2021 Year in Review Scroll down to begin

Once more, we reflect on a year that was dominated by a pandemic and conversations around social inequities. Through evolving public health guidelines and shifting circumstances, we looked to each other and to our community to stay connected and grounded.

Amy teaches a patron to make a vinyl sticker in the new Studio

We finished our two-year renovation project on time and under budget, and welcomed everyone back into our brand new spaces. We shared health information, helped with navigating the changing job market, offered support for kids in difficult times and resources on how to make sense of the headlines, and adapted to offer hybrid events--both online or in person--to make participation simple and comfortable for all.

Cathy leads a group of children during a dance party in one of the outdoor courtyards

We're proud of what we've accomplished with your support. Here are some of the other moments that stood out in 2021.

Renovation Project

Patrons work at a large common tables in the new nonfiction area

The renovated library is flooded with natural light and filled with comfortable seating and convenient amenities like charging stations, a café space for snacking, and beautiful outdoor courtyards. There are abundant spaces for studying, working, and meeting. And learners of all ages can use technology and equipment to bring their creativity to life.

Deputy Director Laura McGrath, Congresswoman Schakowsky, Mayor Van Dusen, Library Trustee Gene Griffin, and Director Richard Kong at the official ribbon cutting

Although the pandemic imposed limitations on how we could mark the completion of the renovation, on June 4 we held a small dedication outside the library.

A Resilient Community

We're working to build a more resilient community; one in which people experience well-being, including a strong sense of belonging and connection to one another.

The Radmacher Gallery

Our inaugural art exhibition in the renovated library, Making It Through, featured artwork, textiles, and other handmade media that were created by staff members during the pandemic.

Patrons outside the bookmobile

The book bike visited Skokie parks over the summer, giving away withdrawn books and building connections with neighborhoods throughout the Village. And the bookmobile welcomed patrons back on board to pick up holds, browse, and use free WiFi.

Summer Reading took us on neighborhood adventures with a flexible, self-service program from June through August. By doing suggested activities and reading challenges, participants navigated a fold-out map, adding colorful stickers to mark progress and earning a small completion prize at the end of the season.

Teens work on a project in the Teen Room

Teen volunteers participated in projects from art-making to collecting citizen science data and creating supportive postcards for Coming Together. And teens participating in Connect, Transform, Act (in collaboration with Response for Teens, a JCFS Chicago program) came together to talk in a safe space about issues affecting their lives, investigate the root causes, and work toward potential solutions.

Sweetal answers the phone in the call center

Through the late winter, spring, and again in the fall, we connected community members with information and resources on vaccines and boosters by answering calls for the Village of Skokie's COVID-19 hotline. We were recognized with a Public Health Partners in Excellence award in October.

An Engaged Community

We are building a more engaged community, a community in which people have the knowledge, skills, empowerment, and sense of hope that they can make a positive impact on the life of their community.

Patrons build Snap Circuits together in the BOOMbox

Before the renovated space was open, we continued to bring you the BOOMbox at Home, adding BOOMbox Live events to the ongoing playlist of fun and instructional STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) videos. Skokie Nature with Neighbors also offered a chance for patrons of all ages to step outside and engage with the science and beauty of their own surroundings.

We focused on interactivity for kids and families with events like Family Game Night, Family Cooking Workshop, and Preschool Puppet Playtime. We also gave flexible options for fun and learning with DIY art kits, Math Party in a Bag, and multiple options for storytime both in person and online.

Paul recommends one of his favorite books

We loved chatting about books and movies on Facebook Live, Instagram, Goodreads, and YouTube, as well as in person. We made thousands of personalized recommendations with #minimatch events on social media. We made it easy to explore new genres with our beginners guides, and published over 100 new lists on our website, including our staff picks for the year.

We hosted author events with Eve L. Ewing, Matt Haig, Casey McQuiston, Richard Rothstein, Susan Van Dusen, Elly Fishman, Cozbi Cabrera, Dahlia Richards, and Jarrett Dapier.

A patron uses a private study room

We added new digital resources, including an extensive collection of primary sources covering 100 years of Niles Township historyHeritageHub, and Black Life in America, making it easier to research family and community histories. We also expanded access to current newspapers online.

An Inclusive Community

We're working to build a more inclusive community, one in which people actively seek to better understand themselves and others.

Staff chat with patrons during Civic Lab: Hispanic Heritage Month

In partnership with the ELL Parent Center, we launched a new ELL Literacy Circle book discussion for English language learners, which meets weekly for a 10-week session to read and explore American novels.

A series of popular upstander training workshops, offered monthly in spring and summer, gave participants strategies and skills for safely intervening when witnessing acts of oppression and harassment.

Skokie's Juneteenth Celebration in Devonshire Park

In collaboration with Skokie United, Skokie Park District, and other community groups, we celebrated Juneteenth with speakers, panel discussions, performances by our teen theater ensemble singing and reading poetry by Langston Hughes, outdoor activities, and crafts exploring the Juneteenth flag.

To ensure that younger kids in grades K-3 had access to outstanding and diverse books over the summer, we launched Breezy Summer Reads to complement our other summer reads lists.


Skokie Public Library staff and volunteers

Board of Trustees

  • Mark Prosperi, President
  • Gene Griffin, Vice President
  • Shabnam Mahmood, Secretary
  • Mira Barbir
  • Michelle Julaton Mallari
  • Noreen Winnigham

Management Team

  • Director, Richard Kong
  • Deputy Director, Laura McGrath
  • Access Services Manager, Annabelle Mortensen
  • Building Services Manager, Andy Garcia
  • Communications and Multimedia Engagement Manager, Jane Hanna
  • Community Engagement Manager, Nancy Kim Phillips
  • Human Resources Manager, Elizabeth Dostert
  • IT Manager, Mark Kadzie
  • Learning and Development Manager, Leah White
  • Learning Experiences Manager, Amy Koester
  • Patron Engagement Manager, Lynnanne Pearson
  • Safety Manager, Thalma Brooms
  • Teen Services Manager, Laurel Dooley
  • Youth Services Manager, Shelley Sutherland


Skokie Public Library staff photographer Meghan White