Library service in Crystal Lake dates back to 1913, when a local resident offered up her recently vacated house as a place for the public to read magazines and books at no charge. While crediting the idea for this reading room to the Congregational Church's young men's club, the space was not restricted to people of a particular age or gender. Rather, the founder explicitly welcomed "children as well as grown folks," and provided materials for all.

Today, the Crystal Lake Public Library serves the 40,300 residents of the city in a 40,000-square foot building located a couple of blocks from the bustling downtown district. During FY 2019 (the last full pre-pandemic fiscal year), CLPL operated with a staff of 56 FTE and circulated nearly 829,000 items. The physical collection includes approximately 161,000 print materials, 22,600 audio items, 31,200 videos, and 252 serial subscriptions. The electronic collection consists of around 56,500 e-books, 24,300 downloadable audio items, 661 downloadable DVDs, and 45 databases. Additional materials are available through CCS, a resource-sharing consortium of area libraries in the north and northwest suburbs of Chicago.

More than 42,600 people attended the 1,361 programs and events in 2019, many of which have been creatively adapted to fit in with current pandemic protocols. For people who can't attend a program in real time, the library's YouTube channel contains numerous videos featuring book discussions, story times, crafting projects, and cooking tips. CLPL also offers passport, notary, and other services and provides the public with meeting and study spaces of various sizes and configurations.

Crystal Lake Public Library operates with annual revenues of about $4.8 million. Through their fundraising and volunteer efforts, the Friends group helps support the library's ability to purchase materials and resources and provide engaging programs. The Crystal Lake Library Foundation provides additional funding for large capital projects and building enhancements.

The Library Executive Director reports to a nine-member Board of Trustees appointed by the Mayor of Crystal Lake.

CLPL is a member of Reaching Across Illinois Library System (RAILS), one of two multi-type regional library systems in Illinois. RAILS serves approximately 1,300 public, private, academic, and special libraries throughout northern and western Illinois.

Photos courtesy of Crystal Lake Public Library