Welcome to the The Check Out podcast of Evanston Public Library! It's the people of Evanston, Illinois, who make this community great. They're active, engaged, and always working to make the community better. Many Evanstonians say there's no other place they'd rather live! On The Check Out we'll be talking to people from across the diverse spectrum of those who live and work here. Along the way, you might also learn about the role the Library plays in the community. Your host is Jill Schacter, Community Engagement Coordinator at Evanston Public Library. We welcome your feedback! Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Episode 16: Todd Hasak-Lowy
Todd Hasak-Lowy is the author of two books for adults, a book of short stories called The Task of this Translator and the novel Captives. He has also written several books for younger readers and young adults. Todd is also a translator of literature from Hebrew to English, taught at the University of Florida for eight years, and currently teaches at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. In this episode, we focus on discussing his latest book for older kids--We Are Power: How Nonviolent Activism Changes the World, published April 2020. We talk about what non-violent activism is, how creative it can be, and how it can turn weakness into power. We discuss various non-violent movements and their methods. He gives some ideas for parents with curious children who ask how they can help make positive change in the world. Learn more about his work at toddhasaklowy.com
Episode 15: Meleika Gardner
Meleika Gardner has been on an inspiring path with a lot of creative twists and turns. Her early career in Atlanta and Los Angeles included dancing on the road for La Face Records, a joint venture with the recording artist Babyface and Arista Records, and working with the Concord Music Group, learning directly from famed producer Norman Lear. Starting in 2013, Meleika started Evanston Live TV, a social media and YouTube platform she uses to tell important Evanston stories related to politics, social justice, and community affairs. She serves on the board of WE WILL (Women Empowering Women in Local Legislation), and is promoting bills in the Illinois legislature to push for the teaching in our schools of a more complete history of African Americans. Find Evanston Live TV on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Learn more about WE WILL at wewillwomen.org.
Episode 14: Christine Wolf
Christine Wolf, a longtime Evanston resident, describes herself as an author and enterprise journalist. She wasn’t always a writer. She’s previously worked in advertising and spent years teaching. About 15 years ago, she decided to write and jumped in with both feet, often exhibiting a good deal of emotional bravery in the kinds of topics she tackles. In this episode, we talk about her writing path, stories that matter to her, and how she engages the community through a career that is now focused on storytelling and making connections that can make a difference. The Evanston Public Library has played an important role in her writing life. Learn more about Christine’s work at christinewolf.com
Episode 13: Karen Danczak Lyons
Sitting in for Jill Schacter, show producer Steve Johnson interviews Evanston Public Library Executive Director Karen Danczak Lyons. Karen has been at the helm of the Library since 2012 after nearly two decades in the Chicago Public Library system.
In this conversation, Karen and Steve explore how the Library is reimagining itself as it serves the community using an equity lens; they talk about access to programming and technology; budgets before, during and after the pandemic; and the viability of branches. Karen also gives insight into what issues keep her up at night related to serving the Evanston community, and what she loves about what she calls the “best job in the world” for her.
Episode 12: Miguel Ruiz
Miguel Ruiz is the librarian in charge of the brand new Robert Crown Library Branch in Evanston. He considers this to be a once in a career opportunity and is devoted to providing public service, programming, and community engagement there in the most equitable way possible.
In this episode, we discuss what it's like to be a Latino librarian (hint: he's very rare), some of the barriers on the way, and how he serendipitously found his way to the profession without really knowing it was happening. He shares his ideas on the unique value of libraries, the skills needed in 21st century library workers (they might surprise you), and his personal definition of what equity in library services means.
Episode 11: Robin Rue Simmons
Robin Rue Simmons is the 5th Ward Alderman for the city of Evanston. She grew up and currently lives in the 5th Ward. She is Chair of the city’s Reparations Subcommittee and is the lead behind the nation’s very first local reparations program, historic policy made right here in Evanston, Illinois. Her entire career has been profoundly influenced by the economic disparities she observed growing up in Evanston. She continues to work to improve opportunities for African Americans in the areas of housing, wealth building, and economic development with a solutions-only focus.
In this episode we talk about Robin’s childhood in Evanston and her early signs of leadership. We take a deep dive into the details of Evanston’s reparations plan, and discuss the many ways that others can get involved and support the plan. Robin talks about how she views this moment in time as we face a pandemic, civil unrest, and growing disparities. She talks about what keeps her in the fight for social justice and repair.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Insightful and fun!
The Check Out is such a fantastic podcast! It’s great to hear about these important figures in Evanston. I’ve learned so much in just the first couple episodes. I’m a big fan and not just because Jill is my mom ❤️