Skokie Public Library Honored with Highest Award

Laura Bush AwardFirst Lady Laura Bush awarded five museums and five libraries the 2008 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor, at a White House ceremony on October 7. Each year, the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), in coordination with the White House, presents the National Medal to 10 museums and libraries in recognition of their extraordinary civic, educational, economic, environmental, and social contributions. This year, one of those winners was Skokie Public Library, Skokie, IL.

In addition to the National Medal, each institution receives a $10,000 award. This is the second year that IMLS has presented the National Medals to 10 institutions. In previous years, the National Medal was known as the National Award for Museum and Library Service and was awarded to three museums and three libraries.

Congratulations to Alexandra Tyle-Annen of Homer Township Public Library

The American Library Association (ALA) has announced the librarians who will participate in the Emerging Leaders (EL) 2009 program. The EL program, which is in its third year, will enable more than 100 librarians from across the country to participate in project planning workgroups; network with peers; gain an inside look into ALA structure; and have an opportunity to serve the profession in a leadership capacity. Congratulations to Alexandra Tyle-Annen, Adult Services Director at the Homer Township Public Library, who has been selected as one of the 100 emerging leaders!

Congratulations Sharon Ruda

The Illinois State Library was thrilled to learn that the Illinois Library Association has named Sharon Ruda, Associate Director, ISL Talking Book & Braille Service, their 2008 Librarian of the Year.  Sharon will receive her award at the ILA annual conference at Navy Pier in Chicago next month.  ISL Director Anne Craig received the same award in 2006.  Congratulations to Sharon on a well-deserved honor that reflects the outstanding work performed by the TBBS staff.

Congratulations to the Mississippi Valley Library District!

Fairmont LibraryIn 2004 when the Collinsville Memorial Library District decided to change its name to the Mississippi Valley Library District, it was with the idea that if the district  ever opened another library in its area, the new library satellite would have the name of the community for personality and ownership reasons for its constituents.

On June 1, 2008 the MVLD opened a small satellite library in a small classroom in the Fairmont City community to test the viability of maintaining a service for the outreaches of its boundaries and to test the reactions of the people to the effort. The Fairmont City Library Center now joins the Collinsville Memorial Library Center in the Mississippi Valley Library District.

The Mississippi Valley Library District is located in the MetroEast portion of Illinois just adjacent to St. Louis, Mo. in the Lewis and Clark Library System. Today it covers the communities of Collinsville, Caseyville, State Park and Fairmont City. A total of approximately 35,000 residents voted in 2006 to join the then library district serving only the city limits of Collinsville.

The Fairmont City Library Center was only to remain open for the months of June and July of this year but with less than one month of service time in the community, MVLD was approached by an interested group to make the Center more permanent. The American Legion of Fairmont City has been struggling for a number of years to remain open due to declining membership. Some of its officers approached the Board of Trustees of the Library District and offered a partnership that would allow the Library Center to share parts of its existing building with the American Legion. The offer was gladly accepted and both groups are now working toward moving the collection of books and other various media to the new location at the end of July and opening again in mid-August. 

One of the interesting aspects of the new Library Center is that it will share the building with an existing American Legion bar. With assurances from noted library lawyer Phil Lenzini, the Board and the community of Fairmont City has been assured that this will not cause any conflicts legally.

The Fairmont City Library Center will serve a previously large unserved Illinois area. So at this time the Board of Trustees and the Staff at the Mississippi Valley Library District would like to proudly announce the birth of the newest library service in a successful growing Illinois community of libraries!

Coal City Public Library District Runner Up in 2008 *For Dummies* Library Display Contest

For Dummies DisplayIn February, the Coal City Public Library District demonstrated its yellow and black “For Dummies” spirit by uniquely showcasing the books of Wiley Publishing in participation of a display contest offered to libraries nationwide. With the help of Albert Einstein and the Three Stooges, the library created an eye-catching book display.

Library staff wore “For Dummies” nametags and patrons were invited to share in the fun as well. The library offered a “For Dummies” raffle prize to those who checked out a “For Dummies” book. Patrons also had a chance to win smaller prizes by answering surprise pop “Dummies” questions at the circulation desk.

Coal City Public Library District placed first runner-up out of approximately 200 libraries that had entered the contest. Savannah Carpenter, who organized the display and activities with the help of fellow staff members, was shocked when “Wiley Publishing” showed up on the phone’s caller ID. The Wiley representative said that one of the reasons they chose Coal City Public Library District as a winner was for their creativity.

“The teamwork and cooperation of the entire library staff is what made the win possible,” said Carpenter. “Everyone really got into the ‘Dummies’ spirit.”

For Dummies TrophyFor their achievement, the library won 40 free “For Dummies” books of their choice and a trophy. They also received numerous “For Dummies” gifts including: duffle bags, backpacks, flexible computer keyboards, t-shirts, tote bags, and other items. From these gifts, the library created raffle prizes available to patrons who check out a “For Dummies” book. In addition, Wiley Publishing also provided the Coal City Public Library District staff with a pizza party!

Pictures of the “For Dummies 2008 Library Display Contest” winning entries can be viewed online.

Spotlight Awards

Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White and the Illinois Press Association announced Wednesday the winners of the annual Spotlight on Achievement and Spotlight on Service awards recognizing outstanding literacy students and tutors in Illinois.  The awards were presented at a ceremony at the State Library.

“I am honored to congratulate these outstanding students for their hard work and determination in seeking to obtain lifelong learning skills,” said Secretary White. “And I am equally proud of our ten outstanding tutors for their generosity and encouragement in helping literacy students achieve their utmost potential.”

Ten students were recognized for outstanding achievement in developing and improving their literacy skills. They are:

  • Burnice Blair, a student at Common Place Family Learning Center, Peoria
  • Marco Ceja, Waukegan Public Library (as a partner in Lake County Adult Learning Connection)
  • Michael Dellar, Blue Gargoyle Community Services, Chicago
  • Alexandra Fleming, Kaskaskia College Reading Link Program, Centralia
  • Wantanee Freeman, YWCA Adult Literacy, Pekin
  • Delfino Garcia, Oakton Community College, Skokie
  • Bernice Husher, Kaskaskia College, Centralia
  • Jerry Mezo, John A. Logan College, Carterville
  • Christine Moeller, Illinois Eastern Community Colleges (Frontier), Fairfield
  • Roshonda Smith, De La Salle/Tolton Center, Chicago

The ten winners each received a $200 check from the Illinois Press Association Foundation, a plaque presented by Secretary White, a personalized Illinois Blue Book and ten books donated by Delta Systems. 
Ten outstanding tutors were honored for their contributions in helping literacy students reach their goals. They are:

  • Donald Bartak, a volunteer tutor at Prairie State College, Chicago Heights
  • Robert Brown, Waubonsee Community College, Aurora
  • John Fendrich, Common Place Family Learning Center and LVA/Project U.P.W.A.R.D., Peoria
  • Ellen Hooker, Regional Office of Education – St. Clair County, Belleville
  • Robert Mathis, De La Salle Institute/Tolton Adult Education Center, Chicago
  • Carol Randall, YWCA Adult Literacy, Pekin
  • Ruth Richert, Spoon River College Literacy Project, Macomb
  • Diana Schueler, YWCA Adult Literacy, Pekin
  • Paul Strauss, Blue Gargoyle Community Services, Chicago
  • Beverly Wheatley, Kaskaskia College, Centralia

The ten Spotlight on Service winning tutors received a plaque and personalized Illinois Blue Book from Secretary White, and $200 is being donated by the Illinois Press Association Foundation on behalf of each award-winning tutor to the literacy program where they serve as volunteers.

Students and tutors are nominated from among the nearly 200 local providers who receive literacy grant funding from the Secretary of State/Illinois State Library Literacy Office. Last year adult literacy programs that receive grant funding provided educational services to nearly 24,000 adult students. Nearly 8,700 volunteer tutors gave their time to help students develop and enhance their reading, writing, math and language skills.   Persons interested in becoming volunteer tutors are urged to contact the Illinois Adult Learning Hotline at 1-800-321-9511.

A Joint Effort: Steeleville Public Library and School Join Forces

Steeleville Library Ribbon CuttingIn an age when finding funding is at a premium and everyone seems to be scrambling to make ends meet, one community has joined resources to best utilize what each had.

For more than twenty years Steeleville Public School District 138 and the local library district had hashed and rehashed the idea of joining forces. Through the ensuing years, a library satellite was opened in the neighboring community of Percy. Still the idea of joining continued to be discussed. Instead of three electric bills, instead of three libraries ordering similar if not the same materials, instead of triplicates, why not join forces? How this could be accomplished was the source of much speculation. Finally, Representative Dan Reitz offered to help.

Other rural communities had combined their school and public libraries with success, why not Steeleville? The first step was to visit other libraries that had previously combined; many questions were raised. Unlike the other communities though, Steeleville would not house the library materials within the school building. The second phase involved accessing the feasibility of using an existing building, but the excessive costs made this idea unworkable.

When the school district offered the land, a new idea formed. Working with Secretary of State Jesse White, Representative Reitz, the public library, the school district and the Village of Steeleville secured a grant to build a new building on the school’s campus. With assistance from the Shawnee Library System, Mayor Mike Armstrong and the town board members, library board members, library directors and school administrators worked tirelessly. Many questions and concerns needed addressing, and often answering these questions and resolving these concerns took weeks and months to complete. However, the dream of long ago was realized on January 2008.

Months of weeding, working with the architect to choose a floor plan, to choose brick and interior colors, shelving and on and on finally have resulted in a beautiful new 5,000 square foot library that serves Pre-K-12 students from District 138, Pre-K-8 students from St. Mark Lutheran School, and all district library patrons from the communities of Percy, Steeleville and the surrounding areas. Joining forces can be done.

On the front of the new District Library is a plaque that reads:

Built Through the Cooperation and Dedication of the Steeleville Area Public Library, Steeleville Community School District 138 and the Village of Steeleville

Truly this has been a joint effort to best serve all patrons within the library district. The Steeleville Area Public Library is not the school district’s library, nor Steeleville’s library, nor Percy’s library. This library is OUR library.

Article by Shelley Wolter, Director, Steeleville Elementary School

Photo Caption: The youngest (3 years), and oldest (90 years) card holders for the new Steeleville Area Public Library cut the ribbon on the new facility.

Congrats to the Illinois Plinkit Project Participants

The PLINKIT (Public Library Interface Kit) Collaborative is the 2008 recipient of the Association of Specialized and Cooperative Agencies (ASCLA) Leadership and Professional Achievement Award. The ASCLA Leadership and Professional Achievement Award is a citation presented to one or more ASCLA members in recognition of leadership and achievement in the following areas of activity: consulting, multi-type library cooperation, networking, statewide service and programs and state library development.

The PLINKIT Collaborative ( is a collaborative project of the Colorado State Library, Oregon State Library, Texas State Library and Illinois Regional Libraries that allows small libraries to customize and enrich websites, providing links to reference databases, local and world newspapers and many other information-rich resources.

For more information on the quickly expanding Illinois Plinkit Project visit their page under the Featured Statewide Initiatives on WJIL. You can also browse some of the participating Plinkit websites from this page to see how Illinois libraries are using this innovative tool. Congratulations to all of the Illinois library organizations and staff who are participating in this award winning project!