Wednesday, August 8, 2012

How Do I Love Libraries…Let Me Count The Ways…

The title isn’t exactly what I’m going to write about, but it felt more creative than “A Visit to Chicago Public Libraries”!

As you might already know, when I travel, I love experiencing new places through their libraries.  In the next six months I hope to be able to visit libraries in Oregon, Illinois (again), New Mexico, California, and South Dakota.  I recently visited an old college friend who lives smack in the middle of The Loop in downtown Chicago.  It’s a fabulous location for a visitor to start from…especially considering how many libraries there are within a few miles walking distance!

My first stop was the Harold Washington Library Center downtown.  Wow.  I’m pretty sure the entryway I came in through had more square footage than the Redmond library!  The building opened in 1991 and is a whopping 756,640 square feet.  (As soon as I confirm the square footage of the Redmond library, I’ll tell you how many times bigger than Redmond that is!).  I picked up the self-guided tour brochure at the reference desk in the lobby (atrium? foyer? rotunda?  lobby doesn’t do the space any justice) and off I went to explore the nine floors.

I won’t bore you with the play by play of my visit to each floor, but will mention a few interesting spaces I saw.  Amanda, Redmond’s Teen Librarian, had recommended “The Book Thief” to me several months ago.  I read it, thought it was fabulous, and was delighted to see it was the One Book, One Chicago selection featured in The Popular Library on the first floor.

One Book, One Chicago

I loved the display of new library card holders in the Thomas Hughes Children’s Library on the 2nd floor! The namesake of this section of the library did a really cool thing after the 1871 Chicago Fire.

Thomas Hughes Children's Library in Chicago

And…we’ll jump all the way up to the 9th floor into the Winter Garden.  This is a shot looking up through the 100+ foot glass ceilings and the beautiful murals on the south side of the garden. It’s a marvelous space available for private events.

Winter Garden


But wait, there’s even more library in store for the day!  In the early evening, we headed over to The Newberry and their annual book fair.  Alas, I only have the one sad photo of the trip below…I spent too much time perusing old cookbooks at the fair so didn’t spend too much time in the other parts of the building and completely neglected to take more pictures.  I did pick up an awesome 1970s crockpot cookbook though! It’s a good thing I’ll be back in Chicago in September and might have another shot at visiting. I’m hoping to visit the Pritzker Military Library on that trip too!

Newberry Book Fair


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