Maywood, Illinois– On Nov. 12, the Maywood Public Library opened its doors again to the public, but with limited hours and a major reduction in staff. Students from Proviso Math and Science Academy attended two meetings to discuss the status of the library, which was temporarily closed in late October after operating funds ran out.
Two meetings of a new library advisory council were held Nov. 6, and Dec. 7. Students from PMSA attended those meetings with a desire to collaborate and help the library re-open.
It’s my opinion that public decisions have been portrayed to be only open to business men and women talking to each other in a closed-off room with a sign saying “invitation only.”
We have been led to think that common citizens have no reason to be present during the decision making process—which is what the students of Proviso Math and Science Academy want to change.
Students Lizbeth Hernandez and myself attended the first meeting and were quite intrigued to see its unfolding.
At the Nov. 6 meeting, when students asked about plans to re-open the library, no direct answer was given. State Representative Emanuel “Chris” Welch said he was directing a community group to explore reopening the library. We were advised to volunteer in the “Citizen’s Advisory Group.”
“It takes a village to respond. I hope this is publicized, so that the people can know what they need to do,” said a retired teacher who attended this meeting.
Although the Maywood Public Library opened once more, after taking out a second mortgage on a vacant lot owned by the library and borrowing $150,000 from the village of Maywood, it was merely a battle that the library had won – to stay open until the spring tax disbursement.
The war to make the library financially sound and sustainable was still ahead, and it was discussed during their next meeting held on Dec. 7.
More people attended the December meeting. Proposals from the Bellwood Library Board, Melrose Park Public Library, and financial consultants were taken into account and further discussed. Partnerships were made with Loyola and the Proviso Township, as well as the Department of Human Services. Other ideas were also expressed, such as in the leasing of the 3rd floor of the Library, municipal grants, state grants, and shared services with the Village of Maywood.
Proviso Math and Science Academy students Lizbeth Hernandez, myself, and Gabriel Garcia presented a proposal to the council. We found a grant which would be of great use to libraries in need, and believed the Maywood Public Library would qualify. The council recognized the students’ proposal and accepted it.
We believe we have taken some ownership of helping to restore the Maywood Public library and shown that even high school students can make serious change and should be taken seriously.
We will continue to act on behalf of the Maywood Public Library, which is a resource for all Proviso High School District students. We are glad we are making a difference and are being seen as stakeholders in the library.
For more information on the progress being made, please contact Karen Basurto at Kbasurto218@gmail.com