In our last post, we explored the disturbing underfunding of Chicago’s public librarys. We visited a small, understaffed, overcrowded branch library, and found it doing amazing work with few resources.
We then walked less than a mile to the Newberry Library, an independent research library which is (pretty much) open to the public.
Funded by private donors, the Newberry library curates an impressive collection of books and artifacts, including tickets to bygone events, pamphlets and ephemera from a wide scope of political movements, and an impresive collection of at least 500,000 maps. They even have active card catalogs! There is no doubt that it’s an amazing resource.
It is a little exclusive, however, since you have to articulate a research topic to be allowed in. It was by far the most racially homogeneous library we’d been in on the entire trip, including libraries in much less diverse areas.
But different places serve different purposes. At least I got to make contact with this guy.