- Welcome to Altgeld Branch (info only)
- Approval of minutes for the May 16, 2023 meeting (action required)
- Administration and Finance Report (info only)
- Programming Update (info only)
- Operations and Facilities Report (info only)
- Commissioner’s Report (info only)
- Enhancing Safety and Security at CPL
- American Library Association Annual Conference Highlights
- "Library for the People" Podcast Launched
- 2023 One Book, One Chicago Selection
- Comcast's Support for Digital Equity Initiatives
- Banned Books Week 2023: "Let Freedom Read"
- Capital Strategy Update
- Chicago Public Library Foundation Report (info only)
- Other Business
- Public Comment
Next Board meeting: November 21, 2023, 9:00 a.m. / Blackstone, 4904 S Lake Park Ave
Open Session Minutes
Physically Present: Linda Johnson Rice, Christopher P. Valenti, Ivy Walker, Dominique Jordan Turner
Present by Means of Video or Audio Conference: None
Absent: Jodi Block, Lynn Lockwood, Barbara Bowman, Michelle Boone, Sandra Delgado
Welcome to Altgeld Branch (info only)
Nicholas Saunders, branch manager of the Altgeld branch, kicked off the board meeting and provided a brief overview and background of the branch. Designed by Koo & Associates, the new 12,150 square foot building replaced the old Altgeld branch library in November 2020. The branch is located within the Altgeld Gardens public housing complex and shares a building with the Center for New Horizons early childcare center, managed by the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA). The branch features 21st Century information needs and includes areas for children, teens, and adults with a "YOUmedia" digital lab and maker lab.
Approval of minutes for the May 16, 2023 meeting (action required)
Due to lack of a quorum, this topic was tabled for the next board meeting.
Administration and Finance Report (info only)
Teri Campbell, Deputy Commissioner of Administration and Finance, presented the Administration and Finance Report highlighting the following:
- The quarterly report on contracts and purchases made for magazines, books, databases, periodicals and articles of educational and instructional For this quarter (May 1 – August 30, 2023) 3,309 invoices totaling $2,348,903 were paid to various vendors.
- The Library continues to see robust hiring activity as new staff are hired and existing staff take advantage of new opportunities or transition on to retirement. As of today, the Library has filled more than 285 vacancies. As a result of our recent page palooza, the HR team interviewed over 225 candidates over the course of six days; 90 of those candidates have already begun working for the library. This week, HR staff will interview 175 Librarian I candidates over the next three days, with the objective of offering employment on the spot. We will repeat this process for part-time clerks in hopes of filling as many vacancies as possible this year.
- CPL’s Equity Office has been working on an Equity Policy over the past few months that will explicitly and formally commit CPL to being a more racially equitable library system. The Equity Office researched 15 other public library systems, ULC's equity statement, and the Mayor's Office of Equity and Racial Justice's Equity Statement of Principles to inform the draft Equity Policy for CPL. An overview of the policy was shared with the board and will be presented for a vote at the next CPL board meeting.
- In June, CPL welcomed Lindsay Laren as the new Assistant Commissioner of Technology, Content and Innovation (TCI).
- Lastly, Commissioner Campbell recognized staff that have retired since the previous board meeting:
- Jane Baker - Librarian II at HWLC (BST), 31 years of service
- Christina Cochand - Library Clerk at Independence, 17 years of service
- Janette Kopacz - Librarian III at HWLC (Adult Services), 30 years of service
- Helen Lara Alabers - Library Associate at HWLC (SAS), 29 years of service
- Donna Arndt - Library Clerk at Sulzer, 33 years of service
- Melanie Vereecke - Librarian III at Lincoln Belmont, 47 years of service
Programming Update (info only)
First Deputy Commissioner Messner provided an update on programming and initiatives being offered at CPL systemwide:
June 10th Birthday Party
On June 10th, CPL celebrated its 150th birthday and the kickoff of summer. Library locations across the city hosted 123 events, with more than 7,000 people turning out to celebrate with us. Mayor Brandon Johnson also joined the fun at Harold Washington Library, the North Austin Branch Library, and the Austin Branch Library. We invited all patrons to celebrate at their neighborhood library and participate in giveaways, enjoy performances by musicians, storytellers, puppeteers, and more, and have cake!
In addition to celebrating CPL’s 150th birthday, June 10 also kicked off this year’s summer programming. Highlights from this year include:
- Participation in the children's portion of this summer's program increased about 25% from 2022-2023.
- The number of events our library locations offered to support the summer program also increased 100% from 2022 - 2023.
- Attendance at summer library events for children increased 200% from 2022-2023.
We had a significant increase in participation, and the depth of those participants' engagement with the program was incredible. Patrons not only visited the library to participate in the summer program, but this year participants were also returning multiple times to attend book clubs, story times, animal shows, musical performances, and more. Each of those visits is an opportunity for kids to check out more books, for library staff to have more conversations with kids and parents about books and reading, and for kids to see the library as a place where they are welcome to explore their interests, whatever may be.
CPL Parade Participation
In celebration of our 150th anniversary, Chicago Public Library participated in three of Chicago's annual parades this year. CPL staff and our Owl mascot greeted patrons marched alongside or rode on our newly designed Chicago Public Library float. The float was exclusively designed to commemorate CPL’s 150th anniversary. Selected parades included the Chicago Pride Parade, Disability Pride Parade, Bud Billiken Parade. CPL will also participate in the Arts in the Dark Parade later this month.
Back to School
In preparation for children returning to school, Teen Services and Children's Services staff collectively prepared library staff to welcome kids and families back at the start of the school year. Branch staff attended 13 of Chicago Public Schools' Back-to-School Bashes, each of which saw over 1,000 families and approached library staff to learn about library resources including Teacher in the Library and the 81 Club.
Teacher in the Library resumed service on August 28th at 30+ locations and virtually. As part of their annual training, this year Redwood Literacy provided training for teachers on recognizing reading disabilities in students and strategies for assisting students with reading, as well as resources to share with parents who might need further assistance.
Our partners at Chicago Public Schools will present to children's librarians about their Skyline curriculum at our September all staff training, for CPL children's staff to gain a better understanding of what children are studying in school.
81 Club has benefited from joint planning and mutually reinforcing activities between Chicago Public Library and Chicago Public Schools. In just seven months, nearly 13,000 81 Club accounts have been created. Over the last four months, 3,000 - 6,500 items have been circulated by 81 Club account holders.
- Six schools participated in an implementation pilot in SY2022-23, in which all 5,500 students in the pilot schools received 81 Club cards. Participating schools reported first time connections & improved relationships with their local library. Now, tools to recruit a library liaison in every school are in development.
- CPL has mapped its collections against Skyline independent reading lists. Now, branches have Skyline signage and displays linked to the texts students are encouraged to read in school.
- CPL has created CPS-oriented training materials and delivered trainings to build teacher and librarian understanding of eTeach, 81 Club, and other CPL resources.
- Collaboration has yielded increased awareness, including (1) joint meetings between CPL and CPS monthly; (2) features in MySchool Newsletter from CPL’s Summer Learning Challenge; (3) CPL staff attending all CPS Back-to-School bashes.
- CPS & CPL have collaborated to map library resources across schools and libraries to surface access gaps and ensure equity.
- Branches have collaborated with the Chicago Park District and local nonprofits to engage students and families with programs and services.
On June 1st, Chicago Public Library opened the Branching Out: Chicago Public Library in the Neighborhoods exhibit in Harold Washington Library Center's 9th floor exhibit hall. This exhibit celebrates CPL's 150th birthday by telling the story of the library system's growth in Chicago's neighborhoods.
Branching Out highlights CPL’s origins and efforts to create a citywide system of regional and branch libraries serving every Chicagoan. The exhibit features include CPL’s 1936 Freedom of Information Policy (the first of its kind); Hall Branch in Bronzeville, home base of historically important Black librarians Vivian G. Harsh and Charlemae Hill Rollins; service to Spanish-speaking patrons on Chicago’s Lower West Side; massive facilities growth and improvement in the 1990s and early 2000s; creation of YOUmedia, a space for Chicago’s youth to engage with technology and community; and the Maker Lab for adults to utilize digital equipment for creating and making.
CPL Operations and Facilities Report (info only)
Deputy Commissioner Clemons shared an update on CPL operations and facility projects.
Update regarding 2023 CARE projects, provided in partnership with AIS to upgrade neighborhood locations with new paint, lights, hvac systems, parking lots repairs, etc.
- Austing Irving has completed the CARE process and is open to the public.
- West Englewood is the final CARE project for 2023 and is currently closed.
- CPL is working with AIS to get new carpet at a few locations before the end of the year.
- Branch selection for 2024 CARE projects is forthcoming.
- Legler remains closed as a result of the flooding that occurred during the July 4th Emergency contractors have been contacted to expedite repairs. Immediate repairs included the boiler, relocating the IT closet to a higher floor and repairs to the elevator. Once those issues have been satisfied, the library can open to the public while the remaining repairs are being addressed. Legler continues to offer programming and work with neighborhood schools.
Back of the Yards and North Pulaski were recipients of the Invest SW program, they will be located within multi-use facilities. Working with the developer and architect to determine groundbreaking date.
Regarding the Woodlawn branch, CPL is in discussion with the community to determine a final location by the end of the year.
CPL has established a Safety Taskforce working group comprised of senior and union leadership in light of the recent bomb and active shooter threats, to review our policies and procedures and develop an action plan.
Mental Health Clinicians
Earlier this year, in partnership with CDPH, Chicago Public Library locations began offering free mental health services via extension clinics located at the Mount Greenwood, Beverly, Blackstone, and Edgewater branches. Services are staffed by CDPH mental health clinicians and are available to any Chicago resident ages 13 and above regardless of ability to pay, insurance, or immigration status. As of Aug 31st, over 10,000 units or Narcan have been distributed. We expect to add two more locations by the end of the year.
CDPH is also setting up Public Health Vending Machines in 5 locations throughout Chicago, including the Harold Washington Library Center and the Uptown Branch. Sites were chosen based on location in overdose hotspots, geographic coverage on North, South, West, and Central parts of the city. The machines will contain harm reduction supplies like Narcan, fentanyl test strips, safe sex kits, general hygiene products like shampoo, deodorant, toothbrushes, etc., menstrual hygiene kits, and items like warm gloves, hats, and socks. All items will be free of charge.
Commissioner’s Report (info only)
Commissioner Brown’s report highlighted the following:
- Chicago Public Library continues its efforts to enhance safety and security across library locations through its established safety and security taskforce, by routinely updating the Library Use Guidelines, utilizing an incident tracking software to better understand disturbance patterns within our libraries, and attending conferences that focus on safety to gain valuable insights. The Library’s executive team is also working closely with the Mayor’s team, CPD and OEMC to prioritize staff and patron safety in light of recent bomb threats to our branches.
- Chicago hosted the American Library Association annual conference this year and CPL staff participated in various impactful initiatives and events, offered library tours, as well as delivered informative presentations to those in attendance.
- Earlier this summer, CPL launched the “Library for the People” podcast in celebration of Chicago Public Library's 150th anniversary, an engaging six-episode limited series that delves into our library's rich history and vibrant community.
- In September, we announced this season’s One Book, One Chicago selection, "There There" by Tommy Orange, which aligns with CPL's 150th-anniversary theme, "We Have Stories to Tell," and explores twelve distinct yet interconnected Native American experiences.
- Also in September, Comcast hosted a “Media & Laptop Giveaway Event” and announced their pledge to support the Library’s DigitalNavigators program through a multiyear commitment of $250,000 that will benefit 26 library branches citywide.
- October 1st through 7th, CPL participated in Banned Book Week, promoting its Book Sanctuary campaign across 81 library locations, and unveiling an art installation in collaboration with renowned artist Theaster Gates and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, celebrating our freedom to read.
- Lastly, the Commissioner announced that CPL will collaborate with the Department of Planning and Development (DPD), to launch a procurement process to craft a comprehensive Capital Strategy Master Plan covering our 81 existing CPL facilities and future expansions.
Chicago Public Library Foundation Report (info only)
Brenda Langstraat, President & CEO of the Chicago Public Library Foundation provided an update on contributions and initiatives reached by the Foundation:
- Comcast and Amazon hosted two grant announcements events celebrating six-figure investments in two of our signature programs: CyberNavigators and Teachers in the Library.
- The Library Foundation Associate Board hosted their summer fundraiser Literature & Libations: Words & Whiskey on July 27 at Slightly Toasted. The event sold out and raised $4,600 for Library programs!
- CPLF’s Library Giving Day campaign raised $20,000 and acquired 360 new donors.
- The Library Foundation Associate Board is hosted a Trivia Night on September 28 at Headquarters Beercade.
- CPLF welcomed two new Board members this month: Alena Antigua and Matthew Brewer.
- The 2023 Library Foundation Awards event will be held in-person on October 24 from 5:00-9:00pm at the UIC Forum. The 2023 honoree lineup celebrates authors Colson Whitehead and Rebecca Makkai, artist Richard Hunt, and civic leader Bob Wislow.
The board addressed comments from the audience about returning branch operating hours to being open six days per week, and having regional location open seven days per week, due to low circulation. The board also received a comment regarding a strategy plan to support the city’s new arrivals.
Enhancing Safety and Security at CPL
Recognizing the critical importance of creating a welcoming and secure environment, CPL had already initiated plans for a Safety & Security Taskforce. Addressing safety concerns proactively is our top priority.
We've already updated our Library Use Guidelines and implemented incident tracking software to better understand disturbance patterns within our libraries. We've also gathered valuable insights from the Library Journal Safety Summit in April 2023.
In response to recent bomb threats to libraries in the Chicagoland area, we immediately convened with Deputy Mayor Jen Johnson, Chicago Police Department (CPD), and Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) representatives to address these threats. The CPD Bomb Squad provided guidance on threat evaluation, and we're collaborating closely with emergency responders to assess and respond to any potential threats.
Immediate measures include:
- Zoom training with CPD Bomb Squad representatives to clarify bomb and active shooter protocols.
- Scheduling comprehensive Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) training and drills for all staff.
- Reviewing communication channels and exploring technological solutions for swift and accurate threat updates.
- Collaborating with AFSCME union leadership to review our emergency plan and document crisis notification workflows.
In the mid to long-term, Deputy Commissioner of Library Operations & Patron Experience, Maggie Clemons, will lead our Safety & Security Taskforce. This initiative will involve a thorough analysis of insights and recommendations, leading to a comprehensive plan. Our focus is on enhancing staff training, emergency preparedness, and communication protocols. We'll also draw from best practices adopted by other institutions to ensure CPL remains a sanctuary of knowledge and community well-being.
American Library Association Annual Conference Highlights
During the American Library Association Annual Conference, Chicago Public Library participated in various impactful initiatives and events:
- Youth Programming Excellence: We hosted a pre-conference reception at our YOUmedia space, bringing together YOUmedia practitioners nationwide to share valuable youth programming insights.
- "Welcome to Chicago" Reception: Collaborating with the Foundation, we organized a warm reception for Library and Foundation Leadership, also featuring our upcoming 150th Anniversary celebrations.
- Welcoming ALA to Chicago: As Library Commissioner, I extended a warm welcome to the American Library Association as they gathered in our vibrant city.
- Insightful Library Tours: We offered engaging library tours, providing visitors with firsthand experiences of our innovative services and mixed-use colocation facilities.
- National Staff Recruitment: Our recruitment booth attracted talent from across the country, contributing to our library's ongoing growth and success.
- Informative Presentations: CPL staff delivered presentations on key initiatives, including our Connected Care partnership with the Chicago Department of Public Health, Culture in My Neighborhood Partnership with the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, and successful co-locations.
- Panel Discussion with Librarian of Congress: We had the privilege of hosting a panel discussion featuring Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, offering valuable insights into our forthcoming Obama Branch Library.
These activities underscore Chicago Public Library's commitment to excellence and innovation. We look forward to applying these experiences to enhance our services and programs for the betterment of our community.
"Library for the People" Podcast Launched
In celebration of Chicago Public Library's 150th anniversary, we were delighted to launch our new podcast series, "Library for the People," earlier this summer. Hosted by Alison Cuddy, this engaging six-episode limited series delves into our library's rich history and vibrant community.
- A Focus on People: Our podcast highlights the individuals shaping the modern library experience, offering a unique perspective.
- A 150-Year Journey: Join us on a journey through our library's remarkable 150-year history, from its beginnings after the Great Chicago Fire to its present leadership.
- Diverse Themes: Over six episodes, we explore core themes like history, community, ideas, public space, social life, and the library's future, offering a comprehensive view of our institution's role.
- Exploring Neighborhoods: With diverse voices and visits to our local branches, we celebrate both Chicago Public Library and the city itself.
- The Library's Vital Role: Amid recent book banning and censorship challenges, our podcast underscores our commitment to providing access to information, resources, and opportunities over the past 150 years.
Our podcast features remarkable guests, including TikTok historian Shermann "Dilla" Thomas, acclaimed authors Susan Orlean, Erik Klinenberg, Dr. Eve Ewing, and American Library Association executive director Tracie Hall.
Each episode promises captivating stories, showcasing Chicago's 80+ library branches and highlighting why Chicago Public Library is a city treasure and library pioneer. Join us as we celebrate the library's past, present, and future, and the people who make it all possible.
2023 One Book, One Chicago Selection
CPL recently launched its annual One Book, One Chicago (OBOC) program, a citywide literacy initiative fostering connection and dialogue among Chicagoans. This year's selection, "There There" by Tommy Orange, aligns with CPL's 150th-anniversary theme, "We Have Stories to Tell," and explores twelve distinct yet interconnected Native American experiences.
Mayor Brandon Johnson has commended CPL's role in promoting literacy and learning, highlighting the focus on diversity and connectedness through shared reading experiences. From September to December, CPL will offer programs on Native American history, storytelling, film, performances, and cuisine by local contributors. The season will culminate with author Tommy Orange's keynote event on November 15 at the Harold Washington Library Center, celebrating Native American stories and history in line with new state curriculum requirements.
Comcast's Support for Digital Equity Initiatives
I'm pleased to update you on Comcast's recent September 19th event at the Austin Branch, a significant step in our digital equity efforts. Comcast, a valued partner, has pledged a multiyear commitment of $250,000 to the Chicago Public Library Foundation in support of our DigitalNavigators program, benefiting 26 library branches citywide.
In line with this commitment, Comcast hosted a "Media & Laptop Giveaway Event" to raise awareness of our program's importance. Notably, we were honored to have Mayor Brandon Johnson, Library Board President Linda Johnson Rice and Broderick Johnson, Comcast's Executive Vice President of Public Policy & Executive Vice President of Digital Equity, join us, highlighting the significance of our partnership.
Testimonials from our dedicated Digital Navigators highlighted their impact on narrowing the digital divide, reinforcing our dedication to this critical work. Comcast further demonstrated its commitment by generously donating 1,000 laptops to 10 local nonprofit organizations, advancing digital inclusion in our community.
Banned Books Week 2023: "Let Freedom Read"
Join us from October 1st to 7th to celebrate Banned Books Week. Chicago Public Library, with its Book Sanctuary campaign across 81 library locations, has a strong history of defending intellectual freedom since 1936, as the first public library in the country to adopt an Intellectual Freedom Policy. Recent ALA polling reveals that over 70% of parents oppose book banning, affirming widespread support for intellectual freedom.
Our Banned Books programming aligns with our mission to provide information and access for all, representing our diverse community. Explore more at booksanctuary.org.
During Banned Books Week, we'll unveil an art installation in collaboration with renowned artist Theaster Gates and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, celebrating our freedom to read. We'll also host an event with Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias in partnership with the Chicago Bar Association.
Event: "Know Your Rights: Book Bans and the Law"
Date: Tuesday, September 26, 2023
Time: 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Location: Harold Washington Library Center
Join us for a special presentation of The Chicago Bar Association's Law at the Library program, a year-long legal education initiative in partnership with Chicago Public Library and Evanston Public Library. This session on book banning, celebrating CBA's 150th Anniversary, includes a discussion with State's Librarian, Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias, Chicago Public Library Commissioner, and Circuit Court Judge Robert F. Harris, followed by a Q&A session.
Capital Strategy Update
In collaboration with the Department of Planning and Development (DPD), Chicago Public Library (CPL) is launching a procurement process to craft a comprehensive Capital Strategy Master Plan covering our 81 existing CPL facilities and future expansions.
Our main objective is to outline a long-term vision for CPL, focusing on the development, improvement, and expansion of library locations to ensure equitable access for all Chicago residents.
This plan will draw on industry best practices, robust stakeholder engagement, and a steadfast commitment to CPL's mission and vision. Key elements include a 20-year implementation schedule with an initial emphasis on addressing critical facility needs and exploring potential new projects or relocations.
Additionally, we will design a prototype library facility, considering layout, aesthetics, and innovative programming strategies.
To prioritize equity and inclusion, we are establishing an advisory structure involving stakeholders such as the Equity Office and the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities.
With an approved budget of $500,000, we will soon announce the architect selected to lead this essential initiative. These collaborative endeavors will shape a Capital Strategy Master Plan that truly reflects the diverse needs and aspirations of our city's residents.
Chicago Public Library Foundation Report
Brenda Langstraat Bui, President & CEO of the Chicago Public Library Foundation, provided an update on behalf of the staff and Board of the Chicago Public Library Foundation and highlighted the following:
- We are grateful to Comcast and Amazon for working with us and our Library colleagues to host two exciting grant announcement events, at the Austin and Woodson branches respectively. These events celebrate six-figure investments in two of our signature programs: CyberNavigators and Teachers in the Library.
- The Library Foundation Associate Board hosted their summer fundraiser – and friend-raiser – Literature & Libations: Words & Whiskey on July 27 at Slightly Toasted. The event sold out and raised $4,600 for Library programs!
- Our spring Library Giving Day direct mail campaign raised $20,000 and acquired 360 new donors. This summer, a reoccurring gift campaign raised $13,000 from 300 donors. We are thrilled to welcome these individuals to our donor community!
- The Library Foundation Associate Board is hosting a Trivia Night on September 28 at Headquarters Beercade. Tickets are still available and all proceeds support the full scope of our work with the Library!
- The Library Foundation welcomed two new Board members this month. Alena Antigua joins us from Stifel Financial Corporation where she is Managing Director. Matthew Brewer is a partner at the law firm Bartlit Beck and also serves on the Chicago Housing Authority Board of Commissioners.
- The 2023 Library Foundation Awards event will be held in-person on October 24 from 5:00-9:00pm at the UIC Forum. The 2023 honoree lineup celebrates authors Colson Whitehead and Rebecca Makkai, artist Richard Hunt, and civic leader Bob Wislow. A free public broadcast featuring content from the event and stories from across the branches will be released worldwide on November 1. Contributions of any amount support the work of the Library Foundation to accelerate transformative programming at our Chicago Public Library. More information is available at https://cplfoundation.org/awards.