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Bringing Chicago Public Library to Your Homes

Rosa shares how the Library has become a pillar her family leans on during the pandemic. 

Library as a second home

For the past nine years, going to Chicago Public Library has been a Pineda family affair. “My three children grew up in the Library. We would go to Albany branch after school. During the weekends, all of us would bike our way to different branches,” Rosa told me. 

“They enjoy reading, playing, and just exploring the space.” – Rosa

The family would go home from their Library adventures tote bags filled to the brim with books, kits, and toys. Their hearts are even fuller. “Our trip to the Library always brings joy to everyone,” Rosa shared.

Library a family can lean on

When COVID-19 closed classrooms, all three children had to learn from home and Rosa found herself in a reluctant role: a homeschooler. “As a working mother, supervising kids with their schoolwork while running the household was challenging and frightening,” Rosa explained candidly. 

“I have a preschooler, a third-grader, and a seventh-grader. After work, they would all come to me for help. These homework assignments are difficult. Before I can tutor them, I had to study the lessons myself. Often, it ends up being a long night for all of us,” Rosa continued.

So, the family turned to the Library. “We are incredibly thankful for CPL. They have made the adjustment to remote learning more manageable for my family,” Rosa explained. Homework help resources like Brainfuse and Virtual Teachers in the Library have helped the children thrive. They have also empowered Rosa to help her children better. “It is a great weight lifted off our shoulders, knowing that we’re not doing it alone and that there are subject experts who can give the kids the academic guidance they need,” Rosa shared. 

Taking a piece of the Library home 

Another challenge for families all over Chicago as we navigate life during the pandemic is keeping children active, engaged, and learning. What would have been days spent discovering museums, playing at the park, or exploring the Library are now days spent cooped up at home. Rosa told me that one of her greatest worries is that the children would just play video games or watch TV. To make sure they all stay busy and connected to their hobbies, Rosa sought the Library’s help once more. 

“The grab-and-go kits from the Library enabled us as a family to continue our learning adventures without leaving the comforts of our homes. It’s accessible, free, and fun!” Rosa exclaims in excitement. 

Sure enough, the Pineda home was transformed into an art studio, a museum, a playground, and a library! Rosa gave me an impromptu virtual tour of their home, proudly showing the work of her children. Drawings by Bris, her 12-year-old, are displayed like an exhibit on the kitchen wall. Homemade puppets created by her 9-year-old have become staples in the living room. Paper- mâché buildings from this year’s Summer Learning Challenge stand at the center of the dining room table. Of course, books are everywhere!

“Every time we get new kits, it’s like Christmas morning. The children would gather around the living room, open the bags, read the activity guides, and then do them together. No arguing, no fighting,” Rosa shared with a smile. 

Not only do the children bond with limited screen time, but they also continue to learn something new everyday,” she continued. Santiago, her youngest, learned to identify shapes by helping her oldest sister assemble a DIY puppet. Carlo practiced math by playing with popsicle sticks. Bris honed her creativity by recreating her favorite book scenes on canvas. Sometimes, Rosa and her husband join in the fun. “We are incredibly glad and thankful that our family can enjoy the Library’s resources, especially during such a challenging time,” Rosa shared.  

COVID-19 has shone a light on the deep divides across the city. Grounded in our mission of equity, Chicago Public Library and the Chicago Public Library Foundation understand families’ need for accessible learning resources and services as we continue to navigate the new normal. Throughout the year, we have distributed 50,000 high-quality takeaway kits and activity guides across 77 neighborhoods. We have shifted and created robust digital programming and learning resources, bringing the Library to your homes.

We are in this, together. 

This is the time to innovate, accelerate creativity, and find ways to connect. That is exactly what your support does. As you think about your end-of-year giving plans, I hope you will consider making a gift at any level to help build digital infrastructure and virtual programs that will support patrons relying on the Library’s resources and services—wherever they may be.  

Have a healthy and happy holiday season!