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Two new libraries represent community victories

The official opening of the Richard M. Daley Library last month attracted lots of dignitaries (including the former mayor himself, as well as his successor) and lots of attention.  Now the community which fought for years to get the library is holding its own celebration.

Blocks Together is holding a march to promote reading and a barbecue to “celebrate our victory,” Saturday, September 24, starting at 12 noon at the Kelly YMCA, 824 N. Hamlin and finishing up at Kells Park across the street from the new library, at Kedzie and Ohio.

The march will revisit sites where protests were held in the long campaign for the library.  At the picnic there will be storytelling and kids’ games – and prizes for the best signs and the best chants promoting reading.  To get some barbecue, anyone without a library card will have to apply for one.

With 10,000 visitors in its first 14 days of operation, the Daley Library is the most heavily used of the city’s new libraries, said Cecile Carroll of Blocks Together.

The group will be collecting signatures on a petition to make sure the new library’s operating budget is not cut in the next city budget.  Recent reports indicate the city is considering closing some branches.

The heavy turnout shows that “this is a very badly needed library,” said Carroll. “We don’t want to see the hours cut. Ideally they should be expanded.”

Residents at Altgeld Gardens are also celebrating a new library – also a result of extensive community organizing, Residents Journal reports.  It’s the first public library in Chicago housed in a school building.

After the community’s library was closed over two years ago, People for Community Recovery sent 1,000 signatures on a petition calling for reopening of the community’s public library to President Obama.

In a press release from 2009, the group noted that as a young organizer in Roseland, Obama helped lead the fight for expansion of that library in 1996.

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Category: Altgeld Gardens, Humboldt Park

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