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Added Apr 30 2012

Hi,
A thread was started on everyblock about the Albany Park branch closure. Some writing groups at the library were told to find new homes, and the original poster learned it will close in June. Since our aldermen are a little lacking in communicating anything, thought I'd spread the word. I was going to ask for a status on this at Laurino's office, anyway.

http://chicago.everyblock.com/announcements/apr28-albany-park-library-branch-closing-4932879/

  • AlbanyParkMom Community gardener, 11-year resident

    I'm on the phone with them now. The library is closing for renovation, expanding a bit.

    The office says they'll have more info in a few weeks on interim arrangements. The Public Buildings Commission is negotiating some property stuff where the library is expanding.

    If you're subscribed to the Ald's newsletter via email, you'll get the announcement as soon as it's ready.

    They're also going to relaunch Ald. Laurino's site in the next few weeks.

  • I thought this was a temporary closure as APM indicated for renovations this has been planned for some time. I thought I had read about this here some time ago. Thanks for checking with the ward office on this.

  • jessland Albany Park resident, blogger, organizer

    The renovation has been planned for as long as I've lived in Albany Park, with a blurb appearing in every annual Ward newsletter. Around the same time the library hours were being cut this past winter, the announcement to approve TIF funds for the renovation was made. Since then, not a peep. So this information is welcome because it means the project is progressing, however summer closure is crappy for lots of reasons. Also, wouldn't it be great if there was a planning or input session with the community about what the library should look like...

  • AlbanyParkMom Community gardener, 11-year resident

    yep, it's temporary, but the timing could be better. i imagine negotiating the land acquisition from the other property owners might be impacting that.

    no input session as far as i can tell. but i doubt we can completely fault the alderman for that.

  • jessland Albany Park resident, blogger, organizer

    Perhaps when the Public Building Commission puts out the bid it will tell whether there is going to be any community planning. I know they have a standard design they have been using for libraries, I just wonder if there is any local flavor added.
    Depending on how long its closed, I'd love to see a vacant space in the neighborhood used as a temporary library. If the Alderman held a meeting or took an online poll, I'm sure people would have great recommendations.

  • Catbus Philosopher, Third-Class

    If you want a temporary library, come on down to the Independence branch on Irving Park. It's a temporary library turned permanent.

  • Thank you to AlbanyParkMom for her informative post. However, I want to clarify that this is not a renovation. This will be a completely new, state-of-the-art building, which will be much larger than the existing library. There will be further details on facility, process and timeline within the next three weeks. Thank you.

  • kenji Find us here --> http://reddit.com/r/greatNWside

    "aldermanic office" the screen name, sounds like an old desk and wooden chair are posting to EB.

  • AlbanyParkMom Community gardener, 11-year resident

    From CPL via Facebook:

    The design and size is similar to the new Little Village branch (http://www.chipublib.org/branch/details/library/little-village/) and we are stilll finalizing all the new features. Stay tuned...

  • Bob Kastigar 15 Years North Park, bike rider, retired

    My suggestions:

    1. Make it two stories; install an elevator for the handicapped. This will almost double the available space without increasing the land used.

    2. Provide better bicycle parking, under the entraceway protected from rain.

    3. During the two-year rebuilding rent an empty storefront to return books and pick up reservations only. Mark of the street "15 minute parking only" for this purpose.

  • fran long time neighbor

    There are a number of empty storefronts just down the street on Foster that could surely be used as a drop off spot.

  • jessland Albany Park resident, blogger, organizer

    Alderman Laurino is having a public meeting May 24 to discuss the planned library.

    Please join Alderman Margaret Laurino, Chicago Public Library Commissioner Brian Bannon, Public Building Commission Director Erin Lavin Cabonargi at the Albany Park Public Library
    For a public meeting to learn about a new, larger, state-of-the-art
    Albany Park Library.

    Thursday, May 24, 6:30 pm
    Albany Park Public Library, 5150 N. Kimball

  • AlbanyParkMom Community gardener, 11-year resident

    Excited about this public meeting. I'd love to see more community interaction like this!

  • loraine t washington 5 yr. resident

    so sad, but like i said before signs of the times. the internet is taking over. enjoy your day.

  • Lorraine t. The library will be rebuilt at the same location. NOT closing for good. . . While unfortunate to not have this in the community for a time, I would bet there will be a much better facility in the future.

    Has anyone checked out the Niles library? Understand Chicago residents can use it by registering their CPL card with them . . .you can check out materials and all.

  • AlbanyParkMom Community gardener, 11-year resident

    We're really quite fortunate in this 'hood. There's the Mayfair Branch, IP Branch, Austin/Irving, Sulzer Branch and Budlong Woods within either a walk or bus ride away.

  • Bob Kastigar 15 Years North Park, bike rider, retired

    Alderman Laurino is having a public meeting May 24 to discuss the planned library.

    Please join Alderman Margaret Laurino, Chicago Public Library Commissioner Brian Bannon, Public Building Commission Director Erin Lavin Cabonargi at the Albany Park Public Library
    For a public meeting to learn about a new, larger, state-of-the-art
    Albany Park Library.

    Thursday, May 24, 6:30 pm
    Albany Park Public Library, 5150 N. Kimball

    (copied from jessland), just in case anybody missed it. It's this coming Thursday, so be there if you can and get the full information - and post what you hear for those who can't make the meeting.

  • Jeanne Marie Olson researcher, DIYer, lecturer, designer

    I will miss the library during its renovation closure, but I think that this will be a VERY good thing in the long run. This important library is not just a collection of shelves for books. Currently, it serves one of the most diverse communities in the country. It has book clubs in multiple languages, it has a very extensive Korean language collection. During afternoons on school days, kids and parents flock there (especially ELL) for help in understanding and completing school work. The librarians are delightful and make the best out of what is an obviously sub-par space currently.

    I agree that they should consider building to two stories, not only to make the most out of the space provided, but also to provide separation between the interactive community and quiet spaces in the library. This isn't just "kids versus adults". Libraries such as this one act as important community spaces for extracurricular education and involvement (e.g. community meetings, civics educations, cross-generational and cultural interaction, community events, book clubs, homework help, Internet and research help, etc.)

    Two stories would also allow for a little bit more of a courtyard setback on the corner of Foster & Kimball. To build all the way to the sidewalk...closer than it is now, would be an unfortunate way to structure that corner considering the high foot traffic in that area.

    I do hope that they seriously consider community input (versus listening and then "filing it away"), as well as think about the unique demographic composition of the neighborhood. Yes, we need to be efficient about capital funds and building. But what good would a library be for the next 50 years that was a generic space copied from another set of plans that didn't feel the needs of the community?

  • Jeanne Marie Olson researcher, DIYer, lecturer, designer

    Here are the plans for the Little Village Library that it is rumored the new Albany Park library plans will similar to:

    http://www.pbcchicago.com/content/projects/project_detail.asp?pID=08030

    http://www.harleyellisdevereaux.com/projects/little_village_library

    http://www.tgda.net/projects/lvl.htm

    http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local&id=8594754

    No offense to the architects, but the interior looks like a factory or bus terminal to me and doesn't inspire me to grab a book, sit down, and read or even stick around for very long. Though it does make me instinctively check my pockets for my airline tickets. I think they focused on the LEED requirements and completely missed the mark on how library patrons would interact with the space. My personal opinion, of course.

  • One thing you may want to consider is that in days of very limited staff, it is much harder to control a two storey building. Do you really want secluded corners where some folks can and will get up to no good?

  • AlbanyParkMom Community gardener, 11-year resident

    It's not an input meeting. It's an unveiling. A friend of mine works at a firm who helped design the project. I think another pilot for the project is a West Humboldt project.

  • Jeanne Marie Olson researcher, DIYer, lecturer, designer

    Good to know, Albany Park Mom, and I'll revise my expectations. Looks like they are going with a prototype, so there is no chance for input. Again, no disrespect to your friend or the architects, because the city gets what they ask for. But the West Humboldt prototype is also stark and uninviting, much like Little Village. I know the city is aiming to save money, and I appreciate the LEED rating, but you can do more with the user experience than the prototypes have done and still be LEED. Even the architectural firm (which I gather is Lohan Anderson?) has designed library interiors that are far more warm and user-friendly (such as their Orland Park Library Project) than these prototypes have, which tells me that the flaws of this space rest with the city client. The grey steel shelves, everything beige or grey, the impersonal yawning cavern in the middle which exposes more than embraces people like you are sitting in an airplane hanger...I'll try to remain open-minded but the interior design photos--which normally show a space at its best--are almost depressing.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/media/photo/2012-03/68506416.jpg

  • Bob Kastigar 15 Years North Park, bike rider, retired

    Things change.

    Libraries in the old days were dark, plain interiors lit with incandescent bulbs. They were meant to pick up or return books or to work at tables doing research and writing.

    Libraries are very different today. The plain steel shelves can hold more books than the old fashioned wooden ones. They're probably cheaper to purchase, hold up better, and can be changed easier when necessary. They may even make the LEED rating easier to get.

    Libraries today are also meeting places - that you can see as the Albany Park is now. The canyon in the middle leaves in a lot more sunlight - which the old libraries didn't have.

    The only down side will be the two-year delay. But we can still use the Mayfair branch and pop into the Alderman's office is right on the same block!

  • Jeanne Marie Olson researcher, DIYer, lecturer, designer

    Yes, things do change, thank goodness!

    Plain, beige steel shelves are not the only options we have. These are all steel shelves which work with a modern library space:

    http://asset2.vitsoe.com/store/gallery_images/files/170/four_seventy/Vitsoe-shelves-university-library.jpg?614cbda

    http://www.bcieurobib.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Radius-Steel-Shelving.jpg

    http://www.bcieurobib.com/products/d/1004/

    Libraries ARE meeting places. If the canyon in the center is a meeting place, then don't put all of the computers there where people are trying to work quietly. MAKE it a meeting space.

    To the architects' credit, the envelope of the space is quite nice. But the interior design of the space (the real test of a usable design) doesn't seem to work from what I see in these pics. I WANT to be wrong (think I'll hop down to West Humboldt this week and check it out). Who knows? Maybe the pic of West Humboldt was taken before they added panels to the ends of the grey bookcases, or murals from community artists on the wall space below the clerestory windows. Maybe there are auditory partitions within the Humboldt space so the patrons reading quietly on the adult side aren't disturbed by the sounds of a group meeting going on, or the laughing of kids in the Children's Section after school when they are all lining up to get help with their homework. I don't see it in the photos of the Humboldt space, but I am very willing to be wrong because that would be very cool if I was.

  • Jessi educator

    FYI for this Thursday's presentation by the PBC:

    We do NOT want an interruption in library services, no matter how long or short the demolition/reconstruction process. If the PBC publicizes proof that the existing building has major structural problems (looks okay to me), why not build an addition to keep part of the library open (like the addition planned for the Humboldt Park branch)? Otherwise there's an empty storefront (formerly a bookstore) @ Kedzie/Foster the City should rent in the interim.

    Who will profit from the $15 million brick-and-mortar investments? Funding is better spent in retracting the cuts in hours, staffing, children's programming, and new books. Why have janitorial and security services been privatized and their hours cut? Why are our highly-trained librarians now doing the work of pages and shelving books?

    I can't be at the meeting Thursday, but please bring up the Public Hearing at the library 12:00-2:00 June 2nd. Will Laurino/PBC/Commissioner Bannon be present for a real hearing with the public?

    Remember: NO Interruption in Services.

  • AlbanyParkMom Community gardener, 11-year resident

    I think these are good points, but our branch is subject to system-wide regulations, changes and limitations (janitorial, security) and I'm not sure that this is the right meeting for those issues. Better to focus on the first part of your post, Jessi, how our area can secure alternate library services during construction, whether that's a storefront library, temp renting the old North Park Bookstore, etc.

    The meeting is this Thursday, May 24. Not sure what the June 2 meeting is.

    I'd also like to point out that my local park, Eugene Field Park, recently underwent a playlot renovation. The playlot was closed for a full summer. We made do. And now we have a lovely and safe new playlot. Short-term sacrifice for long-term benefit is fine in my book.

  • The plan is moving forward at this time is my understanding. This is not my library but APM is right, focus on alternative services at this time for some services at least, as it is happening shortly.

    We also had the same thing happen to Sauganash Park two years ago and we have a nice safe play lot once they removed that bad slide! I don't have kids but my dog enjoys walking on the soft rubber surface with his old joints, I keep a good watch so he doesn't do business there!

  • Jeanne Marie Olson researcher, DIYer, lecturer, designer

    Jessi, I've been told that the current building is on top of an old gas station and there are valid concerns about site's condition below grade. The current AP librarians have told me that they will be re-assigned temporarily to other branches during construction. Not ideal, but better than a layoff.

    I think issues about privatization of services and the role of librarians are valid. I don't think that they are going to be addressed at any local meeting. System-wide change will better be served by establishing a grass roots organization (like Raise Your Hand and public schools), identifying alternatives, and raising them with execs at the system-wide level (I think you'd find a lot of support.) You don't want to be seen as one squeaky wheel in a local meeting. You want to be seen as a large/legitimate coalition of citizens who are negotiating at a systems-wide level.

    Temporary space: I'd prepare a short list of how it benefits the community and possible solutions. For example:

    1) ISSUE: Access to materials/material returns within walking distance of the current space, especially for children/senior citizens. PROPOSAL: Storefront on Foster that provides in and out access for picking up reserved materials and returning materials.

    2) ISSUE: Access to internet services for local community within walking distance of current library space. PROPOSAL: Potentially a "lending" or even donation of current hardware to Albany Park Community Center on Kimball for increased open access space/time for community.

    3) ISSUE: Access to homework help for local students from nearby public schools within walking distance of current library space. PROPOSAL: Re-directing "Teacher in the Library" resources to after-school facilities at public schools within North Park and Albany Park or to secured space at Northeastern Illinois/North Park University.

  • AlbanyParkMom Community gardener, 11-year resident

    Good point, Jeanne. "Large and legitimate."

    It's important to focus on alt services, a smart and aggressive construction timeline, and community space at the library (meeting rooms, cafe tables, etc.) for a community without a lot of other gathering places.

  • jessland Albany Park resident, blogger, organizer

    My main item to bring up at the meeting is the potential for a temporary library location. Roosevelt High School will be closed this summer for renovations and repairs, meaning kids who would have been there for summer programs or summer school will not have that option. We have so many churches, vacant store fronts, and neighboring universities, I would love to work with the city to find a temporary space.

  • fran long time neighbor

    I posted this last fall when the library renovation was in the paper, nobody seemed to take notice then... So here's the article again;
    http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2011/10/05/emanuel-seeks-tif-funds-for-library-school-parking-lot/

  • Jeanne Marie Olson researcher, DIYer, lecturer, designer

    I visited the West Humboldt Park library today, and I like about 85% of it. The biggest flaw (and I hear you on the security thing, but I know there are better architectural options) is the noise. If you have a conversation in one area, the whole library can hear it. It is THAT open. The kids space is RIGHT next to the adult space (separated only by open shelving) and the adult space tables are right next to the computer stations. There are no "quiet" areas for patrons who need to study or need quiet. Or the kids are constantly being "shhh'ed" which doesn't work at all because they are library patrons too, and important ones. There should be a space for them.

    It doesn't seem like it would be impossible to change the layout of the interior without altering the original architectural plan, so the kids' space, quiet space, and small meeting spaces could exist side-by-side without disturbing each other. In the current configuration, those desiring to work quietly will need to be elsewhere or bring noise-canceling headphones after school or during the summer/weekend.

    I like the natural light. I like the many computer options. I like the modular, flexible design of the community meeting room/You Media Lab (though the limited lab hours are really disappointing, but that has more to do with funds.) I'm not a fan of the cookie cutter fixtures (beige shelving, etc.), but I do like the windows, the entrance, the landscaping around it (though we will probably have less landscaping to work with.) I think if the community pushes for and fundraises for artwork that reflects the multicultural personality that is Albany Park, this could help to personalize what could be a very generic, impersonal space. So there's that.

  • Bob Kastigar 15 Years North Park, bike rider, retired

    The Albany Park Library is NOT closing in June. It won't close until the fall, after school starts. It's planned to re-open in the summer of 2014, or earlier.

    That's less than two years.

    Please join Alderman Margaret Laurino with Chicago Public Library Commissioner Brian Bannon and Public Building Commission Director Erin Lavin Cabonargi at the Albany Park Public Library for a public meeting to learn about a new, larger, state-of-the-art Albany Park Library

    Thursday, May 24, 6:30 pm
    Albany Park Public Library, 5150 N. Kimball

  • Jessi educator

    The library is not closing on June 9th because people in the neighborhood agitated, collecting 200 signatures on a petition and sending many letters to Commissioner Bannon and e-mails to Andrea Telli and Margaret Laurino. The original announcement was for the library to close for 18 months, and the 8.5/11" sheet notifying the public of the closing was quickly taken down last week.

    The City should provide an interim location with full library services during the demolition/reconstruction period, without a scattering of neighborhood folks and kids going here and there just to study, meet, or borrow a book, no matter how long the City officials forecast for the interim, especially since this time period seems to fluctuate easily according to public opinion.

    The community paid for this library and will pay for its reconstruction (TIF), so we have a right to be included in the decisions for the design (I agree with JMO that quiet spaces are absolutely essential!) and be periodically notified of progress along a clear timeline.

  • Bob Kastigar 15 Years North Park, bike rider, retired

    Jessi, where did you ever see any official announcement about a closing on June 9th? The only announcement I ever saw with that particular date was in a hand-printed handout at a local pizza place.

    I'm curious where this June 9th "rumor" came from.

    Do you have an email or link where this was posted?

  • Jessi educator

    One of the neighborhood activists took a picture of the notice which briefly appeared on the glass doors (put up only after everyone was already buzzing about the impending summer closure). If you send me your e-mail I will forward the .jpg attachment.

    What's in question here is the extremely low level of transparency in all of these decisions made by the City with NO public input. Tonight's unveiling ceremony is occurring because we have demanded a public hearing and reserved the community room for such on June 2nd at noon. Hopefully many people will turn out to demonstrate that we care deeply about our public spaces and these same officials will appear for a real discussion on June 2.

  • what is the location of this library?

  • Bob Kastigar 15 Years North Park, bike rider, retired

    Tonight's meeting (24th at 6:30 in the library) is being held by Ald. Laurino.

    Who reserved the meeting room on June 2nd?

    What group is holding this meeting?

    (You can send me an email from by quick-link:
    http://chicago.everyblock.com/users/30339/ )

  • Jessi educator

    corner of Foster / Kimball

  • Bob Kastigar 15 Years North Park, bike rider, retired

    Jessi wrote: "One of the neighborhood activists took a picture of the notice which briefly appeared on the glass doors (put up only after everyone was already buzzing about the impending summer closure). If you send me your e-mail I will forward the .jpg attachment."

    Better yet, post it to one of those free picture places like Flickr or Google and then post a link here so all of us involved in this discussion can see it.

  • Bob Kastigar 15 Years North Park, bike rider, retired

    Good turnout at the meeting. Lots of questions, many people satisfied with what's proposed.

    A few pictures:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/kastigar/sets/72157627896414441/

    Some from the Albany Park Library, and a bunch of other pictures from the protest at City Hall back in November of last year, about the library reduction in hours. Left over on the camera, I forgot about them!

  • Jeanne Marie Olson researcher, DIYer, lecturer, designer

    What was proposed?

  • Bob Kastigar 15 Years North Park, bike rider, retired

    Nothing not already considered was proposed as new. There will be additional meeting to fine-tune the work. Probably at least one more meeting this year with the Alderman.

    There is going to be a meeting being held by other individuals on June 2nd. As far as I know it isn't an official meeting. I don't know who's running it or what the proposed agenda is. I got the impression it's just to organize additional complaining trying to beat the drum to get things done the way a minority thinks it should be done.

    The building will be closed sometime in September. Some of the ongoing program will be scheduled elsewhere but at different locations. These are schools.

    There will be no attempt to open a temporary location to act as a public library. Plan on going to Mayfair or Budlong Woods for a while. Find out how to use the telephone to call or the internet to make reservations for books to be picked up at other locations.

    The maximum down-time would be two years, but if things go well it could be a lot sooner.

    There were the traditional nay-sayers and complainers who will complain for the whole time but when the work is done it will be a much better. library.

    If you have a kid in 2nd grade they'll be in 4th grade when the work is finished. If your kid is in 8th grade they'll be a sophomore when the work is done. How much are they going to really miss or have to do elsewhere during the interim?

  • loraine t washington 5 yr. resident

    kimball and lawrence. right by the brn. line. hey by the way does anybody know if they still put free bk. in the el station?

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