Chicago, IL -- Public Library -- August 8, 2007

At the Chicago Public Library, talking with their Press Secretary, who grew up with the summer reading program at the Edgebrook branch! She’s pointing to it on the picture of all the branches of the public library in Chicago….and there are a lot of them. Since 1989, when Mayor Richard Daley took office, he has added 52 libraries to the Chicago Public Library system and has said that libraries are the heart of community. Their library even has a chess club and passes to museums and concert series that can be checked out!

This summer the reading program is partnering with the Chicago History Museum and, for the first time, adults are reading the same topic as the kids in their own program. At the end of the summer there will be a party at the museum.

The regional city libraries are open seven days a week and, Monday through Thursday, the Central Library is open until 9pm. If you miss a train, she said, you can come and use the wireless, in beautiful surroundings, like the winter garden on the top floors, among the olive trees.

What else makes their library unique? At the Center Library they house a blues archive and have a blues museum. And, there are practice rooms! We passed by one gentleman playing the piano who, she said, puts on a hat and suit and comes down and practices every morning. He was a blues musician…and still is.

When the library was originally built it had more shelf space than any other library. Where did it get its start? The origin is amusing--when Chicago had its great fire, the people of England donated books to help them rebuild their library. The irony of it, though, was that Chicago didn’t have a library before the fire. Among the books--volumes that Queen Victoria signed herself!

What’s she (Margaret, the Press Secretary, not Queen Victoria) reading right now? She can’t say. It’s the book that One Book One Chicago will be reading next and the mayor has yet to announce it!

Thank you for the lovely tour!

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