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Part II: 1980 - Present
A HISTORY OF WAUCONDA AREA LIBRARY
Wauconda Area Library had its beginning in early 1939, when the Wauconda Woman’s Club spent $35 to purchase enough books to fill one shelf at the Wauconda High School Library. Eleanore Herrod, an English teacher and librarian, donated one hour of her time at the end of her teaching schedule each day toward lending out books from this shelf.
As more books were added and donations received, the space at the high school library became inadequate and impractical. In August, 1948, under the leadership of Mary Lueder, the library was moved to upstairs rooms at the Sports Shop on Main Street, and the library became officially known as Wauconda Public Library. Wendell Dickson was President of the Wauconda Woman's Club at this time.
In 1949, about 300 Wauconda residents had library cards. The library owned about 1200 volumes available for readers to borrow.
At about this time, the American Legion Auxiliary presented the library with a Webster's Unabridged Dictionary with a revolving stand; also, for every Wauconda boy killed in World War II, a book as a memorial.
The burden of paying rent was overtaxing the budget of the Woman’s Club. In the spring of 1950, the Village board, under the leadership of its president, Frank Dickson, granted the library a room in the Village Hall. For eight years the library was housed in this one room, until April, 1958, when under the administration of Village President Melvin Stone, it was moved into a front room of the same building.
In the spring of 1950 the Woman’s Club set up separate financial accounts for General Funds and Library Funds. It was decided upon at that time that half of all fund-raising proceeds should go into the Library Fund. Prior to that time, the library board, consisting of a chairman and three members, were responsible for raising much of the money to buy new books.
Mrs. Charles Haller became chairman of the library in September 1950, donating many hours of her time toward the functioning of the library. Her husband often assisted her with the various duties connected with the library.
In 1954, Mrs. William Risteau, President of the Woman’s Club and also a frequent volunteer at the library, with the help of library board members and some Woman’s Club members, began the task of classifying the library’s books using the Dewey Decimal System. This project took almost a year. By this time, the library owned well over 4,000 volumes. The Illinois State Library assisted in setting up this system and helped to solve difficult problems as they arose.
In 1958, the library board was expanded to seven members
and they worked one day a month to continue processing the new books as they
were acquired. At that time, the
library was open to the public three afternoons each week and Friday evenings.
Members of the library board and the
Woman’s Club served as the volunteer attendants.
New books were purchased regularly, and the Friends of the Library
occasionally gave valuable donations.
New books were purchased regularly, and the Friends of the Library occasionally gave valuable donations.
In 1958, the library owned 5500 volumes and there were 1100 registered patrons.
The Wauconda Woman’s Club maintained tie library for fourteen years. They staffed it, financed it, swept its floors, kept its records, advertised it and enlisted new readers, and provided or secured the money for buying new books. The library was out-growing them. The community was expanding -- the village administration needed more room and the present quarters of the library was no longer adequate. It was then that the Friends of the Library considered a change in management and recommended that a special election be held to give the residents of the township the opportunity to establish a township library.
On June 20, 1962, a referendum passed, creating the Wauconda Township Library. At a special ceremony in September, 1962, Dorothy Mers, President of the Woman’s Club at that time, presented the library board the documents necessary for giving them title to the library. The document from the Wauconda Woman’s Club was titled "A Gift of Deed." At this time, community representatives expressed their appreciation for all that the Wauconda Woman's Club had done through the years to bring the library to this point.
The members of the first library board were Don Badders, Ardith Ellis, Lillian Marsh, Chesney Brooks, Russell Marks, and William Green. Myrtle Fink was appointed as the first Head Librarian.
In 1963 the library moved to 212 Osage Street renting the front part of the building from Mrs. Louise Derer who retained the back half or the building, for her living quarters.
The Friends of the Library have played an important role in the library's history. In a letter to all its members in 1965, the purposes of the organization were listed:
In 1966, the library owned 8,000 books.
In 1968 the library became a member of Northern Illinois Library System. The library continued to grow, being open six days a week, with a constant increase in number of volumes and also number of patrons as the population of our Village increased until it became necessary to again expand the amount of space. In 1971 the property, including building and adjoining lot was purchased from Mrs. Derer.
In 1971, Mrs. Fink retired and Clara Bogle became librarian. In 1973, with a grant from Revenue Sharing Funds, the garage was torn down and a room addition erected to alleviate crowded conditions. Around this time the hours were increased to 42 hours per week.
In addition to thousands more books and hundreds more borrowers, the library had also added audio-visual materials, records, cassettes, filmstrips, slides, and activities and programs had also increased until it became necessary to again add more space. A mobile classroom was purchased in 1979 and attached to the present building, which increased the floor space by thirty percent. Tentative plans were for this new addition to be used for children's books and programs and audio-visual materials. The staff in 1979 consisted of seven persons.
Wauconda Township Library in 1979 housed approximately 30,000 books, 850 records, 300 cassettes, and subscribed to 97 periodicals and six newspapers.
The library was a member of', the Northern Illinois Library System and van deliveries were made from Rockford four days a week. Any book of information not available in the local library could be requested through the System and thereby procured from another library.
Clara Bogle retired as head librarian May 1, 1979 and Joan Stewart served as acting librarian until August 1, 1979 when David Erickson accepted the position of head librarian. On September 15, 1979 Sharon Nicola was hired as children's and young people's librarian. Erickson and Nicola were the first degreed librarians to serve the library. Meanwhile, the newly added Young People's Room was furnished and materials throughout the building were shifted accordingly. On December l, 1979, a formal grand opening of the new addition was held. Also on this date the library hours were increased to 49 and a half.
A HISTORY OF WAUCONDA AREA LIBRARY
Part II: 1980 - Present
In 1980, the library served a population of 11,708 and owned 30,500 books. There were 4,685 registered cardholders, and the total circulation that year was 61,685. The annual budget was about $125,000.
In January of 1980 the board voted unanimously to start proceedings for a transfer from the Northern Illinois Library System to the North Suburban Library System (NSLS) -- a move which had been considered periodically since the systems were formed in 1967. NSLS was a consortium of 650 academic, public, school, and special libraries in north suburban Cook, Kane, Lake and McHenry Counties. The reasons for this move were mainly to have reciprocal borrowing with our neighboring suburban libraries and to draw on the greater professional expertise offered by the staff and members of NSLS. The request for transfer was met with inordinate resistance by the administration of Northern Illinois Library System which put every obstacle in the way, and forced the action to become a withdrawal from NILS and joining of NSLS instead of a simple transfer. Nevertheless, through the persistence of board president Marian Wight, and by ruling of Kathryn Gesterfield, then the Director of Illinois State Library, the withdrawal/joining became effective July 1, 1980.
By 1980, the library occupied about 3,500 square feet of the house on Osage Street, and it was becoming clear to the library board that the library would not be able to meet the needs of a growing community as long as it was confined to this house. The library board began to investigate alternatives for purchasing land to build a 10,000 square foot facility in the coming years.
In 1982, the library purchased 3.9 acres of land from the school district at a price of $25,000. Located next to the Andrew Cook home on Main Street and within close proximity to Wauconda High School, the new location would ensure easy after-school access for Wauconda area students of all ages -- especially grades 6 through 12.
The library hired Richard E. Thompson in 1984 to draft a building program for a new full-service library facility to be built in two phases, the first phase of which would result in a building of 9,500 square feet. He submitted the first draft of his building program December 10, 1984.
In 1985, Governor James R. Thompson approved a Build Illinois grant in the amount of $530,000 for the construction of a new library facility in Wauconda. State Senator Richard Klemm was instrumental in securing this grant for the library, and Robert "Bob" Jonak, President of the Board of library Trustees at that time, played a key role in the development of the new facility.
The check was presented personally by Secretary of State and State Librarian Jim Edgar on July 9, 1986. Board President Bob Jonak made a moving speech about "joyful expectancy.. .the reality of a worthwhile goal." This was the biggest and the last ceremony to be held in the humble building on Osage Street.
The architectural firm of O'Donnell, Wicklund, Pigozzi, and Peterson (OWPP) was selected to design the new library, Their unique single-story design incorporated the capability of supporting a second floor, in order to keep costs lower for the completion of a larger building at some point in the future when needed because of population growth and technological innovation.
The ground-breaking for the new building was held on August 16, 1986 amid balloons, flags and flowers and rejoicing by all. Contractors Pritscher and Erbach started construction on September 12, 1986 and work progressed rapidly through the fall, an unusually mild winter, and spring.
The $1.3 million budget for the project far exceeded the Build Illinois grant and the library's building reserve funds. To make up the difference, the library borrowed $580,000 in the form of a 20-year mortgage.
By summer 1987, finishing touches on the new building were being completed and during the week of August 24, 1987 the move was made from Osage Street to 801 North Main Street. On Friday, September 4, at 9:45 a.m. the doors were opened to the public, several of whom were waiting to get in. The grand opening of the 9,500 square foot facility took place September 19, 1987, with Representative Klemm cutting the red ribbon and speaking. Board President Bob Jonak and Township Supervisor Gerald Beyer also spoke. The American Legion presented the library with a United States flag, and the library's new Todashi grand piano, donated by George Fenzke in memory of his wife Ruth, was played by Ron Vaughan. More than 500 people either attended the ceremony or toured the library on that day. Messages and flowers were received from all over the state. It was a great day.
In 1987, voters approved a 0.10 percent tax rate increase to increase the library's operating funds, adding $80,000 per year to the library's annual operating budget.
The conversion from a township library to a library district occurred a year later. As a result of this conversion, the library's service area expanded westward to the Fox River, coinciding with the borders of Wauconda Community Unit School District 118. The library's service area now included all or portions of Fox River Valley Gardens (now Port Barrington), Island Lake, Lake Barrington, Lakemoor, Volo, and Wauconda.
In 1989, the library celebrated its 50th anniversary.
In 1990, the library served a population of 16,528 and owned 40,000 books, 1,900 video recordings, and 3,400 audio recordings. There were 9,570 registered cardholders, and the total circulation that year was 141,623. The library owned three computers - two for public use and one for staff. Annual expenditures totaled $595,181.
After serving as Head Librarian for thirteen years, David Erickson retired in March, 1992.
In April, 1992, Tom Kern was hired for the job of Library Director. He had earned his Master of Library Science degree at the University of Chicago. He had worked in technical services at the main libraries at the University of Virginia and Northwestern University, and had served as Office Manager at Northwestern University's Transportation Library, Business Information Specialist at Rolling Meadows Library and as Reference Coordinator at Skokie Public Library.
In September, 1992, the first issue of Focus, a 4-page newsletter promoting library services and events, was published and mailed to every household and business in the district.
During the next three years, some important improvements were made to library services, including the addition of an online catalog and circulation system (SLiMS), many new library furnishings, expansion of adult and children's programming, and substantial improvements to the video and music CD collection. Library usage nearly doubled during this period and it became clear to library staff and patrons that a larger facility was needed in order to accommodate the needs of the fast-growing community.
In 1995, Tom Kern drafted a building program for expanding and remodeling the existing facility. Using portions of Dick Thompson's building program from 1984 as a starting point, Mr. Kern drafted a new document that would serve as the basis for the architectural design of a library facility capable of meeting the needs of a rapidly growing community for the next twenty years.
While at its temporary location, and in preparation for moving into the new facility, the library's automation system migrated from SLiMS to Dynix Classic, a much more powerful integrated library system (ILS) that set the standard for libraries this size.
In order to expedite construction and avoid the liability, headaches and extra costs of conducting business in the midst of a construction zone, the library moved nearly all of its contents into what had been the Ben Franklin on Liberty Street (Hwy 176), where it remained fully in operation until early August, 1997, when everything was moved into the new library building.
The new 27,500 square foot facility opened to the public August 25,1997.
Also in August, 1997, a drive-up book return was installed in the parking lot at Cotton Creek School in Island Lake, enabling library patrons to return library materials more conveniently.
The grand opening of the new library was celebrated
September 28, 1997. The weather cooperated by providing a beautiful autumn
day for the special occasion, and hundreds of people attended. Festivities
included live music, library tours, an architectural contest for children, door
prizes, face painting, a storyteller, crafts, a balloon-sculpting clown, a
silent auction, and more.
The library received the prestigious Distinguished Building Award in September,1998, from the Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects. At AIA's annual awards celebration at Navy Pier in Chicago, the award was presented to library representatives Bob Jonak and Tom Kern, OWPP architects Bjorn Hallson (the primary architect), Bob Hunter, and Geoff Walters, and to Tom Featherstone (Brown and Associates). Other Distinguished Building Award recipients included Symphony Center, the Ricahard B. Ogilvie Transportation Center, the Elmhurst Art Museum, the Lake Forest City Hall, and more.
Also in 1998, the library's new Children's Services area was featured in a photographic exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago's Architecture and Design section as one of six notable public children's spaces in the Chicago area.
In the year 2000, the library served a population of 21,625 and owned 79,400 books, 7,000 video recordings, and 10,600 audio recordings. There were 16,332 registered cardholders, and the total circulation that year was 337,138. The library owned 52 computers -- 26 for public use and 26 for staff use. Annual expenditures totaled $1,658,420.
In March, 2000, Kathy Nielsen, the library's Circulation Manager at that time, was named "Public Library Staff Member of the Year" by the North Suburban Library System, in part because of her success in working with the local business community to promote National Library Card Sign-Up Month.
By early 2000, it had become clear that the library needed more funding for library operations in order to meet the growing needs of a rapidly growing community and in order to utilize the new facility more effectively by hiring necessary staff and keeping up with the latest in library and information technology.
In November, 2000 -- on the same ballot that included election of President of the United States -- a referendum that would increase the library's operating fund tax rate by 0.05 percent failed by only 19 votes.
In April, 2001, voters approved by a healthy margin a .05 percent tax rate increase for the library's operating funds.
In 2002, the library added the IPAC (Integrated Public Access Catalog) module to the existing Dynix system, enabling users to access the library's catalog via the Internet.
In 2003, the library installed its first self-checkout station, allowing patrons to check out materials themselves.
in 2004, the library established a community website, www.waucondaarea.info.
The Wauconda Area Library was named Library of the Year in March, 2005, by the North Suburban Library System (NSLS). The NSLS announcement stated, "The Library of the Year Award is presented to one library in NSLS in recognition of its contributions to the development of the NSLS library community. The Wauconda Area Public Library District has won this award because, while it has long been a good example in the community, this year the library has taken its unique mix of community focus, creativity, and collaboration to the next level of service excellence. The Wauconda Area Public Library District is 'the little library that DOES!' The staff and administration are active contributors to system-wide and statewide projects." The award was presented at the NSLS Annual Awards Dinner, attended by 350-plus library officials representing all types of libraries in the north suburban area, including the board and most of the staff of the Wauconda Area Library.
That same year, the library added in a new teen area, known as "The Zone," with teen-oriented books, magazines, and multimedia materials, including video games for checkout. .
Also in 2008, the library increased its hour of operation by being open on Sundays throughout the summer. The library is now open every day of the year except for several major holidays.
Library Director Tom Kern spoke as Guest of Honor at the 80th Anniversary Luncheon of the Wauconda Woman's Club September 8, 2009. On behalf of the library board and staff, he thanked the Club for all they had done for the library through the 70 years since they had founded the library in 1939. He also spoke about some of the library's newest services and offered to set up a web page for their organization.
In 2010, the library served a population of 27,246 and owned 113,000 books, 16,200 video recordings, and 12,500 audio recordings. There were 21,000 registered cardholders, and the total circulation that year was 663,281. The library owned 93 computers -- 54 for public use and 39 for staff use. Annual expenditures totaled $2,991,563.
In January, 2010, the library facilitated a re-organization of the Friends of the Library. Since the late 1990s, the leadership of the Friends had dwindled to just a few hard-working volunteers who managed to keep the book sales up and running each year. With a bank balance of more than $25,000, they needed to establish a board with officers and committees, and they needed to acquire 501-c-3 status as a charity organization. By March, 2010, the Friends had elected a Board of Directors and all four officers (Liz Harrington, President; Mike Doehler, Vice President; Cindy Oakley, Treasurer; and Diane Boothby, Secretary). Four committees had also been established, each with a chairperson and at least two members.
In early 2011, the North Suburban Library System (NSLS), of which the Wauconda Area Library was a member, was nearly shut down by the lack of state funding. Everything but the most essential services - notably, the interlibrary loan delivery system - was cut. Other library systems in Illinois, facing the same budgetary issues, pooled resources with NSLS on July 1, 2011, to create RAILS: the Reaching Across Illinois Library System. Composed of the now-defunct Alliance Library System (ALS), DuPage Library System (DLS), Metropolitan Library System (MLS), North Suburban Library System (NSLS), and Prairie Area Library System (PALS), RAILS now serves more than 3,700 libraries over 27,000 square miles.
In April, 2011, the library selected Polaris as its new Integrated Library System (ILS) vendor, and this new automation system went "live" October 8, 2011. The library's computer system was also upgraded to Windows 7 early that fall, and all of the Microsoft Office applications were upgraded to the latest versions.
On April 7, 2012 - the day before Easter - the Friends of the Library co-sponsored with Star Runners (Wauconda) the first annual Bunny Hop 4-Mile Run / 2-Mile Walk. The weather was magnificent that morning, and more than 650 people attended the community event, including cheerleaders, beauty queens, the Mayor of Wauconda (Mark Knigge), and more than 400 runners.
In July, 2012, the library began the monumental project of converting its entire collection from a barcode-based identification system to a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) system. 3M had been selected as the vendor, and RFID tags were manually installed on each of the 148,000 items in the library's collection of books, CDs, and DVDs. Thanks to the hard work of dozens of dedicated volunteers and staff members, the project was completed in less than eight weeks. New RFID security gates were installed September 19, at which point the conversion to the new system was complete. This new system would make self-checkout services much more user-friendly, and would enable the automation of the checking in and sorting of materials in the future.
In September, 2012, the Friends of the Library donated $21,509 to the library for the purchase of a Transit Connect van from Victor Ford. The van was purchased that month. A full-vehicle graphics wrap was designed and installed in November, at which point the van was ready for service.
In November, 2012, new drive-up book returns were installed at the village halls of Island Lake and Volo. The new library van began servicing these on a daily basis December 10, 2012.
During the same month, two new self-checkout stations -- one at the main checkout
desk on the upper level and one next to the elevator downstairs in Children's Services -- were made
available. By January, 2013, library patrons were using these new stations
to check out more than 13,000 items per month.