Wednesday, April 8, 2015 - 2:15pm

Anyone driving past the Northbrook Public Library on the evening of Thursday, April 2 was immediately struck by its vibrant blue hue. What was the reason for this color change? April 2 was World Autism Awareness Day, and the Library was one of many iconic landmarks and monuments worldwide that joined the Light It Up Blue celebration.

After the Library showed its support for the cause last year, librarian Jennifer Townsley suggested the Library go a step further in 2015.

“I had seen the [Autism Speaks] website and the previous Light It Up Blue celebrations, and I thought how beautiful the buildings were,” Townsley said. “I just knew our building would look spectacular if lit up.”

While the remarkable display was perhaps the most captivating, the Library’s show of support wasn’t limited to the building’s blue exterior. From illuminated service desks to book displays to staff apparel, the Library was covered in blue.

“Our efforts are easy to replicate,” said director Kate Hall. “Anyone could do this to show their support.”

The Library received a positive response from patrons following their Light It Up Blue celebration of World Autism Awareness Day on April 2, both in person and on social media.

“Patrons feel it’s nice that we’re putting out the welcome mat,” said Youth Services manager Andrea Johnson.

But the Library’s awareness efforts haven’t ended after the Light It Up Blue celebration. On April 2, the Village of Northbrook officially proclaimed the month of April to be Autism Awareness Month in an effort to increase awareness of the disability and the programs available to support those it affects. One such resource is the Autism Collection at the Library.

The Autism Collection was initially funded and populated by a state grant, but when the grant was defunded, the Library took the collection into its own hands. Since then, the Library has continued to fund and develop the collection to become a more practical resource for parents and educators.

“We’re trying to open the doors and put ourselves on the map as a mode of support,” said Johnson. The Library is currently working to expand the collection to include more autism resources, as well as resources that encapsulate other special needs. “I think [autism] is a growing epidemic, and I think people need to start recognizing not just autism, but all disabilities” said Townsley. “We need to work together for a solution.”