Sunday, May 22, 2016

Chicago & the Harold Washington Library




 

I was in Chicago last week -- not for BEA, sadly, but for another exciting event that I greatly enjoyed -- but of course I had to take time to head to the closest library for a little busman's holiday.


  


The closest library happened to be the glorious Harold Washington Library, newly built in 1991 but looking as if it has always been there. In fact, one of the employees told us, when we asked about what refurbishments had been done, "It was built from the ground up, Ma'am" - and went on to explain that the library sat on what had been a parking lot. This was a security guard who was so enthused about his library that he told us who the architect was, where they got the inspiration for the design, and the sources of many of the materials (from other buildings nearby). It was great!







The library was gorgeous, with many elements from the past incorporated to give it a solid presence. It fits right in with all of the other fascinating architecture in the South Loop. And yet it also stands out, with great presence.




 



As a librarian, I was fascinated by the 'popular library' on the main floor, a section to just pop in and grab the latest and hottest titles. The periodicals and public computers were on the 3rd floor, and I made use of the computers - interesting being on the other side of the counter for a change.

There was a stunning art piece in the stairwell of the 3rd floor, a Vietnam war memorial consisting of dog tags with the names of every person who had died there. The person I was with took the time to read the installation info while I was on the computer, so we found out that this was the only monument in the US besides the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington to include all those names. It was an affecting artwork.

 

Looking up from the main floor through the stairwell to the 3rd floor
In fact, there is a lot of art in the library, and even incorporated into the building itself. There were some displays of art journals and of  "tiny houses" which I thought were lovely.

  

 

my favourite tiny house
 We went up the the atrium on the 10th floor, which is gorgeous. It was being set up for a special event, and we were told that between May and November there are special events constantly, whether library events or rentals for weddings and such. What a beautiful space it would be to hold an event!

 

 


I chatted a little with some of the staff about library procedures and their still present card catalogue in the arts section - it is mainly used as a display space now :) I also peeked it to their MakerLab but didn't take any photos as there were people using it - it was not a huge space but looked like there
was a lot going on.

I enjoyed visiting this library, and found all the staff friendly and forthcoming in reply to my questions. I'm glad it was near to my hotel and I had the chance to drop in. Other libraries are always so interesting.

This one was extra special because of the stunning building itself. I couldn't stop looking around at everything - it's very impressive. I'll leave you with some of the amazing historically influenced details.










  



11 comments:

  1. Excellent review and so lovely to see.. Thank you for sharing. ps/ The atrium was my favourite! :)

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    1. It was so gorgeous! I can't even imagine having that kind of space available to use in a library.

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  2. Thanks for sharing these wonderful photos. It is a pleasure to visit new to us libraries. The Harold Washington Library in Chicago is an impressive place!

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    1. It was really, really impressive. Such a showpiece, but also a working space.

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  3. Great photos! Thank you for sharing.

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  4. So awesome and thanks for sharing. Impressive what they've done in a new library. The new library in Halifax is also wonderful and really meant to be a community center downtown. So much technology, and art.

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    1. Yes, my dream is to visit the Halifax library too! All the buzz makes it sounds so fantastic :)

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  5. You could blow me over with a feather when I read that this is a new building. They did a fantastic job of making it look like it belongs to old Chicago!

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    1. We couldn't believe it either! They did a stunning job, inside and out, with making it look like an historical building -- but with all the latest updates too. It was stunning.

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  6. What a fantastic building. Thanks for sharing the photos.

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Thanks for stopping by ~ I hope you will leave your comments and reflections to let me know what you think!