Because the Best Ideas Are Generated over Lunch

That’s what staff from the Huntley Area Public Library in Illinois discovered. As they were enjoying their midday meal, they began talking about the potential of using the Libraries Transform campaign.

“At that point, we were not using the Libraries Transform campaign,” said Doug Cataldo, marketing and media developer, Huntley Area Public Library. Cataldo continued, “But during lunch we brought up the possibility of incorporating the Libraries Transform theme for National Library Week and tossed around ideas that could show not only how libraries transform people but also how people transform libraries.”

After more discussion, the Huntley library decided to embrace the Libraries Transform theme for its National Library Week (April 9-15) celebration. Staff developed a plan to showcase library users, volunteers and past and present employees who could share their own personal stories about the library.

The stories showcase concept turned out to be a fertile one, since the library had numerous examples of how it had transformed lives.

Ken Kozy is one of the library users and volunteers the library highlighted during the week. Kozy says Huntley library has been invaluable in his transition to a new career as a writer. After retiring from the corporate world, Kozy started visiting the library regularly to conduct research. With the assistance of the library’s resources and expert staff, Kozy penned articles for local newspapers, wrote research papers that have been published internationally and created a personal website. Kozy even wrote an e-book which was downloaded and launched into outer space by NASA on their OSIRIS-REX spacecraft. Kozy commented, “The library was instrumental in helping me learn how to upload an eBook to NASA by using Twitter as required.”

The library also shined the spotlight on local teacher Stacey Hassels, whose generosity over the years has made Huntley library a better place. Her way of giving back to the community is by holding annual “Lemonade for the Library” fundraisers. She and her family set up a lemonade stand in their home’s driveway. The funds raised are donated to the library and used to purchase books and resources for the children’s department. Since Hassels started “Lemonade for the Library” in 2008, other families have started their own lemonade stands to help raise money for the library.  According to Cataldo, “We had other libraries in other states asking how the event was put together, and if they could use the graphics and signs we designed so they can start something similar in their communities.”

To further emphasize the Libraries Transform theme throughout National Library Week, the library used social media to show people how to use the library’s apps. It turned out to be the perfect way to have people transform their digital devices by downloading one of several apps or by simply being introduced to these digital initiatives for the first time. “It was a great combination with our Book a Librarian one-on-one classes that provide help using these library resources on digital devices," noted Cataldo. “It was fun to be able to help people explore all the opportunities the library has to offer. Some folks didn’t know they could access all these different resources without having to be inside the library building,”

For the week, the library also created a post-it note board where library users could write about how the library had transformed them.

“Huntley, like a lot of libraries today, is talking about how to stay relevant, how to reinvent offerings and services for today’s digital world,” said Frank Novak, director, Huntley Area Public Library. “Using the Libraries Transform messaging during National Library Week let us convey to the community that we are working every day to meet the changing needs of our patrons.”