In late January, over 100 community members attended a meeting to address what the city plans to do repair the library and discuss community suggestions for repairs and upgrades. But the meeting turned contentious when not one city official showed up. Residents expressed their frustration at the city for not attending, with Alderman Brookins saying it was “disappointing and disheartening” that no one from the Chicago Public Library showed up. Chicago Public Library spokesman Patrick Molloy said that the library fully supports the project, but there must have been a misunderstanding and library officials didn’t commit to attending the meeting.
So what is the long-term plan to save the building housing this historic collection of black literature? Melvin Thompson is the executive director of the Endeleo Institute, a nonprofit focused on building up Chicago’s Washington Heights community. One of the group’s primary goals is getting Woodson Library the attention it needs. Since 2013, Endeleo has put pressure on the city to make repairs while watching new state-of-the-art libraries go up in more affluent neighborhoods, such as Beverly and Chinatown.
City officials told Chicago media outlet WGN that a facelift for Woodson carries an estimated budget somewhere between $5-10 million, but city officials couldn’t seem to come up with a reason why the library was neglected for so long.
Yeah, I can’t imagine what the different about this library.
Carter G. Woodson Regional Library opened December 19, 1975, in a two-story building housing the Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature, the largest collection of its kind in the Midwest. The library was named for Dr. Carter G. Woodson, known as the father of African American historiography. A prolific writer and founder of the Association for the Study of Negro History and Life, Woodson made many contributions to the study of African American history and culture.