Mayor Emanuel joined Library Commissioner Brian Bannon and Alderman Roberto Maldonado (26th) today to tour the newly expanded Humboldt Park Branch of the Chicago Public Library. The branch reopened to the public on February 9, 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 $4.5 million expansion project, managed by the Public Building Commission, provides a larger reading room along with 35 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 Library 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 apps, robotics, ringtones and other areas of natural appeal to pre-teens and 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 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 with 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.
The branch now offers patrons 47 public access computers and 4 laptops available for check-out and use in the library, as well as free WiFi. All public computers include LibreOffice productivity software which allows patrons to create documents, spreadsheets and presentations.