The Mighty Twig reopens as EPL branch


Jia You/Daily Senior Staffer

Evanston resident reads a story to her 3-year-old at the Chicago-Main branch of the Evanston Public Library on Saturday, the same day the former Mighty Twig reopened as an EPL branch.

Jia You, Assistant City Editor

The formerly volunteer-run library The Mighty Twig reopened as a branch of the Evanston Public Library on Saturday, nearly two years after its birth.

The Mighty Twig, 900 Chicago Ave., was founded by EPL Friends after the public library closed its South Branch in early 2011. It operated on an honor-based circulation system and relied entirely on volunteers.

EPL’s board of trustees voted unanimously in September to bring The Mighty Twig into the EPL system. The place had been closed since Dec. 16 to prepare for the Jan. 1 takeover, said Marcia Mahoney (Weinberg ‘81), EPL Friends president and director of The Mighty Twig.

Connie Henegan, former South Branch manager, will manage the renamed Chicago Main Library.

“For me, it’s like coming home,” Henegan said in an interview Saturday, adding that the reopening comes with certain changes.

The branch will instate a library card system, which will allow patrons to place holds on books, Henegan said. EPL is also supplementing the Twig’s books with its own collections and recently added two shelves of new DVDs.

“We tried to keep it what we could of their successes, because they did some really good things,” she said. “I think that the additional library service is going to be a big plus.”

One tradition the new library will keep is the unregistered story times, in which parents could just walk in with their kids in the morning and listen to volunteers telling stories. With the added library service, staff will be able to connect participants with books they can read at home after the program, Henegan said.

On Saturday, Evanston resident Amy Wilkinson brought her 1- and 3-year-olds to the Chicago Main Library to read books. Wilkinson, 33, said she had been coming as often as three times a week since The Mighty Twig opened to participate in the story times.

“It’s really comfortable, it’s really welcoming,” she said. “We meet a lot of our friends here.”

The library also keeps a small portion of The Twig’s collection, which still runs on the honor system. Mahoney said this benefits community members without a library card, although the library will decide whether to continue the system.

She also said EPL Friends had always hoped for The Mighty Twig’s transition to a public library.

“We’re just thrilled that the library appreciated what we did at The Twig and decided to make it their own,” she said.

EPL’s decision to incorporate The Mighty Twig into its system came along with larger reforms to expand its service, Henegan said.

The EPL plans to run the Chicago Main Library for a year, during which EPL will study the best places in the city to offer library service, Henegan said. A high concentration of schools and children in the area makes the branch a desirable candidate, she said.

“I think the board should … make a considered decision about where they bring service to citizens of Evanston,” she said. “And we’ll see what that means for us.”

Wilkinson said she is “a little worried” about the changes at the library.

“I love it the way it was,” she said. “I hope it can retain a lot of the same character, but I think it can work.”

She added that she hoped the library would stay in the neighborhood, a sentiment echoed by Evanston resident Kelly Sheridan.

“We have to have a library, whether it’s through Evanston Public or The Mighty Twig,” Sheridan said.