Skip to main content

Harold Washington Library: Makin' Chicago look good

The Harold Washington branch of the Chicago Public Library is a gleaming beacon of libraryness. It doesn't actually gleam because it is made of STATELY BRICK, but you get it. You get it.

the windows kind of gleam...

A city's main library reflects the city. Where its priorities are, and how much of a real city it actually is, as opposed to being just a loose collection of skyscrapers and 7-11s. Harold Washington takes up an entire city block in the Loop, which is part of Chicago's valuable downtown. It's six block from the Sears Tower, five blocks from Millennium Park, and two blocks from Grant Park. It's right off the Blue, Red, Brown, Orange, Pink, and Purple (in rush hour) Lines. AND IT HAS ESCALATORS.


Coming from my small town, two-floor library to eight levels of bookish bliss was one of the best parts of the move to Chicago. I'm STILL not over the escalators. Feel like seeing the library sights while not exercising TOO much? Escalator's got you covered. Start on Three with the Information Center and Innovation Lab (THERE IS 3-D PRINTING THERE), and work your way up past Government Publications on Five (are all the reading areas filled up on Seven? no one's on Five, my friend), Social Science and History on Six, Literature & Language on Seven, and Visual & Performing Arts on Eight, which is, ding ding, the last stop.

Visual & Performing Arts also has practice rooms. Practice rooms! For free! "It's 6 o'clock; where can I possibly practice my tuba without bothering the neighbors?--The LIBRARY? What? Tell me this is no phantasm or quixotic dream from which I shall soon awake! Free practice rooms -- Oh, that I should be alive in such times as these!"

Daleks could play the tuba and
be allowed library cards; you don't know

I have neglected Nine (Special Collections Exhibits), because the escalator doesn't go there and it is a mysterious place to me, but I shall be going rightforth and forthwith, because they have a Vivian Maier exhibit now! Vivian Maier! Recently discovered Chicago photographer of fantasticness! I care about basically zero photographers, because my proclivities do not bend that way, but even I can tell that Vivian Maier was a genius at capturing humanity on film. And now I can go look at her photographs for free, because the public library is a wonderful creation and God bless you, Benjamin Franklin.

Also escalator-inaccessible is the first floor, walk into it from outside. This has the Popular Library, which is where your hold items are conveniently kept. No going up to Three for you, Busy Businessperson! In and out. Bam. It also has something that's been newly created since my move to Chicago: YOUmedia. It's a space on the first floor for teens and young adults, and it encourages them to be creative and gives them a safe place to hang out after school and I am SO PRO THIS PLACE. 

Can you marry a library system? Hopefully.

On the lower level is an auditorium for special events. I've seen Sarah Vowell and, if you will all remember, TREMENDOUSLY UNEXPECTEDLY, Emma Donoghue. 

I know you're all thinking 'What? How can this all be in one building?' BUT IT CAN, MY FRIENDS. At Van Buren and State. And it is the best.


Popular posts from this blog

Harry Potter 2013 Readalong Signup Post of Amazingness and Jollity

Okay, people. Here it is. Where you sign up to read the entire Harry Potter series (or to reminisce fondly), starting January 2013, assuming we all survive the Mayan apocalypse. I don't think I'm even going to get to Tina and Bette's reunion on The L Word until after Christmas, so here's hopin'.

You guys know how this works. Sign up if you want to. If you're new to the blog, know that we are mostly not going to take this seriously. And when we do take it seriously, it's going to be all Monty Python quotes when we disagree on something like the other person's opinion on Draco Malfoy. So be prepared for your parents being likened to hamsters.

If you want to write lengthy, heartfelt essays, that is SWELL. But this is maybe not the readalong for you. It's gonna be more posts with this sort of thing:

We're starting Sorceror's/Philosopher's Stone January 4th. Posts will be on Fridays. The first post will be some sort of hilarious/awesome que…

How to Build a Girl Introductory Post, which is full of wonderful things you probably want to read

Acclaimed (in England mostly) lady Caitlin Moran has a novel coming out. A NOVEL. Where before she has primarily stuck to essays. Curious as we obviously were about this, I and a group of bloggers are having a READALONG of said novel, probably rife with spoilers (maybe they don't really matter for this book, though, so you should totally still read my posts). This is all hosted/cared for/lovingly nursed to health by Emily at As the Crowe Flies (and Reads) because she has a lovely fancy job at an actual bookshop (Odyssey Books, where you can in fact pre-order this book and then feel delightful about yourself for helping an independent store). Emily and I have negotiated the wonders of Sri Lankan cuisine and wandered the Javits Center together. Would that I could drink with her more often than I have.

INTRODUCTION-wise (I might've tipped back a little something this evening, thus the constant asides), I am Alice. I enjoy the Pleistocene era of megafauna and drinking Shirley Templ…

A synonym for 'Neanderthal' is 'boorish,' which just isn't very nice

So this article came out, which isn't really groundbreaking at all, but it happens to have been published the day after I watched part of the NOVA special "Becoming Human," so it's been on my brain anyway.

I was checking out a book a while ago called Cro-Magnon: How the Ice Age Gave Birth to the First Modern Humans, and it was all "Oh dude, our ancestors probably didn't even LOOK at Neanderthals. No way. 'Cause they would've been like, RIDICULOUSLY ugly."

This book was published in 2010. And what came out this year? DNA Shows Humans Found Non-Humans Irresistible

That's right. Your lady ancestor, at some point, sidled up to a Neanderthal gentleman and said "Hey. How's it goin'?

Because all non-Africans ('cause the Africans stayed put instead of traipsing around becoming the Don Juans of prehistoric Europe) have 1-4% Neanderthal DNA. So the above scenario DEFINITELY happened. Which is disheartening NOT because of my huge Neanderth…