Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Basic Info and Physical Setting

The Villa Park Public Library is located north of the downtown area on Ardmore Avenue. This strategic location makes the library very visible to drivers passing by through downtown Villa Park. This two-story building is made mostly of red brick and white concrete which give the library structural strength. The landscape is dominated by green grass and trees, and a decent-sized parking lot located on the south side of the building.

This statue is a piece of art donated by an artist who resides in the Villa Park area. Being called “Metamorphosis,” this piece of work expresses change that the world is undergoing, and the library plans to undertake.

The mission statement of the library is like many we have seen throughout our visits, since the objectives of most libraries are very similar, if not the same. “The Villa Park Public Library provides equal access to materials and resources to meet the cultural, educational, informational and recreational needs of the community. The Library actively focuses on serving as a community information and activities center and supports the lifelong learning and leisure needs of residents of all ages.”

Phone: 630-834-1164
Library Hours: Mon-Fri: 9:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
Sat: 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Sun: 1:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.

Website: www.villapark.lib.il.us

The Front Desk

As one enters the library, like most libraries, the circulation desk is the first thing one sees upon entering the library. The circulation desk is where books are checked out, where items can be put on hold via phone or internet, and where handouts are available to inform the average patron of events happening during the month. A station of computers is situated near the circulation desk by which patrons can browse the library’s catalog. Even though these computers are internet-enabled, only catalog-browsing is permitted.

Book Collections

Books are classified into fiction and nonfiction sections. Fiction books are classified into genres like mystery, romance, and sci-fi, even though all types of fiction are ordered by the author’s last name. Some genres are available in paperback; a large percentage of them are romantic novels, since a separate bookcase holds romance novels. However, most of the paperback copies of fiction books are donated because the library lacks sufficient funds to purchase and replace them, since paperbacks tend to fall apart very easily. On the other hand, the nonfiction books are sorted according to the Dewey decimal system. Another set of shelves holds the reference materials, but has recently been weeded of old materials. The extra space is being used to shelve upsize nonfiction books that took up too much shelf space with the normal-sized books. An adult reading area is located towards the west side of the library near the shelf of new arrivals and the periodicals. Adult patrons can sit, relax, and read their favorite magazines, journals, and books.

Multimedia Collections

The library also has an audio and video collection, even though the collection is still developing and growing. The collection contains different kinds of materials like music and audio books in both CDs and cassettes. The video collection holds a wide range of materials in its collection. Movies and documentaries can be found in both VHS and DVD format. Even though most of the collection still remains in VHS form, the library is gradually working its way to making the collection an all-DVD collection. Two study rooms are also located in the AV section. Because the library usually gets noisy after school, the study rooms are among the quietest areas in the library for someone who needs a quiet place to study. A newspaper collection is located near the internet terminals which contains articles from newspapers like the Chicago Tribune, Daily Herald, and the Chicago Sun-Times, and date as far back as the 1930s. A photocopier is available for making photocopies of articles from these newspapers. Microfilm versions of some of the newspapers are available for use along with the microfilm machine.

Computer Terminals and Internet Use

Both the first and second stories of the library have computers that are internet-enabled. Some computers are available for the use of internet and word processor programs while other are available for internet use only. Among the computers available for internet use only, some computers can be reserved for an indefinite time while three can only be reserved for 15 minutes. Computers on the second floor can also be reserved by adults and children alike. While one pod of computers has internet connection, the other pod does not, but is mainly used by children to play games on. Since the internet is completely unfiltered, parental consent is required for patrons under the age of 18 to use the internet.

Young Adults' Computer Station

Young Adult Services

The entire second floor of the library is devoted to the young adult patrons. As climbs the stairs and enters, this piece of art is set in front of the entrance. In memory of a young girl who died young, this piece was made by her family and donated to the library. The bowl contains many decorative objects, mainly Christmas tree ornaments. After the bowl is spun, one can peer through one of the two eyepieces and can see a beautiful design resembling that seen through a kaleidoscope.

The layout of the library for the young adults is very similar to that of the adults. The young adults have fiction, nonfiction, periodicals and magazines, new arrivals, and reading areas like the adults do. The young adult services are divided into sections to serve the needs of children of different age groups. The toddlers have their playing and reading area separate from the preteen section of the library. A section of the library is devoted to the needs of teens and is called the “teen territory.” One thing that is distinct is the foreign language collection that it holds. Some children’s books are available in languages like Spanish, Polish, Japanese, German, Hindi, and French, which are few of the many languages spoken by Villa Park residents.

The Young Adults Periodicals

The young adult services department also holds programs throughout the year; one such program involves setting a stage across the floor on which children can perform different plays and shows. One room on the first floor, called a meeting room, is used for different functions like forums, conferences, and board meetings. A room on the second floor called the program room is used more for programs that serve the younger patrons such as children’s story time and visits by famous children authors.

Library Staff

My tour guide was the library’s Head of Adult Services Sean Birmingham. He untraditionally was a history major in his undergraduate years. After he graduated, the recession of 1990 hit, and was caught in a situation. After arriving at the decision to work at a library, Sean pursued and received a graduate degree in library science from Rosary University. Ever since he graduated, Sean has been working at different public libraries until he ended up at the Villa Park Public Library and has been working there ever since.

The majority of the staff, particularly those who are heads of departments or assistant administrators has at least a Master’s Degree. One staff member was an artist who designed decorations for the young people’s library in correspondence with different times of the year as well as upcoming events. The youngest staff members are college students who work at the circulation desks, or reshelf books.

Problems and Future Plans

The Villa Park Public Library has encountered various problems throughout the course of its existence. The rise in noise level after school hours poses no real problem, since it subsides within a couple hours, and adults don’t really mind the noise. Main problems that have arisen are issues of high school students loitering and skateboarding on library property. Vandalism has not really been an issue, but teens’ consuming alcoholic beverages in the library or on library property has been an issue, with some incidents involving the police or paramedics. The problem of the homeless sleeping in the library has not really been an issue since a homeless shelter is located downtown.

Other internal problems the library faces are the lack of funds and the lack of space. Space has been an issue for a long time, and as a result, materials have to be constantly shifted to maintain future space needs. The library plans to expand by building sideways or underneath the building. Expansion has to be done in this manner because the building cannot expand upwards, since all the utilities are on the roof of the building.

The library has recently purchased a piece of land from the St. Alexander Church north of the building, and plans to convert it into a staff parking lot to compensate for the rather small parking lot it provides for its patrons. Regarding funds, the library is asking for donations and grants to increase its funds so that it can spend the money the way people want it to be spent. On the library’s website, a forum is being held to ask Villa Park residents for feedback on what improvements should be made to the library. This kind of democracy insures a user-centered library by having patrons themselves contribute to the good of their library.

For more information, check out the library’s website at www.villapark.lib.il.us