Programs and Partnerships

Through the generosity of the Chicago Public Library Foundation, we offer programs for people of all ages.

Kids Museum Passport

In partnership with Museums in the Park, we invite adult residents of Chicago to check out a Kids Museum Passport, which gives up to two adults and at least one child under 18 free admission to explore 15 of Chicago’s world-class cultural institutions. Passports are available at all CPL locations.

Maker Lab

Our Maker Lab, Chicago’s first free and publicly accessible maker space, features introductory workshops and open shop for personal projects and collaboration. We opened the Maker Lab in July 2013 as a six-month experiment to explore the role of the library in makerspaces, community-operated workspaces where people come together to learn, create and collaborate. Community response was so positive, we extended the Maker Lab with funding from the Motorola Mobility Foundation and continue to offer exciting new programs. Our report Making to Learn chronicles the creation of the Maker Lab, our first six months of operation and our initial findings.

Money Smart

Since 2001, we've partnered with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago to present Money Smart financial literacy events. What started as the Fed’s annual Money Smart Week blossomed into year-round educational programming at CPL locations across the city. Money Smart partners include community groups, financial institutions, government agencies and schools.

One Book, One Chicago

One Book, One Chicago launched in fall 2001 as an opportunity to engage and enlighten our residents and to foster a sense of community through reading. After more than a decade of celebrating a culture of reading with two book selections annually and related programming spring and fall, in 2013 One Book, One Chicago launched an exciting expansion. CPL and its community partners now offer a yearlong season of learning and engagement focusing not just on one book but on one theme integral to the lives of all Chicagoans.

Poetry Fest

We celebrate poetry each year on the last Saturday in April with a daylong event featuring poetry readings, workshops and exhibits at the Harold Washington Library Center.


This unique project brings materials and programs about science and nature to the children of Chicago. Made possible with generous support from People’s Energy through the Chicago Public Library Foundation, this project is a celebration of science, nature and the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills necessary for the success of 21st century children.

Summer Learning Challenge

Read, discover, create—during the Summer Learning Challenge! Research indicates children who read and learn during the summer are better prepared for school in the fall. Our eight-week program encourages children to read, attend programs, play, design and create. In 2013, 71,260 children read more than 56 million minutes during the summer. We also conduct a Winter Learning Challenge during the winter school break.

Teacher in the Library

Our Teacher in the Library program provides homework help at all CPL locations. Teachers and homework helpers assist children with schoolwork, finding the most appropriate learning strategies for them, and help parents develop ways to further their child’s education.

Words and Music

Partnering with Ravinia Festival, we offer Words and Music each summer with free lawn passes to selected Ravinia concerts available at all CPL locations. Enhance an evening under the stars at Ravinia by first exploring the music at CPL. Borrowing a page from One Book, One Chicago, Ravinia Festival launched One Score, One Chicago in 2003 to highlight an important piece of music each season. One Score, One Chicago gives a deeper understanding of music to wider audiences, demonstrates that classical music is a living, changing art form and connects the city through classical music.


YOUmedia is an innovative, 21st century teen learning space. Housed at the Harold Washington Library Center and a number of neighborhood locations, YOUmedia connects young adults, books, media, mentors and institutions throughout Chicago in a dynamic space designed to inspire collaboration and creativity.

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