Library for the People Episode 1: From the Great Chicago Fire Rises a Public Library

Chicago Public Library is turning 150 and we have stories to tell. Library for the People six-episode limited series podcast takes us on a journey – from building a library after the Great Chicago Fire to reimagining what libraries could be. Along the way, we will meet different Library People: librarians, patrons, authors, and so much more. Each episode will bring a mix of voices and stories found in Chicago’s 80+ branches that make Chicago Public Library a city treasure and a leader in the space.

Read a transcript of episode 1.

Take a deeper dive into episode 1 of the Library for the People podcast, focusing on history.

The water tower used to store books in the 1870s.

The Central Library, photos circa 1897, opened on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street. Today we know that building as the Chicago Cultural Center.

Mr. Horder's petition for a delivery station. Mr. Horder wrote a petition to have a delivery station, with a news depot, delivery station and public library. The petition was a success!

Horse drawn wagons, seen here, were used to transport books to delivery stations. The second photo is of the deposit station in Dvorak Park in 1914.

Henry Legler's “Library Plan for the Whole City” in 1916 served as the blueprint of what CPL should be doing and a map for us to follow going forward. This was the blueprint for regional services, training for staff, opening up stacks for public to browse and more. Learn more about Legler.

Locations Discussed in This Episode

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Learn more about the Library for the People podcast.