Literary Criticism is Not Boring!

Okay, so literary criticism is boring. If you're not into classic, historic or highfalutin literature, you really don't care what makes something classic, historic or highfalutin. But give it a chance . . . When you find a critic who can actually write, you stumble across a whole new landscape of writers and their words. […]

Read More

Ladies of Dagenham, Unite!

Rita O'Grady (Sally Hawkins) is nothing out of the ordinary, working at the Ford factory and raising her children with her husband in their blue-collar suburb of London in 1968.  O'Grady works in the all-female section of the plant sewing seat covers, along with 146 other women. What starts out as a dispute over job designation grows into […]

Read More

Challenge Accepted: Learn About ALS

bucket filled with ice

Niles Public Library challenged CPL to participate in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. To meet the challenge, we pulled together some of the best resources about ALS from our collection. We now challenge all Chicagoans to read and learn more about this disease. Maybe you’ve been “called out” and you’re filling your bucket and preparing […]

Read More

Labor Day, Labor History

Magnolia Avenue, 8 1/2 foot connection with 11 foot at Glenwood Avenue and Thorndale Avenue looking upstream, August 11, 1933.

Well, it's here: Labor Day. The end of summer, when swimming pools close and schools open. But in all this back-to-school hullabaloo, it's easy to forget the origins of the holiday. Labor Day was first instituted at the city and state levels as early as 1885. Federal recognition came in 1894, and the first Monday of September was designated […]

Read More

Celebrate Labor Day with Great Movies about Workers

Norma Rae contains one of the most iconic moments on film, and the lead actress, Sally Field, doesn't say a word. Instead, she hops on a table in a textile mill as machines clatter and whir around her and holds up a sign that says UNION. One by one, her co-workers shut down their machines in solidarity. […]

Read More

Technology that changed Chicago: Calling 911. 1877-1900

Police officer standing at police box. Police wagon running.

Previous: 1860-1877 Although the fire telegraph system reached a state of near perfection in 1877, the police alarm system had a number of problems that became apparent in the large labor riots of that year. Communication from the street to stations depended largely upon runners and telegrams from the large businesses with telegraph operators. Communication […]

Read More

Happy Birthday, Ray Bradbury!

featured image

Ray Bradbury is easily one of the most celebrated authors of the 21st century. I’m willing to say with very good reason. He is the creator of more than 600 works spanning 7 decades. His writing is timeless and every generation can find meaning and relevance no matter the milieu. Bradbury often said he wrote […]

Read More

Are You Prepared for Mayhem?

tornado funnel with clouds in background

What would you do if disaster strikes? Are you prepared to survive in a tornado, flood or blizzard? Some of my favorite movies deal with these topics, and usually the main characters do not fare very well when confronted with extreme weather conditions. They always choose to ignore warning signs and are astounded when they […]

Read More

The Problem With Virtue

Often when I read historical fiction, it seems that the 21st-Century world view is imported with the characters.  No more is this true than with the themes of sex and religion.  Fortunately, Marci Jefferson manages to avoid this pitfall in Girl on the Golden Coin. Young Frances Stuart, the protagonist, wishes only to make a good […]

Read More

We’re Off to See the Wizard!

It's been 75 years since Dorothy stepped into the technicolor world of munchkins and flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz, which still ranks as one of the most awesome movies of all time. The film is based on the book by Chicago native L. Frank Baum, with a few details changed. For example, did you know that Dorothy's shoes were […]

Read More