Building a better world

Children of all ages, including almost half of Oak Parkers in grades K–3, joined our all-summer reading program in 2017. With a “Build a Better World” theme, it was “one of the most feel-good ever,” said Elementary School Services Librarian Genevieve Grove.

Kindness, community action

Besides reading hours upon hours and earning prizes, kids built a better world through actions like cleaning up litter, offering random acts of kindness, creating art and poetry, and reading to younger kids and older adults. They also wrote and sent postcards to government officials, painted kindness rocks to leave around town, and gardened at Sugar Beet Schoolhouse’s All Ages, All Abilities Garden at Cheney Mansion.

“We love interacting with families in different venues and getting kids involved in their community from an early age,” Grove said.

All welcome, all summer

In 2017 we expanded the program through August, to last the entirety of Oak Park Elementary School District 97’s summer break. Although most who participated were Oak Parkers, the program was open to all, no matter where they live, a change we first made in 2016.

“We’re happy to know we connected with many kids for even a brief time,” Grove said. “Some might have visited the library only once or twice this summer or saw the Book Bike during its weekly visits to lunch at a food pantry. Still, we got the chance to tell them we’re proud of them and that the library will always welcome them through our doors.”

What does it mean to be a welcoming community?

In February 2017, Oak Park became a “sanctuary city” by passing a Welcoming Village ordinance. Village staff, including police officers, do not collect information on residents’ or visitors’ immigration status, and decline to assist federal immigration enforcement operations. 

To creatively explore this ordinance, human rights, and diversity, we're partnering with the the Oak Park Art League on events in January. 

Everyone Is Welcome Storytime

Friday, Jan. 26, 10:30–11 am, Dole Branch. Celebrate teamwork and unity. Ages 3–5.

Art for Social Change: Sanctuary City Postcards

Friday, Jan. 26, 11 am–12 pm, Dole Branch. Consider what it means to be a welcoming community. We’ll explore items from our Special Collections and Multicultural Collection, then create postcards illustrating what we’ve learned. The postcards will be included in a May 2018 exhibit at the Art League, 720 Chicago Ave., as part of its Art for Social Change series. The exhibit, Sanctuary, celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Ordinance. Best for ages 5+.