through an annual survey conducted each April. When we hear comments like this one, we’re pleased that, in an era when good service is hard to find, our dedication to customer service is being felt. This past fiscal year, we worked hard to provide the best possible service while we moved from one building to another. Our Bookmobile stepped up to keep access to reserved items flowing. Many patrons discovered our Douglass Branch, a neighborhood library where staff and patrons are on a first-name basis. In our new Main Library, we added a full-time welcome desk near the entry and a desk in the new TeenSpace, making it easier to find someone with an answer.

A Primo Destination

Program Attendance 54,320
Meeting Room Uses 2,241

"My two sons consider 'going to the library' to be equivalent to 'going to the mall.' To them, it is an exciting place with all sorts of goodies for them. It is not only a primo destination, but it is an event. The library has cultured their love of books, and we are already seeing the benefits of that, much less how it will serve them for decades to come." (Tom K.)

BEHIND CLOSED DOORS THERE’S A SECRET WORLD at the library: giggling, clapping, rhyming, nodding — minds engaged, bodies moving, and spirits uplifted at an array of free programs you’ll find nowhere but the library. New library meeting spaces have been heavily used by both the public and the library. Our cafe provided an inviting setting for family music events. Adults learned about everything from new technology to backyard birds. Our popular storytimes helped spark language skills at that crucial early age. The Get Inspired! Meet a Hero @ Your Library reading program inspired large crowds to meet astronaut Joe Tanner and see the amazing stunts of the Whip Guy. Teen programs, along with our great new TeenSpace, kept older kids engaged with the library and reading. Our program attendance total — over 50,000 — includes events at our Douglass Branch and classroom visits from preschool to high school.

Hidden Treasure

Items Borrowed 1,980,259 (+11%)
Items Owned 355,129 (+34%)
Computer Uses 97,213 (+23%)
Online Tutoring Sessions 1,313

"'You went to the library again, didn't you? You better get here fast. I have been waiting for you for 10 minutes now.' Holding a cell phone on one hand and a basket full of books on the other, I was nervously waiting in a line to check out books that I picked out. Before I picked up my sister from U of I, I always stopped by at the library and, once I stepped foot in the library, the time flew so fast that my sister always had to wait at least ten minutes. To me, the library was a candy store that a child cannot leave.

There was no place better than the library to read and borrow books. The book I wanted was always somewhere in the library like a hidden treasure. From books I borrowed from the library, I learned how to bake cookies for my brother, knit scarves for friends, and Photoshop pictures. Whenever I had extra time, like before I picked my sister up, I ran to the library and just wandered around, looking for books that would take me to somewhere I have never been." (Hyojin C.)

OUR BUILDING WASN’T THE ONLY THING THAT WAS NEW this year; a lot of what was inside was new, too. Anticipating a jump in usage, we built our collection to offer 34 percent more items. Our summer reading program — a critical bridge between school semesters — encouraged more kids to read than ever before; a total of 4,416 signed up. The number of items checked out at our new library grew 24 percent overall; use of children’s books jumped nearly 30 percent. Our Get Inspired! Meet a Hero @ Your Library community-wide reading program had people of all ages reading about heroes of all kinds. For those seeking treasure online, our new building provided four times more computers and free Wi-Fi. We continued to improve our selection of valuable online information sources, including the Live Homework Help tutoring service, supported by a gift from Ken, Christy, and Callie Bruce.

More Community than Institution:
Friends and Volunteers

Friends Revenue $30,181
Volunteer Hours 9,497

"The Champaign Public Library transcends any common notion or manifestation of what a library is assumed to be.

The librarians have an uncanny knowledge of exactly what I am interested in, because they place books with the front covers facing out on the shelves I am browsing, causing me to pick up the book--even if I wasn't looking for it, or knew it existed. Whenever I play stump-the-reference-librarian, they never lose.

An elderly patron had an accident and was attended to by a librarian without hesitation. This speaks more of community than institution...

The [Library Friends] book sales are the single most important thing to advance my research and I could not have accomplished what I had set out to do without the sales or the library." (Patrick J.)

THE LIBRARY IS FORTUNATE to have hundreds of helpers providing hands-on support. Last year, close to 300 individuals and organizations were part of the library’s volunteer program, pitching in with day-to-day tasks and delivering books to grateful patrons who were unable to leave their homes. The Library Friends replaced their seasonal sales with their very own book store, the FriendShop, on the library’s lower level. Sales of used books, movies, and CDs, plus membership fees, helped the Friends generate $30,181 for the library. These funds provided transportation so that all Champaign first graders could meet their public library; offered reading program incentives; supported events for kids and teens, including the Monarch Award Challenge for children and the Juneteenth celebration at the Douglass Branch; purchased books for the Get Inspired! Meet a Hero @ Your Library program; and supported production of the library newsletter.

A Firm Foundation

Foundation Revenue $1,191,272

GENEROUS DONORS who pledged a total of $3 million to the Champaign Public Library Foundation building fund may have felt an extra bit of pride stepping into the new library. A preview party gave a first look to donors of $1,000 and up. Significant gifts are recognized in a number of named areas in the new space. An anonymous $1 million donor chose the name Clara Lane for the street in front of the library. Kyle and Phyllis Robeson pledged $500,000; their name graces the Robeson Pavilion. Major contributors included Shahid and Ann Khan, the Donald C. Dodds Jr. family, the Marci Dodds--Jon "Cody" Sokolski family, the Newton H. Dodds family, Main Street Bank & Trust, Busey Bank, and the Library Friends. A shining glass donor wall recognizes gifts of $10,000 or more, while $5,000 gifts are honored with shelf dedications. Engraved pavers fill the patio with the names of supporters and those they honored. Gifts to the Foundation also helped strengthen library collections, enrich programming for children, and support the library newsletter.

Grants Awarded 2007–2008
Total: $208,885

  • Get Inspired! Meet a Hero @ Your Library reading program: $100,000 from the Illinois State Library
  • Books and other library materials: $91,110 from the Illinois Library Per Capita Grant Program
  • Project Next Generation computer mentoring program for middle school students: $11,500 from the Illinois State Library
  • Children's programs and collections: $3,000 from the Franklin I. and Irene List Saemann Foundation
  • Children's books and storytime materials: $1,250 from the Illinois State Library Share of Family Literacy Plus
  • Programs for teens and families: $1,025 from the Illinois Arts Council “Artstour Program”
  • "Read Me a Future" baby packet giveaway program: $1,000 from Target

Crowds filled the library at our January 6, 2008, grand opening. Watch a brief video produced by Smile Politely, a local news service. Photo below: Nick Burchell

crowds at opening event

Printed report, pdf, 2.3 MB

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