New libraries coming to South Side and Humboldt Park

The city is getting three new libraries, two of which will be on the South Side. The current Whitney Young branch will be torn down and replaced with a new one at 7901 S. King Drive. It should be completed by January 2011 and was allocated $14 million for

The city is getting three new libraries, two of which will be on the South Side.

The current Whitney Young branch will be torn down and replaced with a new one at 7901 S. King Drive. It should be completed by January 2011 and was allocated $14 million for construction.

A new Grand Crossing branch will be built at East 73rd Street and South Ellis Avenue. The branch got $7 million for construction and is slated for completion in December 2010.

An additional library got $14.5 million and will be built in the West Humboldt Park community at 727 N. Kedzie Avenue. Construction will begin there in 2009, said Library Commissioner, Mary Dempsey. She said that some libraries got more funding than others due to their different sizes and varying land costs.

The new Whitney Young library will be larger than the current one at 14,500 square feet. The Grand Crossing branch will only be 7,000 square feet, while the West Humboldt Park branch is also 14,500 square feet.

Grand Crossing and West Humboldt Park previously did not have local libraries.

All three libraries will have parking lots and reading gardens.

The new libraries are a part of the city’s $1.9 billion capital plan and are being funded through a tax increase passed last fall, Dempsey explained.

It was Mayor Richard M. Daley’s idea to get the libraries funded under the new capital plan, she said.

“We are so fortunate in the city of Chicago to have a mayor that understands the role of libraries,” Dempsey said.

The Gary Colmer Youth Foundation purchased and donated the land in order to build the new Grand Crossing Branch, Dempsey explained. She said the new library means getting rid of a run-down motel that is currently there, where some “pretty unsavory activity” was going on.

An empty factory will be demolished to build the West Humboldt park library.

The new libraries and capital spending comes at a time when libraries are experiencing increased usage.

“As the economy becomes more difficult for people they have less disposable income to buy books…so they’re borrowing things from the library,” Dempsey said.

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