Friday, December 16, 2005

A Visit to the Orland Park Public Library

Every year on the second Friday in December, the Thomas Ford Memorial Library closes for an inservice day and we visit another library. Being in the Chicago area, there are always plenty of choices, often a public library in a new building, though we have also visited the Newberry Library, the Morton Arboretum Library, the Chicago Historical Society, and libraries at the University of Chicago. All the staff that can come (a few do have other part time jobs) get to see how other libraries work. Often we come home to our building with a few new ideas. Even without the ideas, I think we gain a better understanding of the libraries from whom we often borrow materials or to whom we make referrals. We also bond as a staff on the outtings, which always including a good lunch.
Last Friday we visited the relatively new Orland Park Public Library located in a quickly growing suburb with rapid retail and residential development. The tax dollars there seem endless to us, and the library's new building, planned to serve for twenty years, is huge. There were many knock-your-socks-off features in the new library. Here are my favorites:

1. The meeting room is totally loaded with equipment for multimedia and online presentations. The projector lowers from the ceiling. The huge screen in the front of the room is supplements by two huge monitors hanging halfway back the room. A piano can be rolled out of one of the huge closets. It would be a great place for big presentations and gaming nights for teens.

2. The youth services department had a huge programming room with separate areas for story telling and for crafts. The ceiling has an interesting maze of lights. The room was totally connected electronically, too. A huge storage room gave the department room to store props, puppets, craft supplies, over-sized books, etc. I seem to be using the word huge a lot.

3. Outside the children's programming room is a large mural showing flora and fauna of the tallgrass prairie. The library has the rights to use the image in greeting cards, on the Internet, etc. I suspect it is a great diversion for kids waiting for a program to start. The key to the mural lists 109 species.

4. All the employees get lockers. I haven't had one of those in 25 years.

5. The library had a special room just for first aid.

6. There are many empty shelves for growth of the library collection.

7. Best of all, the library has outside lockers that are available 24 hours a day. Should a person be coming after library hours, circulation staff can load library items into a locker that the person can open with a personal code.

The library is still new and seems not to have settled on its floor plans yet. I had some trouble finding the different sections of the adult book collection. The library's graphics department is replacing signs from the original plan already.

I would also like to see more color in the library, which may just be my personal preference.

The service desks on both floors have huge areas to monitor. I think the library may need more employees and more desks.

Overall, I think the Orland Park Public Library has made great strides and should be an asset to its community for many years.


Dean Mouw said...

I am interested in your blogs.

Ukiah said...

I have been to that library.
It is a good one:)

Anonymous said...

Ugh! I know this is an old post, but I hate the Orland Park Public Library. That monstrosity has an enormous amount of wasted space. There are usually three employees on each floor with nothing to do but talk. The online catalogue says that books are on the shelf when they aren't...several times per visit this happens to me. The shelves are empty; again wasted space. There never seems to be many people there when I go; using the computers, sure but that's it. We are being in assessed extra money because a 70+ yr. old man was driving the bookmobile in an ice storm and he hit and permanently disabled a man. They were uninsured. Last year, an employee went on the roof on a Friday and died up there. They didn't even realize he was missing until Monday! An employee's husband joined the search and found him. If he had been injured on the roof, they probably wouldn't be insured for that either since he wasn't an employee. The old library was fine. What a waste.

Anonymous said...

I would like to reply to "anonymous"...

I used to work at the Orland Park Public Library, and having known both the older man who had the accident with the bookmobile (who has since passed away and who went through quite a lot with that whole ordeal) and the man who died on the roof (his name was Adam, by the way, and he was a friend), I would appreciate a little more respect and a little less talking about those freak incidences as though they were just another run-of-the-mill result of irresponsible behavior on the library's part. They aren't just pieces of gossip. They were two very tragic things that the entire staff and families involved were heart-broken over.

I'm pretty sure you don't have the actual details of either of those stories, correct, by the way.

And to address your other comments, as was written in the original blog, there are lots of empty shelves for a reason. There's room to grow. What sense would it make to say they wanted a huge new building that could last for over 20 years, and then fill it to capacity?

And again, the building is HUGE. Perhaps that's why there sometimes doesn't seem to be a lot of people there. They are scattered all over the square footage.

If the catalog says a book is on shelf and it isn't, ask a librarian to help. Chances are, that book was just checked in and it hasn't been re-shelved yet. The librarians are there for a reason, and if you leave frustrated because you couldn't find something, but never asked, that's your own fault.

I worked at the library before the new building as well. And everyone loved the old building except for the fact that there was no room for anything. Perhaps as a patron it wasn't that clear to you, but as a staff member attempting to shift 300 books over to fit three books in, it was pretty obvious we had outgrown our space. The old library was not fine. If we had stayed there, we could not buy any more books, and then I'm pretty sure people would be complaining that everything was outdated.

It is a fantastic library with tons of resources for everyone. In all my years working there, I always thought so.

Just wanted to come to its defense.