Progressive Librarianship

By the 1990s, libraries in Illinois were experimenting with ways to meet changing needs. In November 1985, the Hayner Public Library in Alton opened a branch in Alton Square, a local shopping mall. The mall’s parent company donated 3,800 square feet of retail space for the branch, and a Project PLUS grant of $130,000 paid for the first year of operation. The branch became the first “mall library” in Illinois, and usage proved heavy. In its first 12 years of existence, circulation at the mall branch more than tripled. In 1997-98, the branch expanded into an adjacent empty space, picking up an additional 2,200 square feet. Ventures like the mall library reflected the changing nature of Illinois librarianship, as convenience became key for library users.928

The State Library continually welcomed these progressive changes, commenting that, “libraries are in transition from being only placebound warehouses of library materials to also serving as facilitators of access to information, without regard to location.” In 1994, the Illinois State Library Advisory Committee adopted a set of guiding principles for Illinois libraries. The principles not only reflected traditional goals but also the current themes of state librarianship:

  • Libraries and reading, the role of encouraging children to become lifelong readers and of promoting reading to people of all ages.
  • Access to information and the value and opportunities of information for library users.
  • The role of networking, with emphasis on technology.
  • The need to develop partnerships, a need for “innovative partnerships that will benefit information users.”
  • The need for continuous training for librarians.929