To the Honorable Mayor Rahm Emanuel and 50th Ward Alderman Debra Silverstein:
We are writing as officers of a neighborhood community organization, the West Ridge Bungalow Neighbors, to oppose the proposed cuts in the Chicago Public Library budget.
Our volunteer group was formed in 2003 to provide resources and education to West Ridge residents on topics relating to historic home maintenance and restoration, aspects of the Arts and Crafts movement, Chicago bungalow and Prairie School architecture, and local history. Beginning in 2004, the Northtown Branch of the CPL provided us with a meeting space for our monthly gatherings, which were always open to the public and free of charge. Though not formally associated with the Historic Chicago Bungalow Association or the Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society, we worked closely with both organizations over the years. WRBN members did extensive research on the history of our neighborhood, and In 2008, WRBN volunteers (along with the HCBA) completed a successful nomination to list the Talman West Ridge Historic Chicago Bungalow District on the National Register for Historic Places. The Northtown Branch Library graciously hosted our celebration of the National Register listing in September
2008, which was attended by more than 75 neighbors. Librarians Rose Powers, Catherine Wilson, and the rest of the staff were always helpful -- whether we needed research materials, or any equipment for our meetings.
In gratitude for the Library's support, WRBN made contributions to the Northtown Branch totaling more than $900. Many of our members also participated as donors and volunteer workers in the branch's Friends of the Library annual book sales to raise funds for the Library.
In 2010, Mayor Daley made extensive cuts to the CPL budget, which included reductions in hours for the branches. These cuts meant that the Northtown Branch was never open beyond 8:00 pm, which made it impossible for our group (consisting primarily of working professionals) to continue to meet there. Without a meeting place, our group has become less active in the community.
Further cuts to the Library would harm local residents even more.
The Northtown Library, despite its aging and deteriorated physical state, has remained a vital and heavily-utilized center for learning and community activity in West Ridge. Please don't deplete even more of its already overworked staff and meager resources!
Jofrid Stavig and Maribeth Brewer,
Founders and Co-Chairs, West Ridge Bungalow Neighbors
Treasurer, West Ridge Bungalow Neighbors