05 January 12

2012 Nonprofit Selection: Chicago's Read/Write Library

One of the 7 nonprofit organizations that I’ll be donating a portion of the sales of each bag to is Chicago’s Read/Write Library. You can listen to or read this great piece on WBEZ about it.

Most libraries have a librarian or series of librarians who determine what is of high-enough quality to be represented in the library. And there is value in that curation. There is value in librarians. I love them and their skills and the work they do.

But there is something to be said for a place that collects every printed material of an area. They don’t just collect them and record who wrote it, but they record who created illustrations, who designed the cover, who edits it, who typesets it and more. The more is the crux of this place and why it resonates with me so strongly. They’re not just a room with a gorgeous turquoise wall and a lot of shelves. They’re a repository for culture and an attempt at mapping influence, gauging the direction a community is heading, and seeing where it started. It is the focus on community that hits my heart.

Chicagoans generally have a lot of pride in their city, in what they create, in who they know, what they did, where they did it, how they did it, and how the city played a role in that creation. And I feel that the Read/Write Library gets that this Chicago pride can be measured, quantified, mapped. It’s overwhelming and intimidating and scary as hell, but it can be done. And Executive Director Nell Taylor isn’t afraid of the task, even though it seems insurmountably huge. I’m grateful to have crossed paths with her at a number of events and places and I find her to be cheerily brilliant and so very approachable and enlightening. I just can’t help but feel a little bit inspired and encouraged after talking to her and thinking about this huge project she is leading. And for that, I’d love the opportunity to write her a few checks to cover Sharpies, and tape, and the electric bill so she can be this force for others for a long time to come.

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