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ACTION ALERT! Respect our community crossing guard workers!

ACTION ALERT! Respect our community crossing guard workers! Niles logo in the background with a heart and an image of a crossing guard in the heart.

Earlier this week our dedicated Village of Niles crossing guard workers were abruptly terminated from their positions by the Niles Police Department and Village trustees.

Please take a moment and join our letter-writing campaign here:

Respect our community crossing guard workers!

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DISPATCH Newsletter March 2023

Header image that resembles a distressed postcard that reads "Dispatch official newsletter March 2023" with the Niles Coalition logo portrayed as a postage stamp in the lower right hand corner.

Black History in Niles

In our last Dispatch newsletter we wrote about the Black history of Niles and we were happy to bring this as a public comment to the February Village of Niles board meeting. You can watch how that went down on our Youtube channel here.

Community Relations Commission

After several years of unsuccessful engagement with the Community Relations Commission (CRC), it’s become clear that it’s just another form of policing and surveillance. It was discussed at the last meeting that any complaint of discrimination must go directly to the police. Months earlier, a complaint over police harassment was also deferred to the police after the complainant requested a transformative justice solution instead.

The mission of the CRC might confuse community members who may see it as an alternative to engaging with violence workers. There are many good reasons people would want to avoid police interaction. Please beware that complaints submitted to the CRC absolutely will go to the police.

To understand why and how this happens, No More Police and Prison By Any Other Name are great books and they are available through libraries, including the Niles-Maine District Library.


2023 Library Board Election

While our #SaveNilesLibrary campaign fought against the destructive agenda by Trustees Joe Makula, Carolyn Drblik, Olivia Hanusiak, and Suzanne Schoenfeldt we are not endorsing any candidates. There has been some confusion recently as to the stance of the Niles Coalition and we wanted to make that clear.

Elmwood Park Public Library

Our neighbors down the street in Elmwood Park are facing a similar attack on their library (EPPL). Book Riot covers the story:

“In many ways, what is happening at EPPL mirrors what has been happening just a few miles north at the Niles Public Library, where the board seized control of the library to ram their agenda in without consequence or pushback. EPPL’s Board has remained fairly unchanged over the last several election cycles, but with the rise of conservatism across the nation and in the Chicago suburbs, the power once held by white men has been slowing receding as the diversity, equity, and inclusion programs ensure more access to education, skills, and jobs for people of the global majority.”

Eyes on EPPL! 👀 The Elmwood Park Public Library board meeting is tomorrow March 16th.

Protections Against Book Banners

With attacks on libraries happening across Illinois, new legislation has been introduced in the Illinois General Assembly to encourage libraries to steel themselves against incoming attacks by creating stronger policy.

“The legislation, which has the backing of Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, would allow the secretary of state’s office to deny state grants to public libraries, including those in schools, that don’t adhere to the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, which holds, among other things, that ‘materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.’
As an alternative, libraries could develop a written policy to ‘prohibit the practice of banning specific books or resources,’ the bill states.”

Ultimately we can’t rely on such legislation, the real protections will come from stronger library communities.

Persepolisgate History

Speaking of book banning, read this fascinating twitter thread written by and featuring #SaveNilesLibrary allies. It details the attempts to ban Persepolis, the graphic novel memoir by Marjane Satrapi. This all happened in 2013 in neighboring Chicago. Included are several citations to articles written about the banning and the resistance that rose up. Great stuff, check it out!

For the People

A new effort called For the People is getting started to protect public libraries against right-wing efforts to privatize and neutralize libraries. There is an event with incoming President of the American Library Association Emily Drabinski coming up on March 21. Here’s a handout they are sharing called: 10 Ways You Can Get Involved in Your Local Library. There are many ways to get involved and we love seeing the people rise up!


Niles Cop Pulls Weapon

The Evanston Round Table reports that a Niles cop employed as a security guard at Evanston Public Library put people in danger. In one year at the Niles Police Department he:

“…pointed his gun at people, failed to follow body camera protocols and gave conflicting stories about the incidents, Niles Police records reveal.”

Dangerous cops avoid taking responsibility for their “misconduct” and get passed around from community to community.


When trying to make sense of contradictions or patterns of outcomes it is often useful to invoke the rule of thumb “POSIWID”. That stands for “the purpose of a system is what it does”. Think about the systems responsible.

Thanks for reading!

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DISPATCH Newsletter February 2023

 Header image that resembles a distressed postcard that reads "Dispatch official newsletter February 2023" with the Niles Coalition logo portrayed as a postage stamp in the lower right hand corner.

Hello friends, welcome back to the DISPATCH! We have more to say than we can squeeze in this month, buckle up!

Black History & Resistance in Niles

February is Black History Month and this year’s theme is Black Resistance. Mayor George Alpogianis read a proclamation in recognition at the recent Niles Village Board of Trustees Meeting.

That got us thinking about our own Black history, here, in Niles. That may sound unexpected to some for a variety of reasons but this holiday was created to bring awareness to Black people in a society that continually invisiblizes them.

For example, did you know that Farm on Franks was the brainchild of Shawn Phillips? In 2013:

“Niles resident Shawn Phillips brought the idea of starting a community garden to Niles park commissioners last month. Phillips said he envisions a garden where residents could be given small beds to grow their own fruits, vegetables or flowers.”

This is the kind of community engagement that inspired us early in our work at the Niles Coalition and Shawn has been helping us understand the needs of our community.

Jabez Patterson is the creative force behind The Library Scoop Podcast of the Niles-Maine District Library. Utilizing his teaching skills and passion for providing engaging and supportive instruction in his roles in Digital Services at NMDL, his contributions were greatly appreciated by patrons and peers. For four years his podcast highlighted the stories of people in our community; episodes featured his interviews with librarians and other workers, patrons, electeds, businesses, and local history. The podcast lives on at the Niles-Maine District Library so be sure to subscribe and catch up on past episodes. Now a Programming Librarian in Adult Services at Oak Park Public Library, Jabez is recognized for his community-forward in-person and virtual programming.

A foundational element of the Niles Coalition is the community-building by Milcah Baraona. Early in our founding we were pleasantly surprised to learn that the Niles Senior Center was cranking out progressive programming already! For example, the Culture Club program Milcah created expanded her work to the broader community for intergenerational events with social & identity topics.

At the last Village of Niles board meeting Trustee Niedermaier reported progress on a Cycling Without Age program which was also a project we were facilitating with Milcah. We were looking forward to a partnership to create events that could bring us all together with our elders. Unfortunately after she brought complaints and a lawsuit for workplace discrimination, she was terminated by the Village of Niles. She is a huge inspiration for us and what was done to Milcah has caused such a great loss to our community.

In our search for more examples of Black history in Niles we reached out to the Niles Historical Society. They also referred us to Milcah’s work and provided additional leads to follow up. They would like to add more to their files and we know people in our community must have more! If you are such a person please reach out to us!

Public Speaking Workshop Recap

Organizer Pam sits on a stage leading a workshop in front of an audience of people in a library conference room.

On February 4th Niles Coalition gave a Public Speaking Workshop. It was attended by around 15 people of all ages who participated enthusiastically. It was a great way to learn or improve public speaking abilities, and was a good outreach opportunity. A number of people asked for the class to be ongoing rather than a one-time event, and plans are in progress to make this a reality.

Niles Senior Center Racism

On Thursday February 2nd the Niles Senior Center held a “murder mystery” luncheon event. Racist symbols were a part of this organized event and photos containing those symbols were posted to Facebook. This is an ongoing pattern for the Niles Senior Center and we have yet to hear a plan on how the Village intends to address this ongoing issue.

Community Relations Commission Update

Community members have been engaging with the Community Relations Commission in good faith with several submitted complaints. Recent history with this commission hasn’t been promising so we are keeping an eye on how they are engaging with the community. The web page was updated with complaint procedures and an online form. What happens to these complaints is still yet to be seen.


#SaveNilesLibrary Horizon

When we first created #SaveNilesLibrary two years ago, getting to the April 2023 election was the goal. In the course of this campaign we learned so much more about this particular struggle. Learning by doing is a crucial piece of organizing and we intentionally made room for it. It is soon time for a refreshed campaign that incorporates this learned knowledge for more impact. The upcoming April election can only offer the possibility of a reprieve. Just enough time to regroup and double-down on protecting our community. Whether or not Joe Makula wins, the motivating factors will remain and we need to grasp them at the root!

More Niles-Maine District Library Board Censorship

On the left stands a woman reading a public comment at a podium, on the right is Trustee Joe Makula shouting her down.

Library board members continue to fail in their duties at what should be boring but productive board meetings. President Carolyn Drblik’s absurd decorum to censor public speech grows seemingly with each meeting. Trustee Makula shouted down our organizer with:

“You’re out of order. Public speaker, you better watch yourself.”

We’ve been here before with our allies at the Citizen Advocacy Center. We will continue to fight against this illegitimate board. You can watch the video here.  Also come see us in person at the next meeting this Wednesday the 15th at 6:30 or catch the live broadcast here. We won’t stand for any more censorship!


CivicLab Set to Illuminate ALL Illinois TIFs

Tax Increment Financing Districts (TIF) were the subject of a resolution recently passed at the Village of Niles board meeting. With growing awareness of the harmful nature of TIFs, this resolution in *support* of TIFs is unfortunate. The experts at CivicLab were recently awarded a grant to examine all the TIFs of Illinois for 2020 as a part of their TIF Illumination Project. We are patiently awaiting the results of their finding for Niles!

Libraries at the End of the World

Emily Drabinski, Incoming President of the American Library Association and ally of our #SaveNilesLibrary campaign is being featured in a fantastic upcoming event. It is called Essential to the Public: Libraries at the End of the World and co-sponsored by Project Nia and The Barnard Center for Research on Women.

Libraries are also under attack by organized extremists who use censorship as a bludgeon against one of the few public institutions still standing. From Florida to California, Michigan to New York, book ban attempts are swiftly followed by efforts to defund the library. As progressives, we must be as organized as they are, putting libraries on the top of our organizing agenda.

This is directly related to our struggle in Niles so this is not one to miss! RSVP here.


Sometimes it’s what you don’t hear about that tells the story. Pay attention to what is *not* said.

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DISPATCH Newsletter January 2023

Header image that resembles a distressed postcard that reads "Dispatch official newsletter January 2022" with the Niles Coalition logo portrayed as a postage stamp in the lower right hand corner.

Hello friends, it’s time once again for our monthly newsletter we call the DISPATCH! Here are quick snippets of some of what’s going down around our community.

D219 Black Student Union Support

On January 10th, anti-racist orgs, parents, and other community members packed the Niles West/North D219 school board room to implore the board to heed the voices of the Black Student Union. These were the demands:

  • Mandatory hate speech training for all staff in the district, so they know how to prevent and respond to hate speech incidents, so they can start healthy conversations, and so they stop reading and using slurs in the classrooms. Students would be part of the training.
  • A mandatory hate speech unit or course for freshmen where students learn the etymology of harmful language.
  • Address the problem of racial discrimination exercised by security and lunch staff or not adequately addressed by security and lunch staff.
  • A concrete plan for recruiting Black staff.
  • A concrete plan for retaining Black staff.
  • The addition of a second equity officer so that one can be dedicated to supporting staff and the other can focus on student support.
  • Ensure Black history is taught throughout the year and goes beyond slavery or well known civil rights heroes.

Video of that meeting can be viewed here with reporting by The Daily Northwestern: Niles parents protest anti-Black racism at D219 meeting. Change is long overdue and there is no excuse for this to be such an issue still!

Public Speaking Workshop

The Niles Coalition is proud to present a Public Speaking Workshop! This is a two-hour interactive class to help you be a better public speaker. Whether it is for public comments, meetings (hint, hint), presentations, interviews, etc. Together we will discuss and practice various tips and techniques to help you clearly and concisely get your message across. All are welcome. We look forward to seeing you there!

Date: Saturday February 4th, 2023
Time: 12pm-2pm
Location: Niles-Maine District Library
6960 W Oakton St, Niles, IL 60714
Meeting Room A

Presenter: Pam Wolff – Pam is a Niles community member and an organizer in the Niles Coalition. She has decades of experience in performing and speaking before audiences and is excited to be able to teach this class.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2023

Yesterday was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. After an extensive campaign of surveillance and harassment by the US government, they finally assassinated Dr. King at the age of 39. That assassination continues to this day as many people who oppose his views now try to co-opt them posthumously. Dr. King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail (video) is a particularly important tool for fighting racism and is as relevant now as the day he wrote it.


The Niles Coalition has repeatedly made these demands of the Niles-Maine District Library board.

  1. Swear in Umair Qadeer
  2. End the malicious hiring freeze
  3. Expedite a contract with the Niles-Maine District Library AFSCME31 union
  4. Trustees Drblik, Schoenfeldt, and Makula must resign immediately

Well we’re happy to report that Umair Qadeer was finally sworn in and that enabled the board to finally set about ending the hiring freeze. Board President Carolyn Drblick along with her cronies Suzanne Schoenfeldt & Joe Makula tried every underhanded trick in the book to stop them but they were easily outmaneuvered and THE HIRING FREEZE IS GONE!

Joe Makula also lost his lawsuit trying to remove another trustee from the board. Read about that here: Judge rejects Niles Library trustee’s legal attempt to unseat another trustee: ‘Brought shame to our board and library’

Now it’s time to support our library’s staff who toiled under this hostile regime for so long, and get our library back!


In the past two years we have learned a lot through engaging in social justice issues in Niles. We have a number of projects on the backburner as we try to build up our capacity. Some things we’re looking at currently are:

  • LGBTQIA+ pride efforts
  • anti-Black racism
  • worker oppression in the Village of Niles
  • youth criminalization
  • police and big data surveillance
  • economic injustice through TIFs

Stay tuned!


Thanks for staying with us because us is all we have.

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DISPATCH Newsletter December 2022

Header image that loos like a distressed postcard that reads "Dispatch official newsletter December 2022" with the Niles Coalition logo portrayed as a postage stamp in the lower right hand corner.

Hello neighbors, it’s time once again for our monthly newsletter we call the DISPATCH! Here are some quick snippets of what’s going down in Niles.

Lincolnwood Library Solidarity Update

The community came together at the latest Lincolnwood Library board meeting to say NO to book bans and anti-LGBTQIA+ bigotry. Niles Coalition organizers showed up and stood together in unity at the podium for a public comment. Organizer Pam Wolff said:

“When you ban or hide or move a book or an activity for LGBTQIA content, you are sending a message to our community that LGBTQIA people don’t matter, aren’t wanted, don’t belong. And when you call us controversial, you send the message that we are lesser, not valued, inhuman.”

You can see the whole video of the meeting here and read more from Caroline Kubzansky at the Chicago Tribune. Stay tuned to Library Defense who organized the response and of course we will report back any updates as well.

Anti-Black Racism at D219

Even after the student-led protest last February, Niles West & Niles North High Schools still have yet to reckon with anti-Black racism in schools. The Black Student Union mobilized an action at the recent D219 school board meeting to raise awareness. They brought two simple proposals to the D219 school board. The first is better recruitment and retention of Black staff. The second is anti-racism training for all students and staff. Several Black students gave testimony to their personal experiences with racism. Supportive students, parents, and community members packed the board room bearing witness to the powerful comments. Enough is enough, it’s time to listen to Black students!

Read more from Sophia Lannoye at Niles West News.


Our local senators and representatives worked to get legislation amended and sent to the governor for his signature. This will ensure that the Secretary of State’s office can finally appoint a qualified 7th trustee to our stymied Niles-Maine District library board. After the Governor signs the bill, Umair Qadeer will be appointed.

Meanwhile, the campaign for the April 2023 election has begun. The Reclaim Our Library slate of pro-library candidates includes Becky Keane, Umair Qadeer, Jason Trunco, and Roberto Botello.

The Save Niles-Maine District Library PAC has asked us to share these steps you can take now to support pro-library candidates:

  1. Go to and click on “Get Involved” to volunteer for things like putting up a yard sign or canvassing.
  2. Every donation, even a few dollars, makes a difference. If you can, please click on “Donate,” to support signs, events, and flyers for the campaign.
  3. “Like” the Facebook page for the PAC and encourage your friends to like the page by sharing to your personal Facebook feed.

In our area there are several local food pantries, including through Niles Township and Maine Township. There’s also a small pantry right in the vestibule of the Niles-Maine District Library, so when you’re packing up your library materials to return to the library you can also bring non-perishable foods to easily donate!


Anti-LBGTQIA+ Attacks

Attacks on LBGTQIA+ people across Illinois continue to rise due to right-wing agitation. Locally we see this at the Lincolnwood Library, and on our very streets in Niles. We’ve received several alarming reports of pride display vandalism. This harassment has no place in our community and we are discussing solutions. LBGTQIA+ people deserve to feel safe and proud here in Niles, let’s make that happen! Please reach out with any ideas, input, and additional reports.

Niles is Under BigData Surveillance
Niles is allowing the installation of “automatic license plate reader” (ALPR) surveillance cameras around Niles. These cameras are owned by billionaire-backed private capital and are problematic in so many ways. To learn more, we are co-hosting an ALPR 101 educational webinar event with experts in this technology.

Panelists include:

Moderated by Arti Walker-Peddakotla of Freedom to Thrive Oak Park & co-hosted by our amazing friends & neighbors at Lucy Parsons Labs!

Please register at this link and bring your questions to this informative event!! <>


Thanks for joining the struggle. Together we can build the community we all deserve.

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[DISPATCH] November 2022

::Community organizations like Niles Coalition fight for social justice. Meanwhile, right-wing forces are encroaching upon our communities. They are spreading misinformation in the guise of “zombie” newspapers. While many saw right through this and voted accordingly in the most recent election, these papers are agitating local bigots. When the Lincolnwood library was under attack, we showed up. In October they came out in bigger numbers. This is a trend we are watching and steeling ourselves to fight. Library solidarity!

::Closer to home we saw a pride flag stolen and vandalized in one of our neighborhoods in Niles. Neighbors have expressed support, and returned the damaged flag after it was found. We will continue to make it clear that we’re united against those sorts of attacks on members of the community.

::We’re happy to report that the Skokie Alliance for Electoral Reform won ALL THREE of their referenda in the recent election! We were early supporters of this effort and were proud to endorse this fight back in April 2022. The out-of-touch Skokie Caucus Party threw everything they had at them to maintain their firm grip of control. They were no match for the diligent organizers of Skokie Alliance for Electoral Reform. Congrats to those AMAZING people!


::Since day zero of our #SaveNilesLibrary campaign we knew the next library board election would be a crucial fight. A lot of our work went towards creating a supportive environment to uplift appropriate candidates. A new political action committee (PAC) has been formed called the Committee to Save Niles-Maine District Library. We know and support these folks who will support the candidates necessary to #SaveNilesLibrary!

We’ve given our web address to the PAC. So now when you visit that url it will go directly to their site where you can learn more about supported candidates, donate much-needed funds, and volunteer!

Candidates endorsed by the PAC will officially announce their campaign for the library board TONIGHT! Come meet the candidates, hear about their vision, and show your support for the campaign.

Where:Niles-Maine District Library

When:Monday, November 14, 6:30pm

You can continue to find information about Niles Coalition’s #SaveNilesLibrary campaign on our website at under the Campaigns menu.

::In October some of our organizers attended the library’s Not So Haunted Open House. We passed out these fliers to spread awareness of this threat to Niles-Maine District Library. We had a blast connecting with hundreds of other attendees who share a love of the library.

the flier we were handing out, organizers dressed up as a mouse, a tree and an air dancer.


::Niles Coalition organizers attended the recent Community Relations Commission (CRC) meeting. We asked that the Commission as well as all other committees in the Village make their meetings more accessible. We suggested a number of improvements. There is ongoing confusion among the commissioners whether the Village will allow the CRC to be what its mission suggests it should be.

::The mayor announced another new political party with a slate of candidates running for the Village of Niles Board of Trustees. We haven’t heard about their platform yet. In neighboring Park Ridge, the League of Women Voters conducted a study on why so few people run for office in the Park Ridge City Council: Rarely Running . If you’re considering running for local office and would like help connecting with like-minded folks please reach out to us at


::Thank you for all your support. Whether it’s fighting to save our public institutions (like the Niles-Maine District Library) or defending the existence of our own community members, we know there is a rich history of successful solutions of the past and present. We are hoping our experiment here in Niles will create the community we all deserve.

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[DISPATCH] October 2022


We’re refreshing our monthly email newsletter, which is now entitled “Dispatch”. This will include updates regarding our campaigns and other social justice concerns in our community. Our team of organizers and allies chat regularly and this is one way we can bring some of that into the broader community. But we’ll keep it short!


Budget rally

If you couldn’t make it our #SaveNilesLibrary rally & budget hearing, we caught that all on video and posted to our Youtube.

So many great speakers and public commenters came out to the Niles-Maine District Library including State Senators Ram Villivalam & Laura Murphy! Unfortunately the anti-library trustees steamrolled an austerity budget over the professional staff-proposed budget that pro-library trustees supported.

Library workers are the heart and soul of our library, this is cruel. We will continue to fight alongside library union AFSCME Council 31 for our library and our community!

Makula vs Jesse White

In our last email, we celebrated the State Librarian’s appointment of Umair Quadeer to the long-vacant library board position. But just hours before the board meeting where swearing-in could have taken place, we all learned that Trustee Joe Makula used a private attorney to sue Jesse White and had requested a temporary restraining order against the swearing-in. We mobilized a quick protest and would like to thank all our community members and allies for showing up against this injustice. Illinois statute requires that a district library board be made up of 7 trustees not 6, and Makula, Drblik and Schoenfeldt are doing everything they can to obstruct normal library operations. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

Trustee Suzanne Schoenfeldt Makes Front Page

Local library supporters who are able to have been arriving early for Niles-Maine District Library board meetings to show support for the library and staff. This is one way we can make sure the anti-library trustees experience firsthand the angst they are causing. In September, after being confronted by a middle-schooler on her way into the library board meeting, Trustee Schoenfeldt had to hang her head in shame. A moment captured by a reporter for the Niles Herald-Spectator.

The front page of the paper version of the September 29th Niles Herald-Spectator featuring an image of Suzanne Schoenfeldt walking into the library.

Next Board Meeting

We attend every Niles-Maine District Library board meeting and encourage community members to join us! The next meeting is: Wednesday October 19th, 6PM protest outside, 6:30pm public comment. If you would like more information or assistance in participation please reach out to us at <> or send a message at <>


Criminalization in Niles

Community members were arrested by Niles Police this month and publicized in news outlets and social media:

– A young student at the Niles Teen Center Fall Dance Party 2022 on October 8th made the mistake of bringing a knife and was charged with “aggravated assault” by Niles police. That is an alarming way to treat our youth.

– A few days later, a community member was arrested by Niles police after a police dog indicated the odor of narcotics. What police found instead was cannabis, cash, and guns. Ironically a few blocks away, Rise dispensary also sells cannabis with armed guards.

Turning a person into a disposable criminal is a process called “criminalization”. It subjects them to a punishment system that comes at a great toll to our community so we have many concerns.

Some resources:

Crime Reporting: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Why criminalization is not the answer by Vera Institute for Justice

Profit-minded police exploit K-9 partners, The Salt Lake Tribune

Fake News-papers

A pretend newspaper full of attacks on transgender youth and public schools, branded as “North Cook News”, started showing up in Niles mailboxes. These have been mailed to homes throughout the Chicagoland area in the guise as a newspaper. It’s conservative propaganda peddling bigoted myths.

2023 Elections

We’ve been hearing from community members who are considering running for local board positions on the April ballot. If you or someone you know is considering running and would like to connect with others please email us at <> or send a message at <>


Thank you for your interest in the Niles-Maine District Library and social justice issues in and around the Niles community. We are finding many people with an appetite for creating progressive communities. It is crucial work for the sake of our future!

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[EMAIL] In It To Win It

A blue painted brick wall with the words In It To Win It overlaid.

Hello dear community,

We are delighted to announce some major progress as a result of our relentless organizing efforts for change.

Our #SaveNilesLibrary campaign has just hit a major milestone that shifts the balance of power. And it’s all because of YOU! Our petition to ask State Librarian Jesse White to appoint a qualified Niles-Maine District Library board trustee was delivered! It was a great success that gathered more than five hundred signatures and many wonderful personal messages from supporters. The community made it clear that we wanted a qualified candidate and because of this…

The Illinois Secretary of State appointed Umair Qadeer to the Niles-Maine District Library board!

All year we have been pleading with Library Board President Carolyn Drblik to appoint a qualified candidate to the seat Olivia Hanusiak abandoned. When it was apparent the president was ignoring the community we got busy appealing to higher governing bodies and they listened!

Umair Qadeer was previously a Niles-Maine District Library board trustee but resigned due to an overlooked technicality regarding residency. Now that it’s no longer an issue we’re happy to see him continue serving as an advocate of the library (as one would expect any trustee to be). He will also be the only member of the board from the unincorporated Maine Township part of the library district and the only South Asian American on the board.

The swearing-in for this appointment is happening at the September 21st meeting just days before the upcoming budget hearing! Community members have continued to come out and make public comments; if you’re able to make it to the meeting it’s at 6:30pm, or if you’re unable to attend and would like to have your comment read at the meeting you can email us at .

Join us for the #SaveNilesLibrary Budget Hearing Rally

We’re organizing a rally for Monday September 26 just before the budget hearing. Now that we have a majority of pro-library trustees willing to listen to the needs of the community please help us solidify a major win for our library so we can end the cruel hiring freeze and secure much-needed programs and hours of operation that our community deserves! Details here.

New Niles Community Relations Commission

Congrats and welcome to the new commissioners appointed to the Community Relations Commission! It’s now finally official as the first meeting of this expanded commission happened last week September 14th. This is the mission:

“The purpose of the Community Relations Commission shall be to foster and promote understanding, mutual respect, cooperation and positive relations between and among all residents of the Village of Niles regardless of race, color, sexual orientation, religion, gender, age, disability, national origin or ancestry to the end that a sense of shared community among residents is strengthened, the value of each individual is affirmed and the constitutional rights of all are realized. The commission shall promote adequate housing for all the community’s people, to create and/or maintain sound viable neighborhoods, to meet the needs for housing and to expand housing opportunities for all members of the community. The Commission will also assist in the development of public information and related communication programs to enhance the quality of life for all village residents.”

The Niles Coalition mobilized to raise concerns about Commissioner Carolyn Drblik’s participation in the attack on our Niles-Maine District Library. Clearly a conflict of interest in community relations. Thankfully, Carolyn Drblik is no longer a commissioner. We hope this new commission steps in to help make things right but it will still require engagement from our community. We’re following along and we hope you do too!

#NotInMyTown Update

We have still not heard back from the Park Ridge city council regarding our pleas for healing in the community. Chicago Police Sergeant Michael Vitellaro was recently charged with two felony counts but we know the history of such approaches to community healing will not be sufficient. We are considering a coalition effort around this issue as we speak to more and more community stakeholders. Stay tuned!

Skokie Alliance for Electoral Reform

In April we endorsed the Skokie Alliance for Electoral Reform and they were just getting started to collect signatures. Their team of volunteers hit the streets all summer and successfully collected a whopping 12,000 signatures to get the referendums on the November 8th ballot. CONGRATULATIONS! The work isn’t over yet, now they have to get out the vote and continue the campaign to educate the community about why all three referendums are so important for democracy in Skokie. If you would like to volunteer in solidarity they would be happy to have you. Join them for the upcoming town hall event!

Library Solidarity

Libraries around the country have been under attack. Locally, an attempt at book-banning in Park Ridge this spring was shut down by the community. Recently the Downers Grove library was targeted for hosting a drag queen bingo event. Close to home in Lincolnwood this week we joined local commenters in support of the LGBTQIA+ community and the library to counter a book-banning attempt (during national Banned Books Week no less). It turns out to #SaveNilesLibrary we’re going to have to save them all!

Whew, thanks for reading, and thanks for your messages of support. We’re glad you’re here with us. Please reach out if you have any questions about Niles Coalition. See you at the library!

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[EMAIL] We Got Us

Dear Community,

#NotInMyTown Orange Ribbons

In our previous email we expressed our solidarity with Park Ridge youth. A Chicago cop attacked a 14 year old and walked away free and uncharged. To this day, 6 weeks later, the community is still left wondering what police actually do if not the most basic act of protection.

It was the brave acts of bystanders who saved this victim from further brutality and it’s become clear that “we must protect us.” Historically marginalized groups have been building systems of mutual aid to protect themselves when the authorities would not. We need to start learning from these traditions to build a society that works for everyone, not just the privileged few.

To keep up with the campaign follow the #NotInMyTown campaign website and consider showing solidarity by putting up orange ribbons in your neighborhood. We’ll certainly keep an eye on this situation and report back any updates.

Several trees with orange ribbons attached.

Labor History Event at Niles-Maine District Library

Momentum is building across the country. Workers are demanding better pay and working conditions, and are forming unions to foment these rights. In the Niles-Maine library district our library staff are standing up to defend their rights while under constant assault.

Join us in solidarity with the Niles-Maine District Library Employees Union at this talk where we’ll all learn more about historical events and people who made the labor movement strong. Together we can use their inspiring vision to continue improving our community.

The Story of America Through the Lens of Labor History

Thursday, September 1, 6-8pm

Niles-Maine District Library Commons Meeting Room A&B

6960 W. Oakton Street, Niles, IL

A flier for the labor history event at Niles-Maine District Library

Niles-Maine Library Workers Letter to Editor

Earlier this month, unionized workers at the Niles-Maine District Library sent a dire letter to the editor of the Journal & Topics newspaper. They spoke of how the lack of staff has been decimating the capacity of the library. The callousness of Board President Carolyn Drblik and trustees Schoenfeldt, and Makula are taking their toll. They ask:

“Is their ultimate goal to close the library?”

A letter to the editor from the Niles-Maine District Library union published in Journal & Topics

If you don’t have subscriptions to local newspapers, Niles-Maine District Library cardholders can read electronic versions of our local newspapers for free with a library card number using the links toward the bottom of this page:

Secretary of State Appointment – get ready for action

Remember that letter-writing campaign you helped with last year? Well it’s partly because of our collective action that new legislation was passed to allow intervention by the State Librarian. This allows an appointment to fill a vacancy if a library board refuses to do so for more than 90 days. Library board president Carolyn Drblik has allowed a board seat to remain empty for more than 300 days! The board hasn’t been properly representing the community for nearly a year and it’s Carolyn Drblik’s responsibility to make sure the board is operating appropriately. This will only be a Band-Aid on the larger problem that allowed this to happen, but we will continue utilizing every avenue for justice.

Library Board Meeting

The next Niles-Maine District Library board meeting is TODAY Wednesday 8/17 at 6:30 pm, and a discussion and vote on the tentative budget is on the agenda. Community members who are able to do so have been coming out to make public comments, we hope to see you there, or if you aren’t able to attend you can email the board at and if you’d like help getting your comment read at the meeting email us at

Please continue to reach out to us with your ideas, and keep sharing information about local efforts so we can support the work folks are doing to create the community that we strive for.

Thanks for reading!

Email List

[EMAIL] Act Local

When looking for ways that we can make the change we want to see, it’s important to think local. When we see bad news at a national or global scale, it’s easy to feel like there’s nothing we can do or the problems are too big to take on. But at the local level, even a few people can have a big impact. Local elections are decided by just a handful of votes, politicians are moved by a handful of letters, and we can change minds by talking to our neighbors. By planting the seeds of a better world in our own community, we build momentum for the changes we want to see. Local change is the path to building national power.


July began the new fiscal year for the Niles-Maine District Library, and the discussions of budgets are ongoing. In 2021 newly elected library board members and Board President Drblik proposed and passed drastic budget cuts, and for 2022-2023 Joe Makula’s error-ridden proposed budget would cut another 14% from a library already spread thin. Throughout this year’s budget discussions the library management, staff, and executive director have pleaded for increased staffing. Currently the library is working under a year-long hiring freeze and has lost over 30% of the trained staff. Makula, Schoenfeldt, and Drblik want to make this level of understaffing permanent, by cutting the open positions out of the budget. Trustees Keane, Olsen, and Rozanski proposed an alternate budget, with sufficient funds for hiring needed staff, a well-deserved cost of living increase for current staff, and restoring program and book budgets. The difference between the proposed budgets is only about $17 per resident, but the impact on the programming and services available to the community would be significant. Still, Makula and his cohorts are not willing to budge.

There is another meeting this Wednesday– Niles-Maine District Library Board Meeting – 6:30 PM July 20, 2022, 6960 Oakton Street. If you are able to make a public comment this is an opportunity to show support and help defend our community’s valuable resource and hardworking library staff against these draconian budget cuts.

Community Relations Commission

For months, community members sent letters and made public comments requesting that commissioner Carolyn Drblik be held accountable for the harm she has done in her role as President of the Niles-Maine District Library board of trustees. She refused to respond and was finally removed from the Village of Niles’ Community Relations Commission. While new commissioners have been named, it’s mid-July and there has still not been a single meeting of the Community Relations Commission in 2022, despite the requirement that they meet at least once quarterly. We’ve also still never been able to engage with this commission regarding the Village’s response to antisemitic propaganda that was distributed throughout the community. An organizer asked questions on behalf of residents we’ve been hearing from, wanting to know about Village policies on how employees should respond to acts of hate, and whether Village staff and elected officials receive training to help them identify acts of hate and discrimination. The Village Manager asked that she make FOIA requests instead. We are watching to see if the Community Relations Commission will begin following through on their stated mission and do the work that commissioners and Village staff can do to make this community more welcoming and just for all.

Neighbors United Against Hate

A Neighbors United Against Hate campaign page has been added to our website, so you can easily download and print window signs for your and your neighbors’ homes and businesses

Solidarity with the youth of Park Ridge

On July 1st an off-duty Chicago Police Sergeant pushed his knee into a Park Ridge teen’s back to hold him down. A Niles Coalition organizer delivered a statement to the City Council at their July 5th meeting, expressing our solidarity with the youth of Park Ridge and listing three recommendations:

  1. Create a task force led by experts in prosocial transformative justice to help the community heal from this traumatic event while addressing the victims of this violence and the person who caused it.

  2. Shift funds towards a systemic solution as recommended by this transformative justice task force.

  3. Commend the brave bystanders who intervened. Encourage this behavior by making available bystander intervention training available for everybody in Park Ridge.

Please continue to reach out to us with your ideas, and keep sharing information about local efforts so we can support the work folks are doing to create the community that we strive for.

Thanks for reading!