It was a month ago, January 28, when the first contractors arrived on the job to begin work on a new drive-up service window at the library. Despite February’s snowfall and severe temperatures, the project is on track for a May completion.
"The drive-up window will allow us to safely serve more people, more efficiently. Even after the pandemic is over, a drive-up option will provide added convenience for all library patrons," Library Director Cynthia Fuerst said.
The building addition was designed by Chicago architecture firm StudioGC. The library board awarded a contract in the amount of $1,935,000 to Stuckey Construction of Waukegan, the lowest responsible bidder. The cost is covered by existing Special Reserve funds, the use of which, by law, is restricted to capital projects.
A portion of the former porch area is being enclosed to create a service window and an adjoining workroom. A covered walkway will lead from the parking lot to the front doors.
With the entire front of the library being reworked, there is currently no public access point to the building. Curbside delivery services have been relocated to the back of the library, where staff use a single door (a former fire exit) to deliver materials to waiting cars.
Though the under-construction library prevents public access to space, all other library services continue:
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Last fall, library programmers began noodling new ways to engage patrons where they are — safe at home. A team of library staff recalled how the Meeting Room would fill whenever patrons were invited to create something. And for good reason: making something reaps lots of benefits. Crafting has been shown to boost fine motor skills, stimulate the mind, reinforce decision-making, and provide a sense of accomplishment.
So staff went to work figuring out how to replicate in-person crafting experiences with at-home activities. The solution was Take & Make Kits, a series of crafts that cardholders pick up curbside. Each themed kit includes supplies and instructions for making something whimsical like paper-bag owls or wooden snowflakes.
The library team realized the kits might be a good match for residents of local senior centers, too. Staff offered a dozen owl-themed Take & Make Kits to Susan Church, activities director at Sunrise of Buffalo Grove, who enthusiastically accepted them.
At the time, television news programs were covering the story of Rocky, the tiny owl that was found in the Rockefeller Plaza Christmas tree. Rocky and the owl kits created a stir in the halls of Sunrise. The craft was so well received that the library expanded the kits to other local senior centers.
So far, about 120 residents have participated in the crafting kits. For each, the creative process provides a pleasant diversion. And when the finished products are displayed in hallways for all to see, it connects them as a community — each sharing their own creative work and admiring that of their neighbors.
Reception has been positive: Magaly Teran, activity director at Avantara of Long Grove, wrote, “Our residents loved the craft!” At Arboria of Long Grove, Linda Falson, director of life enrichment, reported that while residents made the snowman craft, they reminisced about building snowmen with their children and grandchildren. And Susan Church, at Sunrise, observed that “the Take & Make Kits are a wonderful independent activity for the residents to do.”
Meanwhile, back at the library’s curbside service lane, Take & Make Kits are available every month while supplies last. Pick up next month’s craft, a Monster Mashup, beginning March 5; get a reminder.
Teens (grades 6–12) get kits of their own, with registration required for pickup. Reserve the March kit, a birdseed feeder, now.
Vernon Area Public Library has joined forces with Indian Trails and Northbrook public libraries to launch the Lake Cook Career Collaborative, pulling together employment-related resources offered by the libraries.
Job seekers and career builders in Lake and Cook counties are encouraged to tap into workshops, online training, and other resources offered by the partnering libraries.
"We're always looking to address our community’s needs. With so many [area residents] unemployed or underemployed, we wanted to make sure that people are aware of the help they can get at no cost from their local library," said Ashley Johnson, the business and outreach librarian at Vernon Area Public Library.
The website includes a calendar of online workshops hosted by the partner libraries. All programs are free, open to all, and no library card is needed. Registration is required. The initial schedule includes:
Quit Networking, Start Building Relationships to Further Your Career
Learn to build and leverage professional relationships to further your career. Presented by Brian Watkins, BTOM Consultants.
Monday, March 8, 1–2 p.m. • REGISTER
Employment Research with Reference Solutions
A brief overview and demonstration of how to use this powerful research tool to find open positions that are a good match for you. Presented by Ashley Johnson, business and outreach librarian, Vernon Area Library.
Monday, March 15, 10–11 a.m. • REGISTER
LinkedIn & Online Job Sites
Learn the basics of searching for jobs and uploading a resume on job sites like Indeed, and get started networking on LinkedIn. Presented by Phil Collins, librarian, Northbrook Public Library.
Monday, March 22, 7–8 p.m. • REGISTER
Virtual Job Seeking and Preparedness
Find out about free, on-demand online training resources available through your library and how they can help you land a new position. Presented by Faye Levin-O'Leary, librarian, Indian Trails Public Library, and Bryan Brugger, librarian, Northbrook Public Library.
Monday, March 29, 7–8 p.m. • REGISTER
Personal Branding: Understanding the Impact of What You Share Online
Learn to curate an online image that helps you get ahead personally and professionally. Presented by Julie Kittredge, business instructor.
Monday, April 5, 7–8:30 p.m. • REGISTER
Cover Letters Made Easy
Write a standout cover letter that employers will want to read. Presented by Jez Layman, librarian and job coach.
Tuesday, April 6, 1–2 p.m. • REGISTER
For more information, visit/bookmark careercollab.org.
For job and career resources available at Vernon Area Public Library, visit guides.vapld.info/job-seekers.
To receive job-related program and resource updates from Vernon Area Public Library, sign up for Careers emails at vapld.info/subscribe.
Don't miss an online event with best-selling author Jacqueline Woodson — a National Book Award winner and 2020 MacArthur Fellow. The Thursday, March 18, virtual visit caps off this season's One Book, One Community series.
In Red at the Bone, Jacqueline Woodson tells a compelling story that is timely and important. The novel examines the influence of history and community on the experiences, decisions, and relationships of the members of two Black families who are brought together by a teen pregnancy.
At about 200 pages, this best seller and New York Times Notable Book of the Year makes for a quick and engaging read. Borrow a copy.
Woodson will speak to the viewing audience about her work and its role in the world today during the March 18 online event. The program is free and open to all. Registration is required; if you have a question for the author, you may suggest it when you register.
Author Visit: Jacqueline Woodson
Thursday, March 18, 7 p.m.
For the past several Martin Luther King Jr. Days, the library has hosted a service project for families to create scarves or blankets for local people in need. But this year, with the library building closed, organizer Jen Ernsteen was trying to figure out how to coordinate the popular project and do so safely. That’s when she learned from Cory Sesko, the library’s volunteer coordinator, that many longtime volunteers were looking for ways to contribute remotely.
So the annual project found a home, and willing hands, with eight adult volunteers. The result? A dozen warm fleece blankets were carefully crafted for delivery to patients at the Heartland Hospice in Buffalo Grove.
“Having lost a parent to cancer, I look for opportunities to work with hospice organizations. Gestures like this mean a lot, not just to the patient but the whole family,” said Ernsteen.
The project proved beneficial to all involved. Volunteer Ellen K. remarked, “It’s nice to know I’m giving a warm ‘hug’ when hugs are few and far between lately...doing this brought a smile to my face.”
“I couldn’t be more proud of the library’s volunteers. Despite COVID mitigations, they continue to seek out ways to safely make kind and meaningful contributions to the library, their neighbors, and community,” added Sesko.
The fleece blankets were collected and quarantined before delivery to Heartland Hospice.
Library staff are brainstorming similar projects to involve patrons. “We know from experience that Vernon Area Library patrons are community-minded and want to help others,” said Ernsteen.
This year’s One Book series, the fifth annual, invites readers of all ages to join the community-wide movement by reading books by award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson and participating in related programs.
Events take place online, are free and open to all, regardless of which library you belong to. Registration is required.
For readers as young as kindergarten, check out The Day You Begin, a picture book that explores what it feels like when you walk into a room and there’s no one there who is quite like you. On Thursday, February 18, Vernon Area youth librarian Miss Jane leads a step-by-step art program inspired by this book. Though there’s a waiting list for the K–2 session of Mixed Media Self-Portrait, there are a few spots in the session for grades 3–5. Plus, there will be a YouTube recording of the event, which you’ll be able to watch and follow along on demand after February 19. (Bookmark the library’s YouTube channel.)
Grades K–5 are invited to the premiere of the new play "Colors of Thunder," the morning of Saturday, February 20. In this live, online performance, a routine traffic stop turns tense — and then takes an unexpected twist. Warning: may cause laughter, thinking, and for the tune 'Baby Shark' to be stuck in your head.
On Friday, February 12, students in grades 5–6 can get in on a discussion of Brown Girl Dreaming at Tweens Read, also hosted by Cook Memorial Library. Readers in grades 6–8 can join the Junior High Book Discussion, hosted by Vernon Area, on Tuesday, February 16.
Middle school readers are also welcome at partner library Indian Trails' Book Club discussion of Brown Girl Dreaming on Tuesday, February 23.
Teen readers can add their voice to a discussion of Brown Girl Dreaming at the Vernon Area Library Off the Page Book Club on Monday, February 22 or the Indian Trails Library Book Club on Tuesday, February 23.
High school students are also encouraged to attend a live online event with author Jacqueline Woodson on Thursday, March 18, as she discusses writing and her inspiration for this year’s main One Book selection, Red at the Bone.
For more information, including parent resources, visit 1book.org.
Robust use of Vernon Area Public Library’s services has placed the library in the top 5 percent of the nation’s public libraries for community engagement. For the 13th year, Library Journal looked at thousands of libraries across the country and used key measurements to zero in on a relatively short list of top performers.
Library Journal recently announced its “Star Libraries” for 2020, giving star status to 262 of the 5,608 libraries it evaluated. The evaluation was based on the most recently reported data from the Institute of Museum and Library Services for fiscal year 2018, which ended in June 2019.
The industry publication rates libraries by volume of public use as measured by per capita circulation of physical and electronic materials, library visits, program attendance, public internet access, and Wi-Fi sessions. A combined score identifies the top performers—“Star Libraries”—which are awarded three, four, or five stars, similar to the Michelin Guide’s restaurant ratings.
Vernon Area Public Library District received a 4-star rating and this was the sixth consecutive year that the library was included on the national list. Fifteen other Illinois libraries earned star status including nearby Northbrook, Ela (Lake Zurich), and Lake Forest public libraries.
“We are honored to receive this national recognition. We’re fortunate to serve a community that supports their public library, and to have a Board of Library Trustees that is committed to providing the best services to the community,” said Library Director Cynthia Fuerst. “It’s wonderful for our staff’s dedication and hard work to be recognized like this.”
Library Journal's annual list is used by the library industry to identify best practices and trends in library use. The full list of 262 ranked libraries, detailed explanation of the index measurements and information about trends are available online at libraryjournal.com.
For many Asian people the world over, Lunar New Year is a major celebration. Since the lunar calendar is based on the moon’s cycles, the dates of the holiday vary from year to year, falling sometime between January 21 and February 20. This year the holiday falls on February 12, the first new moon of the lunar year.
In the Chinese zodiac, 2021 is the Year of the Ox, an animal associated with hard work, reliability, and honesty — characteristics that, according to astrologers, will be manifested in us humans over the coming twelve months.
In China, an important part of the Lunar New Year celebration is the lion dance, performed to bring prosperity and good luck in the coming year.
To mark the Lunar New Year, library staff have put together two crafts you can make at home, using everyday art supplies. Click on these links for the supplies list, step-by-step instructions, and printable templates:
Or, pick up a Lunar New Year Take & Make Kit curbside at the library. (Please note curbside pickup hours!)
Whether or not you’re getting crafty, you can get festive: Gather ’round for an on-demand video story time with Miss Laura in a reading of The Race for the Chinese Zodiac, a lovely picture book written by Gabrielle Wang and illustrated by Sally Rippin.
Gong hei fat choy!
The first contractors arrived on the job this bright winter morning to begin work on the new drive-up service window. The window will make it easier and safer for patrons who would like a contact-free pickup option for their library materials.
Part of the existing front porch will be enclosed to create the window and an adjoining workroom. Also, the library’s main entry doors will be turned to face the walkway and an overhang will be added to cover the sidewalk from the parking lot to the doors, giving everyone more convenient access.
When construction is completed, currently slated for May 2021, the drive-up window will allow the library to safely serve more people, more efficiently — even after the pandemic is over.
Until the new window opens, the library continues to offer curbside pickup service at a temporary location at the back of the building. As you enter the parking lot from Olde Half Day Road, keep to the right and follow the signs to the new pickup point.
A building project is getting underway at the library: we're adding a drive-up service lane and window. When finished, it will be easier and more convenient than ever to pick up your library materials.
Curbside pickup is now at the back of the parking lot: As you enter from Olde Half Day Road, veer right and follow the signs to the back of the lot. Signs there will direct you, whether you're dropping off, picking up, or both.
There are three options for book returns:
When the construction project is completed in spring, you'll be able to use the convenient drive-up to collect your library orders.
The construction project will be paid for using existing funds earmarked for building improvements.