Mayor Richard M. Daley, Chicago Public Library Commissioner Mary A. Dempsey, 1st Ward Alderman Joe Moreno, Library Board President Jayne Carr Thompson and a host of dignitaries join community leaders and residents for the dedication of the new West Town Branch of the Chicago Public Library at 1625 W. Chicago Ave. The West Town Branch will be open six days a week, Monday through Saturday.
“Our library building program surpasses that of any other city in the nation, and I think we’d all agree that it has been money well spent,” Mayor Richard M. Daley said. “Libraries are an important part of our effort to give Chicago the best educational system of any city in the nation. And a library is more than just a place to gather information. In neighborhoods all over the city, we’ve found that when you build a public library you’re also building a community center.”
“The new full service West Town Branch has been much anticipated by the diverse and thriving local residential and business community,” said Commissioner Dempsey. “We issued more than 60 new library cards and more than 850 items were checked out on our first day of service, September 7, and have seen a steady stream of happy patrons every day since.” The branch is the 54 new or fully renovated library built in Chicago since 1989.
The new branch is located on the ground floor of the historic Goldblatt’s Building. Designed by architect Alfred S. Alshuler and constructed between 1921 and 1928, the building was the original Goldblatt’s Department Store. At the urging of local preservationists and Mayor Daley, the City purchased the landmark building in 1998 and renovated it for city agency offices. The first floor was renovated for the Library’s use in 2010 by the City’s Department of General Services, with designs by Interactive Design Eight Architects, Paul Steinbrecher and Jeffrey Parfitt.
The new and welcoming 13,300 square feet West Town Branch replaces two smaller storefront branches in the area. Thanks to a generous donation by Citi through the Chicago Public Library Foundation, the branch will offer the Teacher in the Library program, which brings accredited teachers into the library to assist children with their homework.
Among the library’s many services and collections are free Internet (there are 61 computer stations for adults and children), free WiFi access, online research databases, educational and entertainment DVDs, audio books and music CDs, a $300,000 opening day collection of books, newspapers and magazines for children, teens and adults, and materials in Spanish, Polish and Ukrainian.
The library will offer a variety of programs and services including children’s programs such as the Summer Reading Program, story times, teen book discussions, family programs and holiday celebrations. Adult Services programs will include book discussions, author appearances, educational, financial literacy and cultural programs of community interest.
The West Town Branch was designed to achieve a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certification through the United States Green Building Council. Green buildings incorporate environmentally friendly focus areas into their design. The LEED features in this space include recycled flooring, countertops, tabletops, and reuse of the original marble flooring in the entryway.
The Chicago Public Library continues to encourage lifelong learning by welcoming all people and offering equal access to information, entertainment and knowledge through materials, programs and cutting-edge technology.