The Barrington Area Public Library District (BAPLD) serves more than 42,000 patrons in all or part of Algonquin, Barrington, Barrington Hills, Deer Park, Fox River Grove, Hoffman Estates, Kildeer, Lake Barrington, Lake Zurich, North Barrington, Palatine, Port Barrington, South Barrington, Tower Lakes, and some unincorporated areas. The BAPLD covers an area of 72 square miles. This makes it the state’s largest library district.
It operates a central library, the Barrington Area Public Library, located at 505 North Northwest Highway in Barrington, Illinois, and the South Branch, located on the lower level of the South Barrington Park District’s South Barrington Club, 3 Tennis Club Lane in South Barrington, Illinois. Barrington is an affluent northwestern suburb of Chicago in Cook and Lake Counties, thirty-two miles northwest of the Loop.
As recounted by Craig L. Pfannkuche in Chicago Neighborhoods and Suburbs, the first settlers arrived after mills were built along the Fox River after the Black Hawk War of 1832. William Butler Ogden, a real estate investor who served as the first mayor of Chicago, wanted to connect the farmers in northwest Cook County with Chicago’s port, so after he gained control of the Chicago, St. Paul, and Fond Du Lac Railroad (later known as the Chicago & North Western Railway) in 1854, he built a railroad station in that part of the county. It was called the Deer Grove station.
The Yankee farmers in the area consequently prospered, but lived in fear they would be inundated with Irish Catholics who would open up saloons. To quiet their fears, a civil engineer who worked for the railroad, Robert Campbell, purchased land two miles northwest of the Deer Grove station, platted a community in 1854, and persuaded the railroad to move the station to his community. He called it “Barrington” in honor of Barrington, Massachusetts, the hometown of many of the farmers.
By 1863, the population of Barrington reached 300. In 1865, the community incorporated as a village. The first village board president was Homer Willmarth. Barrington continued to prosper in the wake of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 as a number of affluent grain merchants opted to build Queen Anne-style homes in Barrington rather than rebuild in the city.
In 1889, a second railroad reached Barrington, the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway. Dairy farming continued to dominate the town until a number of rich or super-rich families created residential estates around Barrington during the Roaring Twenties. The population reached 3,213 in 1930.
These estates, which were passed down in families generation after generation insulated Barrington from the kind of dense residential development that occurred in other communities as they became suburbanized in the 1950s. The population of Barrington had only reached 5,435 in 1960. The town has opposed densely packed residential development whenever the estates have gone up for sale.
With the construction of the Northwest Tollway five miles south of town in the 1960s, the southern end of town was developed. The population reached 10,168 in 2000.
The history of the Barrington Area Public Library District begins with a $1,000 bequest by widow Caroline Ela to establish a public library in Barrington, Illinois. A committee formed to let the voters know about the benefits of a tax-supported public library, but the first referendum on the establishment of such a library (on September 16, 1914) failed to pass.
At that point, a woman’s club established a private library, much as we find with the histories of the Riverside Public Library (RPL), the Arlington Heights Memorial Library (AHML), the Downers Grove Public Library (DFPL), the Berwyn Public Library (BPL), and the Algonquin Area Public Library District (AAPLD). The Barrington Woman’s Club created a library with donated books and a volunteer staff in Cameron’s Drug Store. That first Barrington library opened early in 1915.
The library moved several times to accommodate the growing collection of books until the Barrington Village Board offered space in Village Hall in 1924. The next year, residents approved a referendum to introduce a library tax. Subsequently, the Barrington Woman’s Club surrendered the burden of operating the Barrington Library to the Village of Barrington. The first members of the library board were elected in 1926.
The library was operated out of Barrington Village Hall from 1924 to 1957. In the latter year, a new colonial-style library building, designed by Ralph Stoetzel, was built at the intersection of Monument and Hough Streets.
The first full-time librarian was hired in 1963. In 1969 and 1970, referenda passed that transformed the village library into a district library that served portions of four counties.
The BAPLD Library Board began to negotiate with other parties over a new site for a new, larger library to serve the district. In 1972, the Jewel and Kendall Companies in Barrington donated seven acres of land on Northwest Highway. Three years later, a bond issue was approved for the construction of a new library building at this site.
The architectural firm of Coder Taylor Associates designed the library building that opened in 1978. Eleven years later, the firm Ross Barney & Jankowski was hired to design an addition. By 1993, the building expanded to its current size of 60,000-square-feet.
The Gallery and Sculpture Garden at the central library are curated by Kelly Stachura and Lisa Swarbrick. The Arts Advisory Committee of the Board of Library Trustees consists of the Barrington Area Public Library’s executive director, two trustees, and two members of the community.
The South Branch is an“award winning activity center located on the lower level of the South Barrington Club.” At the South Branch, one can “Browse popular books and DVDs or access the Internet.”
On February 25, 2010, the BAPLD announced that Barrington resident Alicia Parrish, who was one of three teenage poets the Barrington Area Library had chosen to represent it in the national poetry contest sponsored by Voices of Youth Advocates (VOYA) was one of five national winners in the contest. The 7th grader’s winning entry was entitled “Like That Itch You Can’t Scratch.” It compares those songs that won’t leave one’s head to mosquito attacks.
Ms. Parrish said, “I like writing and things that people can envision and I like using a lot of imagery.” Her poem was set to be published in the April 2010 edition of VOYA – Voice of Youth Advocates journal. The VOYA poetry competition at the Barrington Area Library was coordinated by Youth Services Librarian Jennifer Drinka.
Ms. Drinka said, “It was so exciting for the Barrington Area Library to have one of our teen poets selected as the winner of the national competition. Alicia’s passion for life really shines through in her poems. She entered eight poems to the library for that level of the competition, and she was the youngest person to enter. She really has an incredible talent with writing. Her words make you see, hear and feel what she is saying.”
On May 10, 2010, the BAPLD announced that for the first time in the library’s history,the Barrington Area Library had reached its 1,000,000th check-out in a fiscal year. This happened sometime in the evening of Friday, April 30th.
“This is a huge milestone for us. To hit the one million mark for the first time in a fiscal year, and to hit it much earlier than we expected is a real surprise. It is great to see so many people making use of their library,” Barrington Area Public Library Executive Director Detlev Pansch said.
Marie Thomas, Head of Circulation said, “This is so exciting as we had our one millionth check-out two full months before the end of our fiscal year. With media downloads, online renewals, check-outs via our locker systems, and in-person visits – there’s no way for us to know the actu
al person who checked out the one-millionth item, but we do know we hit the one million mark sometime late in the day on Friday, April 30.”
In the 2009 fiscal year, the Barrington Area Library had a total of 978,703 check-outs. As of May 2010, the library’s circulation was up by 26%. The fiscal year closes on June 30.
Executive Director Pansch stated, “Beyond being a number, this really shows how the library is an invaluable resource and how much the community loves and uses its library.”
On May 13, 2010, the BAPLD announced that after twenty-five years of service as the President of the Barrington Area Library Board of Trustees, Richard J. Ryan stepped down from the position on Tuesday, May 10. He was succeeded as president by fellow trustee Lawrence J. Weiner who had been on the board since 1998.
Of Ryan, Weiner said, “He deserves all the accolades that have been awarded him. He has been with the library through so much of its history and has been an extraordinary, visionary leader. I have some big shoes to fill.”
Executive Director Pansch said, “We are all very appreciative of Mr. Ryan. He was here when the library moved to its current location in 1978. From before then to now, he has loved this library and been an active part of decisions that have made this library what it is. He has always had the best interests of the community at heart.”
Ryan recalled the ground-breaking for the library in 1976 and how residents referred to the building then as the “Bicentennial Library.” He said, “A few of us got together – friends of mine and staff who could help out – to assemble shelves so the library would be ready for its grand opening.”
He also recounted how one day he tripped the burglar alarm. “Sometime along the line I got a passkey and while the building was being built, I would come in on Sundays to check things out… I came in one Sunday, using my passkey, as I had done before – what did I know – the next thing, the Barrington police was there. It turns out the burglar alarm had been installed, and I got to be the first to set it off.”
A graduate of the Illinois Institute of Technology, Ryan has worked as an electrical engineer, served in the Vietnam War, and founded a financial consultant business in Barrington. Ryan served as a trustee for a total of thirty-two years, though not consecutively. He moved to Barrington in 1959, and could not patronize the library back then as the district did not exist yet.
He was elected as a trustee with a six-year-long-term in 1974. He was not on the board between 1980 and ‘83, but was appointed back on the board in 1984, and has remained on the board since then. Though he stepped down from the board presidency, Ryan planned to continue his term as trustee through 2013.
On October 6, 2010, the BALD announced the in a national ranking of 7,407 public libraries issued by the Library Journal on October 1st, the report issued by the Library Journal, the Index of Public Library Service, “the Barrington Area Library has been recognized for exceptional service with a three star rating.” The Barrington Area Public Library received an overall score of 923. The Barrington Area Library had previously been recognized with a three-star rating and an overall score of 888 in 2009.
The Index “is based on circulation of library items, patron visits to the library, program attendance and public Internet use and compares libraries across the nation with their peers.”
The Barrington Area Library was one of seventeen public libraries in Illinois and one of 258 public libraries throughout the United States to receive special recognition signified by a starred rating. Other libraries in the area that received a star rating include the Arlington Heights Memorial Library, the Schaumburg Township District Library, the Fremont Public Library, the Gail Borden Public Library District headquartered in Elgin, Illinois, and the Vernon Area Public Library District headquartered in Lincolnshire, Illinois.
The central library is open from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturdays, and from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Sundays. The South Branch is open from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and on Saturdays. It is closed Fridays and Sundays. Starting September 13th it is also open from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays.
Library facilities will be closed in observance of New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, Memorial Day, Independence Day (the 4th July), Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve Day. It will also be closed on July 5th and December 24th.
The phone number of the central library is (847) 382-1300 and the fax number is (847) 382-1261. The phone number of the South Branch is (847) 381-2534.