Spending time in a neighborhood branch library always makes me feel like I am getting a real look at daily life in a place and so, for my last library visit in Chicago, I took a short bus ride away from downtown to pay a visit to the West Town branch library. After a quick slice of delicious pie Hoosier Mama’s pie shop – delicious, by the way – I headed across the street to the library.
Located on the bottom floor of a multi-story building, the library’s entrance almost blends in with the offices surrounding it.
(Don’t let this picture fool you, there was a pretty decent sized crowd at the library for the middle of the day.)
The computers, displays, and a colorful children’s section definitely gave the interior a vibrant and relaxed neighborhood feel.
While this was clearly a neighborhood branch, neighborhoods in Chicago are big and diverse enough that I didn’t feel at all out of place settling down for a few minutes to read and check the internet. I also took a couple of minutes to browse the shelves and I was struck by the foreign language materials, particularly the size of the Polish language collection.
It wasn’t until later, after researching the neighborhood, that I learned that much of what is now the West Town neighborhood used to be part of Chicago’s Polish downtown. Every time I visit a library, I learn something new about the community that it serves, but it was awesome to see the process reflected!
For more information about the West Town Branch of the Chicago Public Library, visit http://www.chipublib.org/branch/details/library/west-town/