The Chicago Public Library is the single institution in this great city that allows everyone equal access to information, a place to learn and grow, and a means to improve our lives, regardless of color, creed or income. ~ The Chicago Library Coalition
The Chicago Public Library is the most economically sound public service of all, providing priceless services to the people of Chicago, with minimal taxpayer dollars. Every day, the CPL staff across the city helps thousands of people with job searches and works to close the growing digital divide: the gap between the “haves and have-nots.” Its more than 70 branches are an anchor in their communities, providing a safe haven for children, teens and those disenfranchised.
Last year, the Chicago Public Library saw 11,182,193 visits through its doors. Almost ten million items items were checked out.
For the 40% of Chicagoans without access to the internet at home, the library is the primary location for connectivity, enabling them to search for jobs, conduct research and seek essential human services that are increasingly only available to those with access to technology. In 2011, 2,885,868 computer sessions were logged, and 334,230 WiFI sessions were logged.
Last summer alone, 58,696 children and 4,011 adults participated in the summer reading program. Research shows that kids who participate in summer reading programs demonstrate greater reading ability come fall and less of a learning loss over the summer than kids who don’t.
The Chicago Public Library serves school age children during their school time. CPL is the primary media center for countless schools in the city that do not have libraries and for thousands of homeschoolers. Even students lucky enough to attend a school with a library find that their schools partner with and utilize CPL. Classes visit the library for story times, library tours, bibliographic instruction, research assistance and more. Librarians engage in outreach, visiting schools to meet with staff, conducting book clubs with students, providing instruction in online library catalogs and database research, attending special events like family reading nights, and visiting classrooms to promote the summer reading program.
Area preschools and families who have babies, toddlers, and preschool age children find a wealth of resources at the library. Librarians suggest the best books, offer numerous programs, and educate caregivers on the importance of developing early literacy skills. In working with the very young, libraries provide immeasurable contributions towards school-readiness.
The Chicago Public Libraries are bustling community spaces and save havens for children, teens and adults alike. They function as warming/cooling centers and as polling sites for voters. Educators, social workers, trainers, retirees, non-profit organizations, neighborhood associations, and other make regular use of library community rooms.
Ensuring our city’s economic future does not come by slashing library staff, hours, or services. Numerous reports and studies offer evidence that public libraries provide an extremely high return on public funding investment. CPL is no exception—it accounts for a tiny fraction of the city budget while playing an integral role in building our citizens, our neighborhoods, and our city.
“We welcome and support all people in their enjoyment of reading and lifelong learning. Working together, we strive to provide equal access to information, ideas and knowledge through books, programs and other resources. We believe in the freedom to read, to learn, to discover.” ~The mission of the Chicago Public Library.