Transcript: Library for the People Episode 3

Transcript: Library for the People Episode 3: Of Book Bans and Book Sanctuaries

Library Joe: We are gonna start by singing a song. Does everyone know, “if you're happy and you know it…?” You know that song? Awesome!

Let's start with the clapping part. If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands.

[hands clapping twice]

If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands.

[hands clapping twice]

If you're happy and you know it and you really wanna show it, if you're happy and you know it, clap your your hands.

[hands clapping twice]

Alison Cuddy: If you've spent time in a library, this is a pretty familiar scene. Young children gathered with their parents and caregivers to enjoy Saturday morning story time. They're singing songs with Library Joe and they're listening to stories read by Paloma Fox. Paloma is a regular volunteer at the Chicago Public Library.

She's a fashion designer and a recent graduate of the school of the Art Institute of Chicago. You can tell by her impeccable outfit. Paloma is also a drag queen.

[Recording from a story time:]

Paloma Fox: This one's called, “Ella Sarah Gets Dressed.”

You guys ready?

One morning, Ella Sarah got up and said, “I want to wear my pink polka dot pants, my dress with orange and green flowers, my purple and blue striped sock. My yellow shoes, and my red hat.” Her mother said, “that outfit is too dressy!”

And they had fun and they all dressed up as themselves.

Librarian: Excellent!

Cuddy: How did this gathering of happy and delighted children developing literacy skills - you know, just another day at the library - become one of the most controversial scenes in American culture?

[Recording from a story time:]

Fox: Oh my gosh, what's gonna happen? He was a beautiful butterfly. Thank you so much!

Cuddy: From the Chicago Public Library Foundation and PRX, this is Library for the People. A podcast celebrating 150 years of Chicago Public Library.

I'm Alison Cuddy. Drag story time is wildly popular at many libraries. But in the last few years, it's come under attack, part of broader efforts to suppress drag culture and curtail the rights of transgender communities around the United States.

At the library, this is meant protesting drag story hour, challenging books with LGBTQIA themes or stories about BIPOC and indigenous communities. These challenges haven't yet come to the Chicago Public Library system, although there have been protests at suburban branches.

Still, library leaders are responding. And on this episode, we'll talk to Tracie D. Hall at the American Library Association and Chris Brown, commissioner of Chicago Public Library.

[Recording from a story time:]

Library Joe: Okay. So that's the first, that’s the first verse.

[Recording continues in background]

Cuddy: As this session of drag story hour comes to a close, librarian Sarah Holtkamp, who organizes the events, says they’ll keep doing it, despite the controversy. It’s important.

Sarah Holtkamp: As a children’s librarian, I think a lot about helping kids find themselves in books. Drag story hour is a great way for kids who may be LGBTQ+ see themselves in books. And for many, it could also be one of the first times they meet or see a member of that community in person. On the flip side, it’s a great window for kids who aren’t part of the community to meet someone with a different experience than their own.

Cuddy: It's also important to remember that efforts to suppress programming, ban books, fire librarians and shut down libraries are not new. Time and again, librarians and their allies have responded with new measures to protect intellectual freedom.

For example, the American Library Association or ALA, adopted the Library Bill of Rights in 1939.

Morag Walsh: The American Library Association has an intellectual freedom policy, um, which is that a public library has an obligation to collect books and information on all sides of a controversial subject without any kind of influence, right?

It's our obligation to collect controversial subjects.

Cuddy: That's our friend, Morag Walsh, Chicago Public Library's senior archivist.

ALA's policy represents a pivotal moment in American library history. Walsh says, Chicago Public Library's leadership goes back even further.

Walsh: Two years before the ALA had that policy in place, CPL devised their own, and it was, I'm getting chills, because it was, it really is a first for libraries.

Cuddy: In the mid-1930s, libraries in the country were facing a different set of repressive forces.

Walsh: In 1936 from Toman Branch, there were complaints from two separate groups.

One was a group from the Russian community and one was from the Polish community. And they complained that there were books on the shelves that were pro-Communistic, too sexual in nature.

We had heard complaints about books like that in the past, and the way it was usually dealt with was it would be taken off the general shelves and put up in a reference section that you had to ask for it so that kids couldn't accidentally stumble upon a pornographic book or a sexual book or um, whatever.

Sometimes just to kind of keep the peace, he would take the easy option and move it. Right? And that was usually enough.

Cuddy: He is Carl B. Roden, Chicago Public Library's chief librarian for over 30 years, from 1918 until 1950.

Walsh: He decided to go the extra step and he arranged a committee to look into these books. He got, um, the clergy involved, he got academics involved, he got journalists involved, he got women's club, um, people involved. And they all reviewed the books that were objectionable and reported back to Roden. And they were found that there was nothing objectionable, and so he got back to the complainant and said, pretty much, “I'm sorry, we don't agree with you. The books are staying.”

But then the board went one extra step that was absolutely remarkable. They, they adopted a Freedom of Information Policy. They codified it, and we stuck with that. And this is the earliest known Declaration of Independence for a public library. That I know of, certainly, in this country.

Cuddy: Roden, the library and Chicagoans took a strong stand in 1936. Embedding a commitment to intellectual freedom deep in the library's DNA.

Walsh: It really is a fundamental doctrine to all public libraries, and especially when you think about what's going on now. Um, with all kinds of complaints and, um, people trying to tell you what you can read, what you can't read, um, public funds being spent on controversial books. Um, it, it's just so relevant.

And CPL was first. It's the earliest documented intellectual freedom policy in the United States, and that is significant. I'm getting chills.

Cuddy: It's always great to talk with Morag Walsh, senior archivist at the Chicago Public Library. She's so great at making history come to life.

After a quick break, we'll continue to explore current threats to intellectual freedom.

Tracie D. Hall: I think that what we are in now is McCarthy era, like 3.0 because it's on steroids.

Cuddy: Tracie D. Hall of the American Library Association is coming up in a minute on Library for the People.

[Chicago Public Library Foundation ad]

Cuddy: Tracie D. Hall is the first African American woman to be Executive Director of the American Library Association. The work she's doing has won her many accolades, including a National Book Award and a spot on Time Magazine's 2023 list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

Tracie D. Hall: Well, first I wanna say that ALA is based in Chicago because of the Chicago Public Library.

When ALA, which was founded in 1876, like other professional associations of its era, decided to move from mostly volunteer to paid professional staff, there was this question of, okay, now we'll need a building and we'll need a fixed location.

The Chicago Public Library volunteered to incubate the American Library Association until it found a building. And so at various points in ALA's early history, early 1900s, it actually was housed in the Chicago Public Library.

Cuddy: That's amazing.

Hall: It really is. And I think that that is probably one of the reasons why ALA has this real emphasis on public access, but also too on library as librarianship and library work.

I think that's one of the reasons why our twelve core values, so many of them, service social responsibility, intellectual freedom, access, are so people centered. Because I think that Chicago is such a people centered, uh, city, and I think Chicago Public Library still bears that ethos.

Uh, and so I'm really always proud of that. But I'm always, uh, really feeling indebted to the Chicago Public Library because when you read that history, I, I think that in as much as ALA serves 50,000 plus members and over 5,000 institutions, that connection between Chicago Public Library and ALA is just indelible.

Cuddy: As you were just talking, I can't help but think it's about information, but it's also about liberation. And how would you talk about the connection between libraries and liberation?

Hall: We have to understand theorists like Elfreda Chapman, um, Black information scientist who died I believe in 2006. She talked about something called the small world theory. And what she said is that people live lives that open based on the size of the information about the world that they have, that they believe to be credible. And reliable.

And that the more limited their information access, the more limited their choices and decision making, uh, will be.

So, when I think about information being sort of a liberatory technology, it literally, can really influence how big the world we live in is. And, and that's something I've seen myself, for sure. Uh, in terms of, uh, how people move and navigate, uh, physically the, terrain of a city, But also the decisions that they make that can not only influence their lives, but the lives of their next generation and that next generation.

So, there's definitely a connection between library use or things like literacy. And then whether or not we can intercept poverty before it calcifies and becomes generational poverty.

Cuddy: I love that part of what you've been doing in your role, um, and it's obviously something that is a passion for you is, highlighting the history of so many people of color who've made contributions to the history of libraries in the United States. When did that become important to you and why?

Hall: I came to librarianship, um, after working with young people who, uh, were unhoused in, in my native Los Angeles, and I saw a through point between people who experience housing precarity and low literacy. And so, I started to fixate on literacy, which led me to really bring a lot of our clients to the library and, and to make sure they had library cards and were using all these library services I've been talking about.

I will say that there were so few people of color in the field that I actually thought that maybe it wouldn't be a field for me. So I, I didn't know if there would be a space for someone like me, although I, I love knowledge.

And I, I want everyone, I want people of color. I want people whose families have struggled with literacy like mine have. I want people who have experienced what it is to be unhoused. I want, I want people who know sometimes that life that we don't talk - about that striving life - I want those people to also become librarians.

If information is for all, we need to have all kinds of people working in the libraries and I'm always gonna fight for that.

Cuddy: Yeah. When you became the executive director of the American Library Association, February 24th, 2020. Right? Like mere weeks before the outbreak of the pandemic that roiled the entire globe. It's a something we're still dealing with. Um, so what was your mandate coming in? What were the things you wanted to accomplish? And how much has that been changed by the pandemic and by these fights over books and bannings of books?

Hall: I really just had one goal and that was to make sure that the Association was on the right side of history in all of the debates that were going on.

Just living in Chicago and living in the state of Illinois, I could see how inequitable digital access was. And I was understanding that the three most, uh, important quality of life indicators, which are access to education, access to employment, and access to public health, were largely predicated on, on digital access.

So, when I talk about the right side, of history. Those were the kinds of conversations in my mind, and I wanted to make sure that, uh, ALA was not only on the right side of those debates and conversations, but that we were agents and moving those conversations forward.

Cuddy: I was struck by something you said recently, which is that this moment around censorship, book bannings, attacks on libraries and librarians is possibly, it far outpaces what we saw in an era that we thought we'd left well behind in some ways.

Hall: Yes.

Cuddy: Which is the McCarthy era.

Hall: Right.

Cuddy: And in fact, the, the Right to Read, um, Declaration by the ALA was passed at the height of that era in 1953. So, in what way does this moment outpace a moment like that?

Hall: This moment has a multiplier effect that is, uh, that is the internet. When you now have the ability to just extract parts of books… 200, 300 books and, and send that via email to various groups and say, based on this one passage, which could be just a part of a 300-page or 200-page book, “don't you think we should ban this book?” And you can send it to as many groups as you can, you know, just using, uh, a, a digital platform, it means that those ideas and censorship can proliferate, um, like wildfire.

And it is. And we're also seeing the same with legislation. We're just seeing copy and paste legislation. If it happens in one state, it's gonna happen - it's predictable now and we see it.

So I think that what we are in now is McCarthy era, like 3.0 because it's on steroids.

I think that one of the reasons why censorship is spreading as fast and with the fury that it, that it is, is because we just don't have the capacity to really report as deeply as we need to and inform the public. And also, we know information, uh, literacy is jeopardized by misinformation and disinformation.

So, what we are experiencing, censorship is at the end of that chain, right? We have misinformation, disinformation, information disparity, information segregation, information redlining. But at the end of that, it's information withdrawal. And that's what censorship is. And that is the most egregious type of infraction because it is taking, it is taking information that is available in the public sphere and removing it.

And, and, and really we, we see that, um, in times of authoritarianism and fascism.

Cuddy: I mean, one of the things that the ALA does so well is to convey information, right? So, “here are the most banned books of the last year,” for example, or, “this is how many books are being banned.” And like that you see that the numbers increase.

Last year, more books banned than in any other time since you've been tracking it. I looked at that list of 13 most banned books in our moment. Seven of them, so you know more than half, deal with LGBTQIA issues. Others talk about sexuality, drug use, profanity, but this real focus on gay life in America, um, what do you make of that, that focus right now at the center of all this censorship?

Hall: Gay life and the lives and lived experiences of Black and Indigenous and other people of color. Right? So those are the two, and a lot of those books that are banned the most frequently banned books, uh, overlap, right? You're gonna see your Sherman Alexie on, on that list. You're gonna see “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison.

So, I think that what is happening is just gatekeeping around power. Power hoarding. And what we see is that there has been more agency and more political power rising in the LGBTQIA, um, community. Which by no means is monolithic and the same in the BIPOC community.

So I think what's happening is that it's almost like gerrymandering, right? It's sort of like rerouting how people have access to power and making sure that people don't have straight pathways to power. That is what it's always been about. And we've had periods of censorship, um, in this country and others that are always about when a minority is feeling threatened and really sense themselves to be in the political minority, that you really see this cracking down on, on books and reading.

Cuddy: So, it's personal for people. Like there's an emotional connection to this. Yeah.

Hall: Um, and a lot of it is fear-based, unfortunately.

Cuddy: So how do you engage people with these issues when they have that fear, when they take that personally, when they, through misinformation or through convictions…

Hall: Mm-hmm.

Cuddy: Believe that those lives, that the, you know, that the lives of people of color, the lives of people who, um, are queer, are in some ways a threat to them. How do you engage them in a conversation about why it's necessary to have access to this information? To have access to these stories?

Hall: I always wanna remind people that reading builds in us a sense of empathy. Right? Exposure to other histories and other lives really allows us to see dimensionally other experiences and validate other experiences. And, and validate the stories of others, and I think that that's really important.

I also though, um, want to encourage people to be readers. One thing that we overlook is that part of what's happening with this conversation about censorship today is that people are not reading always, right? There's a lot of studies. Pew, um, had one not so long ago that said that for many people after they graduate, either high school or college, where reading was sort of mandated, they may never read another full book in their lives.

Those of us who read voraciously, we kind of all know each other. But I believe that the people who don't read at all kind of all know each other. And I think we have to cross pollinate.

I live in, in Pullman, here in Chicago, and we have, you know, our great branch, you know, uh, in Pullman, our great branch of the Chicago public Library is, um, when censorship was really starting to rise. One of our neighbors, um, in the community said, “wow, is everybody seeing this?” And, uh, few of us chimed in and, uh, we came to this notion that we should start a neighborhood book club and, uh, and that it would be about banned books. And it allowed us to meet each other all over again, to literally see the interiors of each other's homes, to go into homes you'd never been in.

And, and of course the book club is multi-generational, multiracial - all of that. So I, I think that this moment should invite us to do more of that. Let's come together over books, not be divided.

Cuddy: I was thinking, as you were talking about how after we leave high school or college, many of us may not read anymore.

Hall: Yeah.

Cuddy: That's also a time when library use declines, you know?

Hall: Yes.

Cuddy: And it may be because we're buying our own books, or it could be that we just - it isn't the same space for us. What can libraries do to encourage people to come into libraries and actually spend time there?

Hall: Yeah I definitely think, um, libraries - it's important to focus on what happens to people after they are about 18 years old. Because usually there is a drop off, in terms of, um, library use. And you see people returning to libraries when they have young children of their own. Or maybe returning because they're going back to school or maybe they lost a job or they wanna start a business.

I do think that we can continue to do the things the libraries are doing. Offering more extracurricular programming, whether it is around genealogy or building a personal archive, or scrapbooking, or a lot, a lot of arts programs.

I think what we have to understand is that libraries, like books, have both a real and symbolic value. In fact, the early reading societies were ways that we knit friendships, right? So before we had sort of like the big social clubs and who could kind of get in and, and out of that, we had private reading and literary societies.

And so I think that, um, books and libraries literally make us a community. They bring us together and we need both.

We will always need both. I think the library will continue to live three ways. One in our imagination, one in physical space and the other as we've seen in especially during the pandemic in digital space, and that is the trifecta.

Cuddy: Tracie D. Hall is the executive director of the American Library Association. After a quick break…

Chris Brown: Democracy is inherently inclusive and libraries are inherently inclusive.

Cuddy: We'll talk with Chris Brown, the commissioner of the Chicago Public Library.

[Chicago Public Library Foundation ad]

Chris Brown: I was living in uptown with my girlfriend, who's now my wife, and we were right outta college. And so, you have no discretionary money for anything. And we would go to the Uptown Branch. We lived in Uptown off the Sheridan stop, and we would go to that branch every week.

We'd pick up all of our library materials. We got on some like big, like Jacques Pépin kick, where we were just watching all, all those cooking DVDs and Julia Child. and like making recipes in our house. And it was kind of a, a big part of our like early twenties, “you have no money, entertain yourself” experience.

And I remember seeing this, someone that worked in the library and they were, like, so passionate and they've been greeting everybody and they've been greeting all the families.

And all these kids were like, obviously had this great relationship with them and you could just feel the passion and commitment to whatever they were doing, just radiating from them. And I remember asking them like, “what do you, what do you do? Like, what is this job called?” And she told me she's a librarian and she went and got her master's in library science and started her career at CPL. And I remember that night I went home and I was looking up job prospects for librarian. How do you become a librarian? And this is where the story gets funny.

Cause I thought, like I have a, I have a bachelor's in English. I can shelve books and I remember applying and I didn't hear anything. And I thought, “what is, what's the deal? I, I can definitely alphabetize these books.” And never heard back. And I didn't know anything about the library landscape.

I didn't know the American Library Association is in Chicago. I didn't know that the University of Illinois has one of the best library programs in the country, and of course that makes it competitive to get a, a library job here.

Cuddy: Determined to enter the field, Chris Brown moved back to California with his family and to start his career. He was eventually invited to interview for that page position in Chicago, but the timing obviously didn't work.

When he did come back to Chicago, though, he came back big, as commissioner in 2021.

Brown: So I, I couldn't put the books on the shelf, but I can be here as commissioner, which is kind of ironic.

Cuddy: Commissioner Brown's time in California, over a decade in different library districts, involved developing groundbreaking community programming for veterans and others. He's continued that work in Chicago.

You know, one of the things we're realizing, um, in talking with people, who work in the library, who use the library, is what a place of connection it is.

Brown: Mm-hmm.

Cuddy: Um, one of the things that has come up, um, over this period of time is this debate around what's on the shelves of libraries, um, and books, and the content of books and what they represent. And this has been a really challenging time for libraries and a potential, um, space of disconnect, right?

Really disconnecting people from each other, even from their libraries. And, um, one of the things that you did, um, pretty quickly in response to this kind of pressure was to designate the library system here in Chicago a book sanctuary. So can you talk about The Book Sanctuary, book sanctuaries, and why those are important?

Brown: Book Sanctuary gets to our most foundational democratic values. Democracy is inherently inclusive and libraries are inherently inclusive. How do you tell part of your community, which we exist to serve, that their story can't be in that space?

I think it was important for us to make a statement. To designate all of our 81 libraries as book sanctuaries. To choose one of the most frequently challenged books, “Maus” by Art Spiegelman, the Pulitzer Prize-winning groundbreaking graphic novel as our One Book, One Chicago, to really do everything within our capacity to celebrate the diverse voices that are under attack.

And even though we were really proud to do this in Chicago, libraries all across the country do this work. They're not backing down from these kinds of challenges, but they just may not be able to speak as openly about it.

Cuddy: Part of the reason we're in this debate around ideas, which are also our lives, right?

Brown: Yeah.

Cuddy: Is, um, and the legitimacy of those things is because we have powerful strains of disinformation happening. And what role does the library play in information literacy, for lack of a better term, you know, to really be able to engage information but understand whether it's trustworthy?

Brown: I think being able to connect with our city's library, which is constantly introducing you to different sources when you go into the shelf and you're looking for information on a, a certain topic and seeing the plethora of what has been published on that issue. Or being a student and looking at our databases and not just getting an article from, you know, your niche of your social media world.

But really getting that broader view into what's out there. I think libraries are introducing people to just the vast array of what's been produced. And you can't help but visit a library and go through the stacks and realize if you're looking at any contentious topic, that there are many viewpoints about this.

And I, I, I also think libraries take pride in having those different perspectives. Like there are things that I might not agree with that are on our shelves. I, I know growing up in the library field, one of the things that some of my, my mentors would just instill in me was, we have something to offend everyone. Right, there's so much in our, in our, our libraries that it's not about whether you agree with it, it's more about representing the multiplicity of voices and expression.

Cuddy: Um, I was struck by when we, um, talked with Morag Walsh, um, senior archivist at CPL in the spring.

Brown: She's very knowledgeable.

Cuddy: Yeah. Very knowledgeable. And she, um, told us that, as far as she knows, the first ever freedom of information policy adopted by a library was Chicago Public Library. I mean, groundbreaking move in the mid-1930s.

Brown: Mm-hmm.

Cuddy: Um, even before the American Library Association came up with their intellectual freedom platform, what does that history mean to you in this current moment?

Brown: I think being that first library to institute that protection and to do so very publicly, it's really in line with Chicago Public Library’s history. So we have librarians like Charlemae Hill Rollins, who were advocating for the inclusion of African American stories and, uh, narratives that were free of racial stereotypes.

We have a lot of our youth programming that, you know, responds to issues of identity and, um, around race or, or sexuality, um, and making sure that it's beyond our collection. You can see that diversity reflected in our, our staffing and in our programming.

Cuddy: Yeah.

Brown: Um, and also in our spaces, our, our murals, our design, that those aesthetics reflect those different identities seen throughout our city.

Cuddy: I understand that when you came here to run the library system, that you visited all 81 branches?

Brown: I think you had to because being one of the, one of the largest city libraries that remained open in the pandemic, I think our staff were out there serving the public, and I think you kind of just had to be out there with them so that they knew that you knew what it was like to be in that uncertain time and showing up for our, our city.

I remember when I visited our Woodson Regional Library and this was also around the time of more of like the, the civil unrest. I think a lot of, uh, repercussions of George Floyd. And the staff had created this social justice reading circle, and these were things that we were talking about as a system. Like we need to find a way to respond to desire for more programming around race and social justice.

Cuddy: The commissioner recalls that the very day Derek Chauvin was found guilty of the murder of George Floyd, Richard Wright's 1940 novel, “The Man Who Lived Underground,” which had previously been rejected for publication because of its exploration of police brutality and racism, was released to the public by the Library of America.

Brown: It almost felt like this, this moment of our country and our city, um, converging around this issue. We ended up having a Juneteenth event where we had all these luminaries in Chicago and in the publishing world come together to discuss this unpublished posthumous novel and what it meant in light of the racial and political moment we were in.

Cuddy: Yeah.

Brown: And, and I think that I saw a lot of that. The, the talent of our staff in their local neighborhoods and their incredible creativity and, and programming.

Cuddy: One of the things that you're doing and um, you've recently announced is building new branches. Um, what are some of the ideas, um, and goals driving the expansion of the system?

Brown: We know we have pockets of the city that haven't seen significant investment for decades. And when we're encouraging that investment, we need anchor tenants. We need institutions that we know will be in those neighborhoods year after year.

And so I, I think we're, we're really not just thinking about our library services, but we're thinking about how we can be part of that solution to revitalizing the neighborhoods of Chicago.

I think there's this piece of providing safe and welcoming space in 77 neighborhoods through 81 locations. And in our city, that really means something to have a space that you can go to, that you have adults in there that are ready to help you, and other teens that you can learn from and, and create with.

I think that's really important. There's that educational role, but there's also this more cultural hub role we play where we we're bringing in authors, we're having artist activities. We have cultural programs. We work with the parks and we work with the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and we're this neighborhood connector to cultural hubs.

We, we play so many roles.

Cuddy: I read this great thing you said, that some of the people that you think are really wise are leaders, are chefs and civil rights leaders, you know, and which is a really interesting match or pairing.

Brown: Yeah.

Cuddy: Um, but I think you were saying that both of them, whatever their expertise is or their, you know, what they've been well trained to do, that they also have this ethos of care that they try to create an experience of being cared for.

Brown: Yeah.

Cuddy: Whether you're going to a restaurant or, you know, you're part of like a movement. Um, and I wondered how you're thinking about trying to bring that ethos into the work that you do.

Brown: There are many people in our spaces that are unhoused or, um, in need of connection to food resources or jobs or mental health resources. And the challenge is, I mean they're there because we're one of those safe spaces where. we're inclusive of everyone. We're a public space, and at the same time, library staff, we don't really go to school to play this sort of like social service role.

And at the same time, we have to meet people where they are. They're in our libraries. These are the struggles that they have. If we're truly serving everyone and we're open to the entire city of Chicago, that's our mandate, is to be for the people of the city, to connect them to information, ideas. Um, some people may need some other services first, and I think if we don't address that, we don't get a chance to actually fulfill our mission of being for everyone.

Cuddy: Chris Brown is the commissioner of the Chicago Public Library.

Next time on Library for the People - public space. Libraries are one of the few truly free public spaces we have.

Brian Lee: I always liked the idea that perhaps a library could almost be like a small temple.

Cuddy: We'll talk with an architect about what goes into building them.

Library for the People is a production of PRX and the Chicago Public Library Foundation. The show is produced by Minju Park and Shane McEwen. The senior producer is Andrew Gill, and the executive producer is Jocelyn Gonzalez. The podcast is mixed by Merritt Jacob.

Mary Ellen Messner, Rica Bouso and Shamil Clay gave production oversight for Chicago Public Library. Morgan Church and Edwin Ochoa manage the project for PRX. I'm Alison Cuddy. See you next time on Library for the People.

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