Bessie Coleman

The Bessie Coleman branch library, 731 E. 63rd St.

Woodlawn is getting a new Chicago Public Library (CPL) branch building, city officials announced last week. 

The $18 million library will replace the existing Bessie Coleman branch library, 731 E. 63rd St., and is funded by capital bonds, CPL announced in a statement on Thursday, April 27. 

A spokesperson for CPL said that the site of the new Woodlawn building has not yet been determined, nor has a timeline been set. The spokesperson did confirm that the new building will not be located on the Obama Presidential Center campus under construction in Jackson Park.

“Investments in Chicago libraries are an investment in safe and welcoming community anchors,” said CPL Commissioner Chris Brown in a statement. 

The Bessie Coleman library opened in Woodlawn 1993. Coleman was the first Black woman to fly an airplane and the first Black pilot to earn an international pilot’s license. 

The new location will include an early childhood active learning space, as well as programs for children, teens and families. 

It will also offer free one-on-one homework assistance for school-aged children through the Teacher in the Library program and digital media resources for teens through the YOUmedia program. This will be in addition to traditional programming, such as book clubs, computer classes and coaching to build seniors and adults’ digital literacy and job-seeking skills.

Two other new libraries, built as part of Mayor Lori Lightfoot's Invest South/West initiative, will also be built as mixed-use developments in Back of the Yards and Humboldt Park. 

staff writer

Zoe Pharo is a graduate of Carleton College. She was recently an editorial intern for In These Times, and has also written for Little Village and Chapel Hill Magazine. 

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