Brian Bannon, MLIS '99, innovating libraries in Chicago

Brian Bannon, commissioner of the Chicago Public Libraries, is showing the nation what library innovation looks like. 

"We're positioning Chicago as a leader in social innovation and modeling how libraries can help move cities forward in the knowledge economy," says Bannon, who graduated from the iSchool's MLIS program in 1999.

According to a recent report in Crain's Chicago Business, the 80-branch public library recently received a $1 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for a collaboration with design firm Ideo to create new library services and programs. 

Bannon, who took the leadership role in March 2012, is overhauling the libraries website to include streaming video; ramping up the e-book collection; and adding 3D printers, laser cutters and other DIY-manufacturing equipment in a 'maker's lab in the flagship Harold Washington Library Center. The 'maker's lab' alone has attracted 20,000 visitors since it opened in July. 

"A library should be a Petri dish for ideas to collide, says Bannon. "Looking five years out, I'd like this to be an organization that has offered the right kind of services for the community we live in, with a modern way of responding to change."