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Managing Excellence in Children's Services: Analysis of an Interview With Heather McCammond-Watts

Managing Excellence in Children's Services: Analysis of an Interview With Heather McCammond-Watts

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Published by: ericasresearch on Jul 17, 2011
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Managing Excellence in Children's Services at Oak Park Public Library:Analysis of an Interview With Heather McCammond-WattsErica GambleManagement of Libraries & Information CentersSummer IJune 23, 2011
Gamble 1
"I am telling young people that if you're dissatisfied with the way things are...get outthere and occupy these positions in government and make the decisions."Barbara Jordan
(Oak Park Public Library, Children's Room, west wall and stairwell)
Oak Park was founded on the edge of Chicago in the early 19
century. Many of the firstOak Park residents lived and worked in Chicago, but wanted to move their families away fromrowdy saloons, rugged swamp lands, and rampant government corruption. Since then, the Villageof Oak Park has endured a legacy as “a special community where new standards were set for other communities to follow.”
Historically, Oak Park is an inclusive community; particularly inthe 1960s when residents from Chicago's segregated black neighborhoods began to migrate tothe village. Rather than isolate the black population from the white, initiatives from bothgovernment and private collectives inspired blacks to move to all areas of the village.Established residents were encouraged to be friendly and diversity integration was a success!
 Nearly a century after its founding, the Village of Oak Park persists as a symbol of acceptance,diversity, and democracy in mid-west America.
Oak Park Public Library
"Isn't it strangeThat however I change,I still keep on being me?"Eve Merriam, "Me, Myself and I" from
 Rainbow Writing 
(OPPL, Children's Room, west wall)
The Oak Park Public Library (OPPL) was built in 1888 as a gift to the village from JamesWilmarth Scoville.
A few years after the library was built, Oak Park residents decided to use taxdollars to fund the library, then known as the Scoville Institute. Decades later, some Oak Park residents realized that the space in the library was too crowded and potentially unsafe. It took many years and great effort from concerned citizens to pass the referendum to rebuild the library;the plan was finally embraced by the community in 1961. The 1.5 story library building was
Gamble 2reopened in 1964 providing Oak Park library patrons with a much larger and safer place to study,read for pleasure, and meet with friends and neighbors.Of course OPPL librarians continued to provide excellent service, especially in their responsiveness to the evolving information needs of patrons. In addition to incorporating audio-visual materials, resources for the visually impaired, and computers into the library, a children'sdepartment was added! Again, OPPL facilities became too crowded; library staff had to movetheir offices from the second floor to the basement. In 1999, another referendum needed to beapproved by a majority of the Village's 52,000 taxpayers
to expand the main library buildingonce more. By this time in Oak Park's history, residents were fully aware of the positivecommunity impact of the library. OPPL anticipated citizens' concerns and articulated the many benefits of expanding the footprint of the main library building as well as accelerating theconstruction of the Maze branch on the library website.
In March 2000, local news sourcesendorsed the expansion of the library. Later in March, the referendum was passed.
On October 1, 2003, the Main branch of OPPL was reopened to the public.
OPPL's commitment to excellent public service was reenergized alongside its modern, refurbished facilities. With three library branches (Main, Maze, and Dole) in the four-and-a-half square mile radius of Oak Park, residentsare always within walking distance of one of these distinguished libraries.
The Oak Park Public Library Children's Department
"In the fall of 1905, Ernest and I entered the first grade at the old Lowell School onLake Street... Our rented house stood right next to the public library, called the ScovilleInstitute, and by Christmas-time, we were both able to read books in the children's roomof the library. When school was over, we would sit at the low tables in our small chairsdevouring the simple stories available to us until the librarian sent us home atsuppertime."Marcelline Hemingway Sandford, from
 At the Hemingways
(Children's Room, west wall and stairwell)
Walk through the doors of OPPL's Main branch, pass the stairwell, and make a right. At

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