4th Annual Library Crawl

Since 2019, Bethalto Public Library has been coordinating a Library Crawl. This year, 125 libraries are participating; almost 100 more than the first year! All of these libraries are members of the Illinois Heartland Library System, which serves the southern and central parts of Illinois. Illinois public library card holders have the ability to use their card at any other public library in the state. This event is designed to get us all out to other libraries to see what other resources are available to us. This is a consortium of over 500 libraries in Illinois that share their collections. We are like one big library!

This is a good time to mention that we are apart of an awesome consortia, SHARE, which falls within the Illinois Heartland Library System, SHARE is the largest automation consortium in North America and facilitates easy sharing and access to resources within member libraries. There are also two other library systems in Illinois, CARLI and RAILS.

We don’t just host the Library Crawl, we actually go out and visit other libraries. This is OFPL’s second year participating in this event. Here is the blog post from our adventures in the 2021 Library Crawl. We had so much fun last year we couldn’t wait to get out again this year. Last year we spent a day visiting 11 different libraries, this year we decided to visit 11 libraries in two days.

The first day Laura, OFPL Public Services Manager, and Ashley, OFPL Circulation Assistant went to Cahokia, Daugherty Public Library in Dupo, Columbia, Millstadt, and Belleville’s Main Branch.

The second day Katie, OFPL Circulation Lead and Stephanie, OFPL Adult Services Lead visited Smithton, Freeburg, New Athens, New Baden, Trenton, and Lebanon.

Note: As you can see from our selfies we don’t take ourselves too seriously, nor are we professional photographers. We hope you can see we do love libraries!

Day 1-Laura & Ashley’s Adventure:

Let me tell you, this was a fun experience. We got a ton of ideas and met a lot of wonderful people. It was a great way to see what other libraries are doing and see if we can adopt some of their ideas into our own, especially with our master plan in the works. Note: Don’t forget to take our survey because we want your feedback.

Our main takeaway from all of our visits is that we are a very fortunate community. The O’Fallon Public Library is AMAZING! We have a large collection, an awesome facility, and incredible staff. That said, we do know there is always room for improvement. The following libraries gave us many new ideas!

At Belleville’s Main Branch, Becky, Donna, Andi, Carmen, Frieda, Anna, and Mackenzie showed us around. They had everything you need to know for genealogical research. We were also impressed with their 3D printers. On their second floor you can read all about the cool bands that played there in the 1970’s!

Cahokia Public Library has done a fantastic job of highlighting their African American collection by creating a sub section and identifying books using spine labels. This was created by David, Larry, Hanna, and Margaret.

Carol and Nicole at the Daugherty Public Library in Dupo are working to create a story walk. If you stop by there be sure to support their endeavor with a donation. If you are not sure what a story walk is check this out bookriot.com/making-a-storywalk. They’re children’s department is enchanting and they’re right next to a park. If you have small kids, they’ll never want to leave!

Columbia Public Library has a fantastic large print section. It’s at least a third bigger than our collection. Like our library their Friends of the Library volunteers are very active in their community

Millstadt Public Library was the smallest, but the mightiest. If you stop by there, take an extra few dollars because they have crafts for sale made by one of their Junior Librarians. We love to see young people playing such an active role in their library.

All of these libraries had something special to share. We are proud to work at the library and be apart of this outstanding community.

Day 2- Katie & Stephanie hit the road!

We left on a beautiful fall day and were excited to visit so many libraries! Having gone on this crawl last year I knew we would meet wonderful people (librarians are the best), and see how each library meets the needs of their patrons. Of course, we were not disappointed. Here is a bit of what experienced on our Library Crawl:

First up was Smithton Public Library. Upon entering we were greeted by a beautiful mural that was recently completed by a local artist. They featured a program to make a festive Christmas wreaths, I was impressed and honestly wanted to make one! They partnered with a local business woman to make this program a success. They definitely know how to engage local resources to serve their patrons.

On to the Freeburg Public Library. The first thing we noticed was this library is located right across the street from the local high school. What an awesome resource for the students! Their children’s department was so fun! The space was set up for maximum engagement. There was a fun house mirror, tons of toys and puzzles, and a gorgeous stain glass window.

Next was the New Athens Public Library. There we were met by Charlotte, Circulation Staff, who graciously gave us a tour. We were mesmerized by their old bank safe. This space is now used as the Young Adult section. What a creative use of space. We were intrigued by their program, Book Talk, which is a book club where instead of talking about one book each participant discusses what they are currently reading.

New Baden Public Library was our next stop. We were greeted by Judi, Circulation Staff, she was a great representative for the this library. The building was previously an elementary school, the student lockers are still in the hallway. There was a large room set aside for book sales and Judi told us about the volunteer who keeps all the books there organized. We could tell how appreciated she is by their library.

We headed to the Trenton Public Library. There we were met by Angie, Library Director, she is often a one woman show! She was wonderful and shared so much about this library. An interesting fact; Trenton was one of two libraries in the state of Illinois that never shut down during the pandemic. Angie took it upon herself to stay open a few hours each day for patrons to use library services. What an impact she is having on her community.

Our last stop was to the Lebanon Public Library. This library sits cozy on main street in Lebanon. Though it is small in size it is a giant resource for the Lebanon community. Circulation staff told us although they are limited on space for books, they can find almost anything through SHARE for their patrons. Like all good libraries they are doing what they can for their patrons.

At the end of the day we observed although all library operations varied, they were an integral part of their community. We would like to thank all the libraries we visited for their kindness and hospitality. We hope to see you all next year!



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