Harold Washington Library Center
Thomas Hughes Children's Library
The Thomas Hughes Children’s Library offers a warm and inviting place for children and their families to explore the largest collection of children’s books in Chicago. There are child-sized chairs and tables, a computer center, a parent center, a children’s program room and interesting displays. Plus, a Storybook Dollhouse. How many of the more than 70 clues in the dollhouse can you identify with a children’s story, poem or nursery rhyme?
The Library staff is dedicated to providing the best collection and service to children from infancy through age 14. Children’s librarians can help children and adults select books for special needs. They are also ready to give suggestions on good reads for children and good read-alouds for parents.
Harold Washington Library Center
400 S. State Street
Chicago, IL 60605
The Children’s Library contains a collection of more than 100,000 volumes, including picture books, easy readers, classics, contemporary fiction, informational books, science project books, large-print books, reference materials for research projects, books in world languages, special collections of award-winning books, popular paperbacks and a small parenting collection.
A strong reference collection for adults includes books on children’s literature, bibliographies, books on children and reading, books on storytelling, and a strong collection of folk and fairy tales. The Children’s Library also subscribes to many periodicals, including children’s magazines and professional journals.
The Children’s Library has four dedicated computers for searching the online catalog and research resources, and 16 Internet/word processing computers. Children through eighth grade may sign up to use the Internet/word processing computers. Younger children must be accompanied by a responsible person. Children are encouraged to explore the many websites available from the For Kids section of the website.
Library Cards for Children
An application for a Chicago Public Library card can be made when the child can print his or her full name. This card will permit the child access to all library materials. The parent or legal guardian accepts the responsibility for the child’s reading. Ask for an application at the circulation desk. The signature of a parent or legal guard is required, along with one piece of identification showing that person’s name and Chicago address.
Programs and Group Visits
The Children’s Library sponsors programs at different times throughout the year. During the summer months, children may participate in the Chicago Public Library’s annual Summer Learning Challenge. A bimonthly program flyer is available that lists all children’s programs. This information is also available by calling the department at (312) 747-4200. Reservations are required for group visits.
Who Was Thomas Hughes?
The Children’s Library is named after Thomas Hughes because of an historic event in Chicago’s history. On October 8, 1871, the Chicago Fire destroyed much of the city. The world was shocked by this tragedy, and contributions poured into Chicago from all over the globe. Thomas Hughes, a member of the British Parliament and author of the book Tom Brown’s School Days, organized a campaign in England to gather donations of books for Chicago. Almost every living English author made a contribution of his works, including Alfred Tennyson, Thomas Carlyle, Robert Browning, Lewis Carroll, Charles Kingsley and many others. Even Queen Victoria donated books. In all, more than 8,000 volumes were collected and shipped to Chicago. This collection was the beginning of the Chicago Public Library.