Library staff found new ways to serve

For the staff and trustees of the Hinsdale Public Library — as for all of you — 2020 wasn’t the year we expected. But HPL continued working to serve the community by opening doors — albeit in new ways.

A year ago, I wrote about the engaging programs and special events that had given so many Hinsdaleans a reason to come to the library. We had to flip that in 2020. In response to the pandemic, the library building was closed from March through early July, and again beginning in November.

Although the building has been closed, our staff has worked behind the scenes to find new ways to deliver services to patrons. Instead of browsing in the stacks, patrons took advantage of our contactless pickup; we had fulfilled 3,621 curbside pickup orders through the end of November.

Similarly, we expanded our selection of digital materials — both books and movies — and patrons responded, especially in the early days of sheltering in place. Overall patron use of our ebook and streaming services has increased by more than 40 percent this year, and by year-end, patrons will have borrowed more than 50,000 digital titles through HPL.

Residents are turning to us for captivating, comforting and stimulating materials, especially in these trying times. We’ve issued 439 new library cards this year, for a total of nearly 9,000 cardholders, and added 906 new ebook users.

Although we all were disappointed to suspend our in-person programming, the library staff found creative ways to deliver popular events like our annual trivia night, held on Zoom in October. And instead of coming into the building for programs, families and children picked up Book Boxes and nearly 1,000 different take-home kits for crafts, STEAM activities and family challenges.

We also brought the library to you. Our youth and young adult services manager, Ridgeway Burns, earned national publicity riding our HPL book bike to drop off materials at residents’ homes. And kids of all ages came out on Dec. 16 for Jingle Books: A horse-drawn sleigh and Santa met families at three Hinsdale parks to deliver books and movies and make spirits bright.

The board and our management team used the unexpectedly quiet time in the building to work on needed maintenance and repairs. We replaced our skylights with new energy-efficient models. We installed a new ADA-compliant ramp to make our downstairs Community Meeting Room usable for everyone. In 2021, look for a new family-friendly, gender-neutral bathroom that makes us accessible to all.

Like you and your family, we approached this challenging year as a time to learn and grow and to prepare to serve you even more effectively in 2021 and beyond. Hope to see you at the library — in person — soon!

— by Julie Liesse, president, Hinsdale Public Library Board