Chicago Public Library: Harold Washington Library Center Part 2- 6/28/13

Last time I wrote about the Harold Washington Library I was telling you about their exciting new maker spaces.  Now for the rest of the library!

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After visiting the library’s new maker spaces, I made my way to the Children’s section on the second floor.  This area was definitely more old school – mostly just a large collection of children’s books – but I enjoyed all of the old and new library posters on the walls, the staff pics, hand filled-in library card sign up wall, and the baskets on wheels to help patrons who (like me) couldn’t help but check out too many books!

After leaving the children’s room I explored the research floors of the library which had a decidedly academic ambiance.

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I was impressed by the sheer volume of the collections and especially by the music.  I wish I had had more time (weeks? months? years?) to spend holed up listening to all of the old records!

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Instead, I moved on through the floors stopping here and there to check out the interesting art that is scattered in the stairwells, amidst the stacks, and in special display areas throughout the library.  There is so much art, in fact, that the library hosts special tours to show it all off!

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Some other highlights were: a display chronicling the construction of the library building its self that included many lovely architectural models,

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interesting displays, and this Not Best Sellers shelf!  What an awesome way to highlight less-popular but still excellent titles!

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Finally, after TONS of exploring (wherein I’m sure I only saw a fraction of what the library has to offer…), I made it to the top floor.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I certainly was not prepared for this:

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There was only one person in this huge space when I visited, which seemed like a shame as it is truly lovely.  At one end this is the entrance to the library’s museum space where I learned more about past city mayors and checked out a lovely exhibit of art books (sorry, no photos) and at the other is the entrance to additional meeting rooms and event spaces through one of which I found an awesome mural.

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In all, visiting the Harold Washington Library was an overwhelming experience.  Not everything about the library was perfect, but if you’re planning to visit Chicago, I would add a stop by this massive, public institution to your list.

For more information about the library, visit

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