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Love at the library

Caption
(Sarah Nader - snader@shawmedia.com)
Jennifer Wines Hill (left) of Gilberts and and her husband, Mike Hill pose for a portrait at the Algonquin Public Library on Wednesday, February 6, 2013. Mike and Jennifer met while working at the library in 1988. They married in 1995 and now have three girls. Jennifer tells the story of how she and mike would hide an innocent children's book about a lizard in various places of the library for each to find while they were dating.

he Algonquin Area Public Library District is a place to find books, DVDs and, apparently, love.

At least six couples, and likely more, have met at the library and gone on to marry with many inviting library staff to their weddings. One couple’s wedding day even included a stop at the library for pictures.

Perhaps Cupid’s roaming the aisles. Whatever the reason, love seems to blossom in the library. And that’s without the library hosting singles mixers or speed dating sessions.

“That might be something we should look into,” said Virginia Freye, community outreach librarian. “Some libraries have actually done that.”

Freye enjoys all the love stories and believes the library’s friendly atmosphere has something to do with the connections. That, and, of course, a shared interest in books.

Couples have included both co-workers as well as patrons and employees who’ve met at the library.

“You get to know people,” Freye said. “You see these people daily, weekly, monthly. You talk to them, find out about them, and the next thing you know, there’s a connection. I think that’s one of our strengths at this library, the customer service.

“They try to get to know people, and you see them and feel a part of their lives.”

Among the couples are Mike Hill and Jennifer Wines Hill, who both worked at the library as pages, or shelvers, beginning in 1987.

The two soon became high school sweethearts, married in 1995 and now have three girls, ages 11, 14 and 16 years old.

They’d flirt by hiding a book in each other’s departments. Mike worked in the children’s department, while Jennifer worked in the adult department. They’d take a book and put it in an obviously wrong location for the other to find.

“He used to find any excuse to sneak up to my department,” remembered Jennifer, whose mother also worked alongside Mike in the library at the time. Her grandmother has worked at the library, as well. “Any time my mom would talk about me, he would be all ears.”

They’d quickly finish up their carts of books so they could help one another out.

The two went to different colleges, schools about 800 miles away from one another, but they continued to date through college. Jennifer now works as a nurse at Sherman Health in Elgin, while Mike is a store manager at Walgreens in Huntley.

“The library was really just a great place to work,” Jennifer said.

When they married, library staff came to the wedding and later to Jennifer’s baby shower. In fact, the shower had sort of a library theme with guests asked to bring books. The couple, now living in Gilberts, still visits when they can.

“It definitely was pretty important in our lives,” Mike said.

The key to their 18-year marriage, he said, is nothing complicated.

“I guess with both of our families, this is the way we do things,” he said. “You have to make it work.”

Another couple, Matt and Michelle Enerson, share a similar story, having met as pages about five years ago. Married Sept. 29 of last year, they had both their engagement and wedding day pictures taken at the place where they fell in love.

Michelle was 17, Matt 16 when they started working at the library. Both originally from Algonquin, the couple, now ages 26 and 25, lives in Villa Park.

They were friends for quite awhile before they started dating.

“We both developed crushes on each other. We didn’t tell anyone for awhile, ... but some people figured it out. We kept it pretty hidden,” Michelle said.

“It kind of went from friendship to more to history,” Matt said.

Michelle’s not surprised to hear of other couples meeting and falling in love at the library.

“I think it’s pretty funny. I think it makes sense because you have that similar interest of books and reading to some extent. It gives you kind of a good base. Someone that loves to read, you kind of already know what kind of person they are.”

As with the other couples, the Enersons still stay in touch with library staff.

At the suggestion of Library Director Lynn Elam, a book plate commemorating their marriage was placed in a 200th anniversary edition of “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen at the library.

“Every once in awhile, we’ll visit and pop in and see who’s there and see what’s going on in the ol’ library,” Matt said.

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