Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Kankakee Public Library revisited

I love Kankakee Public Library. I've blogged about their library several times.

On my way back from IFLA 2008, I made a personal stopover in the city of Kankakee for a short visit to their library. It was nice to see Cindy (if only briefly, as she was on leave), Steve and Camille again.

Their library occupies three floors of this building, with a fourth floor being added.
Kankakee Public Library Kankakee Public Library

Cindy (director) and Steve (assistant director) were so cordial and nice when I visited them in 2005. I remembered how they shared their vision for their library. They also asked interested questions about how we did things in Singapore. I also met Camille (in charge of Youth services) who was clearly enthused and passionate about her work.

This time I met Allison (head of Adult Services and active blogger at their staff blog), after corresponding with her over email for about two years

[Btw a belated congratulations Allison, for I just learned from your library website that you've been awarded winner of the 2008 Deborah Dowley Prelser Award by the Illinois Library Association.]
Allison Beasley - Illinois Library Association the winner of the 2008 Deborah Dowley Prelser Award

Allison, Steve and I had a brief chat in Steve's office.
Kankakee Public Library

Steve shared about their new plans for their library extension. The additional floor would have an auditorium. In the layout drawing that Steve printed, I noticed an area in the auditorium marked as "podcast/ vodcast room".

I said out loud, "This must be (planned) by Steve!" :)

The new floor will also have a room with the equipment for library users to create their own podcasts and vodcast. They have the option of letting the library use the audios and videos.

I asked how they would ensure the content is appropriate. Steve said the library wouldn't be obligated to use everything that users produce (makes perfect sense to me).

Their podcasts have 1,800 downloads a month (wow!). They make their podcasts available via iTunes, which was a clever way of making their podcasts more accessible.

Services to teens
I was particularly interested in their services to teens. Camille took time out of her schedule to meet me.

Camille (didn't take a picture with her, unfortunately) shared about how this book was the current favourite (something like 790 reservation requests, woah!).
Kankakee Public Library Kankakee Public Library

She informed me about how the trend of crossover titles and authors (i.e. authors who typically wrote for teens were writing for the adult market, and vice cersa) encouraged teens to move into adult collections.

I noticed this poster on the table and asked about it. Camille explained that this was a programme by application only. It was specifically targeted at male teens. The application form even required parental consent (which I thought was a good way to engage the parents in the programme).

Basically, the participants (about 10 per programme) learn how to use Mac computers to produce content (visual, audio, video). I think they get to go on study trips too.
Kankakee Public Library
[I'll ask Allison if they can share more about this programme in their staff blog].

Camille showed me their Manga and Anime collections. The Manga collections were more popular than the DC or Marvel ones, she said.

From our conversations about YP collections, it's clear we share the same issues. It's interesting to learn how they tackle it. For instance, they also have parents who complain that some graphic novels seem violent and have scantily clad women.

Kankakee PL's response was to explain their collections policy (they remove the offensive titles if required). They'd post bookmarks and posters near the Manga section, informing parents that some Manga and graphic novel titles require parental guidance.

Here's a neat idea: Spa Night for teen girls!

Teen girls were introduced to topics like personal grooming and health. Related books and materials were also introduced.

I asked Camille if they have gaming in the library. She said they've introduced it for some time now, and they found it successful in attracting teens to the library (which they subsequently introduce related books as part of the event). Male teens is their primary target group.

She said the ALA now has an advocacy page on gaming in libraries (see this and this).


I can go on with nice things to say about Kankakee PL.

But the best compliment may have come from my friend.

My friend lives and work near Kankakee. He isn't a librarian. He drove me to the library that day and he stayed to chat with Steve and Allison.

Later as we drove away, my friend said he was impressed with what Kankakee Public Library did. That their work was "uplifting" during this difficult economic situation they are facing (case in point -- that day's paper reported funding cuts for schools in their area).

I understand exactly what my friend meant by uplifting.

Kankakee Public Library, especially their staff, throws off positive vibes.

Kankakee Public Library

1 comment:

  1. 790 reservation requests is indeed a lot! Breaking Dawn is the last and final book or the Twilight saga (apart from Midnight Sun). It is very popular in the UK and USA, and quite popular here in S'pore. =P Sorry, I'm a big Twilight fan! I finished my copy of Breaking Dawn in two days. XD

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