By Maddie Conway ahml

Five-star restaurants, five-star hotels, five-star songs, five-star albums: we’ve seen them before. But a five-star… library?
A five-star library indeed. For the second straight year, the Arlington Heights Memorial Library (AHML) has been awarded a five-star rating by Library Journal’s Index of Public Library Service, making the AHML within the top one percent of public libraries in the country to be given such a rating. Library Journal‘s star system is an independent system that involves rating public libraries throughout the country against four criteria: the number of visits, program attendance, the use of public Internet computers, and circulation.

Using that information, the Library Journal then scores and rates each library that reports data; libraries with the highest index scores are “starred,” or given a three-, four-, or five-star rating. Only 256 libraries in the program qualify for this honor; the other 5-star libraries recognized in the area were the Naperville Public Library and Schaumburg Township District Library.

And with 2009’s record-breaking 2.4 million checkouts and average of 2,300 visitors, the Arlington Heights Memorial Library has earned the most prestigious rating of them all.
Deb Whisler, Director of Communications and Marketing at the AHML, has felt the excitement that has come with receiving such a reward.
“Everybody is very proud to be recognized for creating positive library experiences,” Whisler said. “Our product is reading and information, but it is very satisfying to be able to truly offer something to people of all ages, from infants to seniors.”
The library offers a range of programs for all ages too, including reading programs for children, classes for adults, and groups for seniors.

Freshman Katelyn Kiner, who is both a member of the AHML’s Teen Book Club (TBC) and Teen Advisory Board (TAB), knows from experience what the library has to offer not only the adult or child visitors, but also the young adults and teens.

In the TBC, the club’s members meet once a month to discuss a different young adult novel; the TAB gets teenagers involved in what’s going on in the young adult section of the library. Kiner said that both groups are good examples of the library’s variety.

A new program has also been planned for the week of Monday, Jan. 10 through Saturday, Jan. 16: Celebrate Your 5-Star Library.

“We want to thank the community for their support, and we also want to highlight [the award]… to let our taxpayers who support the library know the distinction of the library,” Whisler said.

The event ends in a prize drawing on Saturday of four $25 Barnes & Noble gift cards and a Wii. Arlington Heights residents 18 and older are eligible to enter for the drawing from Monday through Friday at the Welcome Desk from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

“It’s really cool and fun to think that you’re a part of something that’s such a prestigious award,” Kiner said. “It would be even more exciting if I actually worked there.”