EVA challenge: Support Chicago's branch libraries

By Gladys Alcazar-Anselmo and Catherine Garypie

How do local libraries offer so much free programming? The East Village Association wanted to expand its support for the West Town Branch library, 1625 W. Chicago Ave. Our research discovered a very important community partner, the Chicago Public Library Foundation.

It's a not-for-profit fundraising partner to the Chicago Public Library. The foundation develops partnerships throughout Chicago and beyond. Its efforts support the library’s programs, technology and collections.

Through generous private donations, the foundation connects library users to their community and the world, ensuring all Chicagoans have the freedom to read, learn and discover.

One Book, One Chicago, the Summer Learning Challenge and the Teacher in the Library program are 100 percent funded by donors to the library foundation. The library’s efforts to nurture learning, support economic advancement and strengthen communities are at the heart of the Chicago Public Library Foundation's mission.

EVA’s first library fundraiser will fund future programming at the West Town Branch library. “Literary Charades Game Night” is scheduled for Sept. 25 from 6 to 9pm at Roots Handmade Pizza, 1924 W. Chicago Ave. Teams of four will "act out" book titles without speaking, while other members of their team try to guess the book title. The objective is for teams to guess the titles as quickly as possible.

The evening ends as the final four teams, with the fastest completion times, compete for the crown of 2014 West Town Champions. The final four team winners will receive prizes from local businesses and sponsors, and win the bragging rights for the next year.

EVA hopes his collaboration can inspire other groups throughout Chicago to support the important work being done at every local library throughout Chicago. Through this event, EVA hopes to raise funds that supports this year’s programming goals, such as expansion of a children’s chess program or unique hands-on workshops.

Last year’s session on spice production and use was one such program, led by Steven Tobiason, owner of Epic Spices. Other programs could include documentary film screenings and book readings with local authors, historians and documentarians, as well as hiring children’s musicians to perform before local young children, their teachers and parents.

The West Town Branch Library, on the ground floor of the historic Goldblatt's building, officially opened on Sept. 11, 2010. It's an integral part of East Village and the West Town community.

It occupies 13,300 square feet of the building in a beautiful, loft-style space with more than 50 computers for adults, teens and children.  The library also has a group study room, and children's and adult reading areas that provide a comfortable, contemplative space overlooking busy and bustling Chicago Avenue.

The collection reflects the diverse and multicultural population, with books in Polish, Ukrainian and Spanish. The West Town Branch offers monthly book discussions for adults and tweens, and conducts a regular toddler story time for ages 18 to 36 months and a lap-sit story time for children 6 to 18 months.

This branch circulates more than 9,000 materials every month and serves an average of 2,500 patrons each week in person. Annually, direct services totaled nearly 1,800 early childhood, school-age and teen participants, and the programs continue to grow.

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