By Bethanie Hestermann; all photos courtesy of the Naperville Public Library
In 2022, Library Journal ranked the Naperville Public Library best in the U.S. in the $10-$29.9 million expenditure range category. One of the reasons Naperville’s libraries are among the best in the nation (across all categories) is thanks to the equitable, inclusive approach to building and curating a robust and diverse collection of resources that evolves alongside the needs of the community.
Along with physical, digital, and event-based resources for entrepreneurs and investors, job seekers, parents and caregivers, and teachers and homeschoolers, the Naperville Public Library also offers resources for traditionally underserved groups of people, including English language learners, individuals with visual impairment and reading disabilities, and adults with dementia.
Karen Toonen, the library’s collection services manager, says it’s a library’s job to connect people within communities with services and resources, especially since libraries are funded by taxpayer money. “By making sure that our customers can find themselves within our collection and offerings, we are reaffirming that they are welcomed members of our community,” she says. “The library wants people to see themselves reflected in the materials they use, see into other world views, and even step into stories far outside their personal experiences. We are the sum of our parts, and together our diverse community makes Naperville a better place.”
Resources for Multilinguals and English Language Learners
For Napervillians who speak a language other than English at home, the library offers 10 official World Language collections in Arabic, Chinese, French, Hindi, Marathi, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Tamil, and Urdu. For each language, the library has collections in the adult and children’s departments that span print, eBook, and audiobook holdings.
The library also has a variety of materials for English language learners, including books, videos, audiobooks, and kits that can be checked out at all three of the library’s buildings. A host of multilingual online resources include databases called Mango Languages, a language- learning resource with reading, listening, and exercises for 70+ languages and LOTE4Kids, an electronic resource with thousands of audio-picture books in 50+ languages, together with English translations. For those who want in-person practice conversing in English, English Conversation Groups facilitated by Literacy DuPage take place weekly at all three locations.
English Conversation Groups at the Library
95th Street: Mondays, 7:00–8:30 PM, Lookout Room (2nd floor)
Naper Blvd: Wednesdays, 10:00–11:30 AM, Conference Room (basement)
Nichols: Thursdays, 6:30–8:00 PM, NaperLaunch (upper level)
Visit the library’s Language Resources web page for a complete list of available resources: www.naperville-lib.org/251/Language-Resources.
Resources for Individuals with Visual Impairment and Reading Disabilities
In 2021, the Naperville Public Library received a patron request to expand its Braille collection, and it did, thanks to its own efforts and donations from the DuPage Children’s Museum. The Braille collection now contains about 140 books, plus some board games designed for Braille readers.
The library’s Talking Book collection is another great resource for individuals who are visually impaired or who have other disabilities that prevent them from reading print books. Talking Books include a print book with a read-to-play audio device bound to the cover. The collection includes more than 3,000 titles, including picture books, beginning readers, and children’s chapter books, as well as books in Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, and Spanish. The ability to read along with Talking Books benefits many of the library’s patrons, including early readers and individuals challenged by dyslexia.
Resources for Adults with Dementia and their Families
The library’s collection includes many books pertaining to dementia, including memoirs, informational books for caregivers, books about how to communicate with someone with dementia, and books for teens and children who have a loved one affected by dementia. The Naperville Public Library also partners with Dementia Friendly Naperville to provide a space for people with dementia to interact with each other and enjoy seasonal activities and crafts. These events, called Memory Café, also give caregivers a chance to meet with other people in the community who face similar challenges.
Memory Café Events at the Library
The Memory Café meets every second Tuesday of the month at the 95th Street location.
February 14, 2023, 2:00–3:30 PM
March 14, 2023, 2:00–3:30 PM
The Naperville Public Library’s impressive collection already serves so many Naperville residents, but the library’s staff view the library’s collections and resources as works in progress. Toonen says: “As the demographics of Naperville continue to change, the library will continue to adapt and change with the community.”
To learn more about the library’s resources, visit www.naperville-lib.org.