Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Albany Park's New Library Controversy! [Revised]

Albany Park is set to get a new library in two years time, despite lacking the funds to be fully operational. This irony is courtesy of Chicago's TIF funds reports Deanna Isaacs at the Chicago Reader. So think "hooray!" and then "booooo...."

(Don't worry, I am conflicted too.)

Besides the issue of funds, Isaacs points out the community wasn't consulted when it came time to constructing the new facility, as made evident by an initial 200 signature petition "demanding information and public input" and a secondary 700-person petition demanding full uninterrupted service.

The public library branch located on Foster and Kimball is in Laurino's ward. She's probably happy to have yet another new public project in her ward, but what's this about asking the constituents what they want?

Here is just one of a couple EveryBlock threads discussing the library closing. In it, Albany Park resident Jessland explicitly mentions a lack of communication:

"Since our aldermen are a little lacking in communicating anything..."

The library will cease all public functions while construction is under way, a move irking many community members as it will reduce "save havens" and resources for at risk youth.

I can attest to this firsthand; "Loco," that one Lawrence Hall Youth Services graduate I run into from time to time loves that library and actually uses it to read books and better educate himself.

The library can't stay open during construction because they lack the funds.

The 20-unit apartment complex behind the library will also be demolished, and has already been sold, according to comments from EveryBlock.

Not everyone views the project so unfavorably. Some neighbors look forward to the new library (their voices here), and think it would benefit the neighborhood greatly. However, those same people aren't addressing the lack of good community space construction would bring.

I may or may not be suggesting there will be a spike in crime in the neighborhood. If there is, will fingers be pointed at Laurino?

The library will look like so, if you're standing on Kimball facing west on Lawrence.

Facing east on Lawrence.

"...the new building will be another one-story adaptation of CPL's institutional-barn (and echo chamber) prototype, a bland near-clone of the Richard M. Daley and Little Village branches opened last year. It'll be 6,000 square feet larger than the existing library, with a raised roof over a big central computer hub, quaintly referred to as a reading room. 
The grand vision also excludes temporary quarters for the two-year construction period, now the main focus of public concern. At last week's meeting a Committee to Save and Improve the Albany Park Library presented another 700 signatures on petitions demanding "full uninterrupted library services in the neighborhood at one location." But, said Bannon of a budget that includes $800,000 for architectural tweaks to a cookie-cutter plan and $1 million to the building commission for project management, "We don't have funds for that."
The new building's scheduled to open in summer 2014." 
The Albany Park Public Library closes its doors for construction on September 1.  


  1. I live in the apartment complex scheduled for demolition for 9 yrs. The so called assistance to move our belongings, relocate, a date we have to reocate, and any information we have asked for has been disappointing beyond belief.

    1. Argh! I am so sorry to hear that. Being kicked out of one's home is stressful enough, you'd think the city would assist you in any way possible.

      Have you started blogging about the process by any chance?