Forest Park's public library has been steadily changing its vibe for several years. This is now a place of innovation and welcome rather than the book depository of decades back. There is an energy in its staff that is contagious, a sense of place for all, which is invigorating.
Now, because it has been actively setting aside tax dollars for a few years, the library is about ready to embark on the first wholesale reimagining of its physical space since it was constructed 23 years back. Think of how libraries have changed in that quarter century, how access to information has blossomed while also becoming a thorny garden of misinformation.
With $1 million in hand, the library board and staff have now hired an architect, the same firm that designed the well-received and tightly budgeted Roos Recreation Center for the park district, and last week hired a construction manager for the project.
This is not a fresh carpet and new color palette redo. The library has been thoughtfully rethinking how its limited space can best be used. How collaborative and maker spaces can be created, how tech guides choices, how teens are made to feel welcome and appreciated, how early literacy can be fostered beyond traditional story hours.
Let's be clear that every dollar spent on this project will be coming from taxpayers. There is no borrowing, no tax referendum vote. So, by being somewhat frugal in recent years this taxing body can pay cash for this upgrade.
This project is going to be fun to watch.
Guns in schools?
That school boards in this country feel the need to hire armed guards in the form of retired police officers to try and ensure student safety is incredible enough. But to imagine teachers and other school personnel packing heat in order to take down an inevitable assault rifle-wielding maniac, possibly a former student, bent on killing as many students as possible, is a breathtaking comment on our society.
Yet it took a vote in the Illinois General Assembly recently to prevent that possibility from spreading to Illinois. State Rep. Chris Welch (D-7th) took a leadership role in blocking this absurd concept. Kudos to him.
And Lou Cavallo, the superintendent of Forest Park's District 91 schools, was right when he told the Review, "If we truly want to prevent gun violence in our schools, and in our nation, then we have to address the root causes of violence, mental health care, social and emotional competence, and common-sense gun laws."
What on earth is wrong with this nation that we continue to see more guns as a solution to an epidemic of gun violence?
No other nation on this planet has this problem. The problem is access to guns. Make them harder to obtain. Full stop.