From One Location to a City-Wide Roll-Out

Chicago Public Library System


Thanks to a close collaboration between IEEE, Chicago Public Library and S&C Electric Company Foundations – SKPL was able to launch a science kit program in 2014 that led to a city-wide roll-out in only 5 years!

Expanding from 1 to 81 library locations is pretty impressive; but when you hear the amazing feedback we received from parents and patrons, it’s easy to understand why SKPL has gained so much traction. So we’ve included some of our favorite comments and overheard conversations below:


“Pleeeeease, Mom?!” nine year-old Leila asked her mother. She had already checked out the Simple Machines kit and enjoyed it so much that during another trip to the library, she asked if she could check out another.

“I love science and math. Math is so cool!” -A conversation overheard between a librarian and child patron in Rodgers Park

“I wish they had this when I was a kid!” -The most common response we get from parents and patrons


As a growing organization, we know that every partnership brings new insights and ideas, but those contributed by Chicago Public Library and Chicago Public Library Foundation have truly been invaluable.

From the Foundation’s perspective, “the program was a success because, first and foremost, it was a very good idea! The Discovery Packs are filled with high-quality materials that kids can’t wait to get their hands on, curated books that support themed comment, and a format that is incredibly adaptable. These eye-catching Packs can be taken home to the family or used in the branches by an individual or as part of facilitated programming. And they don’t take up a lot of space, which we know is at a premium in our branches! Another reason for our success was that the funding partnership encouraged a “phased approach” to a city-wide, 81-branch roll out. That’s a pretty ambitious goal. It took five years of close collaboration. Through this thoughtful approach, the Chicago Public Library project team was able to reflect on what worked and what didn’t, collect feedback, and document their learnings, before moving on to the next phase. We’re all so pleased with the results—and we know our families are too!”

Through this effort, we’ve uncovered many best practices and how-to’s for the program, so we know that other libraries will have access to “tried and true” programming they can easily implement in their own communities. We are proud of the work we’ve accomplished together and are excited to replicate our success in new cities and Public Library Systems.

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