About Us

Mission Statement

Read/Write Library collects, preserves, and provides access to community media in order to inspire and promote diverse modes of cultural production and civic engagement. We strive to raise the visibility of work produced by Chicagoans of all backgrounds in order to reveal connective threads across neighborhoods, generations, and cultures and to encourage inquiry into and ownership of the historical record. The Library recognizes the contributions that all community members make to co-creating a city and believes that learning to value these stories plays a vital role in building empathy, community pride, and the ability to see oneself as a change agent.

History & Future

Founded in 2006, Read/Write Library is the only organization in the world dedicated to preserving and providing access to local media in order to illuminate connections between a regions’ stories, particularly those left out of the record. Unlike traditional “read-only” libraries, RWL encourages contributions — community newspapers, chapbooks by young poets, personal narrative collections by people who are incarcerated, novels by tenured professors — making cultural participation and the relationships that sustain it transparent and accessible. Originally known as Chicago Underground Library, in 2011 we decided that we needed a new name that more accurately reflected our mission. And so, Chicago Underground Library became Read/Write Library.

Now in our 12th year, we'll be making some big changes. If you are interested in learning more about how you can support our work as 501c3 nonprofit, please consider:

What You Will Find Here

We are always seeking books, magazines, zines, journals, broadsides, newspapers, and art books of all types, genres, and print runs from the Chicago area.

To find out how to add your work or collection to the library, please visit our submission guidelines.

To discuss creating a Read/Write Library in your city or institution, please email Executive Director Nell Taylor.