Humboldt Park Reading / Writing Library calls for help as community center searches for a new home


HUMBOLDT PARK – Read / Write Library, a community center filled with forgotten media that tells the stories of Chicago neighborhoods, leaves its longtime home on California Avenue in Humboldt Park.

With just a few weeks before the library has to relocate, founder Nell Taylor has launched a campaign to fund a new location, hopefully nearby.

“Our plan is to reopen in spring 2022, and we need your help now to ensure that our dynamic, urgent and unique programs reach more people than ever in the next 10 years and beyond,” said Taylor wrote in a statement. Instagram post last week.

Founded in 2006, the Read / Write Library is home to an extensive collection of community media, with everything from church cookbooks and self-published novels to student works and works of inmates – “publications spanning 100 years that otherwise would not be seen, “according to its website.

In recent years, the library has become a gathering place for people seeking to learn more about forgotten pieces of Chicago history. Before the pandemic, the library held regular classroom tours, community meetings, and other events for viewing and research. Taylor and his team also offer pop-up libraries in other states and rural towns.

For the past decade, the library has operated from a downstairs storefront at 914 N. California Ave. after years of bouncing around town, from the former shared artists’ space of the Congress Theater to a Lakeview church, Taylor said.

For the most part, the Humboldt Park storefront has served the library well, Taylor said, allowing the program side of the business to grow. But space has deteriorated dramatically in recent years, she said.

The owner of Read / Write did not respond to requests for comment.

Taylor said the landlord recently gave her two options: She could renew her lease for a higher rent, but the landlord wouldn’t do any repairs, or she could move out by the end of the year. The second option was the best and the only option, she said.

Now the journey begins to fund the new chapter of Read / Write Library.

Taylor hopes to raise $ 100,000, with a pledged match of $ 50,000 from larger funders, to open a new location and pay employees “what they deserve,” she said. So far, the library has raised around $ 20,000 in small donations, which means Taylor and his team have around $ 30,000 to raise to bring the project to life.

“Help us through this crisis and come out stronger in a new accessible space, supported by staff and facilitators who are paid fairly for their talent and passion in bringing stories that have been left behind to life,” said Taylor writes on Instagram.

Over the next two weeks, the read / write team will pack the library with help from the neighbors. While it is painful to say goodbye to the California Avenue spot, Taylor said she hopes Read / Write, the only such library in the world, will flourish in her new home.

Taylor said she was focused on finding a location in Humboldt Park, where she is from.

“It’s really heartbreaking because we’ve invested a lot in [the California Avenue location] and we have heard so much support verbally for so many years, ”she said. “We are very, very deeply connected to the community and we really want to stay at Humboldt Park.”

To donate to the Read / Write Library, go here.

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