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The Chicago Public Library Foundation was established in1986 as an independent, nonprofit educational organization dedicated to working with the City of Chicago in a true public/private partnership to enrich the collections and programs of the Chicago Public Library.
Through the generous support of many civic-minded corporations, foundations and individuals, the Foundation has provided start-up funding for new programs, such as technology and expanded Sunday and evening service hours, that are now included in the Library's city-funded budget.
The Foundation also provides on-going funding, through its endowments and annual fundraising for collections, book acquisition and a variety of community-based programs that contribute to the excellence of the Library.
Summer Reading ProgramStudies have shown that children who participate in summer reading programs maintain and frequently improve their reading levels. The Summer Reading Program is an eight week initiative that encourages reading among children ages 5 to 12. In 2004, 43,000 children throughout Chicago participated in the program, reading more than 758,000 books. More than 800 youths, age 14-18 volunteered to listen to book reports and assist in the program. Each year, the Library partners with another organization to create thematic games, contests and incentives to emphasize the fun of reading. The Summer 2005 program, Book Splash! is a partnership with the Shedd Aquarium.
Bookamania Each year, in November, the Chicago Public Library celebrates National Children's Book Week with a variety of special activities at all 78 library locations to highlight the joy of reading. The culmination is Bookamania, a free, all-day event of fun-filled activities, ranging from crafts, to readings and performances for ages 3 to 10. More than 8000 children and their families participate in Bookamania activities at the Harold Washington Library and 78 branch libraries.
Cyber Navigators As computers and the Internet increasingly become important tools of communication and sources of information, it is essential that all children and adults have access to this vital technology. Skilled college students are employed to offer library patrons the guidance necessary for successful technology use. The program provides training and assistance to thousands of Chicago's children and adults who do not have personal computers and Internet access at home.
Teacher in the Library In many neighborhoods, particularly those in low-income communities, there is a growing need to provide after-school tutoring and homework assistance. The Chicago Public Library Foundation provides accredited elementary school teachers during after-school hours to explain homework assignments, suggest strategies for completing the assignment, contact teachers, speak to parents, and collaborate with Library staff. This program is now available in 17 branch libraries, with a goal of expanding to 30 locations in 2005.
Collections Development Through gifts to The Foundation's endowment fund, annual grants are made to the library to enhance the collections in the Humanities, Children's Books, International Relations, American History and Childhood Literacy and to maintain and archive important Special Collections focusing on theatre, Chicago blues and gospel music, politics and Chicago history.
Other programs funded through the Foundation include Teen Literacy, Nature Connections for Kids, the Pick International Relations Lecture Series and many programs that build the capacity of the Library to serve the changing needs of the community.
- Teresa De Long
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