Board of Directors Meeting Minutes, May 15, 2012


Tuesday, May 15, 2012, 8:30 a.m.

Harold Washington Library Center
Multi-Purpose Room, Lower Level
400 South State Street
  1. Approval of the minutes of the regular meeting on April 17, 2012 (action required)
  2. Commissioner’s report
  3. Report of the Committee on Administration and Finance
    • Schedule of Contracts and Requisitions (none)
    • Three-month pilot project allowing patron use of public computers even when they have fines (action required)
    • Chicago Public Library to begin installation of LibreOffice productivity software for patron use at all locations by summer’s end (info. only)
    • FY2013 System Area Per Capita Grant application (info. only)
  4. Report of the Committee on Facilities
    • Monthly Capital Improvement Projects report (info. only)
  5. Chicago Public Library Foundation, Rhona S. Frazin, CEO
  6. Other Business
    • Retirements: Donna Williams (33 years), Lia Londoño (22 years), Valerie Szalai (21 years), Ellen Jones (17 years), Jacqueline Resch (6 years)
  7. Questions and comments from the audience

Next Board Meeting

Tuesday, June 19, 2012, 8:30 a.m.

Harold Washington Library Center
400 S. State Street

The regular meeting of the Board of Directors of the Chicago Public Library was convened by Board President Linda Johnson Rice at 8:31 a.m. on Tuesday, May, 2012 in the Harold Washington Library Center’s Multi-Purpose Room.

Board Members in Attendance

  • Linda Johnson Rice, President
  • Cherryl T. Thomas, Vice President
  • Christopher P. Valenti, Secretary
  • Cristina Benitez
  • Josephine Gómez


  • Israel Idonije
  • Julia Zhu
  • Lynn Lockwood
  • Susan S. Hassan

Also in attendance were Commissioner Brian Bannon, Assistant Commissioner Greta Bever and other members of the Library staff.


  • The Chicago Public Library Foundation, Rhona S. Frazin, President & CEO

Members of the Public

  • Reverend Doyle Landry

Approval of the Minutes

A motion was made, seconded and passed to approve the minutes of the Library Board’s regular meeting on April 17, 2012.

Commissioner's Report

Commissioner Brian Bannon reported that Chicago Public Library librarians have begun conducting outreach to local schools and community organizations in preparation for this year’s Summer Reading Program, Rahm’s Reader’s You Are What You Read, the Library’s annual Summer Reading Program. The program kicks off June 11 and will run through August 4, 2012. Some librarians will work full-days on Mondays to get the information out to schools.

Commissioner Bannon also reported on the progress of adding word processing, spreadsheet and productivity software on computers systemwide. There are 83 computers within 6 library locations currently offering some level of word processing or spreadsheet software. It is anticipated that all 2,500 computers will offer this software by mid to late August 2012.

Former Senator and author of “We Can All Do Better”, Bill Bradley was the featured author of this month’s author talks series. The event took place on Monday, May 14 at the Harold Washington Library Center with 300 attendees present.

Administration and Finance Committee Report

Director Cherryl Thomas gave the report for the Administration and Finance Committee. The Committee met on Tuesday, May 8 and approved the minutes of the Committee’s meeting on April 2012. There was no Schedule of Contracts and Requisitions for the month of May 2012.

Director Thomas stated that Greta Bever, Assistant Commissioner of Central Library Services, reported that the Library will be conducting a pilot project allowing patron use of computers even if they have fines or fees. Currently patrons that owe even .20 cents are not allowed use of a public computer. This presents an obstacle for children and job seekers that do not have use of a computer at home. This project will be initiated this summer and Ms. Bever will report on the program’s progress. A motion was made, seconded and passed on the following roll call vote to approve the use of public computers by patrons even if they have fines or fees:

  • Yeas: Rice, Thomas, Valenti, Gomez, Benitez
  • Nays: None

Director Thomas also stated that Ms. Bever reported on the Library’s pilot project offering free productivity software through LibreOffice. LibreOffice is a free software package that is currently being used by other large libraries across the country and has word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation capability. The LibreOffice software is currently being installed at the Greater Grand Crossing, Richard M. Daley and Rogers Park libraries. These branches are geographically dispersed and were selected because each has a Cybernavigator available to help patrons use the software. Six more branches will receive the software at the end of May. Ms. Bever will report on the progress of this project at the end of summer.

Director Thomas additionally reported that Joselyn Bell, Director of Finance, requested the Committee’s recommendation to the full Board that it approve submission of the FY2013 System Area Per Capita Grant application. The application requires signatures by the Library Board President and the Library Commissioner. The Committee recommends that the Board approve the application.

A motion was made, seconded and passed to approve submission of the System Area Per Capita Grant application as presented.

Director Thomas added that the grant seeks $2,108,924, which will be used to support Library personnel. The amount of the grant is consistent with what the Library requested in the past and is what the Illinois State Library suggested that the Chicago Public Library request. The Library has been told that there will be no increase in funding, and it is not known whether there will be any decreases.

Board Member Cristina Benitez asked if the $2,108,924 is the same amount the Library requested the previous year. Ms. Joselyn Bell, Finance Director, responded in the affirmative and repeated the uncertainty of a reduction.

Facilities Committee

Director Christopher Valenti gave the report of the May 9 meeting of the Facilities Committee (Attachment A). The Committee met at the Douglass branch, which is located at 3353 W. 13th Street. A motion was made and seconded to approve the minutes of the Facilities Committee’s April 11, 2012 meeting.

  • Projects in the Pre-construction phase:
  • Humboldt Park branch, 1605 N. Troy Street: Construction continues on the library’s 5000 square ft. addition to the existing branch. This project is scheduled to be complete October, 2012.
  • Edgewater branch, 1210 W. Elmdale Avenue: Construction continues on this two-story design that is currently in the beginning stages of construction. This project is scheduled for completion in Spring, 2013.
  • Projects in the planning phase:
  • Whitney M. Young, Jr. branch, 7901 S. King Dr.: This project is currently in the planning and decontamination phase. The Library will continue to provide updates. It may take 18 months or so before the decontamination phase is complete and construction on this site may begin.
  • Albany Park branch, 5150 N. Kimball Avenue: Discussions on the interior design of this branch have begun and the City is working on the acquisition of the adjacent property. Director Valenti reported that members of the Albany Park community were present at the meeting and expressed their concern regarding the June 9 closure notice that was posted prematurely at the branch. The Library and Board expressed their apologies to the Albany Park community and repeated that the notice was put up in error. He further informed the group that construction of a new building on an existing site will require that the current branch close to the public. It is impossible for the Library to keep the branch open during construction of the new state of the art building so a master schedule will be implemented and presented to the community along with the actual closing date of the branch. The Library is fortunate to have allocated funding from the Mayor, the Public Building Commission and the Illinois Library System to build the new Albany Park branch.

Director Valenti reported that a member of the audience inquired whether the Albany Park community will have an opportunity to provide their input on the library’s design and was assured that there would be an opportunity for input as the project moves forward with planning later.

Director Valenti reported that Greta Bever gave the report for US Equities, the building management company for the Harold Washington Library Center. Ms. Bever reported that floors from lower level to six have cutover to the new Building Automation System successfully and that the next phase of cutovers will be done during May. Ms. Bever reported to the Committee that the building’s elevators passed inspection in November of 2011 and that US Equities is waiting for the certificates of inspection for placement in the cars to be in full compliance.

Director Valenti reported that Ms. Theresa Mah, a member of the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community and its policy/advisory was present at the Facilities Committee meeting for updates to the Chinatown branch project. Director Valenti responded that the project has been on the radar for six years. Director Valenti explained to the audience that the size of the current is inadequate to serve the community and that it has been a challenge finding a location close to the retail center and bustling area to accommodate the community. Preliminary discussions are being conducted with a developer that owns a property across the highway regarding potential occupation of the second, third or forth floor of this building for the new Chinatown branch. The Committee told those present that the Library is still in the preliminary stages of finding a location.

Director Valenti reported that Douglass Branch Manager Gregorio Rodgriquez, gave the Committee a brief tour of the Douglass Branch.

Foundation Report

Rhona S. Frazin, President and CEO of the Chicago Public Library Foundation, gave the Foundation’s report (Attachment B).

Other Business

Commissioner Bannon reported that the following staff has elected to retire from the Chicago Public Library: Donna Williams (33 years), Lia Londõno (22 years), Valerie Szalai (21 years), Ellen Jones (17 years), Jacqueline Resch (6 years), Bernie Nowakowski (Attachment C, 31 years)

Commissioner Bannon noted Ms. Nowakowski’s extraordinary contributions to the Chicago Public Library System and the City of Chicago during her 31 years of exemplary public service.

Questions and Comments from the Audience

Reverend Doyle Landry addressed the Board. Reverend Landry presented a copy of an article to the Board written by Dawn Turner Trice, columnist of the Chicago Tribune newspaper on the suicide of a young man. He also inquired whether Ms. Trice will be participating in this year’s Carl Sandburg Literary Awards Dinner that will be held in October 2012. Reverend Laundry expressed gratitude for the Library’s Summer Reading Program that features a theme focused on health.

As there was no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 8:59 a.m.

Submitted by Christopher P. Valenti, Secretary

Attachment A: Report on CPL Capital Projects for May 2012

Prepared for the Facilities Committee

May 15, 2012
Chicago Public Library Board of Directors Meeting


Number of buildings at a construction stage: 2

  • Humboldt Park Branch Expansion
  • Edgewater Branch

Newly Completed Buildings

Little Village Branch Library: 2311 South Kedzie Avenue

The 16,295 sq. ft. library is a replacement of the Marshall Square storefront facility. The library’s AOR is Harley Ellis Deveraux.

The contractor is the George Sollitt Company with a joint venture partner, Oakley Construction. The project is funded through general obligation bonds.

Operating and maintenance manuals and “As Built” architectural drawings have yet to be given to the CPL.

Fifteen punch listed items remain to be attended to on the building’s exterior - mostly ground covering items that require an outside temperature of 50 plus degrees and a few items relate to masonry work.

The contractor is still compiling papers for an application to the U.S. Green Building Council. A LEED Gold Certificate is anticipated.

Projects in their Construction Phase

Humboldt Park Branch remodeling & expansion: 1605 North Troy Street

The expansion of the existing branch is financed through TIF funds. The AOR is the firm of Steven Rankin Associates, the AOR for the Toman Branch Library. The addition includes a YOUmedia space for middle and high school students.

The contractor: Tyler Lane Construction Ltd.

Construction cost: $ 2,283,650.00

The contractor took over the existing building on April 16 at which time the contractor and 2FM took interior pictures of the facility for future references, as might be needed.

  • Completed are the building’s floor slab supports
  • The building’s foundation has been backfilled and compacted
  • Underground piping has been included in this strata
  • The building’s steel framing is on site and will be in place before the end of May.
  • A current storm and sanitary line will be separated and routed into a new sanitary line directly into an adjacent manhole in the parking lot. If overflow conditions occur they will occur in the parking lot and not within the building.

There will be no green roof on this building. There will be no LEED certification for this project. The anticipated date for substantial completion is October 25, 2012.

Edgewater Branch Library: 6414-16 N. Broadway and 1210 W. Elmdale Ave.

Architect of Record: Lohan Anderson

General Contractor: Burling Builders Construction

Construction cost: $7,614,000

The new two storied branch library of 16,533 sq ft in area is replacing an 11,000 sq. ft. building constructed in 1973.

The firm of K & S Engineers, employed by the GC, has completed the installation of 34 caissons to support the library structure. Said caissons were sunk to a depth of 61 feet. These have been capped and the contractor will lay down a series of concrete beams over the caissons’ caps. The beams are 3 ft. deep and 2 ft. wide. The entire month of June will see the erection of the building’s steel frame.

Weekly meetings at a construction site are devoted to the discussion and resolution of construction problems: review of architectural drawings not understood by the contractor; discussion of materials that must be ordered well in advance; a three week look ahead provided by the contractor as to what is to happen on the site; review of payments claimed by the contractor; security problems; site maintenance problems; the employment of male and female minorities; delivery dates; and submission of paper work required by the Commissioning Agent. This is a time when everyone is given an opportunity to have his say: the contractor, the AOR, the PBC and the CPL.

Substantial completion of the branch building is anticipated by March 22, 2013.

It is anticipated that a LEED Gold certificate will be achieved.

Projects in their Planning Phase

Whitney Young Branch Library: 7901 South King Drive (no change)

The current 11,000 sq. ft. building, constructed in 1972, is to be replaced by a 16,295 sq. ft. prototype building. Three adjacent lots have been acquired for the new facility. The acquired land has been contaminated by a departed dry cleaning establishment.

Current site experiments are being conducted by the PBC through Mr. Rich Schleyer, project manager for the environmental remediation phase at the library site. Said work has been undertaken by the environmental consulting firm of Terracan Consultants, Inc. Through the injection of the chemical sodium permanganate the first 8 feet of sandy soil can be neutralized. The problem lies within the subsequent level of clay soil. The strategy adopted by the Terracan firm, and accepted by 2FM, is detailed at the the end of this report.

Daley Branch Library: 3400 South Halsted Street (no change)

The existing facility is to be replaced by a new prototype building of 16,295 sq. ft. There is no identified funding for this project – as reported by the PBC.

This project will not appear in subsequent reports until such time as funding becomes available.

Albany Park: 5150 North Kimball Avenue

Architect of Record: Jackson Harlan Architects

Funding: $15,000,000 of TIF financing

Contractor: Yet to be selected

The PBC is projecting the acquisition, title and possession of an added property at 3411-15 West Foster Avenue by July 31. Building tenants to be moved by that date.

On April 23rd the AOR attended a meeting at the PBC where the prime subject of discussion was the interfacing of the AOR and the several utility companies that will provide the building with their services, namely: gas, water, electricity, telephone and cable TV. The AOR and utility representatives will meet on site to review what items can remain in place, those that have to be relocated and those that have to be brought on site. Architectural drawings and specifications will be completed to reflect the decisions that come out of the site meeting. There will also be a meeting on the control of storm water and sanitary designs and specifications.

The new library will remain on its current site at Foster & Kimball Avenues with additional lots to the west.

A meeting was convened at the R.M. Daley Branch on April 24 under the heading of “Lessons Learned.” Present were branch managers, building engineers, the AOR for Albany Park Branch, Andrea Telli, Morton Coburn, and Kevin Hall from the PBC.

Discussed were ways to improve on the physical operation of the new branch, as well as ways to improve on services to its library patrons. A teen center and a YOUMedia center were included.

Dates to keep in mind:

  • The branch will close to the public on June 9, 2012
  • The library will vacate the building by July 31, 2012
  • Building demolition may begin on August 8, 2012
  • Demolition should be completed by October 3, 2012
  • An issue for bid package should be ready by July 1, 2013

Independence Branch Library: 3548 W. Irving Park Road (no change)

No funding is in place for construction. The CPL is evaluating funding options and land in consultation with Alderman Mell, the PBC and the community.

Chinatown Branch Library: 2353 S. Wentworth Avenue (no change)

The PBC is evaluating available funding and land in consultation with Alderman Solis, Representative Dunkin, the CDC, the PBC and the community. The Community Development Committee has sought acquisition authority for property on the Southwest corner of Archer and Wentworth as the location for a future building.

Woodson Regional Library Façade: 9525 S. Halsted Street (no change)

The content of the Rubinois & Mesia Report has been discussed by the Facilities Committee in past months. As a result of the latter and representations made by senior staff from 2FM (Fleet & Facilities Management, formerly DGS) the following is the status of the Woodson façade problem:

  • The building’s west façade has been stabilized by caulking where needed and the attachment of a metal net to retain any loose material.
  • A sidewalk canopy is now in place for the entire length of the building’s front façade.
  • A permanent repair must be funded and accomplished within one year.
  • An Illinois State Construction Grant is a possible source of funding for the needed repairs.

Whitney Young Branch Library – The Terracon Strategy to Cope with the Contaminated Soil

  • Terracon has identified three sites that are heavily contaminated at the clay level of soil.
  • The top soil will be excavated to a few feet above the clay level.
  • Sodium Permanganate will be injected and mixed with the clay to a depth of 4 feet.
  • A sample of the soil will be taken out twenty days later and sent to a private laboratory for analysis.
  • If the analysis proves to be positive, the contaminated area will be thoroughly treated with the sodium permanganate. The site will be neutralized over a period of 18 to 24 months.
  • If the clay sample proves to be negative (not neutralized by the chemical injection) the plan is to leave the clay in its present condition.
  • To prevent human inhalation of the contaminant, the strategy is to follow a state standard and isolate the contaminated clay with a clean blanket of clay over the entire area.
  • The noted blanket may be up to five feet below the site grade. Stone and gravel will fill the space up to grade level.

Report prepared on April 27, 2012 by Morton Coburn, Director, Library Bldg. Programs

Attachment B: Chicago Public Library Foundation Report

May 15, 2012
Chicago Public Library Board of Directors Meeting

The Chicago Public Library Foundation is pleased to share with the Library Board this report on new funds received for Library initiatives since your April 17 meeting.

Under the Leadership of Sandburg Dinner Co-Chairs Trisha Rooney Alden, CEO of R4 Services and Michael Sacks, Chairman and CEO of Grovesnor Capital Management, we have already secured nearly $500,000 in early support for this year’s dinner which will honor Don DeLillo with the Sandburg Award for Fiction and Walter Isaacson with the Sandburg Award for Non-Fiction. Once again we will be featuring an acclaimed Chicago author at every table, with commitments from 15 new authors already this year including Eric Klinenberg, author of the best-selling non-fiction book Going Solo, cartoonist Nicole Hollander, Karen Abbott, author of the recent award-winning book about the Everleigh sisters,Sex in the Second City, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Mary Schmich, fiction writer Luis Alberto Urrea and Chicago Tribune’s Rick Kogan.

We are also pleased to announce additional support for the Summer Reading Program of $60,000 from Kraft. A significant number of requests are still pending and our individual support spring campaign, where we ask all Chicagoans to support a summer reader at $10 a child is now in full swing—we hope that you will all participate. Our reader-in-chief is your very own colleague Israel Idonije, who is chairing the Summer Reading Campaign, and will be featured in a public service announcement extolling the benefits of Summer Reading to be filmed at WTTW studios on May 31. Watch for it on PBS starting in June.

The Brinson Foundation has recently approved a $20,000 grant for Story Troupe Leaders, professionally trained storytellers who will conduct early literacy programming in branch libraries during this transitional year. A long-time foundation donor Sarita Warshawsky has generously committed to $10,000 for Story Troupe Leaders, and a number of $500 gifts have come in from members of the Sandburg Society, who are supporting this special initiative.

Commissioner Bannon has joined me for a number of meetings with key donors and opinion leaders, and I am pleased to report that they have all been greatly impressed by his dynamic vision. To this end, we are also very grateful to Leo Burnett, which is contributing important pro bono consultation on articulation of the Library Brand. They have also secured the services of award-winning photographer Jim Krantz, who is contributing his time to provide images for the 2011 Library and Foundation joint annual report, which will be out in July.

I also hope that all of you are saving the date of June 20 for the Library and Foundation’s joint Annual Donor and Partner Recognition Luncheon at 11:30 in the Winter Garden. Our guest speaker this year is award winning mystery and young adult author Blue Balliet, a past winner of our 21st Century award, whose spring 2013 book is set in the Harold Washington Library. Invitations will be out in the mail later this week.

Attachment C: Resolution on Retirement

Bernadette Nowakowski

Board of Directors 039-2012

May 15, 2012
Chicago Public Library Board of Directors Meeting

Whereas, Ms. Bernadette Nowakowski began her illustrious career with the Chicago Public Library as a Children’s Librarian of the Clearing Branch on September 1, 1988; and

Whereas, due to her skills as a seasoned elementary school teacher; her knowledge of child development, and creativity, Ms. Nowakowski greatly enriched story-times that kept children reading throughout the year; and

Whereas, Ms. Nowakowski’s highly regarded and respected skills established her as a leader amongst staff and supervisors alike; and

Whereas, Ms. Nowakowski was a member of the Children’s Services Advisory Committee and facilitated district-wide working meetings; and

Whereas, Ms. Nowakowski was promoted to the position of Librarian II at Scottsdale Branch in 1988; and

Whereas, Ms. Nowakowski advanced to the position of Librarian III, Children’s Librarian/First Assistant in 1993; and

Whereas, Ms. Nowakowski, was often tapped by the library administration to lead staff trainings, or to provide advice and feedback on new, system wide programs that gained her reputation as a greatly respected leader in the library profession; and

Whereas, Ms. Nowakowski was named Assistant Director of Children’s Services in 1994 and became responsible for systemwide children’s programs and children’s librarian staff; and

Whereas, Ms. Nowakowski developed and instituted training standards for all new children’s librarians to ensure a consistent and high-level of service to children throughout the entire Chicago Public Library System; and

Whereas, as Assistant Director, Ms. Nowakowski was instrumental in the development of very successful programs such as “Octo-Boo”; the vitally-important Nature Connections program that linked nature and the natural sciences to library service for children; and the much-loved, and now nationally known, “Bookamania” program; and

Whereas, Ms. Nowakowski retooled the library’s annual Summer Reading Program that saw positive changes in service standards that resulted in a 400% increase in participation; and

Whereas, Ms. Nowakowski established important partnerships with many of the City of Chicago’s cultural institutions such as the Art Institute and Field Museum; and

Whereas, in 2001, Ms. Nowakowski was promoted to the position of Director of Children and Young Adult Services of the Chicago Public Library System.

Whereas, under her leadership, the offerings of the Children and Young Adult Services grew to include a Young Adult Specialist, an Early Childhood Specialist and a Youth Selections Librarian to cover the increase in initiatives and services being offered to children throughout the city; and

Whereas, under her guidance and leadership many of the Chicago Public Library’s successful signature programs were created , the “Kraft Great Kids” partnership with Kraft Foods and the Chicago Park District was developed; expanded the partnership of the Chicago Public Schools’ Department of Libraries with the Chicago Public Library; instituted numerous partnerships with community agencies; and developed the “Teacher in the Library” program which places accredited teachers in libraries across the city to provide homework help. The program has subsequently expanded to 57 libraries with an estimated 30,000 children each year assisted by a Teacher in the Library.

Whereas, in 2009, YOUMedia was opened in the Harold Washington Library with direct input and supervision from Bernadette. YOUmedia is a teen digital space that has gained world-wide attention for its important innovations in library service to teens. This space is fast becoming a national model and is held out as a program that is helping the library re-imagine new learning opportunities for youth. In May, 2010 Bernie spoke in Italy with webcasts reaching librarians across Europe about this new innovation.

As a member of the Senior Staff of the Chicago Public Library, Bernie has contributed to the success of numerous departments, including assistance in planning the two “Mayor’s Reading Round Tables,” enabling city leaders to come together and create strategies to enhance the reading success of our city’s children.

Bernadette is fond of saying that “the bottom line is always the kids”. Her dedication to the children of Chicago is clearly evident by the many achievements of her illustrious career.


Under the direction of Bernadette Nowakowski’s leadership, public library service to the children of Chicago has flourished. Bernie’s commitment and dedication ensured, and been integral in innumerable ways, manifested by significant achievements:

During the course of Bernie’s employment at CPL her work for children has been accomplished by close cooperation with practically every aspect of the City. Her work with sister city agencies include:

The Department of Aviation, with whom she presented the 2003 Summer Reading Program, “Book a Flight,” and annually provides the opportunity for young Library patrons to contribute ornaments to airport holiday decorations

Chicago Fire and Police Departments, with whom she not only communicates regarding the particular needs of children and teens in Library facilities, but also coordinated the wildly popular “Read with a Hero” program in which officers modeled reading and lead story times across the City

The Department of the Environment, with whom she presented the 2008 Summer Reading Program, “Live Green Read Green”

Family and Support Services, with whom she coordinates on extensive early childhood education and resources for child care providers, and develops such initiatives as “Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come!” and training for those serving children with autism and other special needs

The Department of Human Resources, with whom she works extensively in line with her responsibility for the hiring for all children’s librarians, associates and interns in every CPL location

Procurement Services, with whom she works to appropriately facilitate sole source agreements when necessary to ensure services ranging from author visits to the cleaning of book characters costumes

The Department of Public Health, with whom she has coordinated Reach Out and Read story times in public health clinics and the 2012 Rahm’s Readers Summer Reading Program, You Are What You Read

The Mayor’s Office of Special Events, with whom she has spearheaded the Library’s participation in Science Chicago; provided opportunities for “library kids” to be part of Octo-boo through facilitating parade participation, selecting and promoting fresh collections of seasonal book in each CPL location, and offering slightly scary story programs across the City; and ensures that the Library is well-represented at major Citywide events such as Taste of Chicago.

Another of her strongest collaborations has been with Chicago Park District. Under her direction, children’s librarians in each location in the system forge partnerships with each of their neighborhood parks, she has partnered with them to present the 2004 Summer Reading Program, “Readers @ Play,” and developed the groundbreaking Kraft Great Kids program. Through the Kraft Great Kids program an average of 16,000 children and families are engaged in library programs each school year. These programs are conducted by library staff in Chicago Park Districts to extend the library into the community. Additionally, in the summertime, the Summer Reading Program is extended to children in 36 Parks through this project. These are unstaffed play-lots and parks in areas with a high level of economic need.

One of Bernie’s most far reaching accomplishments is the implementation in 2007 of KidsCat, Chicago’s first-ever public access catalog specifically geared for children. By this she has ensure the provision of socially and developmentally appropriate access to the millions of materials in Chicago Public Library’s collections as well as featuring targeted educational and thematic book lists and resources. Likewise, the “For Teens” section of CPL’s web site provides materials and resources for an important audience which was previously unserved in such a manner.

Bernie superbly represents the City of Chicago by speaking locally, nationally and internationally about good works of the Chicago Public Library family. [Italy details]

Bernie has worked closely with Chicago Public Schools throughout her career. Her impact derives from a close and practical working partnership with the Department of Libraries and Information Services, which has resulted in many successful Library Card Campaigns (providing CPL library cards to tens of thousands of CPS students each year), relationships between all CPL children’s librarians and their neighborhood elementary and high schools, and the brilliantly successful Mayor Daley’s Book Club. Additionally, she has worked closely with After School Matters, Real Men Read, and the Chicago Out-of-School Time Project with the Wallace Foundation. Students’ participation in Science and History fairs has also directly benefited by her ensuring extensive and appropriate collections, training and other resources in CPL locations across the City, and she has personally forged strong and lasting connections with the Department of Social Studies and the Office of Reading and Language Arts, strengthening communication which improves the relevant response that all of CPL is able to provide to students across the City.

A large partnership that she has spearheaded with the Chicago Public Schools is in tandem with the Early Learning Initiatives, Chicago Reads Together. She has coordinated, supervised and provided outreach to, and training for, CPS Early Childhood Subcontracting educators, and spearheaded CPL participation with the Step Up to Kindergarten and Keep Kids Learning programs. Over 2,500 early childhood educators have been trained in using literature with young children through Bernie’s leadership. Additionally, she forged a partnership with Chicago Public Schools Community Partnership Program to extend the literacy projects and reading associated with the Summer Reading Program. In 2009 this directly led to 5,455 preschool aged children hearing over 207,347 books read aloud during the summer.

Her work to engage young children and their families is notable. Since 2000, she has worked to broaden access to families with young children. Based on trainings and the Mayor’s Reading Round Table, Ms. Nowakowski was instrumental in establishing the Library’s Early Learning Initiatives. Under this umbrella, over 900 teachers and children’s librarians are trained annually in the most current thinking about brain development and literacy ( over 65 hours per year). Pragmatic programming is then strategically implemented in our libraries under Bernie’s direction. In 2010, an additional 1000 Head Start teachers, teaching assistants and home day care providers will be trained in early literacy.

Another Chicago Public School partnership under Bernie’s direction is conducted during the summertime is with the Chicago Public Schools-Department of Libraries Keep Kids Learning program which extends summer reading into school libraries and to the children attending the programs. In 2009, 1,100 summer school attendees were directly affected through this program. 900 of these children earned their summer reading t-shirts, an award given to children who have met their reading goal.

Bernie has also nurtured connections with the Archdiocese of Chicago Schools and the Big Shoulders Fund has provided lasting connections to the benefit of reading and lifelong learns for untold numbers of young men and women. She has also been instrumental in the development and implementation of the new Learning Center at Mercy Home for Boys.

Bernie’s professional networking connects Chicago with the wider world of the library, education and literary communities, strengthening CPL’s sterling reputation and sharing the many benefits of its work with others in their own communities. This includes speaking to and working with:

  • Dominican University Graduate School of Library and Information Science
  • The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
  • Jumpstart
  • Library Administrators Conference of Northern Illinois
  • The Poetry Foundation
  • Public Broadcasting Service
  • The Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators
  • University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Urban Library Council
  • White House Office of Public Engagement
  • Zena Sutherland Lecture Committee

Among her most extensive work in this sphere has been with the Association for Library Service to Children, a Division of the American Library Association. With this organization, Bernie has served on the Laura Ingalls Wilder Committee, honoring James Marshall, who contributed original art for the opening of the Thomas Hughes Children’s Library at Harold Washington Library Center, for his distinguished lifetime contribution to American literature for children. She has also chaired the Annual Conference Local Arrangements Committee, welcoming thousands of her colleagues to Chicago, and represents CPL within a national group of urban public library children’s services directors.

Bernie has fostered the development of Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best list, an annual compilation of books that meets high standards of writing and illustration; have a significant curriculum link; reflect living in an urban, multicultural society; present a topic not previously available in a juvenile format; and that add zip to programs and special projects. After making these selections from more than 5000 submissions, the books are presented in workshops to children’s librarians, school librarians, teachers, and professors modeling potential uses in a wide range of settings. Under Bernie’s careful development this list has become nationally recognized with publishers making extensive use of this distinction in their marketing, and often printing on new editions and reprints that a title is “A Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Book!”

Under Bernie’s direction, the system wide project, Science Connections, has brought natural history and nature books, programs and stories to thousands of children across the city. Each year science themed programs are offered in branch libraries through this grant. In 2009, “Green Science Fair” workshops are offered to families through community libraries and over 3,000 children and their parents participated in these programs. Teacher librarians are trained during Best of the Best with new environmentally-themed books through Nature Connections. Each year the comment is made that Nature Connections inspires teachers and children’s librarians “to promote deeper ecological awareness to their children.”

Absolutely nothing gives her more pride and pleasure, however, than seeing the children who attended her story times decades ago bringing their own children into the library and sharing the joy of reading. This happens to her again and again and grown adults still joyfully recount their experiences with “Miss Bernie.”

External Partnerships

Bernie has a lifelong dedication to children and to public service. The fact that she has created many programs that have become national models is a tribute to her vision and commitment.

In 1995 the library first partnered with the Art Institute of Chicago to provide a themed Summer Reading Game. Vision Quest brought art objects to life in an interactive game board and program in all the city’s libraries. As a direct result of this partnership, the Art Institute became a long-term partner with years of outreach projects such as the “A.R.T: Art and Reading Together” programs which provides family art and story programs throughout the library and culminates in a family visit to the Art Institute. Additionally, under Bernie’s leadership, we have brought two more Summer Reading Programs to the children of Chicago with the Art Institute of Chicago. In 2001 and again this year, 2010, we are partnered with the Art Institute to engage children in book reading and reporting and an exploration of art from the permanent collections of the Art Institute.

The Summer Reading Game/Program has been instrumental in creating partnerships with many major cultural institutions in Chicago. Relationships she has been instrumental in creating include:

  • Field Museum
  • Museum of Science and Industry
  • Lincoln Park Zoo
  • Shedd Aquarium
  • Garfield Park Conservatory
  • Chicago History Museum
  • Art Institute of Chicago

As a direct result of her indefatigable work, thousands of children and families have visited these museums and intuitions. An estimated 1,400 participants attend the annual Reader’s Night which is the culmination celebration of the annual Summer Reading Program.

She has established additional partnerships with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chicago Children’s Museum as well as with sports teams such as the Chicago Sky, the Chicago Cubs and White Sox. Under her leadership, community librarians across Chicago conduct extensive outreach to reach children in their communities and thus provide access to books and literacy activities.

Additional external partnerships include outreach to La Rabida, Comer’s Children’s Hospital and Children’s Memorial Hospital where story hours and Summer Reading Programs have been conducted. Additionally, we now offer library resources in pediatricians’ clinics and offices through the partnership established with the Academy of Pediatrics-Reach Out and Read Program. In this way, families are given library literature and information about free literacy programs in their communities.

In recent years, Bernie has been working as a champion of the right to public library service for children on the Autism Spectrum. Through a partnership with TAP, The Autism Program of Illinois, Bernie has been on the forefront of establishing library service to children with autism spectrum disorder. Through a partnership with TAP, Bernie has done many new and innovative things. She has facilitated three trainings of Chicago Public Library staff to heighten their awareness of and effectiveness in working with autistic children and their families. She has also made it a point to reach out to staff that may have family members or be themselves on the autism spectrum. She has created direct services in Chicago’s prestigious new Hope Academy, and is responsible (through the City of Chicago’s Sole Source procurement process) of providing series of music programs to Autism Spectrum Disorder communities throughout Chicago. She has done trainings at the American Library Association about her work with ASD children and has been involved in additional trainings throughout the state of Illinois and is looking forward to reaching a higher number of families affected by autism who have traditionally been underserved.