Transcript: Library for the People Episode 6

Transcript: Library for the People Episode 5: The Future of Libraries

Eve L. Ewing: In the Harold Washington Library downtown, when you enter in the lobby, there's a sign that says, “Welcome Home.” And that is, boy, whoever came up with that, I really owe them a debt of gratitude because I, that's really how I feel every, every time I come into the library space.

Alison Cuddy: Libraries feel like home to many people. Maybe over the course of listening to this podcast, you've come to feel that way too. But as with any home, we're often looking for ways to improve things, to think about what's next. So, what is the future of this place that feels like home to so many, including Dr. Eve L. Ewing, look like?

From the Chicago Public Library Foundation and PRX, this is Library for the People, a podcast celebrating 150 years of the Chicago Public Library. I'm Alison Cuddy. Today is our final episode of this podcast. We've spent time exploring the history and present day of the library. Now we'll focus on the future.

We'll hear from a number of library leaders, including Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson, the writer Dr. Eve L. Ewing, and many more to ask them where they think the library is headed and how they'll help out.

Our first stop is on the fifth floor of a City Hall to meet with Mayor Brandon Johnson. Johnson was elected in a runoff this past April on a progressive platform, with a heavy emphasis on youth and education. Makes sense, given he's a former public school teacher. We started by talking about the mayor's own library story.

Mayor Brandon Johnson: I'm just thinking immediately my time as a teenager, how, you know, libraries were safe spaces, um, places where you can get your work done and kick it at the same time. Um, I was always, um, encouraged by my older brothers that if you are serious about dating. You want to meet her at the library. Really? I mean, for real.

That's why I have the smartest wife in the world. . .

Cuddy: You met at the library?

Mayor Johnson: No, we didn't. However, she spent a lot of time in the library though.

Cuddy: Do you have any memories of your time as a teacher and how your students would engage with the library?

Mayor Johnson: Librarians are the smartest people in the world. There wasn't a question that you could not bring to a librarian and they would not have the answer or they, they didn't know where to help you find the answer.

And so when I became a teacher, what I appreciated about the library and more specifically librarians, the way the library and librarians can take a theme and help education come alive for young people. It's like when I grew up to my other early life experiences in the library.

The way you knew what season it was just based upon how the library's decor looked and how it made everything so rich and so full.

Cuddy: Youth are so central to your platform as mayor, um, thinking about all kinds of things, how to educate youth, how to offer them employment, how to keep them safe. Where does the library fit within that priority in particular?

Mayor Johnson: We want our young people to gather wisdom and understanding from people who've had the experiences and the wisdom that can be offered to help them develop. And we should not lose sight of, you know, the creativity and the voice that comes from youth experience. And so for me, centering young people in our work keeps us grounded.

It reminds us all of the hopes and dreams and aspirations that we once held. And maybe we still have. That there's a generation that's available to achieve and to experience the hopes and dreams that maybe a generation ago was not able to ascertain and or experience. I think about my own legacy. I come from a legacy of, you know, individuals who saw education as a way forward.

And then not only did I become an educator, but now my leadership has propelled me to the fifth floor, one of the largest economies in the world. And so because someone invested in me, someone was patient with me, someone recognized the value of me, um, being challenged to think critically, independently, but also creatively, that that work propelled me into my purpose and call. And what if we did that for hundreds of thousands of young people all over the city of Chicago, where they can see their purpose and value and their worth, their creativity?

Who amongst our young people today have the answer for prevailing issues and matters that have not been solved yet? Right? And so, centering our work around young people, it's a matter of building a generation and building the next 150 years.

Cuddy: One of the things that the library recently announced was the creation of new branches, and many of them are being thought of to your point about what does the library do now and how is it different from, say, when we were going to the library as teenagers.

Um, that they're being built as community hubs in a way, and they're being combined with services that are really important to you. Affordable housing, um, health care, childcare, even schools in some cases. And I just wondered what your observations are in terms of this trend toward making libraries kind of community hubs.

Mayor Johnson: I'm grateful that there has been an effort to expedite reimagining all of our public spaces, but particularly our libraries. It is so critical that we offer more than what we were offered growing up. Because the needs have changed and quite frankly, the demands have changed, right? I'm grateful that the library system has been nimble enough to adjust to meet those needs, right?

So whether it's a library community center, but outdoor space, you know, libraries that provide mental health and health care support services so that when families do show up with needs, you don't send them away.

Cuddy: How do you think the mayor's office and the city overall, the government, can support those efforts to be nimble and to respond to these social needs?

Mayor Johnson: Investments in all of our public space. It's critical, um, and the Office of the Mayor has an enormous task, but yet an incredible opportunity to do something that can set us apart in a way that, quite frankly, sets an example and a tone for how government should be administered. And that's why I'm committed to making sure that our library system as a whole, it extends into school communities, and so, providing opportunities and pathways for individuals to become librarians.

I think that's critical, right? Uh, making sure that the technology is available. So that this system can offer that much more.

Cuddy: Are there success stories of the library that you are considering for the city writ large?

Mayor Johnson: I believe that the library system creating opportunities for, for people to serve and to work and for programs to exist is a real good example of, of how all of our systems can be a system of care.

The, the library system in and of itself, if you think about it, it's the one system that typically doesn't have a denial. And, and if we're just being vulnerable and honest about our, our government, too often, whatever services that are needed, there's an application process, there's a wait list. Um, I mean, the worst case scenario in the library, you have to wait a week before someone returns a book.

However, there's always something else there and available so that no one is denied. Right? And so, I see the library and the library system as an example of how government as a whole has to work. No one gets denied. And then here's a cool thing about the library system - whatever you check out that you use, it's still available for other people to benefit from it as well.

And that's what government has to do as a whole. We need government to be a paying it forward structure. Much like the library system has been.

Cuddy: They are additional pressures on the library, right? And at the same time, those successes are also challenges, and good challenges, I think. How can the city support the library financially? I mean, is that in the cards?

Mayor Johnson: The safest cities in America all have one thing in common. The safest cities in America invest in people.

So, what do we need? We need... A society that is built on, again, a real system of care. And one of the ways in which we demonstrate how we care is that we make sure that our investments are aligned. It demonstrates how much we actually care for people. And having public accommodations. Truly meet the expectations that particularly descendants of slaves required once emancipation was granted, that those who were formerly enslaved, transportation, education, housing, health care could pay in jobs.

How does our city, um, demonstrate that it cares for people? We demonstrate that by investing in them, and libraries are an incredible part of, of that investment. And I'm committed, as many people are aware, of making sure that we have a well-resourced system. And the libraries play an incredible role there, and if anyone is mad at the Mayor of Chicago for investing in libraries, I really don't know what else I can say, right?

Because, again, it's a place that not only creates memories, but it allows for dreams and imaginations, um, to not just come alive, but be fulfilled, and I'm an example of that.

Cuddy: Mayor Brandon Johnson, thank you so much for joining us on Library for the People.

Mayor Johnson: You're welcome. Thank you for having me.

Cuddy: Mayor Brandon Johnson is Chicago's 57th mayor.

We're heading to the Chicago Public Library Foundation to meet with its board chair, Bob Wislow. The Foundation has been an essential partner to the library. Helping raise funds for programming, in part by hosting events like A Night in the Stacks and the Library Foundation Awards, an annual star-studded celebration of writers and artists.

Past honorees have included George R. R. Martin, Mavis Staples, Amy Tan, and Dr. Eve L. Ewing. Wislow, a significant force in real estate development, both in Chicago and around the world, got involved with the library when his firm won the design competition to build the Harold Washington Library Center, Chicago's central library.

Completed in 1991, it's a project he says was the most challenging and the most meaningful of his career.

Bob Wislow: There were architectural critics who were leaning more towards a more modern, more contemporary building, but we were trying to build a building for the ages. We copied the famous Chicago, uh, department stores by putting escalators all the way up and down the building, so that you got this treat of seeing the different floors as you were headed to the floor where you are, and you got teased to stop at another department on the way or to come back.

Cuddy: Like many who visit the main branch, Wislow's favorite feature is on the building's ninth floor.

Wislow: The Winter Garden is my favorite element of the design. Um, we had the ability to be able to do a public space either on the ground floor or an outdoor space or an indoor space. And we tried to meld that together by making an indoor space that really read like the outdoors. And that's why the massive, massive skylight that that space has.

Cuddy: Well, and it makes sense in a city that has pretty brutal winters that you would try to meld that indoor outdoor experience.

Wislow: On a wonderful winter day, on a bright day, you feel like you're outside on a spring day.

Cuddy: Yeah.

Wislow: And the room works very well at night as well.

Cuddy: After completing the project, Wislow got a call from Cindy Pritzker. Pritzker is a cultural force in Chicago and beyond, responsible for the Pritzker Prize in Architecture, the Frank Gehry designed Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, and Cindy's, the stunning rooftop restaurant on Michigan Avenue. Like the 19th century group of supporters who rallied for a public library in Chicago, she too has been a staunch advocate.

Pritzker had already raised significant funds, but she wanted to do more. And she especially wanted Wislow's help creating a foundation that would financially sustain the library. It was a call he couldn't refuse.

Wislow: Cindy is just, if she wants to get something done, she knows how to get it done. She's a definite visionary, uh, and nobody says no to Cynthia Pritzker.

Cuddy: Wislow says from the start, the library foundation was clear about what role it could and could not play.

Wislow: So we're in a unique position as a public private partnership that the city and everybody involved know that our money does not pay for positions and does not pay for capital projects, but pays for those things that make our library distinctive. You can't do construction.

You can't pay for positions. Uh, that should be funded by the city. But you can do the new things, the experimental things, the things that are going to make this library unique and different. There is a, there's a university in Germany that ranks libraries on a worldwide basis.

Uh, and we're number one in the nation and number three in the world, and I think it's because we've been able to create these very different distinctive programs on an experimental basis as those programs worked, uh, and as we showed and proved that they were good, then the city would begin to take funding over for those programs and we'd move on to something new.

The YOUmedia program is just the perfect example of that. At the time we created the program, there was not one teen librarian in the city of Chicago library system. There were children's librarians, there were adult librarians, but there were no teen librarians. The program was so successful, and this was one library, we were doing this in the Harold Washington Library, so successful that we've expanded that program now.

Uh, it is a national model, so going from no teen librarians to a three-million-dollar budget, um, it's a program that has changed what our library system is dramatically because we put that initial investment in and the city matched it multifold.

Cuddy: As much as Wislow is celebrating the library's 150th birthday, he's even more excited about other projects at the foundation, ones he thinks can bring the library to new levels of service across all of Chicago's 81 branches.

Wislow: We've just got a program completed, which we've been working on for a long time, which is called the 81 Club, where every single Chicago Public Schools student has a library card. We want to make sure they use those cards. Uh, and if we can integrate these with certain schools where that'll work together with school, that's great.

We've done libraries and public housing projects, which is really wonderful, especially in the senior projects, the senior public housing projects. Where we get to bring people who are using the library into those projects and the people in the projects, you know, integrating with the people in the community.

I think that's going to focus attention on what we think about libraries here in Chicago. That we think they're something that could be integrated into other major projects, uh, and that the libraries bring a gift to those projects to expand the scope about what they're doing. It's wonderful to look back on 150 years of what's been done, but that's already done, and it's here and it's our base.

So what are we going to do next? To be an example on a national and on a, on a global basis about what a library can be and what it can bring to a community.

Cuddy: Bob Wislow is the board chair of the Chicago Public Library Foundation. Coming up...

Jorge Mayorga: And I want my library to be a space where kids could build, build things.

I want my library to have a lot of nature spaces, um, and I want it to smell like coffee. I want a coffee shop to be in the library and space for yoga.

Cuddy: We spend more time looking into the future of the library at an interactive exhibition.

[Chicago Public Library Foundation ad]

Cuddy: Sometimes figuring out the future means looking back. In this case, by visiting the first ever central library in Chicago. We're on the corner of Randolph Street and Michigan Avenue across the street from Millennium Park, Chicago's front yard. Once known as Dearborn Park, this was the proposed site for Chicago's premier library.

After an arrangement was made with a Civil War veterans’ group, who also had claims on the land, that the library would house a dedication to soldiers who fought for the North. That space, known as the G.A.R Rotunda, is just one of the many gems inside this solid looking, neoclassic granite and limestone building.

Completed in 1897 by the same trio of architects who built the Art Institute of Chicago, this building is a fantasy of high culture, grounded in some of the world's finest materials, Italian Carrara and Irish Connemara marble, gold leaf, mother of pearl, stained glass and various hardwoods. There are Roman and Greek inspired elements, arches and columns.

The names of classic and American authors are inscribed. Cicero, Plato, Hawthorne, Longfellow and others. There are not one but two incredible domes, including the world's largest Tiffany dome with glass cut in the shape of fish tails and topped by the signs of the Zodiac. Now known as the Chicago Cultural Center, but affectionately referred to as the People's Palace, this is still a place to inspire your imagination with free concerts, art exhibitions and programs.

We're headed into the small but intriguing exhibition, “Reimagine Your Public Library,” part of the forthcoming Chicago Architecture Biennial.

Aylen Pacheco: My name is Aylen Pacheco. I'm a project manager at Human Scale. Um, I'm also a co-founder.

Jorge Mayorga: I'm Jorge Mayorga. I'm also a co-founder of Human Scale.

Cuddy: Human Scale is a nonprofit architecture firm that reimagines public space in partnership with neighborhoods, primarily on Chicago's south and west sides.

Most of their projects have been community gardens, so moving their focus to libraries makes perfect sense. They're both community hubs beloved by their neighbors. Pacheco and Mayorga say the exhibition reflects their commitment to ensuring the community they work with plays a big role in determining the final design.

Mayorga: This gave us the opportunity to engage people that we don't have access to or don't know about design or have access to architects or, um, you know, having to pay a designer to design something. So we wanted to give that opportunity to people, uh, to create their own reimagined library. Um, and get a little bit exposed to the architectural or design world.

Cuddy: Everything in the space has been designed by Human Scale. There are simple benches and tables that fit into each other like puzzle pieces and can be reassembled to accommodate different groups. Along one wall is a long wooden panel covered with cross shaped pegs. What in another context looks like a decorative element is here, actually, a mood board.

It's designed to hold hand sized wooden puzzle images that are covered with bright photographs. Pacheco describes them.

Pacheco: So we have images on these puzzle pieces that include like lavender or waves, different kinds of programs like art classes, STEM workshops, um, tunnels, uh, amphitheaters, and, um, then just different cultural, um, performances.

Cuddy: Pick up a couple of pieces, snap them together on the mood board, and you begin to create a visual blueprint of your ideal space.

Pacheco: When you walk into a space or when you walk into a library, like, what kind of programs do you see in there? What does it smell like? What does it sound like? What architectural features are there?

Cuddy: Mayorga demonstrates how a mood board might work. The puzzle pieces can also snap together into a free form, three-dimensional structure.

Mayorga: I’m going to choose four puzzle pieces. Um, and I want my library to be a space where kids could build things. I want my library to have a lot of nature spaces. Um, and I want it to smell like coffee. I want a coffee shop to be in the library. And a space for yoga.

So then I want to create a space where kids could come together, do some, uh, arts and crafts or build something. But I want that space to be, uh, peaceful. So then, yeah, this is my three-dimensional collage. And as you can see, it's creating relationships.

Like having a kid’s studio where they can build stuff, uh, right next to the vegetation or, uh, outdoor garden.

Cuddy: In another area of the exhibition, visitors respond to questions about their neighborhoods using sticky notes.

Pacheco: These questions aren't necessarily asking very pointed questions about libraries. Uh, and that was intentional because we wanted people to think about their neighborhood and what it symbolizes for them and what they like about it and what they would like to see change there.

And the idea is basically to drop these seeds or drop ideas about you know, what you feel about your neighborhood, and how you would like it to grow and to change. And then put that in the context of a library.

Cuddy: I like this one, actually. It says, anti-capitalist revolution, and then someone wrote, “No,” pointing to that. And then someone wrote, “Hi, fellows.”

Pacheco: I think, actually, this last question is really exciting, because the prompt is, “what changes could be transformative for your neighborhood?” And then you basically get answers like, affordable housing, more bike lanes.

This one says, um, “people being kind” and they having good manners, like saying hi and thank you, please. Um, this one says, “after school activities and places for youth to be themselves,” from Brighton Park.

It's been great because all the responses that we've been getting have been very meaningful. A lot of times you'll get some drawings and stuff like that, but it's, um, it's really cool to just see people are actually engaging. And when you give people the opportunity to actually leave their thoughts and ideas,like they will.

Cuddy: Aylen Pacheco and Jorge Mayorga are co-founders of the nonprofit architecture firm Human Scale. Their exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center wrapped up in June. Coming up...

Eve L. Ewing: Libraries are places that are repositories of people's memories, people's intentions, people's questions, the puzzles they were trying to figure out, their lost loves, you know, all of these things. Their correspondence and so on and so forth. And so that to me is a very magical thing about archives and it's a very like Afro-futuristic and very time travel-y thing about archives.

Cuddy: We continue our conversation on the future of libraries with sociologist, poet, comic book writer and Afrofuturist, Dr. Eve L. Ewing.

[Chicago Public Library Foundation ad]

Cuddy: Dr. Eve L. Ewing always has so many projects on the go, it wouldn't be surprising to find out she's mastered time travel. She's a professor of sociology at the University of Chicago and an author of nonfiction, plays and poetry. She also writes comic books and is the first Black woman ever to write a Black Panther story.

And she was the first writer of “Ironheart,” a comic book focused on Riri Williams, a Black teenage genius. I wanted to start by talking about you and your relationship to libraries. Did you ever think of becoming a librarian?

Ewing: I don't think I ever thought about being an actual librarian, which is, which is interesting, um, to hear you ask me that.

Cause I, so many of my early childhood memories are of, of libraries. Um, but I, I always thought of librarians as kind of allies and coconspirators, you know? Um, yeah, if anyone is looking for a library detective, I should add that I don't actually have any detective or like mystery solving skills, but I just think that that would be a cool job.

Cuddy: Yeah, I think scholarly researcher probably gives you a lot of the skills that are similar to what a detective does, you know?

Ewing: I do think that, um, a lot of my work now has involved archives. And I think that archives have emerged as a kind of, uh, thread and research has obviously emerged as a thread in all of the work that I do, you know, and so I think that that I think I would like to be a librarian.

Cuddy: Well, let's put in a plug for someone to make you an honorary librarian.

Ewing: Oh, if that is such a thing, that would be really great. I would love to be like a librarian for a day and help people find things or just stand behind the counter and smile at people.

Cuddy: How have libraries shaped you? You talked about how the archive is a thread throughout all of your work.

Um, so I think for me moving from city to city, the library is always a place that I go to orient myself to that city to figure out, you know, what it's about or, and also just to like, take care of myself in a way.

Ewing: Yeah. Yeah, me too. I mean, you know, I have Boston Public Library cards and D.C. Public Library card and I think that it's also a way of kind of getting a snapshot of a community. Because when you walk into the library you're gonna see all the people that make up this place and even with like the signage and you know what kinds of events are being advertised.

What kinds of resources are being offered. That gives you a little bit of an insight into the culture of the place that you're entering. And I think that's very special. Um In the Harold Washington Library downtown, when you enter in the lobby, uh, there's a sign that says, “Welcome Home.” And that is, boy, whoever came up with that, I really owe them a debt of gratitude because I, that's really how I feel every, every time I, I come into the library space.

Cuddy: I mean, so libraries have been important to your writing and you've used the archives to research your books. And, um, you know, there are spaces where your work appears and you appear. Have libraries been places in your, in your writing, actual or imaginary?

Ewing: So “Maya and the Robot” is a book I wrote for middle grade readers.

So it's like, uh, eight, nine, ten year olds. And uh, as the title suggests, it's about a girl named Maya, whose best friend is a robot. And if I recall correctly, she goes to the library and checks out a bunch of language learning CDs that she uses to program translation capabilities into her robot. I think that that might be the only library scene that I can think of.

And so now I need to make it a personal goal to write another library scene. But I will say that the library is sort of in the backdrop of all of these things that I've written in different ways, because so many of my own writings involve me going to the library. And I would like to think that the work carries the traces of the places that I moved through in order to create the work. Certainly for, for “1919” and for all these things that, um, for “No Blue Memories,” which is the play about Gwendolyn Brooks that I co-wrote with my friend Nate Marshall.

You know, we, we used archives for that. I would like to think that the traces of those happenings are also present in the text in some intangible way.

Cuddy: Yeah, and I also think that I, I totally agree with that. And you talked about for your work and for you, it's the archive, um, and the way the archive figures in so much of what you do. Are there other things that are through lines in your work or that you would say are through lines of the library, which also has all this different stuff going on?

Ewing: I think that archives. are sort of, you know, time traveling portals because they are, when you look at something in an archive, I mean, we'll talk about physical archives for now. We can talk about digital archives in a second. But what you're looking at is the trace of something that somebody left for you.

Uh, and so libraries are places that are repositories of people's memories, people's intentions, people's questions, the puzzles they were trying to figure out. Their lost loves, you know, all of these things. Their correspondence, and so on and so forth. And so that to me is a very magical thing about archives.

And it's a very like, Afrofuturistic and very time travel-y thing about archives, very sci-fi thing about archives that I like, is that, you know, when you read a book, it's somebody talking to you in your head across time and space, right? It's like a time travel device. And archives are very much also time travel devices and, um, I think that for libraries being the space where that becomes public and accessible and visible and usable and fungible is, is very, very cool.

I think one other thread is that, um, you know, Black girlhood and Black womanhood is a very important, um, thread in my work. Um, childhood also, right? The intersections of, of all those things. And I think that one of my personal Chicago heroes is, is Vivian Harsh. Um, you know, who is a, a Black Chicago librarian.

And across history, there are all these examples of Black women librarians in particular, um, being, you know, people who brought a critical and generous lens to the space of the library. And I think that, you know, um, Black women have a long and particular history in this country of, you know, as we say, like, lifting as you climb, you know, of, being at the forefront of social services, being at the forefront of mutual aid efforts.

And so I think it's not a coincidence that Black women figure in these kind of particular and special ways in the history of libraries.

Cuddy: Your comments about Vivian Harsh, you know, we have talked about Vivian Harsh on the podcast earlier, and it's amazing to think of the work that she did. I was thinking about this, this morning, was in a way building the future, that, that archive, that collection that she built is really making so much things and will continue to make so many things possible, um, as more and more people engage with it.

If you were imagining a future library, or we are imagining one, do they look the same? Um, do they have the same things in them? Are they about brick-and-mortar buildings? Are they about material, you know, books, um, objects that we can handle and look at?

Ewing: I think that no matter what happens, even if it becomes a relatively small fraction of, um, what goes on there, that even with the advent of digital resources and, and non-tangible resources, that the physical space of the library will always be important and is always something to preserve.

Even if it's just a space for people to read, or gather or have lunch, or take a nap or just be somewhere without paying for anything or asking anybody permission, right? I think that that is always going to be important. I'm also thinking about the ways in which libraries can continue to be places that perhaps, um, not only are repositories of objects, but places that invite us into relationship with our more than human relatives, right?

Um, seed libraries, plant libraries, gardening, libraries as gardening spaces, libraries as spaces to interact with non-human animals. Um, and, you know, places to interact with the stars, places that facilitate you being outside. I think that what's powerful about libraries is I would like to imagine a world in which the ethos of the library extends as a form of expertise to inform the way we think, act, and behave towards one another beyond the space of the library itself.

I love to read about and learn about, um, different regional libraries in different parts of the country or the world that lend different types of materials that are responsive to the needs of that community, right? And so, you know, in California, lending camping supplies, right, that you can go, like… we know that camping is really fun, it's really great activity.

It can also be really expensive to start up, to buy a tent, to buy this, that, and the other. Libraries where you can borrow tools, libraries where you can borrow all kinds of other materials, um, that help you engage with the world, with your family, with your loved ones, with your inner life and with your community.

And so I want to see lots and lots and lots of that continuing to flourish in libraries. But moreover, I want to see the ethos of that, um, expanding and flourishing in the rest of our world.

But I think that, you know, Chicago in particular, um, one of the many things I'm proud of in our city is all of the different ways that people have been so creative in the last decade around this ethos of sharing.

And in Chicago, there is a childcare collaborative that shows up and provides child care at protests and organizing spaces, right? Um, there are people organizing around menstrual products for people who need those. There are people organizing around getting, uh, gender affirming and fun and good feeling clothes for trans and gender nonconforming people, right?

Furniture for people that are, that were recently unhoused and are now maybe getting their first apartments or people that were recently incarcerated. Um, there are all these different, really creative projects around sharing that have sprung up in our city. I mean, I think it's awesome when many of those things can live in the library itself because, you know, it's publicly funded, it's sustainable, there's an appropriate space.

I love in Chicago how our branch libraries are so diversely spread around the city. I know that there's still more work to do and some really exciting renovations coming up on some of the regional libraries, um, but compared to a lot of other services and resources in our city libraries, I would say are pretty equitably distributed, right?

And so, um, when those economies of sharing can live in the library, I think that's really, really wonderful, but I also just want to continue to see that mode of thinking proliferating in  all these different spaces.

Cuddy: Thank you, Dr. Eve L. Ewing. It is always such a pleasure to talk with you.

Ewing: Thanks, Alison. It's so nice to talk with you. I really appreciate the conversation.

Cuddy: Thank you. Dr. Eve L. Ewing is a writer, scholar and cultural organizer from Chicago. The first issues she's written of “Black Panther” are available now.

And that's it for Library for the People. Thank you so much for joining us on this journey through one of America's greatest ideas.

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. It 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 managed the project for PRX. I'm Alison Cuddy. See you in the library, people!

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