'One Book' program earns Arlington Heights library a national award

Officials with the Arlington Heights Memorial Library learned Tuesday that they had been named a winner of one of the most prestigious awards given by the American Library Association.

The library was one of eight to win the John Cotton Dana Library Public Relations Award, for its leadership in engaging the community through last year's "One Book, One Village" campaign.

ALA officials said the 2017 book, "The Circle" by Dave Eggers, drew 84 percent more social media engagement and a "remarkable" 55 percent growth in book discussion attendance, all because of a heightened emphasis on engagement by library officials.

"We are really excited to be included in this national recognition," said Mike Driskell, the library's interim executive director. "Our communications and marketing team does an amazing job promoting the library on a daily basis."

Eggers' dystopian novel deals with themes such as privacy, surveillance and free choice. But it also examines technology, social media and relationships formed in the digital world. As a result, the library formed its first online book club, which helped drive engagement.

Led by Mary Hastings, the marketing and communications staff also designed an exhibit to tie in with the book. Titled #beinthecircle, the exhibit invited patrons to share their insights and experiences about technology and social media on a cluster of iPads, grouped in a circle, in the library.

In October, Eggers visited Arlington Heights to address patrons and discuss issues covered in the book. His appearance drew more than 350 people.

"It took a gigantic effort to put so many pieces together," said Jennifer Czajka, the library's programs and exhibits manager, "but we hoped all of these pieces would serve as entry points to make people feel connected to our initiative."

As part of the honor, the library will receive a $10,000 award from the H.W. Wilson Foundation. The library's marketing and communications staff will accept the award June 24, during the American Library Association's annual conference in New Orleans.

The Arlington Heights library was the only Chicago-area library selected for the award. Also named were libraries from Milwaukee; Rochester, Minnesota; San Jose, California; California State University, San Marcos; Washington, D.C.; Kitsap County, Washington; and the InfOhio Digital Library in Ohio.

ALA officials describe the award as one of the most coveted among libraries for its recognition of how libraries positively impact their communities. Selection for the award is managed by members of the Library Leadership and Management Association, which is a division of the ALA.

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