Library Visit: Arlington Heights Memorial Library

Arlington Heights Memorial Library
500 N. Dunton Avenue
Arlington Heights, IL 60004-5910
Date visited: May 10, 2013

Photo from the library’s Twitter account. All other photos by me.

The Arlington Heights library traces its roots back to 1887. It became known as the Memorial Library in 1952 when it was “dedicated to the memory of the service men and women of the community.” What better library to feature today on Memorial Day.

The original structure of the current library opened in June 1968 and the library has undergone three major renovations over the years, the last of which was recently completed. It is now 130,000 square feet. You’ll notice a lack of signs and/or art on the walls in the pictures below and that’s because they’ll be finishing up with those details in the coming months.

The Arlington Heights Memorial Library is one of the busiest public libraries in the country. Its circulation for 2012 was 2,670,136 items. 

The collection contains over 360,000 items:

  • Over 1,000 newspapers and magazines
  • Over 44,000 movies
  • Over 32,000 CDs
  • Over 3,000 eBooks

The Market Place (see below) is a newer feature to the library. It contains 10% of the library’s holdings but contributes 25% of the circulation. Since they’ve had this feature nonfiction as a category has increased in circulation by 5%.

Click here to read more about the library and its history.

A view of the late 1960s architecture. Note the underground parking. Can you see the taillights under the building? They are near where the drive-up window is.


The drive-up window. Opens earlier than the library so commuters can pick up items on their way to work.


The information desk. Its open design allows librarians and patrons to work side-by-side rather than in the traditional ‘librarian behind the desk set-up.’
The circulation desk.
Computer area. To the left where the yellow star balloons are is the computer classroom. To the right, behind the counter where the person with the red shirt is standing is a large area of computers for public use.


Here’s the computer classroom. It has a glass wall so patrons will be more aware that computers classes are offered to take advantage of them.
Public computers.


Between the computer classroom and public computer area is a hallway that leads to The Studio which is a suite of rooms where patrons can create their own multimedia projects. There are multiple rooms for a variety of projects. Below are pictures of the largest room, dedicated to musical projects.


The room itself is soundproof to a certain level, but then they have this soundproof recording booth.


A view inside the booth.


Drums, keyboard, and computer to put it all together.
Down the center of the library is this strip of ceiling window. From where this picture was taken, to the left is the computer area, to the right is circulation. Straight ahead to the left is the fiction collection, then all the way back to the left is periodicals. Straight ahead is the business center and next door is the genealogy department. To the right is reference and the nonfiction stacks.
Love these comfy chairs with moveable desktop.


Whoever added the handle to the design was a practical person. Makes them much easier to move around, for patrons and staff.
Comfortable seating in front of the computer area.
The periodicals section. These faced out titles are those with higher circulation.


These periodicals in more traditional shelves are still popular but don’t circulate as much as those in the faced-out section above.


Reading area with fireplace in the periodicals section. I thought only historic libraries had fireplaces. Perhaps they’ll make a comeback as libraries recreate themselves as social gathering places.
The business center. Contains resources for small businesses and there is a dedicated business librarian on hand.


The globe! Every library seems to have (at least) one and this is the first large size globe that also lights up that I’ve seen. I asked Andrea to pose next to it to provide a sense of scale.
The genealogy department. They’ve had visitors from all over the country and many different countries come to use their resources.


A view of the nonfiction stacks from near the circulation desk.
Due to the rise of electronic databases, this is what’s left of the reference section.
The Market Place. One of the new trends in public libraries is to have popular and new items displayed for easy browsing so patrons can easily access what’s new and hot. It’s great for patrons, but can be a challenge for librarians to decide how best to catalog items in their system that will probably temporarily live in this location. There are books, magazines, DVDs, CDs, and games featured in The Market Place. Some libraries are signing up for a direct subscription service for such a section while other libraries continue to hand-select their holdings.


One of the categories in The Market Place is for subjects that are currently trending in the news or timely seasonal topics.
Cafe area.


Seattle’s Best Coffee vending machine. Love SBC coffee! Wish all libraries (or at least the ones I regularly frequent) had one of these machines.
Rotating art display area.
The Hub is a place for teens. Middle schoolers tend to use it right after school and high schoolers tend to be there later in the evening. It’s only open after school lets out.


Computers, desks, soft seating. Only Macs are used here as its what kids use in the local school system.


The new “make out” area. Parents needn’t worry as the librarian’s desk faces this corner.


Workspace for creative projects.


Art on the walls.


These tables are scattered throughout the Hub and have paper pads on top. Teens are encouraged to draw on them, then they can take it home, hang it on the wall, or leave it for the next teen to add to the drawing.
Around the corner and down the hall is the children’s section. Circles are a theme here.


Age appropriate manga, graphic novels, and comics section.


Fish tank.


A display case that is eye level for kids.


Love that ruler.


Bright primary colors and an analog clock. I’ve heard from high schoolers that some of their classmates don’t know how to tell time with an analog clock because they grew up with only digital.


Fun reading and performance space.


Kid level circular windows were added to doors leading into the children’s’ event room.
Near the children’s section is a small lobby where The Friends of the Library have withdrawn library books available for patrons to “buy” for a small donation.


A wall of upcoming events.


Heading toward the second floor.
Upstairs is a suite of conference rooms for patrons to use for school or work projects or club meeting space.


Example of a room that would be perfect for a book group, knitting group, etc.


A room suitable for a small group project.
Here’s a post-renovation floor plan of the library.
Last but not least is the Cather on the shelf. Love the Willa Cather shelf talker!


  1. Wow! That is quite the library! I love that they have a drive up window, how cool is that?

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