Skip to contents
Wicker Park, Bucktown, West Town

Roberto Clemente High School Getting Library Upgrade After Winning Renovation Contest

Exact details of the renovation are still being determined, but could "include paint, a mural, flooring, lighting, new shelving and books, and technology," librarian Andie Townhouse said.

The Robert Clemente High School library won a free makeover.
Roberto Clemente High School/Twitter
  • Credibility:

WICKER PARK — Roberto Clemente Community Academy’s library is getting a free overhaul this fall after winning an online competition held last month.

Clemente, 1147 N. Western Ave., was one of 10 finalists from around the United States for the Cloud Cuckoo Land Library Makeover contest, sponsored by nonprofit Heart of America.

Clemente librarian Andie Townhouse said the school received around 7,000 votes in August, almost half of the 16,500 votes cast in the entire competition.

Exact details of the renovation are still being determined, but could “include paint, a mural, flooring, lighting, new shelving and books, and technology,” Townhouse said. The project is expected to be completed by early November.

Townhouse said the repairs and new furniture are long overdue at the high school, which sits on the border of Wicker Park and Humboldt Park. When she was hired last year, she was the school’s first librarian in 13 years, she said.

Credit: Provided
Photos of the Robert Clemente High School library won a free “makeover” competition

Upon arriving, she had to get rid of dated and often inappropriate books, like hundreds associated with the Church of Scientology.

“The message at the time felt like, ‘Is this what our kids deserve? These old broken, yellowed books?’ Like, is that the message? And so then that became the real impetus to really apply for new furniture, and maybe rethink the space,” Townhouse told Block Club last month.

Since coming to Clemente, Townhouse has expanded the school library’s offerings, adding tutoring sessions and growing hydroponic vegetables.

She’s also been outspoken about the importance of investing in school libraries and librarians in Chicago. A Sun-Times report in July found there are only around 90 full-time librarians across more than 500 non-charter Chicago public schools.

“Schools that invest in their libraries see such strong returns academically, socially and emotionally, in those communities. And having this renovation means that our students will continue to be actively curious, passionate, 21st century learners,” Townhouse said.

Subscribe to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.

Click here to support Block Club with a tax-deductible donation. 

Thanks for subscribing to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods. Click here to support Block Club with a tax-deductible donation.

Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast”: