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Art Exhibit Opening & Reception: Community on a Shelf: Exploring the Human Side of Mental Illness by VersAnnette Blackman

2:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Main Library
First Floor - Community Engagement Space
“I make art because I have to. It is a sacred spiritual practice. A safe space where I can breathe because I know I belong in it.”—Verse

Join us for an opening reception for Community on a Shelf: Exploring the Human Side of Mental Illness on display in the Main Library Lobby Community Engagement Space. Meet the artist and celebrate the creative works of VersAnnette Blackman LMT. As an artist, writer, advocate, and healing arts practitioner, she has 10+ years experience as a trauma informed facilitator in various settings including domestic violence shelters and Chicago high schools. The exhibit will be on display through November.

VersAnnette is the founder of (H.E.M) an acronym for Heal, Empower, Motivate. This non-profit's mission is to use art and creative writing to help survivors heal and find their voices. In 2015 VersAnnette was awarded the Peggy A. Montes Unsung Heroine Award by the Cook County Commission on Women's Issues. She is the author of Butterfly Spirit: Poems of Transparency, Transformation & Truth.

Artist statement

My paintings emerge from a deeply held and regarded intuitive head space. To create out of nothing, no plans, scheme, or intent I step up to the canvas ready to unleash whatever lies inside me waiting to be expressed. I move while I work, I sing, I stretch, I cry, I dance, I do whatever I feel.

All in all, my work is meant to communicate what words cannot. I strive to make it less about what the eye sees and more about what the soul feels. My curious soul is what guides me to not try and hide behind a perfectly polished picture. The energy that translates from my work is the raw emotion that cannot be denied or even fully explained. My intent is to create art from a process that is transparent; meaning I cannot take full credit for what the experience. I’m aware that I am a Co-creator with Source. Often the painting reveals to me as much about myself as it does to the consumer about his or herself. We are both bearing witness.

I work primarily with Golden Acrylic paints and gel mediums, markers and various tools for mark making, foam brushes and fingers. I love to work on big huge stretched canvases for full freedom. The bigger the canvas, the more I can stretch and challenge myself; this is a metaphor for my life. I tend to lean towards bright vibrant hues, but I have a deep love for mixing color and experimenting with new hues. Another metaphor for the way I prefer to live.

I make art because I have to. It is a sacred spiritual practice. A safe space where I can breathe because I know I belong in it. It is a form of worship, one of the primary ways I communicate with my God. It is one of the only places I feel embraced, free, alive and completely accepted. It is a healing, a bearing witness to all that I’ve overcome and all that I have yet to experience. My painting process resembles what I want most for my life: To be seen, to be healed and heard, to be raw and unapologetic, to be bold, soulful, energetic, and take risks.


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Barbara Ballinger Lecture: 2019 Presenter Alex Kotlowitz

2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Main Library
Second Floor - Veterans Room
For 40 years, Alex Kotlowitz has been telling stories from the heart of America, deeply intimate tales of struggle and perseverance. Join Alex and your neighbors as we gather to celebrate and recognize former head librarian Barbara Ballinger and her many years of dedicated service to the library and to Oak Park. This annual event is sponsored by the Friends of the Oak Park Public Library. Books will be available for signing and sale from The Book Table. No registration required.

About the author

Alex is the author of four books, including his most recent, An American Summer: Love and Death in Chicago (available in print and on CD through the library catalog). His other books include the national bestseller There Are No Children Here (available in multiple formats through the library catalog) which the New York Public Library selected as one of the 150 most important books of the twentieth century. It received the Helen B. Bernstein Award and was adapted as a television movie produced by and starring Oprah Winfrey. It was selected by The New York Times as a Notable Book of the Year along with his second book, The Other Side of the River which also received The Chicago Tribune’s Heartland Prize for Nonfiction. His book on Chicago, Never a City So Real, will soon be released in paperback. Learn more »

More about An American Summer

An American Summer is an archive of the war—like finding a shocking but beautiful bundle of letters and photographs in the attic. Except that these dispatches reflect the daily violence that many Americans are experiencing, right now, in too many of our cities. Alex Kotlowitz dispenses with wooden categories of criminal and victim. With his uncommon warmth and sensitivity, he makes us understand that violence doesn’t happen in a moment; it’s a state of affairs.”—Sarah Koenig, creator and host of Serial
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Leading Edge Barbershop

12:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Main Library
First Floor - Idea Box

Historically, the barbershop has played an important role in American culture.

In addition to being the place to get a fresh cut, barbershops are also traditionally known as spaces where there is confidentiality, all patrons have a voice, and candid conversations are had.

With Barbershop Mondays, Stephen Jackson of the library's Teen Services Department will use a barbershop format to facilitate conversations and connections. In the space, the team will offer free haircuts and host various community members and professionals to engage those library patrons who drop in with meaningful conversation and relevant information.

While there is no online registration, a sign-up sheet will be available in the Idea Box on the Mondays the barbershop is open. The program is tentatively scheduled to continue on the second and third Mondays throughout 2019.

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Open Chess

5:45 PM - 8:30 PM
Main Library
First Floor - Community Engagement Space
Open chess gaming for all ages and all skill levels.  New players are welcome, as are new players who are interested in learning the game.  Every Monday night there is open chess play, as well as a rated USCF Tournament.


For players wishing to play casual games:

All visitors are welcome to play non-rated chess games every Monday between 6:00-8:30 PM.  No sign-up is needed.


For players who wish to play in the USCF Rated Tournament:

Format/Size
Players of similar USCF rating are placed in a quad (3 rounds, Game 25/d5, standard rated).  Due to space restrictions, we are capped at 24 players- first come, first served.

Time
Tournaments run 6:00-8:45 PM, in order to start the tournament promptly, players should arrive no later than 5:45 PM.

Registration:
1. Participants must have or create a USCF Chess Membership.
2. To register, follow this link to the King Registration Tournament Signup Page and look for dates listed under Oak Park River Forest Chess.  Individual registration must be made for each date that you plan to attend the Monday tournaments.

Cancellation:  Out of respect for other players in the tournament, cancellations need to be communicated well in advance, please notify the organizer as soon as possible if something comes up.

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Alien the Movie: 40th Anniversary

2:00 PM - 4:30 PM
Maze Branch
Meeting Room - Maze Branch
In 1979 we learned that, "in space, no one can hear you scream."

Forty years later, we invite you to come watch Alien with us. Come dressed as your favorite Alien! Be it Xenomorph, Vulcan, Na'vi, ET, Wookie, Ood, one of the Coneheads, or even Marvin the Martian, we want to see your alien costume. We will have popcorn and an Alien trivia quiz.
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Open Chess

5:45 PM - 8:30 PM
Main Library
First Floor - Community Engagement Space
Open chess gaming for all ages and all skill levels.  New players are welcome, as are new players who are interested in learning the game.  Every Monday night there is open chess play, as well as a rated USCF Tournament.


For players wishing to play casual games:

All visitors are welcome to play non-rated chess games every Monday between 6:00-8:30 PM.  No sign-up is needed.


For players who wish to play in the USCF Rated Tournament:

Format/Size
Players of similar USCF rating are placed in a quad (3 rounds, Game 25/d5, standard rated).  Due to space restrictions, we are capped at 24 players- first come, first served.

Time
Tournaments run 6:00-8:45 PM, in order to start the tournament promptly, players should arrive no later than 5:45 PM.

Registration:
1. Participants must have or create a USCF Chess Membership.
2. To register, follow this link to the King Registration Tournament Signup Page and look for dates listed under Oak Park River Forest Chess.  Individual registration must be made for each date that you plan to attend the Monday tournaments.

Cancellation:  Out of respect for other players in the tournament, cancellations need to be communicated well in advance, please notify the organizer as soon as possible if something comes up.

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Exhibit Opening: When Home Won't Let You Stay

All Day
Main Library
First Floor - Idea Box
When Home Won’t Let You Stay is a poignant traveling photography exhibition and community event series about refugees in America by documentary artist James A. Bowey

This exhibition provides a new perspective on the often hidden lives and compelling experiences of refugees in our communities. The number of globally displaced people has risen dramatically in recent years and is expected to continue to rise in response to ongoing conflicts, poverty, and climate change.

International and national events have prompted debates in communities across the country about our duty to refugees, our American roots, and national identity. It consists of contemporary color portraits accompanied by first-person stories in the form of found poems that create an empathic experience of the plight and resilience of refugees working to make a new home in this country.

Join us for a community event on Wednesday, November 20 at 7 pm in the Main Library Veterans Room. As part of the exhibition, James Bowey will present a live community event to consider the experiences of refugees, and our responses to the needs of displaced people around the world. Accompanied by live music and narrators from the community, he will present photographs, stories and reflections from “When Home Wont Let You Stay,” and lead a community conversation about how current refugee policies and attitudes reflect the state of the empathetic imagination in our civic life. This compelling talk explores how we can bear witness in a contentious world, and awaken our imagination to the possibilities of hope, justice and human connection.
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Writers' Word Feast: NaNoWriMo

1:30 PM - 4:30 PM
Main Library
Second Floor - Book Discussion Room
During November, we will be participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writers' Month) and meeting every Sunday. Feel free to bring food & drinks. Snacks will be shared.

We won't be giving feedback, but we will have prompts and writing! 

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Open Chess

5:45 PM - 8:30 PM
Main Library
First Floor - Community Engagement Space
Open chess gaming for all ages and all skill levels.  New players are welcome, as are new players who are interested in learning the game.  Every Monday night there is open chess play, as well as a rated USCF Tournament.


For players wishing to play casual games:

All visitors are welcome to play non-rated chess games every Monday between 6:00-8:30 PM.  No sign-up is needed.


For players who wish to play in the USCF Rated Tournament:

Format/Size
Players of similar USCF rating are placed in a quad (3 rounds, Game 25/d5, standard rated).  Due to space restrictions, we are capped at 24 players- first come, first served.

Time
Tournaments run 6:00-8:45 PM, in order to start the tournament promptly, players should arrive no later than 5:45 PM.

Registration:
1. Participants must have or create a USCF Chess Membership.
2. To register, follow this link to the King Registration Tournament Signup Page and look for dates listed under Oak Park River Forest Chess.  Individual registration must be made for each date that you plan to attend the Monday tournaments.

Cancellation:  Out of respect for other players in the tournament, cancellations need to be communicated well in advance, please notify the organizer as soon as possible if something comes up.

View More

Writers' Word Feast: NaNoWriMo

1:30 PM - 4:30 PM
Main Library
Second Floor - Book Discussion Room
During November, we will be participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writers' Month) and meeting every Sunday. Feel free to bring food & drinks. Snacks will be shared.

We won't be giving feedback, but we will have prompts and writing! 

View More

Leading Edge Barbershop

12:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Main Library
First Floor - Community Engagement Space

Historically, the barbershop has played an important role in American culture.

In addition to being the place to get a fresh cut, barbershops are also traditionally known as spaces where there is confidentiality, all patrons have a voice, and candid conversations are had.

With Barbershop Mondays, Stephen Jackson of the library's Teen Services Department will use a barbershop format to facilitate conversations and connections. In the space, the team will offer free haircuts and host various community members and professionals to engage those library patrons who drop in with meaningful conversation and relevant information.

While there is no online registration, a sign-up sheet will be available in the Idea Box on the Mondays the barbershop is open. The program is tentatively scheduled to continue on the second and third Mondays throughout 2019.

View More

Open Chess

5:45 PM - 8:30 PM
Main Library
First Floor - Community Engagement Space
Open chess gaming for all ages and all skill levels.  New players are welcome, as are new players who are interested in learning the game.  Every Monday night there is open chess play, as well as a rated USCF Tournament.


For players wishing to play casual games:

All visitors are welcome to play non-rated chess games every Monday between 6:00-8:30 PM.  No sign-up is needed.


For players who wish to play in the USCF Rated Tournament:

Format/Size
Players of similar USCF rating are placed in a quad (3 rounds, Game 25/d5, standard rated).  Due to space restrictions, we are capped at 24 players- first come, first served.

Time
Tournaments run 6:00-8:45 PM, in order to start the tournament promptly, players should arrive no later than 5:45 PM.

Registration:
1. Participants must have or create a USCF Chess Membership.
2. To register, follow this link to the King Registration Tournament Signup Page and look for dates listed under Oak Park River Forest Chess.  Individual registration must be made for each date that you plan to attend the Monday tournaments.

Cancellation:  Out of respect for other players in the tournament, cancellations need to be communicated well in advance, please notify the organizer as soon as possible if something comes up.

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Discussion Series: Hemingway in the 21st Century

6:30 PM - 9:00 PM
Maze Branch
Meeting Room - Maze Branch

A Moveable Read: Hemingway in the 21st Century is a six-part discussion series based on Ernest Hemingway’s The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories.


Each discussion will feature guest speakers discussing specific short stories and interrelated topics of today. A writers craft talk will take place at the end of each discussion. In partnership with the Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park. Learn more at hemingwaybirthplace.com.


  • 6:30-7 pm: Wine and beverage service

  • 7-8 pm: Story discussion with guest speakers

  • 8-8:30 pm: Writers craft talk

  • Locations vary by date; see below

  • RSVPs are welcomed, not required »


October 17, Maze Branch: “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place”: Loneliness, War & Mental Health
Karolis Gintaras Zukauskas, Writer, Professor of Language Arts, Morton College and Laura Young, Oak Park and River Forest High School English Department and Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park Writer in Residence


November 14, Maze Branch: “A Moveable Feast”: The Ex-Pat Life in the 1920s
Paris Karolis Gintaras Zukauskas, Writer, Professor of Language Arts, Morton College and David W. Berner, Author, Journalist, Associate Professor Columbia College

February 20, 2020, Main Library Veterans Room: “Fathers & Sons”: Family Relations, Inheritance & Hyper/Toxic Masculinity in Hemingway’s America

James Bell, Oak Park and River Forest High School English Department and Theatre Director and Cameron Gearen, Author and Former Writer in Residence


March 19, 2020, Maze Branch: “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”: Gender Roles, Art & Patronage, Truth, Lies & Hemingway’s Fiction

Michelle E. Moore, Ph.D. Professor, English, The College of Dupage and Mary Claire Childers, Adjunct Professor, English, College of DuPage


April 23, 2020, Main Library Veterans Room: “The Killers”: Violence, Racism & Boyhood Innocence

Michelle E. Moore, PhD, Professor, English, The College of DuPage and Steve Gevinson, Oak Park and River Forest High School, Former English Division Head


May 14, 2020, Main Library Veterans Room: “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber”: F. Scott Fitzgerald: Ernie and Scott’s Fraught Relationship

Vincent Francone, Professor of English, Roosevelt University and Paul Noble, Oak Park and River Forest High School English Department


View More

Writers' Word Feast: NaNoWriMo

1:30 PM - 4:30 PM
Main Library
Second Floor - Book Discussion Room
During November, we will be participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writers' Month) and meeting every Sunday. Feel free to bring food & drinks. Snacks will be shared.

We won't be giving feedback, but we will have prompts and writing! 

View More

Leading Edge Barbershop

12:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Main Library
First Floor - Community Engagement Space

Historically, the barbershop has played an important role in American culture.

In addition to being the place to get a fresh cut, barbershops are also traditionally known as spaces where there is confidentiality, all patrons have a voice, and candid conversations are had.

With Barbershop Mondays, Stephen Jackson of the library's Teen Services Department will use a barbershop format to facilitate conversations and connections. In the space, the team will offer free haircuts and host various community members and professionals to engage those library patrons who drop in with meaningful conversation and relevant information.

While there is no online registration, a sign-up sheet will be available in the Idea Box on the Mondays the barbershop is open. The program is tentatively scheduled to continue on the second and third Mondays throughout 2019.

View More

Open Chess

5:45 PM - 8:30 PM
Main Library
First Floor - Community Engagement Space
Open chess gaming for all ages and all skill levels.  New players are welcome, as are new players who are interested in learning the game.  Every Monday night there is open chess play, as well as a rated USCF Tournament.


For players wishing to play casual games:

All visitors are welcome to play non-rated chess games every Monday between 6:00-8:30 PM.  No sign-up is needed.


For players who wish to play in the USCF Rated Tournament:

Format/Size
Players of similar USCF rating are placed in a quad (3 rounds, Game 25/d5, standard rated).  Due to space restrictions, we are capped at 24 players- first come, first served.

Time
Tournaments run 6:00-8:45 PM, in order to start the tournament promptly, players should arrive no later than 5:45 PM.

Registration:
1. Participants must have or create a USCF Chess Membership.
2. To register, follow this link to the King Registration Tournament Signup Page and look for dates listed under Oak Park River Forest Chess.  Individual registration must be made for each date that you plan to attend the Monday tournaments.

Cancellation:  Out of respect for other players in the tournament, cancellations need to be communicated well in advance, please notify the organizer as soon as possible if something comes up.

View More