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Hyde Park, Woodlawn, South Shore

South Shore Library Reopens With Big Upgrades Including Recording Studio, Media Lab, Black History Section

The South Shore branch's $2.5 million renovation project brings plenty of new amenities for kids and young adults to the library, 2505 E. 73rd St.

The exterior of the South Shore branch library, 2505 E. 73rd St.
Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago
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SOUTH SHORE — After a year without a library, South Shore residents are celebrating the re-opening of their neighborhood branch.

The South Shore branch library’s $2.5 million renovation project brings a new YOUmedia lab and recording studio for teens and young adults to the 90-year-old building at 2505 E. 73rd St.

Other renovations to the 18,000-square-foot space, which re-opened in February, include:

  • A new early learning area with computers, board games and costumes.
  • A dedicated area for young adults.
  • A “heritage” section featuring Black history and works by Black authors.
  • Upgrades to exterior walkways, the roof and windows.
  • A new circulation desk, furniture, flooring and paint.
Credit: Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago
The renovations at the branch include a “heritage” section featuring works from Black authors and stories from Black history.

The YOUmedia lab, recording studio and youth areas allow teens to “create whatever they want,” teen services librarian Nathan Rowlett said. “It gives them a positive, laid-back space to relax and chat with friends, but also to learn in a semi-structured way so it doesn’t feel like school.”

The branch expects to attract youth mostly from South Shore, but they’ll be coming in from “all over” the South Side, Rowlett said.

Credit: Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago
The branch’s new YOUmedia lab.

Rowlett said a teacher will be on-staff five days a week from 3-6 p.m. to provide homework help. Dedicated “technology tutors” for adults will teach basic computer skills and help people apply for jobs online.

Neighborhood resident and Malcolm X College student Tianna Pillow said she hadn’t been to the library since she was in elementary school more than a decade ago.

“It was just a regular library” without any unique features like it has now, Pillow said. She plans on using the library more regularly to complete her classwork.

South Shore resident Demetria Bonner said she had never visited the library until Tuesday, but appreciates how inviting the renovated space is.

“The average library is boring, regular furniture, drabby,” said. “It’s well lit in here; it brings good vibes … Who wouldn’t want to go to a place where you can come chill for a minute?”

She said neighborhood kids would see the biggest benefit from the branch’s re-opening, as they once again have a safe space to work on homework or play on the computer.

Credit: Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago
The early learning area includes a play space with costumes for kids to dress up in.

The branch will hold a celebration of its reopening, though a date has not been chosen yet, according to library spokesperson Olivia Kuncio.

While the branch was closed, numerous Little Free Libraries popped up in South Shore, expanding access to free books in the neighborhood.

The library is open:

  • Monday and Wednesday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
  • Tuesday and Thursday, 12–8 p.m.
  • Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

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Credit: Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago
The interior of the South Shore branch library.