Whitney Young Library Getting $12 Million Makeover

Craig Dellimore
February 22, 2018 - 7:42 am

Chicago Public Library

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — The Whitney Young Public Library at 79th and King Drive is getting an extreme makeover that will make the well-used facility even more attractive to neighborhood residents.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined Alderman Roderick Sawyer, Chicago Public Library Commissioner Brian Bannon and Public Building Commission Executive Director Carina Sanchez on Monday to break ground on the complete renovation and modernization of the Whitney M. Young, Jr. Library at 7901 S. King Drive. 

The $12 million library renovation will use the exterior walls of the original structure as part of what’s essentially a new building. WBBM Newsradio's Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports.

“Once renovated and expanded, the Whitney M. Young, Jr. Library branch will be a community fixture for Chatham residents to read, learn, discover, and explore,” said Mayor Emanuel, in a statement. “What Chatham will become someday is now today, and I look forward to the continued growth and development in this historic community.”

At the groundbreaking, Public Library Director Brian Bannon said the new facility will feature an early learning play space and a high-tech media lab for teenagers.

"It will have the best and the highest technology, from recording studios to making and manufacturing. There will be a manufacturing lab for adults as well as children and teens can use. It will actually be the first in our neighborhood libraries - it will be a permanent piece," Bannon said.

Chicago Public Library

It will feature an Early Learning play space for children, YOUmedia digital lab for teens, additional seating, state-of-the-art furniture and equipment, meeting and study spaces, expanded computer access and ADA accessibility throughout the building. Whitney Young Branch will also be one of three Experience Labs. In October of last year, Mayor Emanuel along with David L. Cohen announced that Comcast would be making a $250,000 Internet Essentials investment with the Chicago Public Library Foundation bringing together three CPL programs into unique “Experience Labs” powered by Internet Essentials for Chicagoans of all ages to enjoy. Current programming includes YOUmedia, CyberNavigator digital skills tutoring for adults, and Maker Lab programming. Whitney Young will be one of only three other locations outside of HWLC to currently offer Maker Lab programs.

Even before the modernization, the Whitney Young Library was the top library for computer use. Now, computer offerings will be expanded in the new facility.

Article originally publshed January 22, 2018.