The Carter G. Woodson Library in Chicago’s Washington Heights neighborhood is rooted in history. It was named after the “Father of Black History” and holds the largest collection of black literature in the entire Midwest.
It notably contains the Vivian G. Harsh Collection, named after Chicago’s first black librarian, which features slave and genealogy records and original manuscripts from notable black authors. The library is now at risk of closing due to damage to the building after years of not being kept up by the city.
According to WGNTV, there’s been scaffolding located near the entrance as far back as 2002 simply with no work being done to protect pedestrians from any possibly falling debris due to shoddy construction and 40 years of wear and tear.
“We’ve got 25,000 people coming through the turn styles every month at that library; 8,000 books are checked out every month; 12,000 hours of computer usage per month,” said Melvin Thompson, executive director of the Endeleo Institute. “This is significant.”
The Endeleo Institute is a Washington Heights neighborhood with a current focus on restoring the Woodson library.
“We just think that it’s deplorable that the city has neglected this library to the point that it’s in disrepair and unsafe,” Thompson said.
While the library has been granted nearly $10 million by the state specifically to restore Woodson, nearly $4 million is tied up in the current state budget stalemate between state lawmakers and Governor Bruce Rauner.
Not only are state schools such as Chicago State University being put in potentially dangerous situations as a result of this stalemate, but now public libraries with rich history are starting to feel the consequences.
Photo Credit: Chicago Public Library