When you cross west on 63rd and Pulaski, it’s easy to miss the West Lawn Library among the rows of storefronts and busy vehicular traffic. The library was especially overlooked when it closed down for what felt like a year at the beginning of the pandemic, with some neighbors fearing that it would close forever. 

The West Lawn Branch quietly reopened in January 2022 after undergoing a series of indoor renovations. The $625,000 TIF-funded investment was part of the City’s capital improvement program that included upgrading library buildings as a way to “reduce maintenance and rental costs, provide safe, structurally sound and inviting facilities, and ensure that current and future service needs are met.”

Staff changes were implemented to presumably better serve the relatively new Mexican-American community in the area, and Mina Duarte was hired as the branch manager. She brings relevant experience having previously worked in libraries serving Latinx communities such as Brighton Park Branch, Toman Branch in Little Village, Gage Park Branch, and South Chicago Branch, as well as the downtown Harold Washington Library Center.

There is also more visible programming. The branch participated in CPS’s Summer Meals program, distributing to-go lunches to children during summer break. The library is also a popular voting site during election season, and many Southwest Side voters will likely choose that location to vote this November for the general elections and in the February municipal elections.

At the moment, the branch is hosting a performing arts series called “Artopia,” which consists of mini-concerts at the library on select Saturday nights. The lineup includes a jazz duo, a guitar-flute duo, and a classical guitarist.

More family-friendly events are expected to come to the new and improved branch. Keep an eye out! 

West Lawn Library, 4020 W. 63rd St. Monday & Wednesday, 12–8pm; Tuesday & Thursday, 10am–6pm; Friday & Saturday, 9am–5pm; Sunday, 1–5pm. (312) 747-7381

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