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2013 Year in Review: Chicago Public Library, Part II

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In late October, Chicago Library Commissioner Brian Bannon told ABC-7 (WLS) and Chicago Sun-Times City Hall Reporter Fran Spielman the Harold Washington Library Center (H.W.L.C.) and the Conrad Sulzer Regional Library, both designed by Thomas Beeby, would undergo $11,000,000 in renovations, funded through TIF (tax-increment financing), as called for in Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s 2014 budget. The Chicago Public Library’s twenty-six-year-old central library will undergo $6,000,000 in renovations and the thirty-year-old Conrad Sulzer Regional Library will undergo $5,000,000 in renovations.

The HWLC’s leaky roof will be repaired or replaced. New power generators will be installed, as will lighting, and a new HVAC (heating, venting, and air-conditioning) system to ensure the HWLC lasts for 100 years (as Beeby’s design was intended to accomplish). It serves approximately 5,000 people a day.

Ms. Spielman noted there have been multiple renovations of public service areas of the HWLC since 2003 (“$6 million tune-up planned for Harold Washington Library”). The Conrad Sulzer Regional Library (formerly the second iteration of the Frederick H. Hild Regional Library), located at 4455 North Lincoln Avenue in Lincoln Square on the Far North Side, will also receive a new roof and HVAC system, as well as new façade, windows, and skylights.

On October 3, 2013, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced his 2014 budget would include a new $500,000 investment that would allow the CPL to increase the number of teens that receive training in web design, digital media production and programming from the nationally recognized YOUmedia program by 25%. “Budgets are statements of values and priorities, and as we have done during the past two years, we will make major reforms while making major investments, especially in the lives of children,” said Mayor Emanuel. “YOUmedia builds on teens’ interest in technology and motivates them to create, innovate and become active learners. By increasing access to digital media and safe, inviting spaces, we are empowering Chicago’s teens to engage technology in new ways.”

Last year, The John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation awarded the Chicago Public Library Foundation two grants for YOUmedia. First, there was a $400,000 grant.

The MacArthur Foundation stated, "The Chicago Public Library's main library is the home of YOUmedia, an innovative space where teens access library resources, technology, and in-person and online mentors. Created in 2009 with Foundation resources based on findings from Foundation-funded ethnographic research, YOUmedia has attracted widespread attention from libraries, museums, and out-of-school providers around the country and abroad, many of whom are eager to replicate the space and its programs. This grant provides continuing support for existing YOUmedia services at the main branch and three branch libraries in Chicago as they plan for long-term sustainability."

Second, there was a $2,000,000 grant. The MacArthur Foundation stated, "The Chicago Public Library's main library is the home of YOUmedia, an innovative space where teens have access to library resources, technology, and in-person and online mentors. Created in 2009 with Foundation resources based on findings from Foundation-funded research, YOUmedia has attracted widespread interest from U.S. and international libraries, museums, and out-of-school providers, many of which are eager to replicate the space and its programs. This grant will be used to implement YOUmedia in most of the Chicago Public Library's 77 branch libraries and expand existing YOUmedia programs to include explicit connections to career and academic opportunities."

On October 3, 2013, Mayor Emanuel was also able to announce with Chicago Public Library Commissioner Brian Bannon that Teacher in the Library was now offered at all eighty CPL Library facilities and with the addition of online tutoring help through Brainfuse makes the CPL’s homework assistance program the largest and most comprehensive in the nation. “Opportunities to learn shouldn’t stop when the school bell rings, and Teacher in the Library offers students an added resource to receive help with their studies, at libraries across the city,” said Mayor Emanuel. “The addition of online tutoring allows us to offer students the most comprehensive library homework assistance in the country and demonstrates the city’s continuing commitment and investment in our children.”

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