From frequent reader to Friend of the Library: One Addison resident shares her experience
Mary Ann Spina is an avid reader who knows firsthand that the library is more than just a building full of books.
"I think the library is one of the best things we have in Addison," Spina said. "Even if you're not a reader, there's so much here, there's such a diversity of options that you'd be hard pressed to find someone who couldn't find anything they wanted."
Spina is often happy to browse the materials on shelf at the library, but she quickly figured out she could lean on library staff to find items that weren't readily available to her.
"I'm the kind of reader where I'll go through everything an author has written. When I'm ready for the next book, I'll go on the (library's) website, see if the library has it. If they don't, I'll put in a request," said Spina. "Sure enough, three or four days later, there it is. It's terrific. I don't know why people don't use it more."
Addison Public Library cardholders can use a service called Find More Illinois to search other Illinois-based libraries' catalogs and borrow items from their collections if the item is not available at Addison. But the search isn't just limited to Illinois; library staff can also search for items across the United States and even across the oceans.
"When I needed books for research I could get basically anything I wanted from any library and have it show up (at Addison), even if it was some really esoteric strange thing," Spina said. "I have several degrees in theology, some of that material I needed was not something the library would normally carry, but they got everything for me. I don't think there was anything I couldn't get."
Spina reads so much that she sometimes reads as many as three books at the same time: one audiobook for cleaning the house, one audiobook for the car, and one print book for everywhere else in between.
"My favorite way to use the library is books on CD and playaways. When I was working, I drove 60 miles round trip per day, and books on CD transformed my life," Spina said. "No matter how bad the traffic was, I'd say 'It's OK, I get to listen to my book!' It made a drive that would have been horrendous much more bearable."
When she retired, Spina joined the Friends of the Addison Public Library, a group of volunteers who raise money for the library and volunteer their time to support the library. The Friends have supported a number of projects over the years, such as maintaining the Little Free Libraries at Community & Centennial Parks, donating prizes for summer reading programs, funding scholarships for the Career Online High School program, sponsoring library programs, purchasing replacement furniture, and attending community events like Rock n' Wheels and the Addison-Medinah Shriners parade to help promote the library.
"One of the reasons I'm in the Friends is that I feel unbelievably fortunate that we live in a place that our library systems are so good that we can get anything through the library," Spina said. "Yes, my taxes are paying for the library, but I figure the least I can do is donate and give back. I've borrowed so much and I get it all for free."
One experience that has stuck with Spina was her quest to find an old movie from the 1940s for her brother, who had been eager to re-watch the film.
"The library didn't have the film -- it's an oldie -- but they got it for us all the same," Spina said. "My brother said 'That was really good, I can't believe I got to see that again,' and I said 'Courtesy of your library!'"
While most of Spina's library visits involve borrowing items from the shelves, she is also a big fan of library programs, especially cooking, art, and crafting programs. When the COVID-19 pandemic stuck, Spina was relieved to find the library moved its programming online.
"I was impressed with how quickly the library was able to shift and offer so much over Zoom," Spina said. "I did miss interaction with people, but there are some advantages [to virtual programs]. I could do programs in my pajamas and just relax and enjoy."
Spina has lived in Addison since 1974 and has seen the library go through a lot of changes. With each new addition to the library's services, Spina is "delighted" to find something new, whether it's the film to digital converters, accessing Consumer Reports for free, and everything in between.
"My parents were immigrants, so the fact that people can come and learn English as a second language, people can use the library and it's open to everybody, is really amazing," said Spina. "It really is miraculous when you think about it."
Spina actively encourages everyone to come to the library to experience it for themselves and discover all the things their library card can do.
"If you haven't been to the library, come. If you don't know what you're looking for, ask one of the people that work there," Spina said. "Hook up with one of the Friends, we'd be happy to show you around! You can get everything you want from the library. Just come and explore."