Meet Darcel: ‘In a world where you can be anything, be kind’

As the library’s Teen Services Specialist, Darcel Washington provides outreach and program support to kids in grades 6-12. Darcel joined the library last November, bringing more than 15 years of experience in creating innovative youth development programs. With the library, she works on youth programs such as Living History and Leading Edge, plus this month’s … Read more

Books Empower: How we’re partnering to give new books to people who need them most

Books Empower: Book delivery

‘The kind of project that makes us love Oak Park’ With funding from the Illinois State Library, we’ve launched an initiative to distribute new, free books to community members who are most in need of resources. Recipients will be able to keep these books forever and use them to build their home libraries. This new … Read more

‘Kids are reflective and ready to do this work’: Supporting anti-racism in Oak Park middle schools

Beronica Puhr and Katy Alejos load van with boxes of books

“Schools are a reflection of our society, so in the wake of social justice and anti-racism demonstrations, we must support our students in becoming global citizens in a diverse democracy.” —Oak Park Elementary School District 97, Anti-Racism in District 97 All Oak Park Elementary School District 97 middle school students are reading and discussing Stamped: … Read more

Now virtual, English conversation program ‘has really blossomed’

People on Zoom computer screen

“I live alone, and so I don’t have anyone to talk to. I feel great that today I had a chance to meet others virtually, and I learned many new words in English.” -Participant in English Language Conversation program Before the pandemic, English language learners came together every Saturday morning at the Main Library to … Read more

Library director joins Harwood Institute board

David Seleb and Rich Harwood in April 2019

Our library’s Executive Director David J. Seleb has joined the board of directors of The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation. He began serving on the 11-member board in June 2020, as he continues to lead the library using the Harwood Institute’s “turning outward” approach. “The Harwood Institute has profoundly influenced my professional and personal life … Read more

Meet Juanta: ‘Multicultural learning teaches us to see the world beyond our neighborhoods’

‘I am passionate about multicultural education’ Juanta Griffin, a longtime Oak Park resident and arts educator, is the library’s new Multicultural Learning Coordinator. In this role, she explores and shares learning from the library’s Multicultural Collection, which is curated to help our community explore cultures and build empathy. “I am passionate about multicultural education not … Read more

Mental health: Reaching people where they are

Free-Mental-Health-Assessments

Thanks to a unique partnership with Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, people without adequate health care coverage have been receiving confidential mental health assessments from a licensed clinical psychologist at the Main Library since last fall. “Rush University Medical Center is recognizing that our library is where people are coming every day,” says the … Read more

‘So excited to see their home languages’

Our summer reading program is open to all kids, wherever they live. And this past summer, we were able to better share it with kids who are new to the United States and still learning English. For the first time, we translated summer reading guides into multiple languages, including Albanian, Japanese, Polish, and Vietnamese. Librarian Genevieve … Read more

‘Filled with the spirit of unity’: Community members collaborate with us to share cultural heritage

This year’s Community Kwanzaa Celebration will be the third one that Oak Park resident Juanta Griffin has organized at the Main Library. Here, Griffin shares what the celebration means and what she’s looking forward to this year. “We believe that inclusion fosters understanding, and understanding builds respect, and with respect there can be peace,” she … Read more

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