WBEZ | libraries http://www.wbez.org/tags/libraries Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Libraries: Beyond the books http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/libraries-beyond-books-108170 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/117674644" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Shanlie Ann Stead says she&rsquo;s had a lifelong love of libraries and, as she recollects it, she personally experienced how far that love could go &mdash; straight from a library to her own apartment&rsquo;s walls.</p><p>She tells a story of being at the Waukegan library several years ago and noticing stacks of paintings. She says she perked up when a passing librarian said &ldquo;&lsquo;You know, you can check those out.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Shanlie took the library up on the offer.</p><p>&ldquo;That made a huge difference for me,&rdquo; Shanlie said, &ldquo;because &nbsp;I could actually check out paintings and decorate my apartment.&rdquo;</p><p>This nugget of curiosity about libraries stuck with her, and she wondered how other libraries handle checkouts and what&rsquo;s beyond books on the shelves. Figuring that there must be &ldquo;some unique things&rdquo; available for the taking, she asked us:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>&ldquo;What are some of the most curious and surprising things one can check out from a public library?&rdquo;</em></p><p>Well, we talked to staff at dozens of area libraries and posed them your very question, which led many librarians to talk about what role the public library plays for all of us today.</p><p>&ldquo;It used to be about the physical object and now it&#39;s about the knowledge,&rdquo; said Kelly Cuci, head of outreach services in Orland Park. &ldquo;It&#39;s about exporting knowledge to anybody. &hellip; It&#39;s about the knowledge package given to the person or the skill program, rather than the book.&rdquo;</p><p>You can see this principle across our area&rsquo;s libraries. Take the one in Orland Park, which is set to unveil a collection of nearly 200 artifacts from NASA on Sept. 15. The Waukegan Public Library recently inherited the personal library of native son Ray Bradbury. Of course, several librarians brought attention to their e-books and devices like the Nook, which would allow the contents of a basic book to be read in a digital format.</p><p>Nonetheless, the three most curious and surprising things we found available to take home from local libraries are physical &mdash; not digital &mdash; objects. In their own way, these objects can be used to impart knowledge in library patrons, just like books.</p><p><strong>Fishing pole</strong><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/fishing rod OUTSIDE FOR WEB.jpg" style="float: right; height: 233px; width: 350px;" title="Nine of the 79 Chicago Public Library branches offer fishing poles for check-out. (WBEZ/Bill Healy)" /></p><p>Out of the Chicago Public Library&#39;s 79 branches, <a href="https://www.chipublib.org/eventsprog/programs/nature_conn.php">nine offer fishing poles </a>with a tackle and bait set. (Worms not included.)</p><p>Unsurprisingly, the nine branches are close to the fishing waters of Lake Michigan, the Chicago River or lagoons.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s important because people who are normally in the inner city don&rsquo;t normally get an opportunity to go fish,&rdquo; said Lala Rodgers, who manages the Sherman Park branch, where 30 poles can be taken out on loan.</p><p>Just like most materials, poles can be checked out for three weeks at a time.</p><p>The poles can be checked out of the following branches: Albany Park, Blackstone, Douglass, Hegewisch, Humboldt Park, McKinley Park, Rogers Park, Sherman Park and Uptown.</p><p><strong>Sculptures</strong></p><p>The <a href="http://www.aurorapubliclibrary.org">Aurora Public Library</a> had spent decades building a catalog of art (all copies, not originals), but for the past dozen years or so, it&rsquo;s been disbanding it.</p><p>Life goes on, though, for the library&rsquo;s 30 sculptures, almost all of which cost less than $100. They&rsquo;re still available for checking out for eight weeks at a time.</p><p>Becky Tatar, the library&rsquo;s audiovisual head, chose the collection based on what she thinks would interest her patrons, both from an aesthetic and educational standpoint.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/STATUE FOR WEB.jpg" style="float: left; height: 233px; width: 350px;" title="You can check out sculptures at the Aurora Public Library for eight weeks at a time. (WBEZ/Billy Healy)" />&ldquo;There&#39;s things for all interests,&rdquo; Tatar said. &ldquo;People can check things out for their office. They can check things out for their home.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Why do people have art in their home?&rdquo; she asked, rhetorically. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s the same thing for why we would have art in the library. Because it makes people think. It looks nice. It creates interest.&rdquo;</p><p>The sculptures used to be a popular option to spruce up office spaces back in the 1990s. But the sculptures aren&rsquo;t checked out very often anymore. Tatar says just one item &mdash; an angel holding two vases, a copy of a 14th century French original &mdash; has been checked out multiple times this year.</p><p>Other sculptures include busts of Martin Luther King Jr., Beethoven and the University of Illinois&rsquo; Chief Illiniwek. There&rsquo;s also a miniature edition of Rodin&rsquo;s <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Thinker">The Thinker</a>.</p><p><strong>A green screen (and other video producing equipment)</strong></p><p>The <a href="http://www.skokielibrary.info/s_about/how/Tech_Resources/DML.asp">Skokie&rsquo;s Public Library&rsquo;s digital media lab</a> is outfitted with the latest tech, &nbsp;from computers to drawing tablets to guitars that patrons can use for their creative needs.</p><p>&quot;It is a really awesome place because it&#39;s a place where people can create knowledge,&quot; said Mick Jacobsen, who oversees the lab. &quot;We create a space where people can use really great computers, really great equipment, really great software and create some amazing media.&quot;</p><p>Much of that gear can&rsquo;t be checked out due to licensing arrangements, but there among the items you can walk out with are: hard drives, audio recorders and simple video cameras. The latter include the GoPro, which can be attached to a person&rsquo;s head or body for action shots.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/GREEN SCREEN for web.jpg" style="float: right; height: 233px; width: 350px;" title="In an effort to keep up with the YouTube age, Skokie Public Library has a green screen available for checkout. (WBEZ/Bill Healy)" /></p><p>But perhaps the oddest thing that can be taken home from this lab is the green screen, which costs no more than $80.</p><p>&ldquo;If you&#39;ve got a family photo &mdash; you didn&#39;t make it to Paris this year, you know, you never know what happened &mdash; you can still get to Paris,&rdquo; Jacobsen said. &ldquo;Well, not really, but you can certainly take your picture.&rdquo;</p><p>Jacobsen said in the age of YouTube, his library is stepping into the role of &ldquo;community access television&rdquo; by giving patrons equipment they might otherwise use at most twice in their lives.</p><p>Asked if patrons find a library offering this kind of equipment on loan as &ldquo;weird,&rdquo; Jacobsen replied: &quot;Weird is not really what they say. It&#39;s more surprise like &#39;Really?&#39; We are just branded books and that&#39;s just the way we are seen.&quot;</p><p><strong>How did Shanlie take this?</strong></p><p>After getting a preview of our list, Shanlie Ann Stead called the idea of public libraries stocking sculptures as &quot;cool&quot; and fishing poles as &quot;romantic.&quot; She also recognized the significance of libraries like Skokie moving to offer equipment like green screens for media production.</p><p>&ldquo;I find that very progressive. Personally I think that was a really great thing for them considering the age of technology we live in,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Compare that to a fishing pole. There&#39;s a lot of area in between there.&quot;</p><p><strong>The honorable mentions</strong></p><p>Here are other interesting items available in metropolitan Chicago libraries:</p><ul dir="ltr"><li><p>At the Joliet Public Library, <strong>two American Girl dolls</strong>, Addy and Josefina, are hot items.</p></li><li><p>At the Waukegan Public Library, people can check out <strong>3D puzzles</strong>.</p></li><li><p><strong>Video games</strong> are available at various libraries including Libertyville&rsquo;s Cook Memorial Public Library and in Aurora.</p></li><li><p>Though Aurora has disbanded its <strong>art print collection</strong>, the Des Plaines Public Library still lends out similar art.</p></li><li><p>Aurora also has about 20 file cabinets of <strong>sheet music</strong>.</p></li><li><p>Skokie lends out <strong>animal puppets</strong> to go along with certain children&rsquo;s books.</p></li><li>Along the lines of creation at the public library, Chicago&rsquo;s Harold Washington Library Center recently became home to a &quot;maker lab,&quot; which allows those taking classes to use software to create objects using <strong>3D printers and computerized wood carving machines.</strong></li></ul><p>Did we miss anything Shanlie Ann Stead should know about? Drop a comment below if you&rsquo;ve checked out something notable from a Chicago area library. What was it? Where did you check it out from? When?</p><p><em>Tanveer Ali is a freelance producer who has worked for organizations that include WBEZ, the Chicago News Cooperative and DNAinfo.com. Follow him @tanveerali.</em></p></p> Wed, 24 Jul 2013 14:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/libraries-beyond-books-108170 Not all suburban libraries are created equal http://www.wbez.org/news/not-all-suburban-libraries-are-created-equal-107923 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Cicero%203.JPG" style="height: 347px; width: 620px;" title="In trying to meet the needs of its booming Latino population, Cicero Public Library offers English language classes to patrons. (WBEZ/Adriana Cardona) " /></p><p>The American Library Association just wrapped up its annual conference in Chicago this week. High on the agenda was new technology, creative programming, and helping libraries do more with less. That last one is especially important for towns in Greater Chicago that rely on them for additional services like job training.</p><p>But not all suburban libraries have equal amounts of revenue coming in. WBEZ visited two suburban libraries serving roughly the same amount of people, but with vastly different resources.</p><p>The first is <a href="http://ahml.info/" target="_blank">Arlington Heights Memorial Library</a>. When you walk inside the newly remodeled library the first thing you notice is the light...streaming through large windows and skylights above.</p><p>The space looks less like a library and more like a sleek new Apple store, which is appropriate since patrons can check out iPads from the front desk.</p><p>Jason Kuhl, the library&rsquo;s executive director, gave me a personal tour shortly before the library completed its remodeling last winter.</p><p>&ldquo;Everyone at Arlington Heights really does love the library,&rdquo; Kuhl said. &ldquo;We had 900 thousand visitors last year and I would like to say that&#39;s more than the Blackhawks had, that&rsquo;s more than the Bears drew and that&rsquo;s more than the Bulls drew.&rdquo;</p><p>The library has three different editing suites each with audio and video production software. Local businesses can book conference rooms with projectors. Then there&rsquo;s the fireplace and a fancy coffee bar.</p><p>A few miles south, at the <a href="http://www.cicerolibrary.org/" target="_blank">Cicero Public Library</a> things are a little different. Jane Schoen is the director there and also gave me a tour.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;We have a job board here and people are checking it all the time,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;We have our public computers that people use to complete resumes.</p><p>Cicero had its own renovation about ten years ago when it was merged with a former warehouse next door. And it&rsquo;s also fairly spacious like the library in Arlington Heights.</p><p>But, that&rsquo;s where the similarities end.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Cicero%2011.JPG" style="float: right; height: 196px; width: 350px;" title="Jane Schoen is the director of the Cicero Public Library. Comparing her funding with libraries in wealthier suburbs like Arlington Heights she says, 'No, it’s not fair but it just is.' (WBEZ/Adriana Cardona)" />While Arlington Heights offers patrons personalized tech help for their gadgets, not to mention in-house iPads, Cicero struggles to maintain basic services (a quick glance at each library&rsquo;s websites is telling).</p><p>&ldquo;We would like to keep up a little bit more with technology,&rdquo; Schoen said. &ldquo;We don&rsquo;t yet have wireless printing for instance.&rdquo;</p><p>On paper these libraries don&rsquo;t look that different. Both serve around 80 thousand people but their spending per capita is wildly different. As of 2011, the Arlington Heights library had $177.29 to spend per person. In Cicero they had $20.97 per person &ndash; nearly nine times less. [see table below]</p><p>&ldquo;No, it&rsquo;s not fair but it just is,&rdquo; Schoen said. &ldquo;If you live in a poor community you don&#39;t get as many property taxes as communities that have million dollar homes and pay a lot of taxes on their properties.&rdquo;</p><p>Unlike Chicago Public Libraries which have a centralized funding system, nearly 90 percent of the money for suburban libraries comes from their local property tax dollars. The rest comes from public and private grants.</p><p>&ldquo;Some libraries have people that do nothing but look for grants, or that&rsquo;s a big part of their job, and we don&rsquo;t have that resource here,&rdquo; Schoen said.&nbsp;</p><p>Mary Johnson is the executive director of Corazon Community Services, a group that offers programs for youth and adults in Cicero.&nbsp; She said there&rsquo;s little anyone can do about the way funding is allocated to public services, but she feels foundations too often place their priorities in Cicero&rsquo;s next door neighbor, Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;I think neighborhoods like Cicero and Melrose Park and some others in the South Side have kind of become like the forgotten step children of Chicago,&rdquo; Johnson said.&nbsp;</p><p>She said the library makes an effort to reach out to people, but Cicero&rsquo;s increasingly large Hispanic population needs more services.</p><p>&ldquo;I would love to see the library offer late night study cafe hours, we&rsquo;ll love to see more opportunities for parents, so book clubs in Spanish,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>She said the lack of access to technology is also a pressing issue, considering how patrons use libraries nowadays.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/arlingtonlibrary.jpg" style="height: 261px; width: 350px; float: left;" title="Library administrators demonstrate an interactive dollhouse in the children's area. (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></p><p>Mary Witt agrees. She&rsquo;s with Reaching Across Illinois Library System, a state program that helps libraries with services like book delivery and technology support. According to Witt, libraries could do more for job-seekers.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s something that&rsquo;s in huge demand, that again a smaller library might not be able to afford,&rdquo; Witt said. &ldquo;And that&rsquo;s kind of ironic in that some of the libraries that are hardest hit financially are needed the most because they serve areas [with] the highest unemployment.&rdquo;</p><p>In April Cicero&rsquo;s unemployment rate was 12 percent &ndash; nearly double that of Arlington Heights.</p><p>Witt said other libraries in Chicago&rsquo;s suburbs have even more urgent worries. They don&rsquo;t have enough space to hold community events and their old buildings need major maintenance.</p><p>But she said, even the neediest libraries are figuring out how to best serve their patrons.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Libraries aren&rsquo;t just sitting there,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Everyone is trying to find out what their communities need so they are looking for creative ways that they can adapt those technologies and those other trends to serve their customers.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Which, according to Jason Kuhl, is all Arlington Heights Memorial Library is trying to do too.</p><p>&ldquo;You can&rsquo;t be sort of a cookie cutter library anymore,&rdquo; Kuhl said. &ldquo;We are looking to be nimble; we are looking to adjust to whatever our community needs.&rdquo;</p><p>Every library wants to keep up with community needs, the question is, do they have the resources to do so?</p><h2><strong>A tale of two libraries</strong></h2><p>&nbsp;</p><script type="text/javascript" src="//ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/static/modules/gviz/1.0/chart.js"> {"dataSourceUrl":"//docs.google.com/a/chicagopublicradio.org/spreadsheet/tq?key=0Am5Rt8H_U2b1dElVemY3Y0VtZERZeWpRZ212MzRuR2c&transpose=0&headers=1&range=A1%3AC11&gid=0&pub=1","options":{"vAxes":[{"useFormatFromData":true,"minValue":null,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null},{"useFormatFromData":true,"minValue":null,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null}],"titleTextStyle":{"fontSize":16},"booleanRole":"certainty","title":"Chart title","legend":"right","hAxis":{"useFormatFromData":true,"minValue":null,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null},"width":610,"height":400},"state":{},"view":{},"isDefaultVisualization":true,"chartType":"Table","chartName":"Chart 2"} </script><p>Source: <a href="https://harvester.census.gov/imls/search/index.asp?&amp;LibraryName=Cicero%20Public%20Library&amp;LibraryID=&amp;Address=&amp;City=&amp;State=&amp;Zip=&amp;Distance=&amp;County=&amp;PhoneAreaCode=&amp;Phone=&amp;LibraryType=&amp;LibTypes=LS%2CCE%2CBR%2CBS%2CBM&amp;StateSelectedIndex=0&amp;ResultSetNumber=1&amp;procqstr=1" target="_blank">Census data</a><span id="cke_bm_483E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_482E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_481E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_480E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_479E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_478E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_477E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span></p></p> Tue, 02 Jul 2013 08:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/not-all-suburban-libraries-are-created-equal-107923 Emanuel blames union for library closings http://www.wbez.org/story/emanuel-blames-union-library-closings-95366 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2012-January/2012-01-05/RS2467_books_getty.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>The union representing staff at Chicago libraries picked up discussions Friday with the city for the first time since the library system announced that it would close all neighborhood branch locations on Mondays for the foreseeable future. The new policy is set to go into effect at the start of the week, although AFSCME Council 31, which represents library staff in Chicago, sent a cease-and-desist letter to city and library officials on Thursday, in an effort to avoid the closings.</p><p>The two sides have had ongoing discussions starting several months ago, when Emanuel and the City Council were pondering cuts to the Chicago Public Library’s 2012 budget. According to library spokeswoman Ruth Lednicer, the library suffered $3.3 million in cuts in the final budget, amounting to 181 staff positions. At the time the budget was passed, aldermen and Emanuel said they believed shaving morning hours on Fridays and some Mondays at the neighborhood branches would help ensure full staffing without closing any locations.</p><p>“From our perspective, we’d like to reach an agreement that can rescind those layoffs, get the library employees back to work, and avoid any reduction in hours,” said Anders Lindall, spokesman for AFSCME Council 31. Lindall said the union has not agreed to reductions on Mondays and Fridays because it hopes that the cuts will be restored.</p><p>On Friday Emanuel said the union’s failure to agree to the original plan has forced the city instead to close all neighborhood branches for one full day a week.</p><p>“I didn’t support this, and I don’t want it, and that’s why I came up with and aldermen came up and agreed to a flexible proposal,” said Emanuel. “I expect labor, and that is AFSCME particularly, to help solve this problem. They knew during the budget discussions what we were going to do.”</p><p>According to spokeswoman Tarrah Cooper from Emanuel’s office, closing on Monday and Friday mornings would have required union agreement, but closing libraries for full Mondays does not. Lindall said the union’s contract states otherwise.</p><p>“They have a duty to inform the union, and to discuss with the union changes in the schedule,” said Lindall, referring to City Hall and library administrators. “It can’t be unilaterally implemented, and we want to meet with them to have those discussions.”</p><p>Several Chicago aldermen said they are not happy at the news that branches would now close for another full day, bringing neighborhood locations down to five open days per week.</p><p>Nicholas Sposato (36th), said he hopes that the two sides figure out a better solution, too. He says equal blame for the impasse lies with the city.</p><p>“It’s just every time there’s some sort of dispute, labor’s always to blame,” said Sposato. “You just see it over and over and over and over that labor this, labor that, labor wouldn’t budge, labor wouldn’t this. I thought labor really budged a lot, took a big enough hit already with these library cuts.”</p></p> Fri, 06 Jan 2012 23:53:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/emanuel-blames-union-library-closings-95366 Chicago branch libraries to close Mondays http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-branch-libraries-close-mondays-95323 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2012-January/2012-01-05/RS2467_books_getty.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Neighborhood locations for the Chicago Public Library system will now be open only five days a week, starting next week. The system announced the decision to close branch libraries on Mondays on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chicago-Public-Library/35447572453">its Facebook page</a>.</p><p>“Where we are right now with having lost some staff, this is the best way for us to be able to present and provide library service in all of the branches with the staff that we have,” explained Ruth Lednicer, Director of Marketing and Press for the Chicago Public Library.</p><p>The system’s main Harold Washington branch and the two regional libraries will remain open on Mondays, said Lednicer. But the system has made some other changes as a result of the reduced staffing, including cutting the number of items that a library can have on hold at one time from five to three.</p><p>The library system lost 181 employees, equalling 18 percent of its staff, as a result of cuts that Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the City Council made in the 2012 budget. The cut amounted to $3.3 million, less than what Emanuel had originally proposed. Emanuel suggested Monday and Friday morning hours at the neighborhood branches could be eliminated to accommodate the loss of 181 employees, which took effect this month.</p><p>Carl Sorrell, president of AFSCME Local 1215, which represents Chicago library staff, says the idea to close for the full day on Mondays will deeply hurt patrons’ library usage.</p><p>“It’s usually the first day of the week when kids get their most homework assignments,” said Sorrell, “so Monday evenings are usually pretty busy. And most people who are looking for a job usually try to start on Monday mornings. So we’re busy Monday morning with people looking for jobs. So this is really a very big deal.”</p><p>Sorrell said eliminating Mondays will also mean reducing evening hours at some libraries. Last year, half of the branches were open until 8 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays, while the others had their evening hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Eliminating Monday hours altogether will mean that in many neighborhoods the library will only be open after 6 p.m. once per week.&nbsp;</p><p>Sorrell and other union officials say the city’s move was unilateral — possibly in violation of the union’s contract with the city.</p><p>“The union has received no official notification of this,” said Anders Lindall, spokesman for AFSCME Council 31. “We’ve learned, like the public has learned, through social media actually — (through) the library posting on Facebook.”</p><p>Lindall says the union may have legal recourse in the matter, but says it’s not yet clear how that may take shape.</p><p>The office of the mayor issued the following statement Friday morning regarding the union's comments:</p><p><cite>"Throughout the budget process, it was made clear by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and members of his administration -- and cited by the media -- that the plan to reduce library hours&nbsp; to avoid library closings was contingent upon union agreement. The City has been working with AFSCME since the passage of the budget to garner such agreement. But to date, the unions have not agreed, so the Chicago Public Library leadership announced that it would be forced to choose the alternative of closing libraries on Mondays entirely."&nbsp;</cite></p></p> Thu, 05 Jan 2012 22:42:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-branch-libraries-close-mondays-95323 Local librarian offers quiet lessons and friendship http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-25/local-librarian-offers-quiet-lessons-and-friendship-94333 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-November/2011-11-23/Geoff Coupe.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><a href="http://www.chicagobudget.org/" target="_blank">Chicago’s 2012 budget</a> passed unanimously last week. Initially Mayor Emanuel proposed steep cuts to public libraries. The final budget restored some funds, so, the layoffs and scaled-back branch hours will not be as severe. That likely came as a relief to Chicagoans who count on their libraries for more than just the latest hardcover. Take Chicago writer Karen Brenner; she told <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> about a soft spot she has for a librarian who played a special role in her own life.</p><p>When we first moved to Chicago I was scared to death. I was from a small town in the South—a &nbsp;young wife with two babies—when I came to live in this unknown city. I remember walking our children in their baby buggy through the streets of Lakeview, humming the theme from the <em>Rocky</em> movie to give myself courage to face the unrelenting concrete and the cold streets. It was the late ’70s and <em>Rocky</em> was still cool and Lakeview wasn’t yet &nbsp;</p><p>One solace in those lonely days was the small Chicago branch library in our neighborhood; it was just a two-room library. There was a small office with the head librarian’s name on the door, Marilyn; the sort of name for movie stars, not shy librarians.</p><p>At first I didn’t notice the bookshelf that stood alone near the library entrance. One day I saw that one of the books on this shelf was pushed out a little, standing in front of the others. It was a book by a rather obscure English writer, Barbara Pym. I was so taken with the writing that I stood by the shelf reading until someone asked me to move. Two weeks later, I returned the Pym book and searched the same shelf for another great find. Once again, I saw a book pushed out slightly ahead of its mates. I pulled out a P.G. Wodehouse book and found myself laughing out loud as I read. It was in this way that I was introduced to a whole host of wonderful writers. The unseen hand that guided me had an eclectic and eccentric approach to literature. I began to believe that my silent teacher was Marilyn, the shy head librarian.</p><p>While I was being quietly introduced to the likes of Anne Tyler and Tom Wolfe, my children were growing up and learning to love the library and reading, too. When our son Frankie turned four, he asked if he could have his own library card. The impatient, part-time librarian behind the desk—not Marilyn—told him that a four year old couldn’t read or write and that he was too young for his own card. Frankie, peered over the counter as he stood on tiptoe and informed the librarian that he could certainly read and he could write his own name, too. Suddenly Marilyn appeared with a wooden box in her hands. She invited Frankie to stand on the box and proudly handed him his first library card. She stood back watching with delight as my son painstakingly wrote each letter of his name on the card. I looked at Marilyn, wanting to say thanks, but we were both too shy. &nbsp;</p><p>Recently, I passed by the little library that had been my home away from home when our children were small. I decided to stop in and finally tell the head librarian that we were all very grateful for the help and guidance she gave to all of us years earlier. I went to the circulation desk and asked to speak to her. The young girl behind the counter looked stricken and then informed me that Marilyn had died two years ago.</p><p>I walked the few steps to the shelf by the library entrance. Now it held only bestsellers and all the books lined up perfectly. Marilyn had been my first friend in Chicago; my mentor in literature and a champion for my children. I had never had a conversation with her, never told her how much she and the library meant to us. Now it was too late to thank her. As I ran my hands over the perfectly lined up bestsellers, it occurred to me that perhaps, Marilyn had taught me one last lesson, the importance of thanking those people who touch our lives. I found an old Barbara Pym book and carefully placed it in the middle row of the shelf by the library entrance. I pulled the Pym book out just a little so that it stood out from the others, a small homage to my silent teacher and my first friend in Chicago, Marilyn, the head librarian.</p></p> Fri, 25 Nov 2011 06:19:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-25/local-librarian-offers-quiet-lessons-and-friendship-94333 Morning library-goers lose in budget plan http://www.wbez.org/story/morning-library-goers-lose-budget-plan-93783 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-04/forweb1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>When Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel released his first budget plan last month, he said, “A budget is about priorities.” Over the past few weeks, the ensuing process to arrive at a final budget has involved a push-and-pull between aldermen and the mayor, rallies by residents and lobbying by interest groups. Still, it took very little time for Chicagoans and their aldermen to agree on one point: Public libraries are too high a priority to cut them as deeply as Emanuel proposed.</p><p>On Friday Emanuel softened on his proposal for the library budget. Instead of cutting nearly $7 million in personnel-filled positions, the city will cut nearly $4 million. That translates to 180 layoffs, rather than 280 layoffs. The total budget for the libraries will still be down by about $8 million from last year, when unfilled vacancies are taken into account. At a recent hearing before City Council, Library Commissioner Mary Dempsey said vacancies account for nearly $5 million of the system’s budget.</p><p>Emanuel and Dempsey have suggested that the personnel reduction could be accommodated by cutting eight hours per week from branch libraries while school is in session. Specifically, Dempsey has testified that reducing morning hours on Mondays and Fridays would have "the least impact on residents.”</p><p>Frank Morales has already seen such reductions play out — when the city cut the library budget in 2010&nbsp;—&nbsp;and he says it affected him a lot, for the worse. Morales comes four times a week to the Garfield Ridge library near his home in southwest Chicago. “Last year they used to open at 9, I think, everyday,” said Morales. “But this year they changed. Sometimes they open at 10, sometimes they open at 12.”</p><p>Morales, who was off his job as a clothing silkscreener on Halloween Monday, used to go to the library every morning at 9 a.m. before work, because he doesn’t have internet at home.</p><p>“For me, it’s better. I don’t have to pay for internet,” he explained.</p><p>But when the library changed its hours to open later on most days, Morales had to completely rearrange his work schedule.</p><p>“Last year I used to come in the morning to the library. It was perfect,” he said. “I used to go to work, and then after work go to the gym. Which it was perfect.”</p><p>Now, Morales switched his hours to work earlier in the mornings, so he can squeeze in some Internet time in the afternoon.</p><p>“When I need information about something or anything, I come to the library, and then go to the gym,” he said, “which sometimes, because I need to use the computer I won’t make it to the gym. So I just use the computer and go to my house.”</p><p>Chicago librarians say it’s common to see people like Morales waiting outside the branches before they open. Mornings are a popular time for adults to get some quiet time on the computers, read newspapers, and get help from librarians, before schools get out and students start coming in.</p><p>But it’s also a popular time with the crowd that’s too young to read or use computers. At the Garfield Ridge branch, Monday mornings are when the library schedules its popular “Time for Tots” storytelling hour. Children’s librarian Patti Tyznik reads a Halloween children’s book as roughly two-dozen toddlers in costume crowd at her feet and on their parents’ laps.</p><p>“We love Miss Patty,” said parent Yvonne Umbrasas, who has been bringing her three-year-old daughter every month since early spring. “My daughter has a blast here, and this is one of the things that she looks forward to. She asks to come here every week.”</p><p>Umbrasas says free, educational morning programs are nearly impossible to find in Chicago in this economy.</p><p>In response to Emanuel’s partial reinstatement of the cuts last week, Library Commissioner Mary Dempsey released a statement saying, “This plan strikes the right balance, insures that all Chicagoans, particularly the children of our city -- have access to library services."</p><p>But for people like Umbrasas, that may not be the case. She says if Monday storytime goes away, she anticipates she’ll have to drive to the suburbs for the kind of programming that serves her daughter.</p><p><em>Pritzker Fellow LaCreshia Birts contributed to this report.</em></p></p> Mon, 07 Nov 2011 11:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/morning-library-goers-lose-budget-plan-93783 Poet Haki Madhubuti speaks in praise of libraries http://www.wbez.org/content/poet-haki-madhubuti-speaks-praise-libraries <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-03/library books_Flickr_CCAC North Library.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Among the belt-tightening measures Mayor Rahm Emanuel has proposed to ease Chicago’s budget woes were <a href="http://chicagoist.com/2011/10/19/save_chicagos_libraries.php">$11 million worth of cuts to city libraries</a>. The proposed cuts included reduced hours for all library branches and over 350 staff layoffs.</p><p>His plan has not been well received. More than half of Chicago aldermen protested earlier this week by <a href="../../story/majority-aldermen-call-budget-changes-93680">sending a letter to the mayor</a> to express their displeasure. Cultural denizens <a href="http://timeoutchicago.com/things-to-do/chicago-blog/15010901/exclusive-chicagos-cultural-community-speaks-out-against-library-">have spoken out against the cuts, too</a>.</p><p>As of late Friday, Emanuel responded by <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/8609960-418/emanuel-to-ease-library-cuts-raise-all-city-sticker-fees.html">announcing plans to restore more than $3 million dollars to the CPL budget </a>and reducing both the number of layoffs and the number of weeks libraries would face shorter hours.</p><p>Nevertheless, libraries will still see reduced staffing and reduced hours under his latest proposal. And in an era of Amazon, of Tivo, and of the Kindle, some ask "What good is a library?"</p><p>Try asking this question to poet Haki Madhubuti, if you dare.</p><p>Madhubuti, best known for his affiliation with the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s, is the founder of <a href="http://www.twpbooks.com/catalog/">Third World Press</a>, now the largest independent black-owned press in the country, and founder and director emeritus of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center for Black Literature and Creative Writing at Chicago State University.</p><p>At a recent reading sponsored by the Illinois Humanities Council, he described how, as a child, he would hide in the libraries of Detroit and read and read. The cool, quiet spaces were a refuge from the harsh realities of his fatherless childhood and his mother’s early death. They were also the place where he went to discover the great works of literature that sparked his young imagination, works like <em>Black Boy</em> by Richard Wright. &nbsp;</p><p>“What saved this boy,” he said, referring to himself in those precarious years, “was libraries.”</p><p>That’s nothing short of a life or death argument from one poet. Hear him make his case in the audio above, and decide for yourself.</p><p><a href="../../series/dynamic-range">Dynamic Range</a><em> showcases hidden gems unearthed from </em>Chicago Amplified’s<em> vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Haki Madhubuti spoke at an event presented by the <a href="http://www.prairie.org/">Illinois Humanities Council </a>in October. Click <a href="../../story/word-across-generations-kevin-coval-haki-madhubuti-aaron-samuels-and-sage-morgan-hubbard-93473">here </a>to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p></p> Sat, 05 Nov 2011 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/content/poet-haki-madhubuti-speaks-praise-libraries Majority of aldermen call for budget changes http://www.wbez.org/story/majority-aldermen-call-budget-changes-93680 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-October/2011-10-21/CPL books.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A majority of Chicago's aldermen are calling for changes to Mayor Rahm Emanuel's 2012 city budget. They say his proposed budget cuts would hurt public safety and quality of life.</p><p>Twenty-eight of the city's 50 aldermen signed the letter to Mayor Emanuel.&nbsp; They say his plan to cut library hours would cause too many layoffs and negatively effect patrons who rely on the library.</p><p>"We're hearing it loud and clear, all across the city, from the West Side to the East Side to the North Side to the South Side," said Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd). "Everybody's complaining about the cuts."</p><p>Fioretti said cutting library hours, as mayor Emanuel has proposed, would hurt kids and people who use the internet to search for jobs.</p><p>In addition to the library cuts, the 28 aldermen voiced other concerns.</p><p>The current budget proposal also consolidates 12 mental health clinics into six, and privatizes some health services. Aldermen say public clinics are vital for Chicago's neediest and must be protected.</p><p>Other concerns include the $10 million cut from the Office of Emergency Management and Communications. That would eliminate fire and police dispatcher positions - and, aldermen say, endanger public safety.</p><p>The bloc says they also "have reservations" about the proposed near doubling of the fee for city stickers on SUVs. But aldermen recognize that the 2012 budget won't avoid cuts entirely, said Ald. Walter Burnett (27th).</p><p>"'Cause somethin' have [sic] to give. And we're rational enough to understand that. But we just wanna see if we can balance the burden out a little bit more," Burnett said.</p><p>Meanwhile, Mayor Emanuel said he remains open to changing his proposed budget, as long as alderment identify other cuts or revenue sources to offset the ones they don't like.</p><p>"I hear them. It doesn't mean I agree. But it doesn't mean I disagree," Emanuel said. "And as I always said, not all signatures on a letter are created equal."</p><p><br> &nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 02 Nov 2011 11:58:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/majority-aldermen-call-budget-changes-93680 Global Activism: Local librarian helps rebuild libraries in Haiti http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-04-14/global-activism-local-librarian-helps-rebuild-libraries-haiti-85187 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-April/2011-04-14/tentlibraryCROP.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Each Thursday on <a href="http://www.wbez.org/globalactivism" target="_blank"><em>Global Activism</em></a> we hear about an individual who’s decided to work to make the world a better place.</p><p>Deborah Lazar is a librarian at New Trier High School.&nbsp; She's been involved with New Trier’s <a href="http://www.newtrier.k12.il.us/haitiproject.aspx" target="_blank">Haiti Project</a>, which has been supporting the St. Joseph School in Petit Goave, Haiti. The school was completely destroyed along with many other buildings during the earthquake that hit the country in January 2010. Deborah has also started another project, <a href="http://www.rebuildhaitilibraries.org/haitilibraries/Welcome.html" target="_blank">Rebuilding Haiti, Rebuilding Dreams</a>, to help reconstruct the libraries that were damaged in the quake, including the library in Petit Goave.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Video of the earthquake damage to the National Library of Haiti:</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/1oSmqqJUfcc" title="YouTube video player" width="480" frameborder="0" height="390"></iframe></p></p> Thu, 14 Apr 2011 16:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-04-14/global-activism-local-librarian-helps-rebuild-libraries-haiti-85187