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“The Library is an equalizer. No matter your age, your race, or your socioeconomic background, you can go there to learn how to advance your life.”

– Kahlil, Library Foundation donor

Strategy In Action

Going Bold for Chicagoans

“The Library is an equalizer. No matter your age, your race, or your socioeconomic background, you can go there to learn how to advance your life.”

– Kahlil, Library Foundation donor

For 150 years, Chicago Public Library has provided Chicagoans of all ages opportunities for lifelong learning and discovery. And, thanks to donors like you, our city’s Library is today widely recognized as one of the best public library systems in the nation—and the world.

Donor-powered Library programs and resources make a real difference. From free summer activities for families to safe places for teens building their leadership skills to digital skills support provided by the CyberNavigators, the Library’s signature community-responsive programs serve Chicagoans every day and from each of our city’s 77 diverse neighborhoods.

Our Library also continues to reimagine what providing access to ideas and information for all means, with bold new initiatives in 2022 such as giving 300,000+ K-12 students automatic access to Library cards and protecting our freedom to read by declaring all 81 branches “Book Sanctuaries.”

Chicago Public Library’s long history of excellence is thanks in great part to you.

Read and learn what your support made possible

Your Impact by The Numbers

Our donors activate real change.

Total contributed
Total number of donors
Virtual and in-person programs offered for all ages
Grab & Go activity kits distributed to children, teens, and adults
People served by donor-funded programs
People worldwide connected to the Library Foundation community online

Our Library is for Everyone

In 2019, Library Foundation identified three priority investment areas that align with the Library’s 2020-2024 Strategy and allow individuals and organizations to invest, at every level, in new and sustained initiatives that meet our community’s needs.


Close The Academic Opportunity Gap

“When [students] get a chance to come to Chicago Public Library and have a teacher they can work with one-on-one, that builds a special relationship. And it really helps students love school.”

– Melody Farmer, 20+ year veteran Teacher in the Library

With the pandemic’s wide-ranging effects on children’s learning and social-emotional well-being, it is more important than ever that Chicago’s young people have access to holistic supports such as the free, research-based, and accessible suite of programs supported by our Closing the Academic Opportunity Gap investment priority.

In 2019, Library Foundation identified three priority investment areas that align with the Library’s 2020-2024 Strategy and allow individuals and organizations to invest, at every level, in new and sustained initiatives that meet our community’s needs.


The 81 Club

In December 2022, more than 300,000 Chicago Public Schools K-12 students and their teachers gained automatic access to unparalleled Library resources through The 81 Club – a new partnership between the Library and Chicago Public Schools that makes it easier for teachers to model using Library resources in their classrooms and supports stronger school-to-Library connections.

  • “The 81 Club provides access to library materials and resources anywhere a student learns. This initiative removes barriers for all Chicago students to obtain a library account, enabling us to reach the students who most need our services.”
  • – Commissioner Chris Brown

Early Learning

Supporting children to become lifelong learners starts from their very first years. Thanks to donors, the Library is currently undertaking its most comprehensive family and community engagement plan to date, including identifying and addressing resource gaps across the city, developing new outreach strategies, and engaging caregivers in shaping programs. In 2022, more than 88,000 children ages 0-8 and their families enjoyed story time, learn-and-play activities, Library sing-alongs, and much more.

  • “My granddaughter, Caroline, learned to associate images and words at the Library. She also learned to talk here thanks to storytimes by Ms. Ana. ”
  • – Jin song, Grandparent, Harold Washington Library Center


STEAM-related skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, and technology literacy are crucial to navigating the 21st century—and kids are natural scientists and engineers! This programming series encouraged nearly 8,000 K-8 students to grow their interest in STEAM through hands-on activities, including more than 13,900 STEAM-themed Grab & Go Kits featuring subjects like coding and circuit-building.

  • “It's amazing to see firsthand how children are learning 21st century critical skills and enjoying them—phones down, all communicating, playing, and solving problems together!”
  • – Sarah, Children's Librarian, Albany Park

Summer @ CPL

A cornerstone of Library programming, Summer @ CPL helps sustain learning for school-age children during out-of-school time. The theme City of Stories engaged nearly 34,400 participants—a 4% increase from 2021—in sharing their own stories through in-branch and virtual events as well as Grab & Go kits. Activity Guides designed in partnership with the Art Institute of Chicago were available in English and Spanish at all 81 branches and included free family passes to the museum, while collaborations with the Chicago Park District, Jane Addams Hull House, and more connected families to new opportunities for exploring our city.

  • “My children are so different, in ages, and in interests. I love that the Library’s summer program has something to get them excited and keep them engaged. ”
  • – Elnura, mother, Budlong Woods branch

Teacher in the Library

Research shows that small group and individual tutoring can help students recover from learning losses resulting from the pandemic. The Teacher in the Library (TIL) program promotes school success for Chicago’s K-12 students through accredited educators who work 1:1 and in small groups with students to complete homework, develop reading and math comprehension, and build social-emotional skills. Available now both in-person and virtually, the Teachers provided 14,503 sessions of personalized support during the 2021-2022 academic year.

  • “There was a noticeable improvement in Alex’s grades throughout our time together. I helped him prepare for his ACT too. Now, he’s in college!”
  • – Diana, Teacher in the Library West Belmont branch
Five friends holding up their 81 Club cards for the camera

Activate Connection
& Creativity For All

“Maker Lab provides a wonderful opportunity, especially for younger people, to learn about engineering processes and build things. Most people don’t have the financial means to own any of this equipment, so it’s great that the Library makes the tools accessible and provides a space for people to learn about them.”

– Chicago maker Christopher Swenson

Everyone deserves the opportunity to explore, to experiment, and to express themselves. Through the Activate Creativity and Connection priority, our donors ensure that each neighborhood branch is a hub for community, inviting individuals from every background to come together, exchange ideas, and imagine new possibilities.

Community Cinema

Launched in 2019, Community Cinema connected tens of thousands of Chicagoans around in-branch movie screenings before its hiatus during the pandemic. Since relaunching in June 2022, this popular program welcomed Library users of all ages back to their branches, with more than 5,000 Chicagoans attending 700 free showings of both classic favorites and the very latest flicks.

  • “Movies at the Library are GREAT cheap entertainment for families.”
  • – CPL Branch Manager, Budlong Woods

Community Connections Fund

As the city continues to rebuild from the pandemic, the new Community Connections Fund provided small grants to librarians at more than 50 neighborhood branches to customize programs, activities, and outreach to reengage their communities. Highlights in the first year of this two-year pilot included a performance at Bezazian branch by the all-Asian-American comedy troupe Stir Friday Night; a mental health and wellness workshop series to combat loneliness and isolation at Oriole Park branch; gardening workshops and seed libraries at Budlong Woods and Edgebrook branches; and a Community Book Fair featuring local Chicago authors at Woodson Regional!

  • “The event we hosted drew in families with children ranging from 2 to 10. We wanted to see new faces other than the ones we would normally see for story time. The program was a success with few new families joining us as well as some whom the staff has not seen since the start of COVID.”
  • – Librarian, Roden branch

Maker Lab

Whether sewing or coding or learning to use a 3D printer, 1,300 adults learned new skills through more than 325 in-person and virtual classes available through the Library’s branch makerspaces and centrally-located Maker Lab. The two 2022 Makers in Residence also activated the Library’s collections and technologies in new ways by inviting Chicagoans to create stunning paper lanterns featuring notable Chicago scenes and colorful crochet projects celebrating the city’s diversity.

  • “I’m always amazed at the projects we do here. I always come expecting something small because it’s free but it’s always bigger and more wonderful. I really appreciate having the Maker Lab and all the various ways to be creative through the Library.”
  • – Lisa, Maker Lab participant, Harold Washington Library Center

One Book, One Chicago

Over its 20-year history, this ‘citywide book club’ has explored climate change, architecture, Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods, and many other thought-provoking subjects. This year, One Book presented “Freedom to Read,” which featured the 1991 nonfiction graphic novel Maus by Art Spiegelman and engaged 16,000 Chicagoans in timely conversation. In November, Spiegelman and his collaborator and spouse, Françoise Mouly, visited Chicago for the program’s finale. Their wide-ranging conversation covered Spiegelman’s oeuvre, the impact of libraries in his life, and the bans and challenges to Maus nationwide. This at-capacity event was recorded and shared via the Library’s YouTube channel, where it has been viewed more than 2,000 times.

  • “There were certain things that had to be absolutely shown. And I wasn’t trying to shy away from it.”
  • – Art Spiegelman, 2022 One Book One Chicago author

Special Collections

The Library is home to vast archives that preserve and connect us to Chicago’s incredible history, including voices and stories that have been historically underrepresented. Among these stories is Pilsen Days, a newly acquired photo collection by Japanese photographer Akito Tsuda that captures intimate and joyful scenes from the primarily Mexican-heritage Pilsen neighborhood in the 1990s. The collection is available for viewing both online and in Special Collections at Harold Washington Library Center and will be the focus of a major 2024 public exhibition.

  • “I think it’s really important that we have these kinds of materials in a public library setting where people of all ages, all abilities, can come and learn.”
  • – Johanna Russ, Unit Head Special Collections

Voices for Justice

This speaker series brings together authors, activists, artists, and others for conversations about the issues important to our city and the world. Audiences gained new perspectives from renowned speakers including journalist Maria Hinojosa, Pulitzer Prize Winner Margot Jefferson, and author/activist Mikki Kendall—and the series earned a nomination for the Chicago Reader’s Best of Chicago awards in the best lecture series category.

  • “A big focus of mine when I started in Chicago was to make sure we hosted a series that is directly responsive to the interests of the community and calls more attention to issues of social justice.”
  • – Commissioner Chris Brown


Across 29 teens-only spaces and online platforms, YOUmedia offered nearly 4,000 teens opportunities to get creative, connect with peers, and build leadership skills. This year, donors made possible programmatic highlights such as the Teen Winter Art Challenge; ChiTeen Lit Fest, a week-long gathering to celebrate young adult literature; two Queer Radical Fairs, celebrations of LGBTQIA+ identity and fashion hosted in partnership with Chicago Parks District; and Gamers Universe, a new gaming convention for players of all ages.

  • “YOUmedia is a place where skill-building, creativity and self-discovery come together, and for many teens that also means taking a look at how gender operates in our culture, and what gender identity and expression means for them. ”
  • – Ava Carney, Teen Services Library Associate

Bridge the Digital Divide

“Each time Mary comes in, we make progress, and each session leads to another discovery about the computer…Her courage to learn something so unfamiliar at her age is inspiring, and having the pleasure of helping her navigate a new world fills me with gratitude for the opportunity to be part of the CyberNavigator program.”

– Chad, Legler Regional CyberNavigator

With online learning, telehealth, and remote employment on the rise, Internet access and digital literacy are more crucial today than ever. But an estimated 15% of Chicago households are without home broadband services or a traditional computer, and many adults and older adults don’t have the skills and confidence they need to thrive in a digital world. By activating the Library’s citywide footprint and investing in user-friendly resources, donors help to meet people where they are in their digital journey and support them in their learning goals.


Adult Professional Development

Library cardholders have access to LinkedIn Learning, an on-demand collection of instructional videos that help people develop their knowledge of the latest business, technology, and creative topics. An individual subscription to the platform can cost hundreds of dollars annually, which is cost-prohibitive for many Chicagoans. But through our Library, more than 2,500 Chicagoans have been able to use the resource to build new professional skills for today’s job market and to achieve their full potential.

  • “Every step is a win.”
  • – Larry, Library user, Portage-Cragin branch

Chicago DigitalLearn

Chicago DigitalLearn supports the in-person work of CyberNavigators by helping anyone, anywhere build skills and confidence online. 30 user-friendly and bilingual video modules guide Library users through topics such as identifying online scams and effectively navigating Illinois WorkNet, an online jobs database and application tool. In 2022, more than 2,000 sessions were completed on the platform.

  • “I've been going to the Library for computer courses. Thanks to their support, I have decided to apply to college and take GED courses.”
  • – Chicago DigitalLearn user


After a two-year hiatus because of the pandemic, the Library’s signature CyberNavigators program—a national model for many similar efforts—returned in 2022. By providing 1:1 coaching and assistance on a range of topics, including applying for jobs online, programs like CyberNavigators are a powerful tool in the ongoing challenges of the digital divide. In 2022, donor support made it possible for CyberNavigators to provide nearly 8,000 hours of 1:1 assistance per week at branches citywide.

  • “It’s so rewarding seeing the people I work with grow and learn how to use technology in whatever they want to use it for. This is their journey, and I am here to support it.”
  • – Michael, CyberNavigator



In 2022, the Library Foundation’s Associate Board brought back its popular Read-A-Thon fundraiser for a second year! Bookworms from across Chicago challenged themselves to read as many books as possible from April through May. With its “Read Around the World” theme, the event engaged 284 participants and raised more than $88,000 to support the full range of donor-powered Library programming.


Chicago Public Library Foundation Awards

This annual event celebrates the bold storytellers, artists, and civic leaders who invite us to see the world in ways we never knew possible. In 2022, more than 10,000 Library lovers from Chicago and around the world joined us both in person and via broadcast to honor Shermann “Dilla” Thomas, Rick Bayless, and Tony Kushner. With legendary Chicago newscaster Bill Kurtis as our host, the event’s focal point was a powerful conversation between Carl Sandburg Literary Award honoree Tony Kushner and NPR Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon.

Thanks to generous supporters, the Awards raised more than $1.2M for the Library’s lifelong learning programming. See (or relive!) all the 2022 Library Foundation Awards action here.

We Salute Our Donors

Chicago Public Library thrives when the community invests in its success. We are profoundly grateful to everyone whose support makes the Library’s extraordinary work possible. Thank you.

Every gift begins with a story. Learn why Kahlil Crawford supports CPLF.


We believe that achieving change in diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) requires us to invest thoughtfully in Library programs, engage collaboratively with our community and our Library partners, and develop a workplace culture that values and supports every employee. In 2021, we created an Equity Action Plan in partnership with experts at Ethos Talent. Four core principles now guide us both internally and in our ongoing efforts to support impact, equity, and connection across Chicago Public Library:









In 2022, we advanced our Equity Action Plan by building the following more equitable and transparent practices:

  • Researched and implemented a compensation structure
  • Revised job posting templates to include pay range, 30-60-90 outline, and summary of hiring process with timelines
  • Began inclusive language audit for all marketing materials
  • Launched a new and more accessible website, with a screen reader, color, orientation adjustments, and more
  • Committed to 2022-23 continued learning series for all staff facilitated by Ethos. Series topics include Sexual Harassment in the Workplace; Understanding and Preventing Microaggressions; Leading and Influencing for DEIB Outcomes; and DEIB Strategic Roadmapping for Collaborative Conversations