Traffic, circulation increase after Vernon Area Public Library renovation
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Foot traffic at the Vernon Area Public Library in Lincolnshire has blossomed since a $1.3 million interior facelift wrapped up in late May, officials said.
Nearly 37,000 people stopped by the facility at 300 Olde Half Day Road in June, the first full month of operation after the renovation. That's up from 34,138 in June 2012, according to library data.
Additionally, more people signed up for new library cards last month than any other month in the last four years, officials said.
Circulation has increased notably, too, especially for books and other materials that were moved to more visible spots or placed on new shelves that allow more eye-catching displays.
The teen-centric graphic novel collection experienced the biggest jump. Patrons checked out 284 books from the section last month, library spokeswoman Catherine Savage said, compared with a mere 52 in June 2012. That's an amazing 446-percent spike.
"With even just one month of checkouts, it is clear that these strategic moves are having the desired effect," Savage said.
The library primarily serves patrons from Lincolnshire, Prairie View, Buffalo Grove, Long Grove, Riverwoods and Vernon Hills, as well as parts of Vernon and Ela townships. It opened in 1993.
The renovation project took nearly three months. Patrons used a nearby annex building during the work.
The renovation didn't change the library's facade, only the departments inside.
Some walls and shelves were removed to promote an open flow for patrons and create more public areas. A self-service vending cafe, a quiet reading room with a fireplace, and dedicated areas for teens and young readers were added.
Group study space — a common feature at colleges but a relatively new trend for public libraries — also was created.
The effort has been a hit with patrons.
"It's beautiful," said longtime library visitor Lynn Goffman, a Buffalo Grove resident. "I think it's nice that they modernized it and refreshed it."
Goffman isn't alone in her enthusiasm. More people have been coming to Vernon Area since it reopened, and they've been checking out more materials during their visits, library data shows.
When the library opened Tuesday, May 28, patrons checked out 5,922 items — far more than the roughly 2,500 items checked out on a typical Tuesday, Savage said. It was the highest recorded one-day total in the library's 20-year history.
Savage gets a little giddy when she talks about the number.
"Many of the changes were designed to make the materials more accessible," she said. "To have those efforts validated with the biggest day on record right out of the gate was extremely affirming. It made for a great start to the next 20 years."
Teen graphic novels wasn't the only department that saw a big bump. Circulation in new juvenile fiction increased 143 percent from June 2012, and new picture books jumped 32 percent.
Audiovisual materials, such as DVDs and video games, were more popular last month than a year earlier, too, she said. Both collections are larger than they were then and they're in an area with more foot traffic, and patrons are responding.
"There's a ton to choose from," Lincolnshire resident Janet Adkisson said during a recent visit to the library with her kids Payton, 10, and Ashley, 8.
More than 2,500 family DVDs were checked out last month, up 70 percent from June 2012, Savage said. Checkouts of games for the Nintendo Wii system increased 64 percent.
A remarkably high number of new patrons visited the library last month, too.
Staff issued 393 new library cards in June, more than any single month since June 2009, Savage said. In a typical month, the library issues about 200 new cards.
Lincolnshire resident Lauren Ferguson is among the library's newest patrons. She recently moved here from Texas and signed up for a card just days after the facility reopened.
She's already a fan, praising both the new, airy layout and the relaxed atmosphere.
"I wasn't expecting this for a small-town library," Ferguson said.
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