RAILS Selects Three Projects for My Library Is… Grants

My Library Is... Campaign

The Reaching Across Illinois Libraries System (RAILS) announced that three projects have been selected to receive My Library Is… Grants. These grants provide an opportunity for libraries to focus on projects that help tell the library story and that increase visibility and support for all types of libraries. The three projects that were awarded:

  • Evanston Public Library - Racial Equity Outreach Video Series
  • Gerber/Hart Library & Archives - Podcast Project
  • Elmwood Park Public Library - You Are Beautiful Campaign

Through the Racial Equity Outreach Video Series, Evanston Public Library aims to increase its visibility amongst historically marginalized communities; raise awareness of all the resources that are available; and engage in deeper conversations with underrepresented voices in our community. One of EPL's primary goals is to remove as many barriers as possible for equitable access to the Library's materials, programs, and resources. The Racial Equity Outreach Video Series will highlight some of the ways that the Library is accessible to underserved populations, such as the availability of bilingual staff and materials.

"As the Evanston community becomes even more diverse, this work will continue to be a critical part of the Library's DNA," said Karen Danczek Lyons, Library Director, Evanston Public Library. "The Racial Equity Outreach Video Series will be an ongoing project, as a way to keep the community informed about the library's work and progress."

Gerber/Hart Library and Archives offers collections and programming that reflect the diversity and rich history of the LBGTQ community. Gerber/Hart will create an eight-episode podcast to make Gerber/Hart's collection and Chicago LGBTQ history more accessible to our community and reach a larger audience. The episodes will range from discussions of the importance of a LGBTQ circulating library to Chicago drag history and will include interviews with community leaders, volunteers, researchers, and local historians.

"This campaign will both increase the visibility of Gerber/Hart as well as our podcast, with the goal in increasing usage of our services and visitors to Gerber/Hart" said Jen Dentel, Communications & Programming Coordinator, Gerber/Hart Library & Archives. Audio artist and producer Ari Mejia, who will work with Gerber/Hart on this project stated, "Audio allows us to inhabit characters, people, places, and experiences in a very palpable and immediate way."

Elmwood Park Public Library and School District 401, are currently working with You Are Beautiful to develop an art installation that reflects our community values and the Library's role in supporting those values. The library plans to develop a promotional video that can be shared with their village, schools, real estate agents, and Chamber of Commerce to highlight Elmwood Park's belief in these pillars of a community.

"We believe that one's kindness, and acceptance of all, along with their family, schools, and organizations, play a crucial role as a vital safety net," said Shekinah Lawrence, Kids & Teens Staff Member, Elmwood Park Public Library. "This public art project and marketing video will provide our community with a permanent reminder of the impact each of us has on the larger world around us."

RAILS would like to thank the following volunteers who participated in the evaluation of applications: Victoria Blackmer, Robert J. Jones Public Library; Jason Erber, McHenry School District 15; Rachel Gilmore, Shorewood-Troy Public Library District; Gail Graziani, Lisle Library District; Kim Hale, Columbia College Chicago; Lisa Knasiak, Hinsdale Public Library; Roberta Koscielski, Peoria Public Library; Elizabeth Munoz, Lake Villa Public Library District; Tzvetana Petrov, Fountaindale Public Library District; Laura Turner, Caterpillar, Inc.

RAILS My Library Is… Grants are offered twice per year. All types of libraries are encouraged to apply. For more information, please see the RAILS website: www.railslibraries.info

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