Mayor Emanuel joined Chicago Public Library Commissioner Brian Bannon and local officials today to dedicate the new Back of the Yards Branch of the Chicago Public Library at 2111 W. 47th Street, adjacent to the new Back of the Yards College Preparatory High School. This new, 8,300-square-foot branch, co-located on the high school campus, provides the Back of the Yards community with its first full-service library since the previous rental location closed in 2011.
“Libraries and schools have a strong connection as places of learning and community anchors. This innovative approach provides the community with a library that they’ve eagerly anticipated, and students the critical resources needed to reach their full potential in the digital age,” said Mayor Emanuel. “This project demonstrates the city’s continuing commitment and investment in our children and our neighborhoods, while also reducing the financial burden for taxpayers.”
The neighborhood library combines with the new Back of the Yards High School to serve as a community campus, extending learning and discovery to all residents. This full-service CPL branch will include enhanced teen-focused collections and digital learning amenities to support the work of the high school. Additionally, the branch will offer neighborhood children access to early literacy programs through morning story times and lapsits, as well as providing parent training on the importance of reading.
“This location allows us to offer Back of the Yards residents a full-service 21st century library in order to better serve the needs of patrons in this community,” said Library Commissioner Brian Bannon. “We know how much this community loves its library, and the branch will offer more access to technology and a focus on the teens in the neighborhood and a media lab for technology training. We are happy to be able to open this in time for the beginning of the school year.”
The branch library has its own separate public entrance. It includes a community room, a media lab for technology training and 25 public computers. As with all CPL public computers, these all offer patrons access to the Internet and online and computer reference databases, as well as Microsoft Office suite of productivity software, allowing them to write resumes, do homework, create spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations and more.
There are areas for adults, teens and children. The new teen area, with a teen librarian, reflects a growing trend of libraries providing physical space dedicated to nurturing teens’ values, identity, and the new skills necessary to grow and thrive. Teens will be offered a variety of STEM-based and financial literacy programs, as well as book clubs, Teen Tech Week and Teen Read Week.
The branch also offers the services of a Teacher in the Library, a certified teacher on hand after school to assist students with homework. This program is supported by the generous private contributions through the Chicago Public Library Foundation.
The Public Building Commission managed the construction of the Back of the Yards campus on behalf of Chicago Public Library.
“As stewards of the public fund, the PBC promotes both economic and environmental sustainability in each project we take on,” said PBC Executive Director Erin Lavin Cabonargi. “As such, this facility has been developed to be a multifaceted community anchor, designed to achieve a LEED Silver Rating and contracted in a way that allowed us to achieve a diverse and local workforce and business participation.”