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2013 Year in Review: Chicago Public Library, Part V

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago Public Library Commissioner Brian Bannon, and Library Board President Linda Johnson Rice announced on March 11, 2013 a major expansion of the Chicago Public Library’s One Book, One Chicago program and the choice of Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration as the next selection in the CPL’s nationally recognized, award-winning, citywide book club.

“Isabel Wilkerson’s book brings to life the stories of African Americans who left their homes in the South in search of a better life. These are the stories of people who helped create the Chicago we know today—and of people continuing to come to our city each day in hopes of finding their dream,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Each of us has a story to tell about our family’s path to Chicago and how we all helped to make Chicago the most American of American cities.”

Thenceforth, the CPL would host a year-long discussion of one book and its ideas, an expansion from the month-long programs offered twice a year since the series started twelve years previously. Beginning in April of 2013, and continuing into spring 2014, the CPL and its many community partners would host a series of events each month, all exploring the theme of migration and how it has shaped—and continues to shape—Chicago.

“The themes contained in this book inspired us to expand the One Book, One Chicago program to 12 full months of programs and conversations,” Commissioner Bannon added. “The ideas and discussions they spark are simply too big to be contained in a single month. We look forward to engaging with all Chicagoans to hear their story, to hear how they helped to create the tapestry of our city.”

Mayor Emanuel, Commissioner Bannon and 26th Ward Alderman Roberto Maldonado toured the newly expanded Humboldt Park Branch of the Chicago Public Library on March 6, 2013. The Humboldt Park Branch Library re-opened to the public on February 9, 2013 welcoming patrons with the addition of 5,000 square feet of library space, all of which is dedicated to youth materials and programs.

“This addition to the Humboldt Park Branch represents an investment in the future of this community—its children. The addition of more computers, more materials and a YOUmedia space provides children with positive activities and resources to be successful in school,” said Mayor Emanuel.

The $4,500,000 expansion project, managed by the Chicago Public Building Commission (P.B.C.), provides a larger reading room along with thirty-five new children’s computers and the first dedicated YOUmedia space in a CPL branch.

“For over a year, we have watched the building of this new addition with great anticipation. Every month, my office received phone, email or Facebook inquiries anxious for news on the library’s reopening,” said Alderman Maldonado. “Clearly, this is more than just a 5,000 square foot brick and mortar addition—it is expanding the minds, the spirits and the futures of the people of the 26th ward. Libraries will remain as much a part of our daily lives as the families who come here.”

The new YOUmedia space for 6th, 7th and 8th graders provides a variety of projects each day after school, all focused on digital and STEM based skills, and was made possible by support from Motorola Solutions Foundation and Boeing, through the Chicago Public Library Foundation. As part of a new CPL partnership, Northwestern University’s Office of STEM Education chose the branch as the first Chicago location for their FUSE program, which engages students in science and technology through a series of fun, hands-on projects in mobile device apps, robotics, ringtones, and other areas of natural appeal to teenagers and pre-teens.

The drop-in program includes access to 3D design and printing, and offers kids the opportunity to test, design, build and level up in various STEM themed challenges. Funded by the John T. & Catherine D. MacArthur Foundation, this program is being piloted at Humboldt Park Branch and will expand to other CPL locations later this year.

“The Humboldt Park Branch library has always served as a valuable resource in this thriving community. Whether helping adults learn to navigate the Internet through our CyberNavigator program, helping kids with homework after school with the Teacher in the Library, or offering fishing poles for budding anglers to fish in Humboldt Park Lagoon, the library is an integral part of the lives of the residents and, importantly, a safe and engaging learning space for kids,” said Library Commissioner Brian Bannon. “The new space for the neighborhood’s youth has already proved to be a huge draw, inviting kids to learn the latest digital and science skills in a fun environment.”

The branch, built in 1996, is now 18,000 square feet. It has environmentally sustainable features such as a permeable paver parking lot with nine new parking spaces, a rain harvesting system to conserve water for landscape irrigation, and a new building management system to increase energy efficiencies across the entire building.

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