Annual Report 2020


2020: A Year Like No Other

Annual Report

The year 2020 challenged us like no other. The onset of

COVID-19 brought a halt to everyone’s usual daily activities

as well as special occasions like weddings, school graduations

and large family gatherings. Schools, businesses, government

facilities and libraries were forced to close their doors

because of the contagious nature of the disease.

Gail Borden Library closed to the public March 14 and would

remain closed until July 6. These three-and-a-half months

challenged us to find new ways to bring materials and

services to library customers.

Staff members in all library divisions and departments

supported the myriad of challenges that faced the library

district from cleaning, to ensuring appropriate technology

was available, to supporting new ways to deliver services - it

took literally all minds, hearts and hands to safely serve this

community in 2020.




Keeping Children Engaged

and Reading

• Concerned about the detrimental impact that the

pandemic would have on children’s learning, the Library

initiated virtual literacy programming to fill the void.




video views in first two weeks

• Katie Clausen and Grisel Leon of KidSpace went Facebook

Live with a Bilingual Storytime. The performance quickly

garnered 7,000 video views by the end of the day.

Your Library at Home is Born

• The favorable results inspired us to create Your Library at Home

with Facebook Live presentations and pre-recorded videos

of storytimes, book reviews, craft demos and presentations

about library services, all filmed by staff members.

• During the first two weeks of the Stay-at-Home order, 3,400 people

engaged in video programs and there were 53,000 video views.

View the Playlist

Your Library at Home Stats

March 16 – July 30

• Nearly 19,000 people engaged in video programming

(a 1,145% increase from previous period)


people engaged 3/16-7/30

• Videos viewed 312,000 times

• 1,437,031 people were reached


People reached


Getting Books and

More to People

In order to keep everyone safe, when the Library buildings closed and

physical materials temporarily became unavailable, we made changes to

make it easier for customers to get online materials by:

• Increasing eContent collections, making it easier to get an online

library card and extending library card expiration dates.


cars came through the

drive-up windows

• Sending a special edition print newsletter to 55,000 homes that

highlighted online resources.

• By May the drive-up windows reopened at both the Main Library and

Rakow Branch and people showed they still wanted physical materials.

• 41,388 cars came through the drive-up windows.

• 101,448 items were checked out at the windows.

The Library Community was

watching and engaging with Librarycurated

videos all through 2020:

• The Library created more than 1,000 virtual programs in 2020.

• Library customers watched 2,600 hours of programming

via the Library’s YouTube Channel—a 1,087% increase.

• People watched 310,477 total minutes of librarycurated

videos on Facebook in 2020 compared to

38,854 minutes in 2019—a 699% increase.


virtual programs in 2020


increase in YouTube

hours watched


total minutes watched

on Facebook


Most Popular Checkouts

What were people reading and watching in 2020?


• Camino Winds by John Grisham

• American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

• Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover.


• Educated by Tara Westover

• The Room Where It Happened by John Bolton

• The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson


• Gemini Man

• Terminator: Dark Fate

• Knives Out

eBook borrowing increased 33% in 2020 compared to 2019.

Electronic AV materials, which include eaudiobooks, eMusic, eMusic

Videos, eMovies, eTv and eMagazines, had a 17% increase in checkouts in

2020 compared to the previous year.


increase in eBook borrowing


increase in Electronic AV

material checkouts


Assisting Customers

through the Closure

Answering Questions

Librarians continued to answer phone calls and online reference

questions from their own homes.

Making Computers Available

Some local residents needed to use the Library’s computers to apply

for jobs, insurance benefits and more. Before the library opened to

all, residents could come to the Main Library to use a computer by

appointment. Staff members were on hand to provide in-person

assistance. From June 15 to 30, 357 customers were able to use a



computer users

from June 15-30

Delivering Materials to Homes

Home Delivery Service was expanded to bring library materials to

those unable to come to the library’s drive-up windows. From May to

December, the Home Services team provided contactless pickup and

delivery of more than 3,000 items to 200 people.

Providing Community Information

Local organizations and nonprofits found it challenging to

communicate their information to the community during

COVID. Several contacted the library asking for help. In response,

the Library created a virtual community bulletin board

with local events and programs from nearby organizations.


Items delivered to homes


Helping Bring Food to Families

The Library hosted and assisted the with the Dr. Martin Luther King,

Jr. Food Drive, partnering with the City of Elgin Human Relations

Commission. In just 5 hours more than 4,000 pounds of food and $2000

were collected for area food pantries.


pounds of food

Keeping Library Customers Informed

We created a COVID response blog-style page to keep the

community updated on changes to library services as they occurred.

Supporting Families

In the Library-created video Coping with Childhood Anxiety/

Stress: Building Resiliency for Parents, Bernadette May, the

Executive Director of Family Services Association, and Library staff

discussed ways for parents of children and teens to recognize anxiety

and stress in a world that can be scary and uncertain. The group offered

tips for anxiety and stress relief.


Continuing to Bring

Cultural Events and Special

Programs in a Virtual Way

• With the Library buildings remaining closed and customers following the stay-at-home

order to stay safe, the 2020 summer reading challenge was designed as an onlineonly

program—a first for the Library community. Readers used an online app called Beanstack

to track their reading and earn badges. Staff made a video emphasizing that reading can

take you everywhere and a fun online game about children’s books was designed.

• Another “first” for Library customers was a virtual Asian Pacific American

Heritage Celebration in the form of a web page and Facebook events with craft

demos, a quiz and history of history of the Laotian community in Elgin.

• Another in-person event turned virtual for the annual Comic Book Mania

Convention with trivia games, an interview with Stan Lee, craft tutorials and

links to artist pages.


• “Not All Heroes Wear Capes” highlighted U.S. Hispanic

contributions. This Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration was a

streamed event that recognized the role of local Latino workers

providing invaluable services during the pandemic. Videos by

the City of Elgin, Sherman Advocate Hospital, Greater Elgin

Family Care Center and GBPL featured stories about how they

lend a hand. The program reached 4,500 people, had 1,660 video

views, and 790 engagements.


people reached

• The annual Veterans Voices brings veterans into classrooms

to talk about their experiences serving in the military. COVID kept

the veterans out of the schools this year but brought them to

the screen as the Library turned the experience virtual. A panel

discussion, individual talks from nine local veterans and a virtual

tour of the Veteran’s Memorial helped bring veterans’ stories to

the community. Also, the library honored seven Gail Borden staff

members who are veterans via a display and Facebook post, which

reached more than 1,600 people.


people reached


Encouraging Fun in These

Difficult Times

• The Library created a Holiday Hunt that keeps virtual visitors

engaged with fun and challenging games and a tour of the

library branches and bookmobile while putting the spotlight

on library services as well as holiday offerings throughout

the community.

• Your Library at Home online game and virtual Easter Egg

hunt highlighted eLibrary resources such as Hoopla and Kanopy.

• A National Library Week campaign caught the community’s

imagination with Zoom-view multiplestaff messages to Library

customers, staff-created video thanking volunteers and video

clip celebrating the bookmobile’s one-year anniversary.

• Hometown Superheroes were put in the spotlight with

posted photos of real frontline workers in businesses as part of

Library Card Sign-Up Month. Everyday Hometown Heroes Celebrate

Libraries featured doctors, nurses, paramedics, firefighters and

police officers help our community in these challenging times.

• PhoneReads at 847-608-4300 offers inspiring

poems and stories read in English and Spanish.


We are so happy that so many local people tuned in. In addition, virtual

programs have attracted audiences from across the nation.




“We enjoyed this

all the way

from St. Louis! ”

“Hi from

Pennsy lvania !”

“Greet ings from Miami!

We love your videos and we

hope you kee p creating them.”

• Exhibits manager and craft expert Elda Sirridge began

a weekly Crafts with Elda program on Facebook

Live that has attracted thousands. Her hot chocolate

bomb program has garnered more than 20,000 views.


Hot Chocolate Bomb views

View the Playlist

Adult Crafts and DIY


Reopening with Care

The Library reopened on July 6

after much preparation:

• The Main Library, Rakow Branch and South Elgin Branch were

cleaned and disinfected with effective cleaning systems

in place using hospital-grade disinfectant solutions approved

by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

• Staff installed installed plexiglass partitions at service desks,

hand sanitizer stations, floor markers for social distancing

guides, signage about using the library and more.

• Returned materials were quarantined according

to medical and scientific guidelines.

• A Reopening with Care Task Force comprised of

staff was formed to plan for reopening the Library in the

safest way possible for library customers and staff.

• Short videos that show the inside of all three branches

were created so that library customers would have a good

idea of what to expect when returning to the library.

• Buttons that display the face of each mask-wearing staff

member were made to make customers feel comfortable

knowing what each staff member looks like.

Photo courtesy of Daily Herald.



passports processed

New Services for

the Community


passports photos taken

• In April, the Library Board approved the Library going Fines

Free for most materials. Items no longer subject to fines

include print books, recorded books, music CDs, audiobooks

and all DVD and Blu-Ray not in a media dispenser.

• All self-check stations were updated, allowing us to consider the

number of stations currently available. The number of stations was

decreased, bringing better social distancing in the checkout area.

• Ready for some binge watching? The new Binge Box

DVD Collection became available at the Main Library

with themed movie collections like Don’t Mess with Denzel,

Jenny From the Block and Gut Busters – The 90s.

• With customer convenience in mind, the Main Library began offering

License Plate Renewal Stickers in the fall. Illinois residents can

renew their license plate stickers and leave with the sticker the same

day. During October, 217 people took advantage of the new service.

• The Main Library’s passport photo service debuted in

September, 2019, adding to our already robust passport

acceptance services. We completed 886 photos and

accepted 2,107 passports during fiscal year 2019/20.

• After two years of work, GBPL’s local newspaper index

is now available online through the internationally

recognized genealogy website Family Search.



Celebrating Women’s Right to Vote

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, we partnered with Jane Addams Hull-House

Museum, RAILS, Arlington Heights Memorial Library and Schaumburg Township District Library to showcase

virtual exhibits and programs to honor the women who fought for equality.

Visit the virtual interactive Museum:


Chuck Jones Season of

Creativity Exhibit

January 9 – February 28

Hands-on art and science activities featuring Warner Brothers

Looney Tunes characters and the animation of artist Chuck

Jones, creator of Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, engaged kids

of all ages. At the Acme STEAM Lab, volunteers helped 626 kids

design and create a contraption to trap the Roadrunner. One

volunteer had so much fun that he requested the lab hours be


Artist Chuck Jones’ grandson, Craig Kausen, stopped by to share stories

about his grandfather. Craig told Elgin Courier reporter Rafael Guerrero

that Chuck Jones was a prolific reader who was passionate about books.

The story made front page of the January 19 Elgin Courier News.

What does it mean to be a vegetarian?

On loan from the National Vegetarian Museum in February,

the exhibit showcased historic artifacts, interested facts about what

it means to be a vegetarian and quotes from famous vegetarians.


kids at Acme STEAM lab

Wiggle Interactive Storywalk

With the library closed, we brought an exhibit outside the library,

encouraging people to go outside and move. Families enjoyed visiting

stations along the bike trail to learn the story of a dog who likes to

wiggle in English and Spanish and doing some wiggling themselves!

Spotlight on Past Exhibits

A retrospective of engaging exhibits past went on display to celebrate

space, dinosaurs and more, reminding us that the future will bring

excitement and joy when we discover new exhibits to bring to Gail

Borden Library.


Bringing Library Services

to the Community


Items Checked Out 8,220

Stops Visited 469

Events 28

Bookmobile added new responsive services including customer

holds, publicly available WiFi, and additional stops. The Gail Borden

Bookmobile holds 2,500 items including books in English and Spanish,

DVDs, audiobooks, Graphic Novels, Large Type and more.


Book Bike attended 29 community events reaching 1,480 customers.

This environmentally friendly service is provided through crossdepartmental

staffing and volunteers.


Visits to daycare centers, preschools and other community location

included .96 ReaderShip programs reaching 9,647 children prior to

March 13, 2020. In addition the ReaderShip placed 4,613 books in the

hands of families at Food for Greater Elgin, the Mobile Food Pantry

and at community events.


Items check out


Stops visited


customers reached

at 29 events



children reached

prior to 3/2020

Rakow Branch

Rakow Branch celebrated its 10th Anniversary on August

10, 2019 with an event featuring the best part of the

Branch – our outstanding staff. Facts and stats:

• Over 1,225,000 – Visitors

• Over 2,100,000 checkouts

• 55,000 customers attended programs

10 years

Rakow open from 2009-2019


Visitors at the Rakow Branch

South Elgin Branch

In July 2020, the South Elgin Branch celebrated 4

years of service to the community. Since its opening,

it has welcomed 198,121 visitors. South Elgin Branch

has focused on involvement with the Village of South

Elgin and partnered with the Public Works and Police

Departments as well as with the Village President and

Supervisor and participated in the Village of South

Elgin’s National Night Out, River Fest and 4th of July

Parade. Hosting Coffee with the Mayor helps promote

community conversation.

4 years

Rakow open from 2016-2020


Visitors at the South Elgin Branch



• In total 377 Hispanic Services programs reached 19,692 people

with bilingual Spanish/English in-person programs, and

adopted new technologies to engage 2,267 participants in

online programs and created 33 videos and screencasts.

• Digital Media Lab 5 years

• Adult Public Programs held programs between July

1, 2019-March 12, 2020 attracting 3,312 people, which

provided nearly $50,000 value to the community.

• The Global Neighbors Program Series, which debuted last

year and has focused on Scotland and Poland, was featured on

the Public Library Association’s Programming Librarian website.

• Every Tuesday & Thursday vol unteer pianists performed

130 pop-up performances in the lobby.

• Our 4th annual 1000 Books Before Kindergarten

ceremony saw 57 participants.

• Lindsay Garritson performed at the library on February 16, 2020. She is

an internationally acclaimed pianist who gives concernts around the

world and appeared on the cover of International Piano Magazine.

• Battle of the Books, a program where kids in grades 4 to 6 read

books and answer questions, celebrated its 45th year! Since

its start, the program has had kids reading 3,496 books!

• In FY 19/20 KidSpace offered 874 programs, class visits, and

book talks. We served 26,369 participants at these events.


people at 377 hispanic

services programs

5 years

Digital Media Lab


programs from

July 2019-March 2020


piano performances


“Battle of the Books” books


participants at 874

kidspace programs


Standing with Communities

and Social Justice

The topics of equity, inclusion and social justice were brought to the forefront nationwide in 2020. The Library

encouraged education and conversation by providing information in the form of the annual Black History

Family Festival, book lists on social justice issues, and programs such as Waking Up White: A Community

Discussion with Author Debby Irving and Mindful Conversations Around Race with Dr. Nathalie Edmond, who

discussed strategies for talking about race with children, teens and adults. Also, the Library hosted Project

2-3-1 Film and Discussion, an award-winning documentary that tells the rich history of African American life in

Elgin from the Civil War “contrabands” to present day.

Well Wishes

for Betty!

In June, 88-year-old Betty Frazier retired after 25 years of faithful service

in Customer Relations. Betty was beloved by library staff and customers,

always willing to help and lend an ear as well as be the face of Gail

Borden Library in photos, videos and parades! We miss her greatly.


Elgin Census 2020

Reflecting the Library’s trusted and effective role in the community,

the library responded to community requests to help lead the 2020

Elgin Census efforts. With each person counted representing $15,000

in funding to the community over the next ten years, it was important

to obtain an accurate count. With the dedication of myriad partners

like the City of Elgin, Elgin School Dist. U-46, Centro de Información,

Elgin Partnership for Early Learning, clergy and many more, even

during this challenging time, people got counted. The results were

significant as Elgin’s Self-Response Rate, 74.3%, surpassed the 2010 rate,

guaranteeing millions of dollars of funding over the next ten years for

the community. Each person counted is $1,500 per year. So for 10 years it

is $15,000.


Elgin’s Self-Response Rate


Each person counted

brings in $1,500 in

funding for 10 years.


Referendum 2020

The library district planned a “swap” referendum for funding essential

projects including major infrastructure repairs and technical upgrades.

Voters were asked to approve the library using previous bond service

funds for operating costs and voted “yes” in March, resulting in

approximately $2.6 million in additional annual operating funds.



Information Technology 2019-2020

Number of Computers Replaced (New or Upgraded) 244

Internet Availability (Illinois Century Network) 97.5%

Internet Availability (Comcast) 93.2%

MediaBank and MediaBox Availability 97.3%

Number of Wireless Sessions 1,691,311

Wireless Availability 99.8%

Zoom Meetings 796

Zoom Meeting Participants 7432

Zoom Meeting Minutes 376,429

Total Computer Sessions 69,144

Total Computer Session Hours 58,175


Zoom meetings


Total computer sessions


Volunteers assist our library in so many ways like shelving, Gail Sales,

programming, Studio 270 Volunteer Corps, KidSpace Volunteens,

Hispanic Services, the bookmobile and more.

Total number of Volunteer hours: 10,684

Total Volunteers: 521

Value of Volunteer Hours: $286,952.47


Vounteer Hours




Awards and


Gail Borden Library’s Life Enrichment Liaison Glenna Godinsky

was awarded the 2020 Alexander J. Skrzypek Award from

the Illinois Library Association for her innovative and creative

programming to seniors and developmentally disabled youths and

adults. Also, Glenna was recognized for her work with the Association

of Bookmobile and Outreach Services Rising Stars Award and named

a Library Journal 2020 Mover & Shaker in the “Community

Builders” category for her innovative programs serving seniors and

those with dementia.

The Illinois Library Association’s Youth Services Forum presented

the 2020 Davis Cup Award to Katie Clausen, the Library’s

Manager of the Early Learning Center, for creating unique programs

for the youngest library customers. The annual Davis Cup Award is

given to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution

to youth services in libraries. An advocate for early literacy skills in

preparing children to get ready for kindergarten, Katie has created

a kindergarten readiness program as well as other programs such as

Tiny Tech and Little STEAMers.

Glenna Godinsky

Katie Clausen

Tish Calhamer

The Library was recognized by the City of Elgin Police with the

Distinguished Community Service Award. Also, Community

Engagement Manager Tish Calhamer and Community

Collaboration Coordinator Danielle Henson received the

Distinguished Community Services Award for their work collaborating

with the EPD.

Hispanic Program Associate Flor Chavez received

Elgin Hispanic Network’s Person of the Year Award!

Flor has been key in coordinating engaging and relevant programs in

Spanish and English for our community. Since March she has worked

tirelessly to continue our programming in a virtual format, and has

become quite a renown program host on Facebook.

Danielle Henson


Flor Chavez


The Library offers classes under the Comcast Internet

Essentials Grant. The Library also received a Google

Libraries Lead with Digital Skills Grant. In addition, the Library

received the Elgin Census grant that was shared by a committed

committee from all over the community dedicated to get people

counted in the 2020 Census. Even in this extremely challenging

time, their efforts surpassed the self-count rate of 2010.

Thank you to all who have directly made a donation to the

Foundation and everyone who donates or purchases from Gail’s

Sales, the used book room located at the Main Library. This year,

the Foundation received donations that will make significant

positive impacts on our community. Thank you EFS Foundation,

Montiegel Trust, Comcast Internet Essentials, Taos Community

Foundation, KCT and Got Robot. We are extremely proud of the

many names that are highlighted on our Foundation Donor Wall

that was unveiled last year in the Main Library Entry Rotunda.

Donations to the Foundation have been used to bolster literacy and

education efforts throughout the community including purchasing

enhanced collections, vehicles that bring reading materials to

people, exhibits that attract people to Library and so much more.

We are gratified that organizations and people have confidence in

the GBPL Foundation/Library’s positive impact on the community.

View The Foundation

Community Impact

Year in Review






Looking Forward to 2021!

The Gail Borden Library Board and Staff are very thankful the for the community’s support during 2020. We

are grateful to local residents for approving the library’s referendum and for all of your supportive comments

as we had to make some difficult decisions during this challenging year. Our partners who have supported us

by working on initiatives such as the 2020 U.S. Census and other projects have helped us achieve many goals

that help make our community a better place in which to live, work and play. We hope your New Year is filled

with hope and joy!

Gail Borden

Public Library District


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