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Tracy Hubbard, librarian at Bessie Rhodes magnet school, and Renee Neumeier, young adult services at Evanston Public Library (EPL), summarized a developing collaboration between District 65 librarians and EPL.

Ms. Hubbard said District 65 librarians and EPL librarians had worked with each other in the past, but an email from Illinois State Library prodded them to develop a more formal system of collaboration. The email asked librarians to submit applications for a grant for innovative programs that foster community partnerships using web-based technology.

Ms. Hubbard said she reached out to EPL to submit an application for a grant, and as a result they embarked on formalizing ways to build relationships between District 65 and EPL librarians and to build bridges between the public library and the schools.

Ms. Neumeier mentioned some things accomplished so far: they have held a number of joint meetings; EPL has purchased Chromebooks and iPads (which are used in District 65 schools) so EPL staff can assist District 65 students with homework assignments; EPL is rolling out a teacher and a school check-out card so teachers can access materials from EPL; EPL is creating a portal for teachers to submit class assignments, so EPL is aware of them and can set up a webpage for students to access EPL resources related to the assignment.

All of the databases at EPL are available to District 65 students, said Ms. Hubbard. EPL has e-books and audio books that District 65 can access, and the audio books are very important to struggling readers, said Ms. Hubbard. “It’s really calling to mind all the resources that are there and building a structure to take advantage of those resources.”

Ms. Hubbard also said that EPL provides Maker Space, which students may use for experiential learning. “We’re understanding how we can use these resources and use their expertise and it’s fabulous,” she said.

“We believe that libraries are a place where you access knowledge, you create knowledge and that you enjoy coming,” said Ms. Hubbard. “And when you talk about going from cradle to career you’re always going to the library.”

Paul Goren, superintendent of District 65, said, “This is the beginning of an initial stage. It’s great to collaborate with members of the community. This is a natural collaboration.” 

Larry Gavin

Larry Gavin was a co-founder of the Evanston RoundTable in 1998 and assisted in its conversion to a non-profit in 2021. He has received many journalism awards for his articles on education, housing and...