2020: A Year Like No Other
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
• 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
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
• Sending a special edition print newsletter to 55,000 homes that
highlighted online resources. gbpl.info/newsletters
• 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
total minutes watched
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
through the Closure
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
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.
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. gbpl.info/copingstressanxiety
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. www.gailborden.info/comicbookmania
• “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. gbpl.info/hhm-fb-2020
• 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. gailborden.info/veterans
Encouraging Fun in These
• 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. gailborden.info/holidayhunt
• 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! ”
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. gbpl.info/3tvHL8v
New Services for
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
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
Bringing Library Services
to the Community
Items Checked Out 8,220
Stops Visited 469
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
at 29 events
prior to 3/2020
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
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
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 gbpl.info/fb-digital-media-camp
• 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
Digital Media Lab
July 2019-March 2020
“Battle of the Books” books
participants at 874
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. gbpl.info/racial-justice
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. gailborden.info/census
Elgin’s Self-Response Rate
Each person counted
brings in $1,500 in
funding for 10 years.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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!
Public Library District