Top 10 Things to Do at Harold Washington Library Center

Lifelong Chicagoans and first-time visitors alike can always find something great to do at HWLC.

  1. Experience the outdoors, indoors: The breathtaking Winter Garden on the 9th floor is perfect for quiet contemplation, thoughtful conversation and a moment's peace in the bustling heart of downtown. (It's also available for private events.)
  2. Learn about the man whose name graces the building: The Special Collections and Preservation Division on the 9th floor permanently showcases the career and voice of Mayor Harold Washington, in addition to other rotating exhibits.
  3. Research your family history: Most of our genealogy databases are available to CPL cardholders on any computer, but the very popular Ancestry Library Edition is only available on CPL computers or personal devices connected to our WiFi. While you're here, comb through our rich newspaper microfilm collection for family news, or check our events calendar for one of our genealogy classes.
  4. Appreciate visual art: Original artwork on display throughout the building includes works by over 50 artists, both local and internationally known, employing a variety of mediums and styles. A checklist of works, organized by floor, is available in the lobby.
  5. Hear about literature from the writers who create it: Avid readers can rub shoulders with their literary favorites at our author events. (Previous speakers include Neil Gaiman, Sandra Cisneros and Michael Chabon.)
  6. Have some fun with the whole family: Adult book clubs, story times and fun at Thomas Hughes Children's Library and cutting-edge creative events for teens at YOUmedia offer something for everyone.
  7. Make something: The award-winning Maker Lab on the 3rd floor offers free workshops, open lab hours and drop-in demonstrations.
  8. Play music: Chicago's only free music practice rooms available to the public—including pianos and over 40,000 volumes of printed music—are on the 8th floor.
  9. Get online: Use WiFi on any floor, anytime we're open.
  10. Read, learn, discover: Harold Washington Library Center has over 1.2 million holdings and is open seven days a week to serve Chicago's lifelong residents, new city dwellers, visitors, commuters, students—everyone. Come in today and let us help you find just what you're searching for.