Harold Washington Library Center
Harold Washington Library Center Events
Harold Washington Library Center Information
Mon-Thu, 9am-9pm; Fri-Sat, 9am-5pm; Sun, 1pm-5pm
When to Go:
The Harold Washington Library provides free WiFi internet service to visitors.
- On the second floor of the Harold Washington Library Center you'll find the Thomas Hughes Children's Library, which houses the largest collection of children's books in the city.
- Work by the acclaimed Polish sculptor Jerzy Kenar can be found on the seventh floor of the Harold Washington Library Chicago.
- In 1993, the roof of the library was ornamented with seven large, painted aluminum acroteria designed by Kent Bloomer with owl figures by Raymond Kaskey.
400 S State St
Chicago, IL 60605
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The Harold Washington Library Center is the Largest Public Library in the World
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Features: The Harold Washington Library Center is located at State Street and Congress Parkway. The building is neo-classical, with its design using elements of ancient Greek and Roman structures. The 756,640 square foot library opened October 7, 1991, and appeared in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest public library building in the world.
From the center of the lobby, both the lower level complex lobby and the second floor are visible. On the north wall of the main lobby is a mosaic mural by Jacob Lawrence entitled Events in the Life of Harold Washington. This mural depicts many of the former Chicago mayor's accomplishments as a Civilian Conservation Corps worker, a soldier, a lawyer, a U.S. Congressman, and Mayor of Chicago.
Located at the State Street entrance is the Popular Library. This department features current general titles from bestselling thrillers to biographies. It is also the Harold Washington Library Center’s location for audiovisual materials including thousands of non-fiction audio books on both cassette and compact disc, educational and entertainment videos, DVDs, and music CDs. The walkway above the main lobby is a gallery of artwork by both emerging and established Chicago painters.
The third floor contains the General Information Services Division, newspapers from every U.S. state and from foreign countries, telephone directories from the U.S. and abroad, periodicals and encyclopedias. On the fourth floor you'll find the Business/Science/Technology Division, the Business Information Center, the Science/Technology Information Center, the Electronic Resource Center and the Copy Center. The fifth floor contains social sciences periodicals and microforms, the Computer Connection (offering free computer use, access to the Internet and laser printers), the Talking Book Center for patrons with visual or physical disability affecting ability to read standard print, the Government Publications Department and the Municipal Reference Collection.
The sixth floor is home to the Social Sciences Division book collection and the seventh floor houses the Literature and Language Division. The eighth floor contains the Visual and Performing Arts Division, including the Art Information Center and the Music Information Center. Finally, the ninth floor of the Harold Washing Library Chicago features the Winter Garden. The Library also features a 385-seat auditorium, and exhibit hall, a video theater and meeting rooms within its lower level.
Why We Go: The Harold Washington Library Center Chicago is an iconic building in Chicago. Its post-modern design is unbelievably beautiful, and everybody must visit the biggest public library in the world when they have the opportunity. It is the perfect place to take a break from the rushed life of a traveler and relax with a good book.
- Free Tours: The Harold Washington Library offers free tours, but you must call ahead of time to reserve a spot.
- Collections: The special collections and libraries withing the Harold Washington Library Center are immense to say the least, and have something to match everyone's taste. The Thomas Hughes Children's Library is great for kids.
- Architecture: The unique design of the Harold Washington Library Chicago is a must see for anyone who loves ancient Greek and Roman architecture.
Inside Knowledge: After the refurbishment of the Chicago Cultural Center in 1977, where the central library had been housed, much of the library's collection was placed into storage, and stayed there until the Harold Washington Library opened in 1991.
Do's and Don'ts:
- Do Bring Your Computer: The Harold Washington Library Center offers free WiFi, so if you need someplace in the Loop for Internet access, this is the perfect place to go.
- Do Bring Kids: The enormous children's library is perfect for your kids. Just make sure you don't lose them in one of the largest libraries in the world.
- Don't Rush: Take your time when browsing around the Harold Washington Library Center. You don't want to miss out on all that it has to offer from literature to local artwork, and beautiful views.
- Don't Forget to Check Their Website: The library hosts many special events, which can be viewed on their website and are usually free. Also, if you want a free tour of the library, you can call and reserve your place to experience the grandeur of this amazing Chicago library.