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Thomas Ford Memorial Library Celebrates 80th Anniversary

Library staff and Board member offer vision, plea for feedback from Western Springs community.

When in 1932 the family of the late Thomas Ford, a Western Springs housing contractor, used his life insurance money to give the a permanent home to the previously peripatetic , the building’s circulation was about 5000 books.

Today, between all library materials, that same collection has grown to over 264,000—the result of 80 years of devotion to reading, education and community spirit.

The library marked its 80th anniversary Sunday with a cake and a musical performance in the downstairs by colorful Chicago a cappella quartet Ac-Rock. Community members joined library staff and volunteers in celebrating the library’s enduring importance to the Village of Western Springs.

Library Director Anne Kozak offered a vision of what a library like Thomas Ford should strive to be in the information and Internet age.

“I think public libraries in general are really becoming community centers. It’s a place where people not only exchange ideas… but they also exchange hellos, greet each other,” Kozak said.

“That’s kind of what we see as our mission, our role in the community: to be that place where people can see each other, exchange ideas, learn about things, have a cup of coffee. They call it the third place—there’s work, and there’s home, and there’s a third place where people like to come and hang out. And we’d really like to be the third place.”

Kozak and Library Board Treasurer John Ericsson also both emphatically requested that Village residents fill out and return a recent survey on what they’d like to see from the library, also available on the library’s website.

“We all have our own vision of how a library should be, and you don’t want to be too insular as a Board, so we really need the input from the community to find out what your needs are,” Ericsson said.

“This is a great anniversary… We have a wonderful Village, a wonderful town, a great library, a great staff. I really appreciate everybody coming out.”

LIz January 30, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Happy Birthday to Thomas Ford Memorial Library. It was a wonderful party. Western Springs is fortunate to have this great library. With thanks for the committed and dedicated staff of Thomas Ford. Liz Burns
Dean Nelson January 31, 2012 at 04:24 AM
When I was a little kid I used to go to the library all the time. To the point the librarian knew my name when I came in the door! :) Good memories. However now I just Google things. While I love the library, it's frankly just faster to Google things. I don't have any idea's on how a library can compete with Google. If anyone does please respond to this comment.
Darren McRoy January 31, 2012 at 05:21 AM
Like Director Kozak said, they're angling to be a "meeting place." Funny story--my father is hooked on his Kindle, but I won't give up on physical books. I like my news online (I'd better!), my non-fiction via audiobook and my fiction in paper form. Just my preferences! (Thanks for the story!)
Anne Kozak January 31, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Libraries are busier than ever helping people find the information they need, offering cultural programs, encouraging children to read, and serving as a place for quiet study. Of course, we also have books, CDs, DVDs, magazines, downloadable books and movies, and a myriad of other items for our patrons. Stop in- you'll be pleasantly surprised at the breadth and width of services available. P.S. We also help patrons evaluate the information they locate online to make sure that it is accurate and current!
Tari Marshall January 31, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Hi Dean. Even if all you want to do is information searches, Google can only provide bits and pieces. The library can provide a more personal connection to deeper resources - in fact, they have access to paid databases you can't get on the Internet. Want movies? Yes, you can order them up on the Internet - for a fee - or you can check them out free at the library. Want ebooks - you'll pay for them online - or get them free on the library's website. You might want to take another look at what the library offers these days and make some new memories! Enjoy!

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