Mayor Emanuel, CPS and Chicago Public Library Announce New Community Library In New Back of the Yards High School

Back of the Yards High School to Open in 2013 as Wall-to-Wall International Baccalaureate School


The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and Chicago Public Library (CPL) are working together to open the first full-service, purpose-built community library inside a public school at the new Back of the Yards high school, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced today.

“By partnering together, Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Public Library are ensuring the Back of the Yards high school will become a community anchor for both students and residents in the community, who have been without a library for a year,” said Mayor Emanuel. “This innovative approach will provide residents and students with the library they deserve. Not only will the library be an anchor for the community, it will be designed to ensure students have what they need to succeed in the high school’s new challenging IB curriculum.”

This library will be the first in a pilot project to leverage the joint resources of CPS and CPL in order to offer teen-focused collections and digital learning amenities, while also operating as a public library for all residents in the community.

“Co-locating the public library with the new school will increase the resources available to students, but also provide residents with a new full-service library, open six days a week, that will offer the full complement of early-childhood reading programs that are instrumental to student success,” said Brian Bannon, Commissioner of the Chicago Public Library. “Students will have the benefit of teacher librarians and public librarians to support academic and personal interests, and the opportunity to mentor younger children and gain community service hours within their school building.”

Students will have access to public library collections, allowing for greater discovery of library materials as well as access to information needed for core curriculum studies. Students will also have onsite access to the Chicago Public Library’s entire collection and electronic subscription reference databases.

“This is about innovative thinking and optimizing taxpayer dollars to give our students the absolute best educational experience,” said CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard. “We are delighted that more students will have the opportunity to explore the vast resources available through the Chicago Public Library, turning this neighborhood school into a year-round learning center.”

Back of the Yards high school will also become the second neighborhood school, after Senn High School in Edgewater, to become a wall-to-wall International Baccalaureate (IB) school, offering the challenging curriculum to students in the neighborhood. The expansion of IB Programmes is part of the city’s continuing effort to provide high quality school options for every student in every neighborhood across the city of Chicago. This decision was made after discussions with stakeholders in the communities served by Back of the Yards.

In a wall-to-wall IB school, every freshman and sophomore student will participate in what is called the Middle Years Programme (MYP). At the completion of sophomore year, students can proceed to either the full Diploma Programme, opt for an IB certificate where students can take one or more IB classes, opt for an IB career related certificate or fulfill an IB core requirement. Ultimately, every student at Back of the Yards will touch the IB Programme in some way.

The library will be staffed by a full-time CPS teacher librarian working alongside CPL librarians during school hours. The school librarian will also be engaged in resource selection and be responsible for ensuring the library collection meets the needs of an IB curriculum. While students will have access to CPL collections system-wide, cooperative collection development with CPL will ensure the collection’s relevance to student needs as driven by the curriculum.

Located at 2111 W. 47th Street, the new Back of the Yards high school will open for the 2013-2014 school year with space for 1,200 students. Designed as a Community Campus, the facility will have a separate, independent entrance for the library, along with a public reading garden.

It will also include a gymnasium, natatorium with 6 Lane Pool, multipurpose room/athletic studio and fitness/weight room. Outside, the school will feature a combination soccer and football field with bleachers, softball diamond, tennis courts and an outdoor reading garden. The new Back of the Yards High School was designed to achieve a Silver rating under the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED for Schools Rating System.

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