Aspen Drive Library in Vernon Hills turning 5 with a party

Born of controversy but popular from the day its doors opened, the Aspen Drive Library in Vernon Hills celebrates its fifth anniversary Saturday.

Public activities will run from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the library, 701 Aspen Drive.

A balloon artist will make creations for kids. Face-painting and sidewalk art are planned, too, as is a photographic retrospective.

The smaller of the two Cook Memorial Public Library District facilities, Aspen opened June 10, 2010.

Set on previously vacant land south of Route 60, it was created to serve patrons in the southern half of the Libertyville-based district.

Libertyville activists and many residents in that town had spent years fighting plans to build a second library in Vernon Hills, defeating ballot plan after ballot plan. It took a library board dedicated to expanding services to come up with a plan that worked - one that didn't require voter approval and also called for significant improvements at the Cook Park Library in Libertyville.

"It was a long time coming," Vernon Hills Mayor Roger Byrne said.

The Aspen Drive Library has become incredibly popular, to the point that officials are planning a parking lot expansion to accommodate patrons. In five years, customers have checked out an estimated 2.75 million books, DVDs, CDs and other items.

Cook Memorial Director David Archer isn't surprised by that towering figure.

"It shows the need was there," he said.

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New library director has big plans

  Seven-year-old Filip Janesky of Vernon Hills uses a computer at the Aspen Drive Library in Vernon Hills. Steve Lundy/
  The Aspen Drive Library in Vernon Hills has been open for five years. Steve Lundy/
  Matthew Huh, 14, of Vernon Hills checks out materials at the Aspen Drive Library. Steve Lundy/

Aspen Drive Library, by the numbers

95,608: Items in collection

495,028: Annual circulation (May 2014 to May 2015)

1.3 million: Estimated number of visitors since opening in 2010

20,000: In square feet, the size of the interior

28: Fish in the big tank near the children's department

Source: Cook Memorial Public Library District

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