Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Visit them online:
Services include online catalog search, online book renewal, and "Ask a Librarian," an e-mail service open to Oak Park cardholders or anyone with a question about OP history. For an extra $1.00 you can also pay fines or other charges through E-Pay.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Welcome to the Maze Branch Library!

Front view
Originally uploaded by Sandrilene23.
The Adele H. Maze Branch Library in Oak Park, IL is one of Oak Park's three public libraries. It houses a collection of over 29 thousand items, including print items, movies, and CDs. Their A/V collection is growing, though they have more books than anything else.

Starting in February, the Maze will be offering after-school programs aimed at middle-school students. The students have begun to congregate in the library after school, because there is no other free place for them to hang out.


wheelchair ramp
Originally uploaded by Sandrilene23.
Recently, the Maze branch was closed for 10 months to renovate the library. Most of the books were packed and stored, with a small amount circulating through the main branch. A major goal of the renovation was to make the library more accessible, so they added a wheelchair ramp (see photo). There were also some interior renovations, including major work in the basement. I didn't get any photos down there, the designated "quiet area," but it looks much better than the dingy, cave-like appearance it had before the renovation.

Since the renovation, circulation is up by 6-9% depending on the month. Peggy hoped it would be up higher, but admits that they are still making minor adjustments and rearranging things.

Differences between Maze branch and Main

The Teen Area
Originally uploaded by Sandrilene23.
Oak Park is fortunate enough to have three public libraries: the Main branch in downtown Oak Park, the Dole branch on the north side, and Maze on the south side. The main difference between the Maze branch and the main library is the amount of space. The main library is very similar to the Elmhurst Public Library, with three floors and more resources than either of the branch locations. The main library's collection is greater in depth, particularly in reference materials.

With limited space, the Maze librarians need to choose their materials carefully. There is little display space, limited to one or two shelves in each area of the library. Popular adult novels are weeded fairly quickly; once they lose their popularity, they are removed to make room for the newer popular materials. The hardest part, says Peggy, is finding space for children's books, particularly picture books. This is because the old books never really lose their popularity (Dr. Seuss, anyone?) but new picture books come out all the time.

However, there are some advantages to the branch library. Located on a quiet street, parking is always easy to find at the Maze. There have been virtually no resident complaints about patrons, especially since librarians have their own parking lot now. Since the Maze is a neighborhood library, the librarians and patrons get to know each other. Everyone is friendly and helpful.


Originally uploaded by Sandrilene23.
This painting was done by local artist Jonathan Franklin specifically for the library, and is proudly displayed.

Maze Library's book playhouse

While the main branch has more resources, the Maze definitely has a cozy, community feel to it. Nothing shows that better than the house in the children's section. The outside is painted with some popular children's storybook characters, incluiding Babar the elephant and a monster from "Where the Wild Things Are." Inside are bookshelves and beanbag chairs for kids to sit and read. The house is especially busy during the summer, when OPPL's popular Summer Reading Program happens. Kids can come into the library to play games, do crafts, or attend a special program. They earn prizes for reading books, and there's a big end-of-summer party as the program finishes.

Mother Goose

Mother Goose
Originally uploaded by Sandrilene23.
Mother Goose welcomes kids (and parents!) to step into the playhouse and share a story.

Meet Peggy

I talked to Peggy Swanson (no relation), the manager of the Maze Branch. She started out with a degree in food science, and started working in libraries when she lived in Canada. She began as a volunteer in school libraries, and continued the volunteer work after moving back to the United States for three or four years. She then got a part-time job at the Maze and went back to school to get her degree in library science. She has been working at the Maze for eleven years, and been the manager for five and a half years.

Peggy says that her favorite part about working in a branch library is being able to work with everyone who comes into the library. She also likes how the Maze is a part of the community. The hardest part, for her, is dealing with screaming babies. Most of the time the parents will pack up right away, but if other patrons complain to her, Peggy has to talk to the parents. Fortunately, this does not happen very often.