This is a review of library news for the year 2012. Parts I and II in this series are devoted to the Chicago Public Library.
Between January and November of 2012, the Chicago Public Library (CPL) circulated 9,048,602 items, had 2,581,154 computer sessions, had 2,055,852 holds filled, had 1,364,486 holds placed, and had 480,719 Wi-Fi sessions. The CPL had approximately 10,123,607 visitors (or rather people visited that number of times, when one considers some people visited on multiple occasions).
In June and July, there were twenty Summer Reads for Adults programs. The 395 participants read 8,123 books. For the 2012 Children’s Summer Reading Program, 60,232 children and teenagers read 1,527,589 books, and 1,087 Junior Volunteers worked 25,607 man-hours.
Two CPL named two very different books for One Book, One Chicago, Chicago’s citywide book club, in 2012. These were Gold Boy, Emerald Girl by Yiyun Li for the Spring 2012 One Book, One Chicago selection and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak as the Fall 2012 One Book, One Chicago selection.
The CPL laid-off 176 pages and clerks on New Year’s Day and announced on Monday, January 2, 2012 no branches would be open at all on Mondays. All branches of the Chicago Public Library were closed on Monday, January 9, 2012; Monday, January 23rd; and Monday, January 30th.
On Monday, January 23, 2012, CBS-2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reported Mayor Rahm Emanuel found money to re-hire half the CPL staff members he had laid-off. John Byrne wrote in the Chicago Tribune, “Last weekend, Emanuel and [Library Commissioner Mary] Dempsey announced that 65 part-time union workers would be rehired to staff the branches most Monday afternoons. That move will return the libraries to a six-day schedule without requiring the approval of union leadership.”
Regarding this move, the City of Chicago stated, “In January 2012, Mayor Emanuel re-allocated more than $2 million in resources to keep branch locations available six days a week and to remain open 48 hours a week (including Monday mornings) during Chicago Public School breaks – summer, winter and spring breaks. These resources restored and reallocated 155 positions to branch libraries.”
In February, all branches were open from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Mondays. On June 18, 2012, the CPL restored full Monday hours at all branches.
Library Commissioner Mary Dempsey resigned in January, after holding the post since 1994. Jayne Carr Thompson, President of Jayne Thompson & Associates, Ltd. (JTA) and wife of former Governor Jim Thompson, resigned as President of the CPL Board of Directors. Mayor Emanuel replaced them with Brian Bannon, Chief Information Officer (CIO) of the San Francisco Public Library, as the new Library Commissioner and Linda Johnson Rice, the Chairwoman of Johnson Publishing, as the new President of the CPL Board of Directors.
In July, Mayor Emanuel and Commissioner Bannon announced the CPL “is adopting a flexible staffing plan that will allow all 76 neighborhood branches to offer full-day service on Mondays after children return to school in the fall without increasing the operating budget.” Rather than the CPL using one staffing model for all its branches, it would adopt a staffing model for each branch.
The City of Chicago stated, “This new, more flexible model is possible by re-allocating staff positions made vacant by retirement and attrition and replacing those positions with a targeted mix of full- and part-time positions needed to most efficiently staff the libraries based on user demand.”
“Based on my experience in other public library systems and after an analysis of our library use and demand, we discovered that by staffing locations in response those factors we could more efficiently allocate our staff and open full days on Monday,” said Bannon. “The study also uncovered the demand for a teen librarian position, which we will be adding at branches throughout the system.”
On April 30, 2012, heads of the CPL, Facing History and Ourselves, and Steppenwolf Theatre Company announced “a season-long initiative to inspire a citywide conversation about making positive change in our communities to stop the trend of youth violence and intolerance.” They joined forces for Now Is The Time (NITT), a themed initiative throughout 2012-13 linking major projects at each institution, including the Fall 2012 One Book, One Chicago selection, Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, a staged adaptation of Zusak’s book at Steppenwolf Theatre Company and a major Facing History and Ourselves exhibition “Choosing to Participate” at the Harold Washington Library Center.
On Monday, August 6, 2012, the CPL announced a “Once in a Blue Moon” Amnesty from the 20th of August to the 7th of September, 2012. During this period, patrons returned 101,301 books, DVDs, and CDs.
The CPL waived $641,820 in fines and regained approximately $2,000,000 in property. This was called the Blue Moon amnesty because the last one was held in 1992 and the previous one was in 1985.
Most of the items the CPL regained were overdue by a matter of three to five weeks, but CPL Marketing & Communications Director Ruth Lednicer related to Chicago Tribune reporter Bridget Doyle that staff members were shocked by the number of items that had been checked out in the 1980s, or farther back, in the 1970s, but one woman returned a copy of Giant Animals of Long Ago by Agnes McCarthy, which the woman had borrowed as a little girl thirty-six years ago.
Someone else returned a copy of Weather and Man by Hans H. Neuberger that was due fifty-eight years ago. The item that had been missing the longest, however, was a limited edition of Oscar Wilde’s Faustian horror novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, which someone checked out in 1934.
Ms. Doyle’s Tribune article “Chicago Public Library closes book on amnesty” was picked up by The Associated Press (AP) and posted on The Sacramento Bee’s Web site as “101,000 items returns in Chicago’s library program.” NBC-5 also ran the story.