Libraries I Love: Harold Washington Library Center – Chicago Public Library

In honor of my recent trip to ALA Annual in Chicago, this edition of Libraries I Love features the main branch of the Chicago Public Library: the Harold Washington Library Center. Located just outside the loop in the heart of the city, the Harold Washington is a lovely central branch that I used to take the train down to when I lived in Chicago. Here are the top 10 reasons you should definitely check it out if you find yourself in the city:

  1. It always provided me with a lovely place to study; with floor after floor of books, computers, and study carrels, the Harold Washington is the place to study/read/learn in downtown Chicago.
  2. With over 5 million volumes, the Chicago Public Library is the 9th largest public library in the country (by volumes); thus, there is (presumably) something for everyone!
  3. The building is gigantic and gorgeous! I know some people don’t like it, but from the first time I saw the Harold Washington I was in awe of its impressive size and lovely facade.
    So lovely! (Image source: Wikipedia)
    So lovely! (Image source: Wikipedia)


  4. Perched on top of the building are awesome owls sculptures! Owls are my favorite library-related animal…
    Awesome library guardians! (Image Source: Wikipedia)
    Awesome library guardians! (Image source: Wikipedia)


  5. Harold Washington, as well as other branches, feature a number of different Special Collections, including Civil War materials, a Chicago theater collections, and children’s books published in Chicago.
  6. Once you’re a card-carrying member, there are a number of fabulous online resources that you can access from anywhere via the library’s website. This came in handy for me when I was studying at the Newberry, as the Chicago Public Library had access to digitized newspapers that I couldn’t find online anywhere else. Really helped when it came to my writing, as thoughts sometimes flow outside the 9-5 schedule of many institutions…
  7. On the 9th floor of the library there is a lovely Winter Garden that has a wall of windows and year-round greenery! Perfect for those cold winter months when you need some sun & plant therapy.

    I love an indoor space full of windows, especially in a library. (Image source: Wikipedia)
    I love an indoor space full of windows, especially in a library. (Image source: Wikipedia)
  8. Escalators galore! I was so surprised to find that the numerous floors are connected by a maze of escalators! Makes for a fun and less strenuous trip to the giant library.
  9. The librarians are very friendly! While I was only a frequent patron for about 4 months, all of my interactions were very pleasant, including the time that a staff member offered to help me use a microfilm reader (even though, psssh, I am obviously a microfilm pro).
  10. With over 70 other branch locations, if you don’t like Harold Washington (for whatever reason), you can certainly find another part of the Chicago Public Library to love.

To visit the Harold Washington Library Center:

400 S. State Street
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 747-4300

Hours: Monday-Thursday, 10AM-8PM; Friday & Saturday, 10AM-4PM; Sunday, 2-4PM


2 thoughts on “Libraries I Love: Harold Washington Library Center – Chicago Public Library

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