Branching Out: Chicago Public Library in the Neighborhoods opens June 1 in Harold Washington Library Center's 9th floor exhibit hall. This exhibit celebrates CPL's 150th birthday by telling the story of the library system's growth in Chicago's neighborhoods.
Founded after the Great Chicago Fire and open to the public since 1873, Chicago Public Library immediately began bringing books and other materials out of downtown and into communities around the city. From small delivery stations in stores to bookmobiles to 81 locations today, CPL enters its next 150 years true to its belief that all Chicagoans should have the freedom to read, to learn, to discover.
This exhibit highlights CPL’s origins and efforts to create a citywide system of regional and branch libraries serving every Chicagoan. Exhibit features include CPL’s 1936 Freedom of Information Policy (the first of its kind); Hall Branch in Bronzeville, home base of historically important Black librarians Vivian G. Harsh and Charlemae Hill Rollins; service to Spanish-speaking patrons on Chicago’s Lower West Side; massive facilities growth and improvement in the 1990s and early 2000s; creation of YOUmedia, a space for Chicago’s youth to engage with technology and community; and the Maker Lab for adults to utilize digital equipment for creating and making.
We hope as you move through this exhibit, you feel a sense of pride in our shared accomplishments and renewed interest in visiting your local library.
About CPL 150
Chicago Public Library is 150 years young! Since first opening our doors in 1873, we've served all Chicagoans with free and open places to gather, learn, connect, read and be transformed. Join us in celebrating 150 years of serving our communities. Learn more by visiting chipublib.org/150.