On Christmas 1989, the North-Pulaski branch burned down leaving all of Humboldt Park without a library. The work of our fellow community groups like The Block Club Federation and Youth Service Project was able to advocate and bring not one, but two new branches to the community. The Humboldt Park Branch, at North and Troy was built, in 1995 and the North-Pulaski Branch was leased in 1996, at North and Lowell.
The North-Pulaski branch serves West Humboldt Park, North Austin, and Hermosa, but is only about 6,000 sq. ft. Modern branches that serve our communities across the city are between 15-18,000 sq. ft. and have 15-20 spaces for parking. Our current space is not big enough to serve families or students from local schools such as North-Grand HS, Orr HS, Pritzker College Prep, Marine Leadership Academy and Stowe, Nixon, Nobel, West Park, and Cameron elementary schools.
It has been a decades long dream of residents to have a North-Pulaski Branch library that would serve our families and students of our local schools. The dream is close to becoming a reality.
Over the last year, Nobel Neighbors and other local stakeholders have been organizing to redevelop the old Pioneer Bank and its vacant lot to the north of it. Working through community roundtables stakeholders have brainstormed elements that could go into the Pioneer Bank Redevelopment. A larger, relocated North-Pulaski Branch library has been the top element residents, seniors, youth, business owners, and community organizations have desired.
Before the May 18th Chicago Public Library Board meeting, Nobel Neighbors organized a email writing campaign to formally request that the library board and new CPL commissioner, Chris Brown, commit to bringing a new library to the Pioneer Bank Redevelopment.
At the virtual meeting, commissioner Brown mentioned (minute 36:28) that dozens of community letters of support for a new, expanded North-Pulaski library were sent his way; too many he could not read them all. After reading one such letter, Commissioner Brown responded that the CPL has expressed interest in relocating the North-Pulaski Branch and said he has shared that interest with the city’s Department of Planning.
“Should a developer be interested in bringing a library to the site, we are open to the opportunity,” Brown said. He added, “We’ve also expressed requirements of the branch located in the RFP as being at least 16,000 sq. ft. , with dedicated parking.”
This is a community win! We couldn’t do this without you, our neighbors.
It is our hope that the commissioner’s expression of intention will push interested developer teams to formalize their bids to include the element of a Chicago Public Library in the Pioneer Bank redevelopment.
Let’s continue to build the momentum to bring the North-Pulaski Branch library to its namesake corner.