Innovative Library: Ela Area Public Library, Lake Zurich, IL

Ela Area Public Library
Though it is housed in a relatively new building (2002), the Ela Area Library continues to actively update their spaces and services to keep pace with the ever changing needs of their customers. In 2009, their Popular Materials area was reorganized and along with that came a complete overhaul of the signage used throughout the library. The new scheme created a hierarchy and graphics that make it easy to locate materials and presents a very professional image.

Following this upgrade, an RFID Improvement Project was undertaken and completed in 2011 to retag all items in the collection and replace outdated self-check units with newer, more flexible machines. To better utilize the available space, the size of the service desk was reduced to make room for additional self-check machines at the front of the library. In addition, an automated return and 7-bin sorting system was added to improve efficiencies. A window into the return room adds a dimension of fun as customers can watch the equipment at work as their books are returned.

Making a conscious decision to keep their library on the forefront of new technology, additional upgrades have continued including the addition of two digital media labs that began operation in January 2012. On-line tools are available to help facilitate the training needs for both staff and customers for the equipment available in the labs. Interactive whiteboards were added to both adult and children’s program rooms and audio and video conferencing equipment was included in the upgrade as well, greatly increasing the capabilities found within the library.

A vast array of media formats can be found throughout the library and many materials are available in several different languages to meet the needs of the diverse ethnic population found in the area. Digital material formats have also kept pace with the times. In addition to having the ability to download materials onto customer-owned e-readers, the library began circulating Nook e-readers in the Fall of 2010 and can’t keep them on the shelf.

Finally, the library has taken every opportunity to market the materials and services available, as well as, the value the library represents to the community.  A well done website, extensive newsletters and coordinated brochures and information throughout the library present the vast array of programs and materials available. Most impressively, unoccupied computer screens reinforce relevant messages without taking up additional signage space.


Janet Nelson

Janet Nelson

Janet is the former Director of Library Engagement and Solutions at Demco. She managed and developed relationships with key industry leaders to understand changing library trends and services.