The Evanston Public Library Friends (EPL Friends) learned late last week that on March 9, the City of Evanston provided the lessor with notification that the lease for the South Branch Library at 949 Chicago Avenue, will be cancelled effective August 9, 2010. Notification came just days after the Evanston City Council granted the Library, and its supporters, six months – until August 31, 2010 – to explore a long-term, sustainable funding stream for neighborhood outreach, including the two existing branch libraries. According to library usage data, South Branch circulation is up 96.19%, and visits are up 42.74% over the last five years. The South Branch library has been in its current location at for 76 years, and has had a presence on Chicago Avenue since 1917.  

            EPL Friends wants to assure its members and donors in southeast Evanston that it is committed to raising funds to provide library services throughout Evanston, including the Main and Chicago neighborhood. EPLF has been exploring alternative, ADA compliant space in the area, as well as researching opportunities for shared space with other organizations in concert with its public/private partnership efforts.  EPLF will bring options to the Library Board for its consideration this spring, with a goal to have a plan in place by June 15, 2010.       

            Because EPL Friends believes so strongly in a South Branch library presence, the group is willing, if necessary, to pay rent at 949 Chicago Avenue through September 30, 2010, so that any necessary relocation of the library can occur after summer programming is completed in order to ensure continued services for South Branch patrons.  

             EPL Friends incorporated in March 2010.  It is an independent, community-based organization dedicated to strengthening Evanston Public Library’s innovation, leadership and neighborhood outreach. For more information, visit on the web at www.eplfriends.org.