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REDESIGNED WHITNEY M. YOUNG JR. LIBRARY IS OPEN IN CHATHAM

1/23/2019, noon | Updated on 1/23/2019, noon
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago Public Library Commissioner Brian Bannon, and Sixth Ward Alderman Roderick Sawyer recently gathered with community members ...
Mayor Rahm Emanuel (pictured) recently spoke at the grand opening of the redesigned Whitney M. Young Jr. Library in Chatham. Photo Credit: Katherine Newman

Redesigned Whitney M. Young Jr. Library Is Open In Chatham

BY KATHERINE NEWMAN

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago Public Library Commissioner Brian Bannon, and Sixth Ward Alderman Roderick Sawyer recently gathered with community members to celebrate the grand re-opening of the newly renovated Whitney M. Young Jr. Branch Library, located on 415 E. 79th Street in Chatham.

The $12 million gut renovation expanded the library’s footprint by 2,800-square feet which allows the library to offer a more flexible and comfortable space for residents to access the wide variety of library services that are available. The Whitney Young branch now also includes an Early Learning Play Space for children, a YOUmedia digital lab for teens, expanded meeting and study spaces, and a refreshed collection of books and media.

“This has been at least a 10-year journey,” said Alderman Sawyer. “It was a lot of hard work and a lot of frustration, but we are glad to be here today. I would like to thank so many people that were involved but first of all, I want to thank the community who stepped up and were steadfast in making sure that we were going to have a library in Chatham.”

The Whitney Young Library is officially the first Chicago Public Library branch to have a dedicated Maker Lab which is a free and publicly accessible maker space that features introductory workshops and open space for community members to work on personal projects and collaborations.

“There is a lot of history and not just with this library and this neighborhood, but history is being made today. There are Maker Labs at our regional libraries,” said Mayor Emanuel. “But what you may not know is that today the first Maker Lab at a neighborhood library in the City of Chicago is opening right here in Chatham.”

During the grand opening ceremony, Mayor Emanuel shared his sentiments about what he found to be the most significant aspect of the Whitney Young Library.

“Today what we are doing is not just cutting the ribbon on a library, we are actually cutting the ribbon on a new future. Not just for one day, but for days and years and decades to come. This library will pay dividends to generations of families from the Greater Chatham Community. It’s an investment that should have happened years ago,” said Mayor Emanuel.

He went on to say that neighborhood libraries have a unique opportunity to expose children to things that they have never dreamed of before and unlock their future.

“There will be one of these kids that are sitting in the Early Learning Center that will have explored and thought about things and gone from that Early Learning Center to the computer lab in just a generation and they will design things that we are going to find one day in our home and we are going to have to ask them how to use it,” said Mayor Emanuel.

To learn about what is offered at the Whitney M. Young Jr. Branch Library visit www.chipublib.org/locations/80/.