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Gerber/Hart Library plans move
by Kate Sosin, Windy City Times
2012-01-24

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The Gerber/ Hart library is moving.

A large red rental sign appeared in the window of the Edgewater-based library, encouraging interested parties to contact neighborhood B & R Developers.

The property, located at 1127 W. Granville, is also listed in at least two different Craigslist advertisements published Jan. 23. The listings do not mention the library specifically, but show pictures and a description of the single-story library. The rental sign in the window's library advertises 5,500 square feet of available space in the building.

Gerber/Hart President Karen Sendziak, reached by phone, declined to immediately comment on the rental advertisements, but later confirmed via email that the library would in fact move.

"Gerber/Hart will be moving," wrote Sendziak. "That is all I can say at this point"

According to Rae Ann Cecrle, the building's owner, the Gerber/Hart asked for a one-month lease extension until the end of April. Cecrle said she sent the library a new lease in September, but was not given notice until December that the library planned to relocate.

"I couldn't get a commitment out of them," Cecrle said.

Cecrle declined to disclose the cost of rent but said that it has remained the same for two years. The latest lease did increase the rental cost by $1 per square foot, but Cecrle offered to donate the cost of the increase to keep the Gerber/ Hart in the building, she said.

Cecrle said she does not know why the library is leaving the space, but added that she supports the organization and hopes they remain in the neighborhood.

At least one potential renter has inquired about the space thus far.

The library officially announced the move in an email newsletter on Jan. 26, stating that after 13 years of operation on Granville, "it is time to move on."

"As to where and when we are moving - once our deal is consummated ( yes, consummated! ) , you'll be the first to know," the newsletter read.

Wil Brant, who served as the organization's board president more than a decade ago, helped the library move from its Paulina Street location to its current home. Brant speculates that moving the current library will require a large volunteer base.

"It's a major undertaking," Brant said.

According to Brant, the Granville location had to undergo renovations in order to support the library. That included reinforcing the floors to bear the weight of its books and installing two separate air-conditioners— one for its special collection and another for its general collection.

The library, the Midwest's largest LGBT library, has been a fixture in Chicago's LGBT community for more than 30 years. It opened in 1981 in a basement on Sheffield Avenue and later moved to a storefront on Paulina Street before landing in Edgewater. According to its Website, Gerber/ Hart boasts more than 14,000 volumes, 800 periodical titles and 100 archival collections.

The stretch of Granville Street where the Gerber/Hart currently sits has experienced several redevelopments in recent years, including the arrival of M.Henrietta restaurant which replaced a diner located in the same building as the Gerber/Hart. That building, owned by Cecrle also houses the gay bar Granville Anvil.

Windy City Times will update as details become available.


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