By raising funds to expand Rudy Lozano branch of the Chicago Public Library, Pilsen community is betting on itself

Having a library at the heart of a neighborhood is the most basic way to support a community, and investing in a gem that has been around for more than 30 years is a smart thing to do.

SHARE By raising funds to expand Rudy Lozano branch of the Chicago Public Library, Pilsen community is betting on itself
Rudy Lozano branch of the Chicago Public Library

Ald. Bryon Sigcho-Lopez (25th) speaks about the importance of revitalizing the Rudy Lozano branch of the Chicago Public Library during a news conference to announce the $8 million campaign for expansion at 1805 S Loomis St. in Pilsen on July 8.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

When it comes to combating violence and enriching their community, Pilsen leaders and community organizations have a big vision and a plan to make it happen.

Last week, it came in the form of an $8 million fund-raising campaign to renovate and expand the Rudy Lozano branch of the Chicago Public Library. This is an infrastructure investment that’s bound to pay off for years to come, if the goal is met.

Having a library at the heart of a neighborhood — especially one that is at a walking distance — is one of the most basic ways to support a community, and investing in a gem that has been around for more than 30 years is a smart thing to do.

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The library in Pilsen opened September 1989 and was named for Rudy Lozano, a community activist and union organizer known for leading the demand that school boards include Mexican history in classrooms and more Latino faculty be hired.

The Rudy Lozano library offers access to computers, internet and the latest books in an atmosphere surrounded by art from local artists and an exhibit that pays tribute to Lozano. During the summer, children can take advantage of educational summer projects and also benefit from the “grab and go” free meals program.

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With the money from the campaign, the library expansion plan would include a second floor, a larger exhibit about Lozano, conference rooms and an archival room that will focus on highlighting the history of Latinos and important leaders.

Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) commissioned a feasibility study that will guide the expansion and also help communicate the vision of the project to potential and interested funders.

Guadalupe Lozano, Rudy Lozano’s wife, said the couple wanted an archive at the library where more history and information on Latinos were available, so younger generations can learn that there are heroes who look just like them.

The Pilsen community is determined to make that happen.

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