#BuildingCommunity through the use of free public space: Arabic Calligraphy Club brings families together

Mother and son writing in Arabic

Every Saturday, a group of families gathers at the public library for Arabic Calligraphy Club. Using free meeting room space at the Main Library, they bring supplies: plain white paper, pens and markers, canvases, bottles of ink. And, of course, snacks—a tin of butter cookies, a few tomatoes, falafel, chocolate. “It’s good family time,” says … Read more

Community is a common enterprise

man shaking hands woman in sweater

As he travels across the country and the world as president of The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, Rich Harwood said he finds a deep yearning for more connection. From Alabama to Israel, in Ohio and Michigan, people are wondering, “Do our lives matter? Will I be seen and heard? Does hope still matter?” “Without … Read more

The pursuit of hope

The following piece by Executive Director David J. Seleb was originally published as a letter to the editor in the March 13 edition of the Wednesday Journal, and has been lightly edited for our website. How do we bring people together when it feels like our society is breaking apart? That is one of the … Read more

Share your voice and ideas at the Youth Social Justice Conference

We keep showing up for America. When will America show up for us? Sam Kirk mixed media on canvas

Challenging young people to challenge themselves. Educating our students outside the box. Helping them develop their own compass to navigate their way through the world. That’s what the Youth Social Justice Conference at the Main Library on Saturday, March 16, 10 am-3pm, is all about. A day of learning, exchanging ideas, growth All are invited … Read more

‘Catalyst’ grant connects mentors with youth bound for college and career

Emerging Leaders Network

As an 18-month grant-funded initiative to empower youth for college and career builds to a finish at the Main Library, those involved are calling it a “community catalyst” for the way it’s sparking opportunities, strengthening relationships, and energizing young people, families, and those who work with young people. “To catalyze something means you can walk … Read more

MLK Day at your library: A day on, not a day off

Martin Luther King Jr Day I Have a Dream

Yes, we’re open! Commit to a day of service, reflection, and growth this Monday, January 21, in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  Looking for ways to serve your community on MLK Day? Use the Corporation for National & Community Service search tool to find local volunteer opportunities » Join us at the Main … Read more

A look back: One Book in 2018

A People’s History of Chicago was at the center of our One Book, One Oak Park series in 2018. In 77 poems, author Kevin Coval traces the city’s history through often untold perspectives, including African-American, Latinx, LGBTQ, and working-class experiences. Find it in the catalog » Poems that bridge time and place One thread running … Read more

Living History: Led by youth, for youth

Living History Project

“Some people have a tendency of underestimating young people,” said Middle School Librarian Jose Cruz. “When sometimes it’s that we’re not providing them with something that is interesting for them, so you won’t see the results.” That hasn’t been the case for the Living History Project, a grant-funded initiative that’s formed a tight-knit group of … Read more

Raising race-conscious readers

Librarian Naomi Priddy reads with families in a Race Conscious Readers workshop

In our three-part Race Conscious Readers series this fall, families came together to find ways to talk about race with kids in early elementary school. As one parent said: “It’s important my kids hear these conversations around them all the time, not just at home. It reinforces how important it is.” Books that celebrate, empower, … Read more

What grows with restorative justice?

Panelists Darrius Lightfoot, Quintin Williams, and Tim Crawford at the Restorative Justice Conference at the Main Library in October

The first time Chicago police officer Tim Crawford observed a peace circle, he was skeptical. But after a while, “I started to see—hold on—this works,” he said. “Especially with people who experience trauma on a regular basis. You’ve got to have a place to vent, to speak your truth.” Crawford (pictured far right) works with … Read more

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