The Evanston Public Library Friends announced last week that they have identified space for the temporary outpost of the South Branch library at 900 Chicago Ave. The lease is subject to final approval by the Library Board, and based on its recent unanimous vote authorizing EPL Friends to do so, The landlord has issued a letter of intent, according to EPL Friends, and members of the Library Board’s South Branch Transition committee have been invited to tour the space with EPL Friends.
“We’re excited about the possibilities, and eager to get started with what we like to call ‘Extreme Library Makeover,’” said Marcia Mahoney. “It’s important to think of this as an ‘outpost,’ and therefore something different than the current library branches.” An EPLF board member and former South Branch assistant, she also heads the Neighborhood Outreach Committee for EPL Friends.
EPL Friends say they will follow the lead of some of the library world’s most innovative thinkers, including Nate Hill, the former Brooklyn Public Library staffer who introduced the concept of outposts as a library delivery mechanism.
“EPLF is trying to find a way to do more with less. Because the space is smaller, we can’t move the entire South Branch collection,” said Ms. Mahoney, “but, by creatively using the library’s hold system, it’s our hope that we can come close to providing the same access to library materials.” There will be computers and WiFi for community use, and a storytime and play space for children, according to a statement from EPLF.
“This is truly a story about community. We have been overwhelmed by the generosity from the Evanston community and the library community beyond,” said EPLF president Ellen Newcomer. “In addition to generous concessions made by the landlord to accommodate our specific lease needs, we’ve had offers to donate services from interior designers, architects and space planners and even moving companies. We’ve also been offered library shelving from Boston’s Street Lab, which is one of the nation’s leaders for library innovation.”