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Community Member Spotlight: Meet Mary Beth, A Library Champion In and Out of School

If Ms. Hutchinson is your teacher, one of your first assignments is to get a library card.

Sharing the library love

US History and Global Politics teacher Mary Beth Hutchinson regularly shares her love of Chicago Public Library with her students. “I always encourage my class to use the Library by showing them the many resources they can enjoy for free.

“Do you want to read comics? You can go to the Library. Do you want to listen to music or watch movies? You can download them for free with the Library’s app. Do you want to join an after-school teen community? The Library is a safe space for teens to connect,” Mary Beth tells her students.

Before the pandemic, field trips to the Edgewater branch were staples of Mary Beth’s research assignments. Now, her students make regular visits to the CPL website. “The sophomores and juniors in my classes are familiar with the Chicago Defender and Chicago Tribune archives,” she beams with pride.

Library lover for life

Mary Beth’s love for the library began long before she made Chicago her home. It started in Mesa, Arizona. “Libraries are big in my family life. We spent a lot of time at our small library during the summers. We were just thrilled to discover books. As a teen, I still remember sitting around with friends at our local branch, talking about the books we read. We explored the world of Harry Potter together!” Mary Beth recalls.

“Now, whenever I’m moving to a new place, before changing my driver’s license, I get a new library card.”

As an educator, libraries are a regular fixture in Mary Beth’s professional life. But her relationship with her home branch of Edgewater is also deeply personal. “I’m a curious person. I love reading and learning new things.”  Mary Beth loves to spend hours in the stacks, delving into topics that interest her. Right now, her focus is on global cuisines. “These books would cost me a fortune if I purchased them. But I can read them for free at the Library!”

As an avid comic book fan, Mary Beth also has several comics she downloaded from—where else—the Library!

Giving back, paying forward

As a Library champion, Mary Beth actively finds ways to give back to the Library. She chanced upon the Chicago Public Library Foundation through a Google search back in 2015. Mary Beth has been an active CPLF community member since.  “I allot $20 of my monthly budget to contribute to the Library Foundation,” she says.

“Why,” I asked candidly. “Why do you give to the Chicago Public Library Foundation?”

“I pay for Netflix and Hulu. The Library is worth more to the community and me than those streaming services. So why wouldn’t I?”

“The Library is an optimistic investment in our community. It’s an investment in our children, teens, and every Chicagoan who wants to learn. As a patron, I have experienced how the Library has enriched my life. As a teacher, I have witnessed how the Library makes a real difference in my students’ learning. So, If I can give a little more and contribute what I can to empower more people through the Library, why wouldn’t I do that?” Mary Beth shared passionately.

Thank you, Mary Beth, for everything you do as an educator. We are grateful and honored that you are part of the Chicago Public Library Foundation community.

Chicago Public Library Foundation community members are Chicagoans just like you— parents, students, grandparents, teachers, nurses, professionals, and library lovers dedicated to delivering access and equity across 77 neighborhoods through critical library resources and services.

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