Waukegan Public Library

Last updated
Waukegan Public Library
Waukegan Public Library Logo.png
CountryUnited States
Location Waukegan, Illinois
Coordinates 42°21′44″N87°49′58″W / 42.36217°N 87.83285°W / 42.36217; -87.83285 Coordinates: 42°21′44″N87°49′58″W / 42.36217°N 87.83285°W / 42.36217; -87.83285
Access and use
Circulation479,603 (2005)
Population served89,500
Other information
DirectorSelina Gomez-Beloz
Website http://waukeganpl.org

The Waukegan Public Library is the public library serving Waukegan, Illinois. It is at the intersection of County and Clayton streets in downtown Waukegan, near the county government complex.

Waukegan, Illinois City in Illinois

Waukegan is the largest city in and the county seat of Lake County, Illinois, United States, a part of the Chicago metropolitan area. The city is located 35 miles north of the Loop and 10 miles south of the Wisconsin state border, approximately halfway between Chicago and Milwaukee. As of the 2013 United States Census estimate, the city has a population of 88,826, which makes it the ninth most populous city in Illinois. Waukegan is a predominately working-class community with a size-able middle-class population.

Illinois State of the United States of America

Illinois is a state in the Midwestern and Great Lakes region of the United States. It has the fifth largest gross domestic product (GDP), the sixth largest population, and the 25th largest land area of all U.S. states. Illinois is often noted as a microcosm of the entire United States. With Chicago in northeastern Illinois, small industrial cities and immense agricultural productivity in the north and center of the state, and natural resources such as coal, timber, and petroleum in the south, Illinois has a diverse economic base, and is a major transportation hub. Chicagoland, Chicago's metropolitan area, encompasses over 65% of the state's population. The Port of Chicago connects the state to international ports via two main routes: from the Great Lakes, via the Saint Lawrence Seaway, to the Atlantic Ocean and from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River, via the Illinois Waterway to the Illinois River. The Mississippi River, the Ohio River, and the Wabash River form parts of the boundaries of Illinois. For decades, Chicago's O'Hare International Airport has been ranked as one of the world's busiest airports. Illinois has long had a reputation as a bellwether both in social and cultural terms and, through the 1980s, in politics.


The library has approximately 205,000 books as of 2011, [1] and recorded a total of 338,615 library visits in fiscal year 2005. [2] In addition to its main location in downtown Waukegan, the library operates a branch in Hinkston Park, on the city's northwest side. [3]

Fiscal year 1 year term for government and business financial reporting

A fiscal year is the period used by governments for accounting and budget purposes, which varies between countries. It is also used for financial reporting by business and other organizations. Laws in many jurisdictions require company financial reports to be prepared and published on an annual basis, but generally do not require the reporting period to align with the calendar year. Taxation laws generally require accounting records to be maintained and taxes calculated on an annual basis, which usually corresponds to the fiscal year used for government purposes. The calculation of tax on an annual basis is especially relevant for direct taxation, such as income tax. Many annual government fees—such as Council rates, licence fees, etc.—are also levied on a fiscal year basis, while others are charged on an anniversary basis.

In 2013, the Waukegan Public Library was selected as one of ten recipients of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service, "the nation's highest honor conferred on museums and libraries for service to the community and celebrates institutions that make a difference for individuals, families, and communities," awarded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. [4] The award was based on the library's successful work in providing literacy and ESL instruction. [5] The library has also received the Public Library Association's Upstart Innovation Award on three occasions. [6]

The National Medal for Museum and Library Service is an award given annually by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to American libraries and museums with outstanding service to their communities. The IMLS refers to the medal as "the nation’s highest honor conferred on museums and libraries for service to the community." The award is typically presented by the First Lady of the United States.

Institute of Museum and Library Services independent agency of the United States government, supporting libraries and museums

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is an independent agency of the United States federal government established in 1996. It is the main source of federal support for libraries and museums within the United States, having the mission to "create strong libraries and museums that connect people with information and ideas." IMLS "works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development." Their vision is "a democratic society where communities and individuals thrive with broad public access to knowledge, cultural heritage, and lifelong learning." In fiscal year 2015, IMLS had a budget of $228 million.

Literacy ability to read for knowledge, write coherently, and think critically about the written word; ability to read, write, and use arithmetic

Dictionaries traditionally define literacy as the ability to read and write. In the modern world, this is one way of interpreting literacy. One more broad interpretation sees literacy as knowledge and competence in a specific area. The concept of literacy has evolved in meaning. The modern term's meaning has been expanded to include the ability to use language, numbers, images, computers, and other basic means to understand, communicate, gain useful knowledge, solve mathematical problems and use the dominant symbol systems of a culture. The concept of literacy is expanding across OECD countries to include skills to access knowledge through technology and ability to assess complex contexts. A person who travels and resides in a foreign country but is unable to read or write in the language of the host country would be regarded by the locals as illiterate.


The original Carnegie library Waukegan Public Library, Carnegie building.jpg
The original Carnegie library

As with many towns across the United States, Waukegan was served by private subscription libraries for many decades before acquiring a public library. The first of these was the "Little Fort Reading Room and Library Association", housed in the courthouse and established in 1845. [7] This was followed by the Young Men's Association Library in the 1860s, and finally by the Sesame Club in the 1890s, which sought to establish a free public library. After successfully operating a free library for two years, the Club appealed to the Waukegan city government for support, and in 1898 the Waukegan Public Library was formally created when the city took ownership of the Sesame Club's library.

However, the library still lacked an actual building. This situation was not remedied until 1903, when the Carnegie Foundation provided $25,000 to the city to support construction of a library building, in exchange for the city providing a building site and guarantee of annual support. [7] The Carnegie library, which still stands as of 2013, was located at the corner of Sheridan Road and Washington Street. During the 1930s, the library provided a frequent refuge for the young Ray Bradbury, who later willed his personal book collection to the library. [8]

Carnegie library library built with money donated by Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie: 2,509 Carnegie libraries were built between 1883 and 1929

A Carnegie library is a library built with money donated by Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. A total of 2,509 Carnegie libraries were built between 1883 and 1929, including some belonging to public and university library systems. 1,689 were built in the United States, 660 in the United Kingdom and Ireland, 125 in Canada, and others in Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Serbia, Belgium, France, the Caribbean, Mauritius, Malaysia, and Fiji.

Sheridan Road is a major north-south street that leads from Diversey Parkway in Chicago, Illinois, north to the Illinois-Wisconsin border and beyond to Racine. Throughout most of its run, it is the easternmost north-south through street, closest to Lake Michigan. From Chicago, it passes through Chicago's wealthy lakeside North Shore suburbs, and then Waukegan and Zion, until it reaches the Illinois-Wisconsin state line in Winthrop Harbor. In Wisconsin, the road leads north through Pleasant Prairie and Kenosha, until it ends on the south side of Racine.

Ray Bradbury American author and screenwriter

Ray Douglas Bradbury was an American author and screenwriter. He worked in a variety of genres, including fantasy, science fiction, horror, and mystery fiction.

In the 1950s, as Waukegan's expanding population began to exceed what the small Carnegie library could serve, the library began to operate bookmobiles, the first coming into service in 1956 and the second in 1962. [7] The "Friends of the Waukegan Public Library" organization was formed in 1963. [7]

Bookmobile vehicle with a library onboard

A bookmobile or mobile library is a vehicle designed for use as a library. Bookmobiles expand the reach of traditional libraries by transporting books to potential readers, providing library services to people in otherwise-underserved locations and/or circumstances. Bookmobile services and materials, may be customized for the locations and populations served.

The limestone building currently occupied by the Waukegan Public Library, located at the corner of County and Clayton streets, was opened for business on December 27, 1965. [7] [9] A major renovation in 1998 added some 16,000 square feet, while remaining faithful to the building's original esthetic. [7] [9] In 2008, based on analysis of the need for literacy exposure among Waukegan kindergarten students, the library opened a 2,000-square-foot Early Learning Center in the children's department. [7] Further renovations the following year created an area known as the "Literacy Suite", which hosts one-on-one and group tutoring in literacy and computer skills. [7]

After Shimer College moved to Waukegan in 1979, much of the school's library was housed in the basement of the Waukegan Public Library, due to the school itself having insufficient space. [10] This made it nearly unique among municipal libraries in housing a college's main collection within its own. The college and library maintained numerous ties, including the painting of a mural on "the Art of the Story" on the library building in 2004. [11] After Shimer left for Chicago in 2006, the basement space that had been used for the Shimer collection was repurposed.

Services and holdings

As of 2005, the Waukegan Public Library held 224,390 books and serial volumes, or 2.55 for every person in its service area. [2] It also held more than 18,000 video materials and more than 16,000 audio materials. Circulation in 2005 was 479,603, nearly 2 checkouts per resource and more than 5 per capita.

As of 2011, the library had 73 computer terminals for library users. [1] The library offers tutoring and small group classes in computer skills.

The city of Waukegan has a Hispanic population more than three times that of Illinois as a whole. [5] 55% of Waukeganites are non-native speakers of English. [5] In recognition of this, the library offers extensive educational programs in English as a second language. [6] In 2012, it began the "Promotoras Ambassador Program", which sends trained volunteers into the community to better assess the types of library programs that are needed. [6] Among the initiatives that the library embarked upon based on the feedback from the community ambassadors was the Conversational ESL Program, which in its first year graduated 255 students, most of whom went on to receive GEDs. [5]

Children's programs offered by the library include the Bus to Us program, which was established in 2011 in response to the effect of cuts to funding for field trips by public schools, which had left many children without any way to reach the library. [6] In 2013, the But to Us program received the Upstart Innovation Award from the Public Library Association, a branch of the American Library Association. [6]

In 2015, the library underwent a remodel of its main floor in order to meet the needs of its patrons by creating spaces for collaboration and quiet study and increasing the number of classrooms. A central meeting room features a movable wall enabling it to divide easily into two classrooms, and the new floor plan also features several open group workstations. The workstations, found just around the corner from the study rooms and opposite the Friends’ Book Sale, provide comfortable seating for five, with flatscreens enabling patrons to link up their laptops and collaborate. [12]

Ray Bradbury Creative Contest

The Waukegan Public Library hosts an annual creative contest for artists and authors in honor of Waukegan native Ray Bradbury. Submissions include fiction, visual art, and poetry, with awards given in the adult, high school, middle school, and elementary categories. Past and present recipients of the Ray Bradbury Creative Contest Awards include Margaret Young, Dexter Fabi, Tara V. Purtell, Jennifer Tidemann, Timothy McGlen, and Kimberly Horta. The first annual Ray Bradbury Creative Contest at the Waukegan Public Library was held in 1984 and has been held consecutively since then.

See also

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  12. https://www.waukeganpl.org/a-brief-history-of-the-library/