The Evanston Public Library branch at 2026 Central St. (Google Maps image)

Members of Evanston’s Library Board are expected to vote at a meeting next week on a proposal to close library branches on Central Street and on Chicago Avenue.

The move has drawn fire from neighborhood groups in the areas near the branches, the Central Street Neighbors Association and the Southeast Evanston Association.

With the opening of the new branch library at the Robert Crown Center, which is larger that the two older branches combined, the library is facing new budget constraints and, library officials say, issues with how to safely reopen the smaller branches in the midst of a pandemic that requires social distancing.

In addition, the library has been placing additional emphasis recently on achieving racial equity in its program offerings. Some board members suggest that calls for giving greater priority to the new Crown branch, which is located in an area that traditionally has not had library services.

The Central Street and Chicago Avenue locations have been closed since early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

The board is scheduled to meet online at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 19. Details on viewing the session will be posted online with the meeting packet by early next week.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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