As a Chicago Public School teacher for the past 22 years, I am convinced that shuttering public libraries on Mondays is a disastrous decision that should be reconsidered. Chicago school students need as much time and as many safe places as possible to study and learn. What the mayor and other cost-cutters may not understand is that we have over 10,000 homeless students in Chicago Public Schools. We have many more thousands of students who have places to live but do not have access to computers and a wide range of books beyond the classroom. Public Libraries serve as a first line of defense in a democracy. Rather than limiting library hours, Chicago should be looking to expand them.
TIF money could be used to fund the libraries remaining open on Mondays. After all, TIF districts literally take money from libraries, parks and schools and reallocate the money to a separate fund controlled by the mayor. Additionally, the notion that the librarians’ union is holding up a deal is an insult to those hard-working men and women. The union has consistently argued that the library hours should not be cut. Yes, this is due in part to the fact that the union doesn’t want to see people laid off, but also because it doesn’t want to agree to unnecessary service cuts. The union is advocating for the citizens of Chicago.
If Chicago is to remain a world-class city, it must maintain a world-class library system.
Jay C. Rehak, Lincoln Square