‘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

Investing in our greatest resources

Library Assistant checks in books at the front desk of the Main Library

To better serve our community, now and into the future, we routinely commit to investing in two of Oak Park’s two greatest assets: library staff and library space. In 2018, the Board of Library Trustees approved a 2019 budget that enables us to do two important things this year. One is to take a big-picture … 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

Donate at the library this Socktober


Socks are consistently among the most requested items at homeless shelters. All October, we’re collecting new pairs at all library locations to benefit the clients of Housing Forward and other organizations. It’s our third year participating in Socktober. In 2017, thanks to your generosity, we collected 446 pairs of socks, as well as 50 pairs … Read more

Removing assumptions, barriers to access

Oak Park Stories

“People make a lot of assumptions about who is experiencing homelessness, based on how someone looks, acts, smells, or dresses,” said the library’s Director of Social Services and Safety Robert Simmons. “But really, you don’t know if someone is homeless unless they tell you.” As the Oak Park Homelessness Coalition notes in its 2016 Plan … Read more

A welcoming place, where everybody is somebody

Teen Services Coordinator Stephen Jackson, Supervisor of Safety and Security Aaron Alonzo, and Social Services Director Robert Simmons

In March 2016, Robert Simmons joined the library as its first social worker, a direct result of the library’s intentional strategy of listening and responding to community aspirations. Since then, the Social Services and Safety team he’s built has served more than 350 vulnerable patrons. Most are Oak Park residents experiencing mental illness, homelessness, and … Read more

You belong at your library

You Belong at Your Library

In 2017, your public library: Re-engaged more than 1,700 Oak Park Public Library cardholders since eliminating fines for overdue materials. Actively listened and learned from hundreds of patrons, peers, and partners about shared aspirations and emerging concerns. Welcomed more than 100 new community organizations after opening up the library’s meeting space policy. Read more in … Read more

Socktober: Small act, big difference


Did you know socks are consistently among the most requested items at homeless shelters? All October, we’re collecting new pairs at all library locations to benefit the clients of Housing Forward and other organizations. It’s our second year participating in Socktober, an international, monthlong sock drive inspired by Kid President. In 2016, thanks to the generosity of our community, we … Read more

Putting community first

Chalkboard with "I want to live in a community..." written at the top and a chalk drawing of a tree and smiling faces

Turning outward for action and change Four years ago this October, Executive Director David J. Seleb attended a three-day workshop so influential it forever changed the way he looked at his work and the direction of the Oak Park Public Library. “In my 28 years working in libraries, I’ve been introduced to lots of initiatives, … Read more

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