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Mt. Prospect library hits 1 million mark in circulation
Circulation up at all area libraries
By Eileen O. Daday | Daily Herald correspondent

Harold Weary,101, of Mount Prospect reaches across to Daphne Yarrish of the Mount Prospect Library after he checked out the 1 millionth item, a DVD called "Midsummer Murders."


Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

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Published: 12/30/2009 5:09 PM

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Nearly a month ago, officials with the Mount Prospect Public Library saw this day coming: they projected hitting the 1 million mark in circulation before the end of the year.

When it came on Wednesday afternoon, they were delighted to see who hit the million mark - they couldn't think of a better person, they said, who personified lifelong learning.

Harold Weary of Mount Prospect was the unsuspecting victim. He approached the circulation desk with a murder mystery on DVD, and when he checked it out, the celebration started.

What made it even more remarkable, library officials said, is that Weary is 101. He has volunteered at the library as a financial consultant for 40 years and he continues to serve on its foundation board, often selling raffle tickets to patrons as they enter.

"He's a fixture here," said Kathy Murray, circulation manager.

Weary took the attention in stride. It reminded him of his 100th birthday celebration last year, which also took place at the library.

"My daughter and son-in-law are in town, and we always set aside one night for movie night," said Weary, who made a career in finance with United Airlines. "But I borrow a lot of DVDs from the library."

Officials with the North Suburban Library System, which takes in nearly 60 community libraries, says circulation numbers are up across the board, DVD and Blue-ray discs in particular.

Prospect Heights Public Library, for instance, reported an 11 percent overall increase in circulation over the last year, but a 65 percent increase in DVDs, once they dropped a $1 charge.

Likewise, Arlington Heights Memorial Library saw a 25 percent increase in DVDs and a 28 percent jump in adult nonfiction audio, such as music and books on tape.

"Generally, circulation numbers are up for all adult materials, children's books and children's video, and DVDs," says Deb Whisler, public information director for the Arlington Heights library.

Sarah Long, executive director of the North Suburban Library System in Wheeling said library use always goes up during hard economic times, but the increases local libraries are seeing now are unprecedented.

"People have discovered they can put away their overused credit cards, pull out their library card, and go home with arms overflowing with books, DVDs, and CDs," Long said.

"Families are filling the library meeting rooms for the free entertainment programs. And ... our unemployed are coming to the library in droves for job search assistance, including free high speed Internet access."

Weary conceded he doesn't do much with computers at the library, but he does enjoy the genealogy room, where he has researched his family back to the Civil War.

"I've always been interested in education," Weary said, "and I consider the library to be one of its most important institutions."