The Chicago Public Library is using $18 million in capital bonds to build a brand new library branch in Woodlawn along with 2 new libraries stationed within mixed-use developments in Back of the Yards and Humboldt Park.
By investing in the community library, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said, they hope to become neighborhood hubs dedicated to lifelong learning.
Woodlawn’s designated location will replace the Bessie Coleman branch library. The neighborhood’s already existing public library which has been around since 1993 currently sits at 731 E. 63rd St.
So far, information is limited when it comes to the new construction and the future of the already existing branch.
Alongside the Woodlawn branch, two other libraries will be built in mixed-use buildings including the Back of the Yards branch, which will sit at the former Aronson Furniture site redevelopment (4630 S. Ashland Ave.) and will replace the neighborhood’s already existing library located inside the Back of the Yards College Prep Academy.
The new 16,000-square-foot library will use a separate entrance and below-ground parking from the rest of the mixed-use development.
They secured $15 million in state funding for the library build back in 2020, but weren’t able to finalize a location. Now, with plans for an integrated branch within a development and residential building Ald. Ray Lopez (15th) said they hope to foster a learning and health-centric environment.
It will also include additions like affordable housing along with a fully equipped health care center, a performing arts center, and space for nonprofits like Chicago Commons and Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation. The new library will also operate as HQ for the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council.
Then, there’s the new Humboldt Park branch led by Team Pioneros which plans to redevelop the decades-vacant Pioneer Bank into a library on North Avenue and Pulaski Road.
The 16,000-square-foot public library space will also include 75 affordable housing units, a Latino cultural center, offices for Humboldt Park Family Health, along with office space for JGMA’s lead architect working on the project.
The libraries will showcase an early childhood learning space and neighborhood-tailored programs for kids, teens, and families, including the YOUmedia program a 21st-century program that introduces teens to “graphic design, photography, video, music, 2D/3D design, STEM and hands-on making,” according to the official website.
Library card holders can get free homework assistance with the Teacher in the Library program offering out-of-school learning support for kids after school hours, along with Brainfuse, a free service going from 2 to 11 p.m. that helps with homework, writing assignments, language lessons, math, science, and social studies.
Additionally, the Back of the Yards and Humboldt Park library branches will also feature book clubs, educational and cultural programs, one-on-one digital literacy coaching for adults and seniors, and computer classes available to all library members.
Construction start dates have yet to be determined but the current goal is to start construction in early 2024 and open to the public by spring 2025. Check back here as we continue to update with new information as it becomes available.