Library enjoyed 2022's return to 'normal'

For everyone at the Hinsdale Public Library, 2022 brought a welcome return of the things we love best: in-person events, answering questions at the help desks, the hum of activity during finals week and, mostly, seeing you back in the stacks or in our study rooms.

Post-pandemic, our book circulation and patron visits to the building have been on the rise again and finally began to look more normal in 2022 - especially as our summer activities brought families back to the library in droves. Some 1,200 young patrons registered for our Summer Reading Club - not quite back to 2018's all-time high, but triple the number of participants from 2020, and 30 percent higher than last year.

It felt like a return to normal when we were marching through downtown Hinsdale again, giving away children's books at the Fourth of July parade with the help of our Friends of the Hinsdale Public Library. Ditto when we welcomed more than 80 very enthusiastic and competitive players at our fall Trivia Night. Our rotating art exhibits are back as well, and our librarians are again visiting local schools with their curated Great New Reads lists.

But 2022 wasn't just about returning programs. After we launched our Junior Advisory Board, our 24 young board members hosted one of the year's most popular programs, an Escape Room for their fellow teens.

There are silver linings in every cloud, and over the past three years all of us, staff and patrons, have discovered indispensable ways to provide and access content. For instance, the outdoor summer storytimes we started hosting at Hinsdale parks have become part of our regular offerings. Many of our adult events now are hybrid programs, with the choice of attending in person or online - or watching the recorded program as well.

Our digital collection continued to expand to meet the demands of our nearly 9,000 cardholders; one of the headlines this year was new, daily access to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Washington Post for HPL cardholders.

The board and staff used the changes of the past three years as a jumping-off point for our strategic planning process. That six-month process was an opportunity for us to conduct the most thorough quantitative and qualitative community research in more than a decade. The result is a three-year plan that has us pumped up and looking forward to 2023. Look in your mailboxes in January for an update on what we found and how that will shape what's ahead in materials, facilities, events and technologies.

On behalf of the entire board and staff, I'm wishing you and yours a healthy and very happy new year. And as always, see you at the library!

- Julie Liesse, Hinsdale Library Board president