Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined Chicago Public Library Commissioner Brian Bannon and local officials today to celebrate the opening of the new Albany Park Library Branch. The new 16,300-square-foot branch is nearly 6,000 square feet larger than the previous library, which served the community for 50 years.
“While the Albany Park Branch Library worked well for decades, it no longer adequately fulfilled the 21st century service needs of a community that is home to thousands of residents. This beautiful, modern building is a model for what a neighborhood library should be, representing an investment in the future of this community – its families and children,” said Mayor Emanuel. “It will provide the necessary resources for children to be successful in and after school and for residents to look forward to another 50 years of neighborhood library services.”
This state of the art facility offers a unique blend of traditional library services and the cutting edge technology featured in 21st century libraries. The Albany Park Branch is the first CPL location with a self-checkout station. It is one of six new library locations with YOUmedia digital programming for teens. The new enclosed teen digital learning center 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 expanded branch staff includes a representative from CPL’s new Teen Department.
“One of our main focuses is to help Chicago Strengthen its Communities,” said Library Commissioner Brian Bannon. “We are excited to be able to provide the Albany Park Community a state-of-the-art library that better serves the needs of patrons in this diverse community.”
With generous support from the Cindy Pritzker fund, through the Chicago Public Library Foundation, CPL built out the first early literacy and learning space at Albany Park to promote the five critical early literacy skills – Talk, Sing, Write, Read, & Play. This will serve as a model for children’s areas in branches throughout the city moving forward.
“Nothing serves as an engaging community hub like a neighborhood Library,” said Alderman Margaret Laurino. “Nowadays, a library is more than a place to shelve books, and the old building wasn’t designed to serve us the way we need today.”
The $15 million branch construction project was funded through the Lawrence-Kedzie TIF District and was managed by the Public Building Commission (PBC). It has an open floor plan designed for maximum natural light, with floors and ceilings that absorb noise. It includes reading rooms, a multipurpose community room, a separate teen space, two study rooms for small group work and an attractively landscaped reading garden on the west side of the building. The public technology increased from 10 computers to 38. As with all CPL public computers, these offer patrons access to the Internet, as well as Microsoft Office suite of productivity software, allowing them to write resumes, do homework, create spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations and more. In addition to the 38 public computers and laptops for use in the library, free Wi-Fi is also available for use on personal laptops and devices.
The branch also offers the services of a Teacher in the Library, a certified teacher on hand after school to assist students with homework and a CyberNavigator, who provides one-on-one assistance to help patrons better understand technology. Both programs are supported by the generous contributions from private donors through the Chicago Public Library Foundation. Live one-on-one Homework Help sessions are available online every day from 2 p.m. – 11 p.m., and in-person tutoring varies by Library location. More information can be found at chipublib.org. The new branch will continue to offer collections in Korean, Spanish, and Arabic as well as host a bilingual Korean/English adult book discussion and weekly Neighborhood Writing Alliance workshops.
Since 1873, the Chicago Public Library (CPL) has encouraged lifelong learning by welcoming all people and offering equal access to information, entertainment and knowledge through innovative services and programs, as well as cutting-edge technology. Through its 80 locations, the Library provides free access to a rich collection of materials, both physical and digital, and presents the highest quality author discussions, exhibits and programs for children, teens and adults. CPL recently received the Social Innovator Award from Chicago Innovation Awards; won a National Medal for Library Services from the Institute for Museum and Library Services and was ranked number one in the U.S. and third in the world by an international study of major urban libraries conducted by the Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf in Germany. For more information, visit chipublib.org or call the Chicago Public Library at (312) 747-4050.