Explore the Opportunities: Mount Prospect Public Library (IL) Celebrates 75 Years of Service

By Natalie Romano

One of the goals of LHRT is to celebrate the rich history of all kinds of libraries and to observe library history milestones. As public libraries continue to serve as bastions of information and civic engagement, the LHRT is proud to share with our readers the ways in which libraries serve their communities. This month, we’re shining the light on Mount Prospect Public Library (IL) as they commemorate their 75th anniversary of library service to Mount Prospect and the greater Chicago community.

The Mount Prospect Public Library has a long and respected history of service to its community and a fascinating connection to the history of Chicago and surrounding areas. Thanks to the fundraising efforts of the Mt. Prospect Women’s Club, the Mount Prospect Public Library officially opened on January 6, 1930, in a one-room schoolhouse and was staffed by volunteers until more resources made it possible for the library to open in a new location in 1935. Eventually, with even greater support from its community, the library was voted to become a tax-supported public library in 1943. Throughout several phases of development and change, inspiring its users to “explore the opportunities” remains its central mission to the Mt. Prospect community. To learn more about how their library staff celebrated this exciting milestone, I reached out to Anne Shaughnessy, Reference Librarian at MPPL, who was kind enough to share how the library recognized this important occasion.

Anne reports that planning the library’s anniversary celebration was a truly collaborative effort, with every department participating in some aspect of planning programs to honor the special occasion. She states: “Every department in the library was involved. The celebration lasted all year long with different kinds of events being offered including an art show, Ready Player One Extravaganza, and a final open house event.” MPPL’s goal in designing the anniversary celebrations was to highlight four key areas: arts and culture, technology, service, and community. To this end, staff planned a wide variety of public programs for youth and adults, including a library card design contest, a trivia night, and a concert featuring popular music from the 1940s. MPPL also designed a special edition tee-shirt to mark the occasion, which also served as the main logo for the 75th anniversary celebrations.

A timeline of MPPL history is featured on its website, mppl.org/about-us/history, and to commemorate its 75th anniversary, library staff produced a special video to highlight MPPL’s history and accomplishments. The video was created by Cathy Cushing, producer and host of Library Life, which airs on the Village of Mount Prospect’s public TV channel and the Library’s website. The video featured research expertise of librarians and archivists at MPPL. Each episode, hosted by Cathy Cushing, focuses on how the Library makes a positive difference in the lives of MPPL citizens through programming, outreach, and civic engagement. Many of the episodes can be watched via the library’s website, mppl.org.

Mount Prospect Public Library staff created an iconic “cake” made out of books to mark the occasion. (Photo credit: Skip Peterson Photography. Photo provided by MPPL.)

Here at the Decker Branch Library of Denver Public Library, where I currently work, we celebrated our 100 year anniversary in 2013. I remember how much effort went into planning the celebrations, and so I was curious about how MPPL staff coordinated such a relevant and impactful celebration for their community. Anne shares that the planning committee started their preparations a year in advance, and recommends that libraries wanting to do something similar allow plenty of time to hold planning meetings and get input from the community. Equally important, she shares that involving all staff in the planning process ensures “that everyone can feel they have a voice in deciding what will be done.”

The Mt. Prospect Public Library’s 75th anniversary celebration is an exemplary model for how public libraries can observe their special milestones and celebrate their staff and community. Very special congratulations to MPPL staff for their outstanding service, and thank you to Anne Shaughnessy and MPPL staff for graciously sharing their story with LHRT!