Chatham's Whitney Young Library Opens After $12 Million Makeover, Now Offers 3D Printing, Recording Studio And More – Block Club Chicago

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CHATHAM — After years of anticipation and a few setbacks, the new and improved Whitney M. Young Jr. Library in Chatham opened for business Thursday.

This time the expanded library, 415 E. 79th St., has a lot more to offer than just books. Patrons will now be able to enjoy one of three Experience Labs that include a digital lab for teens, and a digital skills tutoring lab for adults. The library is also the first branch in the city to have a Makers Lab‚ complete with a 3D printer and a recording studio. 

In the tutoring lab, “CyberNavigators” help residents with digital skills and job searches, and the city says the program has helped 1,000 people find a job in the last two years.

“Whitney Young Branch has long provided countless contributions to our residents, our neighborhoods and our shared civic life,” Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) said in a statement. “With the expansion and renovations complete, this branch will now be a Chatham anchor for families to gather, students to get help with homework and job-seekers to connect with life-changing opportunities.”

The $12 million gut renovation and 2,800-square-foot expansion are part of the Chicago Public Library’s “Branching Out: Building Libraries, Building Communities” initiative to bring its facilities up to date. The library closed for renovations in September 2017, according to the 6th Ward office. 

The library also sits on a former Brownfield site; a $436,000 and a $600,000 grant from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and Environmental Protection Agency, respectively, secured in 2011 cleaned up the percholorethene-contaminated soil and groundwater left behind by a dry cleaners that originally occupied the property.

The building, designed by bKL Architecture, is ADA accessible, and boasts an enclosed courtyard. Johnson & Lee, LTD, a local Minority Business Enterprise, was the architect of record.

For a look inside, check out the pictures below.

A “refreshed book collection” is among the new features of the renovated Whitney Young Library.Jamie Nesbitt Golden/ Block Club Chicago The Whitney Young Library is the first branch library to have a Makers Lab.Jamie Nesbitt Golden/ Block Club Chicago Jamie Nesbitt Golden/ Block Club Chicago The “refreshed” library collection.Jamie Nesbitt Golden/ Block Club Chicago The library also has a redesigned reading area.Jamie Nesbitt Golden/ Block Club Chicago The computer lab.Jamie Nesbitt Golden/ Block Club Chicago Jamie Nesbitt Golden/ Block Club Chicago The renovated library sits on a former Brownfield property.Jamie Nesbitt Golden/ Block Club Chicago Patrons enjoy the new library.Jamie Nesbitt Golden/ Block Club Chicago

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