CHICAGO — Currently housed in a Damen Avenue strip mall, the Back of the Yards branch of the Chicago Public Library will get a massive upgrade when it moves into the ground floor of the city’s newest high school.
The library, which will be open to the public, should be completed before the inaugural school year begins Aug. 26 at Back of the Yards High School, 2111 W. 47th St.
Plans for the new 9,000-square-foot library facility include a computer lab, a media lab, a large book collection and meeting room. Portions of the library will be geared toward high school students.
“I think what’s really cool is that we have all of the full-service things you’d find in a public library but with an enhanced space for teens,” said library spokeswoman Ruth Lednicer.
The city will rent the space from the Board of Education with a lease lasting five years.
Under the deal, the city won’t pay rent but will pay for the library’s share of operating costs, including custodial and janitorial services. The Board of Education will shoulder the cost of building maintenance.
Construction of the $95 million Back of the Yards High School is expected to be completed in the coming weeks, school officials said. The school will open at the ninth grade level in fall 2013 and add one grade level each year until it serves grades 9-12.
It will be the second of five so-called “wall-to-wall” International Baccalaureate schools in the city offering what CPS has described as "a challenging and academically advanced curriculum" for accomplished and highly-motivated students.
At a December 2012 news conference, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the IB program “is an important innovation that will give more and more children and more and more families a choice to not only stay in Chicago, but a choice of great educational opportunities. We will have more choice, more high-quality choices, for our families. They will not have to go to the suburbs."