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MARK KAPLAN
LIBRARIAN
a man sitting in a chair reading a book

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WORKING FOR CHICAGO PUBLIC LIBRARIES

I've been working at CPL for 25 years and 12 at Bezazian.

WHAT'S THE BEST PARK ABOUT YOUR JOB?

The best part of my job is working with the community both inside and outside the branch. We have great patrons who are always fun to see and chat with and sometimes even plan programs and exhibits with. We also make every effort to be involved in the community with outreach--attending meetings, the Argyle Night Market, visiting schools and senior homes, etc.

CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE HISTORY OF THE BEZAZIAN BRANCH?

Bezazian opened on January 26, 1957. It was named in honor and memory of Harold A. Bezazian, a WWII hero who died defending his troops in the Battle of Luzon in the Philippines. He was an aspiring writer and journalist who grew up in the neighborhood and went to Swift Elementary and Senn High School. His parents, who were Armenian immigrants and local philanthropists provided about 1/3 of the funds needed to build the branch.

WHAT INITIATIVES DOES THE BEZAZIAN LIBRARY HAVE GOING ON THAT YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT?

There is a mural created by community children led by artist Janis Pozzi Johnson from 1974 on the east wall of the building. After fading for many years, our Friends group was able to secure funds from Uptown United and 46th Ward Alderman Cappleman to have the work restored. It remains a fitting representation of our role in the community as a place where everyone is welcome and where one can learn, improve their lives and have their imaginations sparked.

Bezazian, along with the Uptown Branch further south, is home to the first Social Worker in the Library program in CPL. This pilot started just over a year ago and our social worker has helped countless people find housing, counseling, jobs, meals and helped them secure benefits among many other things.

We have an expanded and improved 0-5 play area where families come and meet others every day of the week.

Bezazian is the first (and only) branch that has a Biblio Bike. Our Friends group with Chicago Reader #1 local bike shop Uptown Bikes made this modified tricycle available to us. We use it to take books to the Selfhelp Home on Argyle, to street fairs and every Halloween, to distribute books as alternative, though no less sweet, treats.

We also have a CyberNavigator, a computer expert who will teach you anything you want to know how to do on a computer.

WHERE'S THE BEST SPOT IN UPTOWN TO CATCH UP ON READING?

Their are myriad best places in Uptown to catch up on reading. There are at least a dozen amazing coffee shops, not to mention two of the best independent book stores in the City (Women and Children First and Unchartered Books). That said, I am biased and think that the Bezazian Branch is the best place with an incredible, and often quirky, selection of new and classic material. Join us at the library!

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I'VE BEEN WORKING AT CPL FOR 25 YEARS AND 12 AT BEZAZIAN

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WE HAVE GREAT PATRONS WHO ARE ALWAYS FUN TO SEE AND CHAT WITH AND SOMETIMES EVEN PLAN PROGRAMS AND EXHIBITS WITH

a woman walking through the library at a public library
a man sitting in a chair reading a book
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THE BEST PART OF MY JOB IS WORKING WITH THE COMMUNITY BOTH INSIDE AND OUTSIDE THE BRANCH