Thursday, 31 May 2012

Checking in again...

There’s less of a time difference as I’ve moved out West (go figure!) but I’m still writing this far too late at night then can possibly be healthy. After a brief chance to explore Chicago I’ve taken the bus up to the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus and the next leg of my US libraries tour...

I’ll give an update all about UW-Madison and their Ask a Librarian service (which I’ve been finding out all about today) when I am feeling a bit more alive but I just wanted to briefly mention Chicago’s superb Harold Washington Public Library which is just a couple of doors down from the hostel where I’m staying in Chi-Town. The building’s unique design was the result of a competition which Harold Washington (the then Mayor of Chicago) organised back in 1987. A model of the building and of all the other entries can be found here. After a lot of travelling, it was a real joy to ascend a well-hidden rickety escalator to the 9th floor and be confronted with one of the most magnificent rooms I think I’ve ever seen in a library:

The grand atrium atop Chicago's Harold Washington Public Library 
It is a library which is clearly valued by the public of Chicago, to the extent where unfortunately there has to be quite a significant security presence on the door. As in Michigan (and without wanting to venture too deeply into the politics of it all) public libraries in Illinois increasingly find themselves providing an informal social care role in supporting their patrons, yet encouragingly the Library’s key mantra of openness and inclusiveness to all is still unquestionable.

Another marvel of architecture I saw yesterday was this Bahá’i Temple located on the North Shore of the City with its 9-sided structure formed almost exclusively out of glass and concrete:

This Baha'i Temple was completed in 1953 and has recently been restored

A view of Chicagoland from the 95th floor of the John Hancock Center
(as I was too cheap to pay to visit the Observatory on the 96th floor!)

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