Living History: Led by youth, for youth

Living History Project

“Some people have a tendency of underestimating young people,” said Middle School Librarian Jose Cruz. “When sometimes it’s that we’re not providing them with something that is interesting for them, so you won’t see the results.” That hasn’t been the case for the Living History Project, a grant-funded initiative that’s formed a tight-knit group of … Read more

A welcoming place, where everybody is somebody

Social Services Specialist Stephen Jackson, Supervisor of Safety and Security Aaron Alonzo, and Social Services Director Robert Simmons

In March 2016, Robert Simmons joined the library as its first social worker, a direct result of the library’s intentional strategy of listening and responding to community aspirations. Since then, the Social Services and Safety team he’s built has served more than 350 vulnerable patrons. Most are Oak Park residents experiencing mental illness, homelessness, and … Read more

You belong at your library

You Belong at Your Library

In 2017, your public library: Re-engaged more than 1,700 Oak Park Public Library cardholders since eliminating fines for overdue materials. Actively listened and learned from hundreds of patrons, peers, and partners about shared aspirations and emerging concerns. Welcomed more than 100 new community organizations after opening up the library’s meeting space policy. Read more in … Read more

Socktober: Small act, big difference

Socktober

Did you know socks are consistently among the most requested items at homeless shelters? All October, we’re collecting new pairs at all library locations to benefit the clients of Housing Forward and other organizations. It’s our second year participating in Socktober, an international, monthlong sock drive inspired by Kid President. In 2016, thanks to the generosity of our community, we … Read more

Putting community first

Chalkboard with "I want to live in a community..." written at the top and a chalk drawing of a tree and smiling faces

Turning outward for action and change Four years ago this October, Executive Director David J. Seleb attended a three-day workshop so influential it forever changed the way he looked at his work and the direction of the Oak Park Public Library. “In my 28 years working in libraries, I’ve been introduced to lots of initiatives, … Read more

Stronger together

Last March, as part of our strategy to rethink how we engage with all patrons, we hired a social worker—a first for us, but part of a growing trend for public libraries, including those in Evanston, Denver, and Washington, DC. “Around the nation, public libraries have become de facto community health centers for people who … Read more

A new experience model

olmes Elementary teacher Drew Finkbeiner and Oak Park Public Library's Rob Simmons shaking hands.

Rethinking how we engage with all patrons In his first week as Social Services and Safety Director, Robert Simmons found the demand for his social work advocacy and referral services even greater than expected. “The library provides a snapshot of the overwhelming discrepancy between the haves and the have-nots,” Simmons said. “Oak Park is only … Read more

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