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Fundraising begins to expand Rudy Lozano branch of Chicago Public Library

Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez and Pilsen community leaders aim to raise $8 million to add space to highlight the history of Latino people and important leaders.

Ald. Bryon Sigcho-Lopez (25th) speaks about the importance of revitalizing the Rudy Lozano branch of the Chicago Public Library during a press conference to announce the $8 million campaign for expansion at 1805 S Loomis St in Pilsen, Thursday, July 8, 2021.
Ald. Bryon Sigcho-Lopez (25th) speaks about the importance of revitalizing the Rudy Lozano branch of the Chicago Public Library during a press conference to announce the $8 million campaign for expansion at 1805 S Loomis St in Pilsen, Thursday, July 8, 2021.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Pilsen community leaders announced an $8 million fundraising campaign Thursday to expand the Rudy Lozano branch of the Chicago Public Library.

The expansion plan includes a second floor, an archival room of local leaders, a larger exhibit about Lozano, conference rooms, private rooms and additional parking. The archival room will focus on highlighting the history of Latino people and important leaders.

Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th), Pilsen Neighborhood Community Council, Lozano family members and several community organizations are involved in the fundraising. U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García, D-Ill., sent a representative to the kickoff event.

“We need more community spaces that are helpful and allow our young people, in particular, and our teachers and educators to have access to a space that is educational,” Sigcho-Lopez said. “That’s the infrastructure investment that we need in order to better our community and prevent violence.”

The Chicago Public Library supports Sigcho-Lopez’s and the community’s efforts to secure funding for renovation of the Lozano Branch in Pilsen, CPL spokeswoman Olivia Kuncio said.

“CPL has no dedicated capital budget, so we support efforts to explore funding options from state, federal and other grant opportunities,” Kuncio said.

Sigcho-Lopez, the neighborhood council and select community leaders worked with local, state and federal officials to invest in the project. A feasibility study for the second-floor expansion has been completed.

Lupe Lozano speaks about her husband, Rudy Lozano’s work and importance of community empowerment during a press conference to announce the $8 million campaign to expand the Lozano library outside the Rudy Lozano Chicago Public Library Branch at 1805 S Loomis St in Pilsen, Thursday, July 8, 2021.
Lupe Lozano spoke Thursday about the work of the late husband, Rudy Lozano, and the importance of community empowerment.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

“Rudy Lozano had many visions driven by a passion for unity among all working people. He especially understood the importance of organizing,” said his widow, Lupe Lozano. “The archive will give us the opportunity to learn about our history and take on the challenges we still face as a community today.”

Rudy Lozano would have turned 70 this month; he was shot dead in his home by a gang member in 1983. The library was named for Lozano in 1989.

In the early 1960s, Lozano began his work as an activist, organizing students to demand school boards include Mexican history in their classrooms and the hiring of more Latino faculty. He later became a prominent activist known for organizing labor unions and built unity between Latino and Black communities while campaigning for Harold Washington, Chicago’s first African American mayor.