The Little Branch Library that Could: Evanston’s Mighty Twig

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” could be the motto behind The Mighty Twig.

For 94 years, the recently closed South Branch Library was an integral part of the community. When the Evanston Public Library Board of Trustees said they no longer had the funds to support the library, an Evanston community group, “Evanston Public Library Friends,” came together and established an alternative library.

Housed in a former tuxedo shop, The Mighty Twig is located at 900 Chicago Avenue, centrally located in the Main & Chicago business district. The storefront is now a volunteer-run library filled with shelves of donated books.

In just one month, over 400 volunteers have worked around the clock to save something they believe in. Last weekend, volunteer Lori Keenan and her son stopped by to lend a hand and noted that the energy was palpable.

“People of all walks of life and all ages have come together to bring this space to life,” Keenan says. “Although this is an experiment, it will hopefully become something the Evanston board sees as a positive and necessary part of the neighborhood.”

Marcia Mahoney, member of the EPL Friends Board of Directors and Chair of its Neighborhood Outreach Committee, says, “Support has been phenomenal, both from Evanstonians and from the library community at large. Almost everything that’s gone into the build-out of The Mighty Twig was donated – carpentry, painting, and books.”

As for future plans, Mahoney notes, “EPL Friends hopes this endeavor will result in plans for outreach to all areas of Evanston. We hope the success (and possible failure) of innovations tested in the Mighty Twig will be useful to the Library’ Board in its strategic planning.  We wish to accomplish all this, while continuing to provide service to the patrons of the former South Branch library. In particular, the Mighty Twig is focused on those who have difficulty reaching the Main Library—children, families, seniors, time-pressed and disabled patrons.”

From 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Sat., March 26, The Mighty Twig will host a grand opening celebration. For more information, visit http://eplfriends.org.