Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Tuesday, September 26

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Book Club

Chicago Public Library Fri Oct 02 2015

One Book, One Chicago Events

One-Book-One-Chicago.jpgJoin the Chicago Public Library at the Harold Washington Library Center (400 S. State) this month as it presents a variety of programs in conjunction with the current One Book, One Chicago selection, The Third Coast by Thomas Dyja.

On Monday, October 5 at 6:00 pm the Lower Level of the Cindy Pritzker Auditorium will offer a sneak peak premier of the film In The Game. The movie, directed Maria Finitzo, takes a look at four years in the life of the girls' soccer team at Chicago's inner city Kelly High School in the primarily Hispanic Brighton Park neighborhood. This event will be followed by a panel discussion.

Do you wish you could design a home like the architects in The Third Coast? You'll get the chance on Monday, October 12 at 1:00 in the library's Maker Lab. Participants will learn architectural and design skills on a small scale when they make a doll house with a laser cutter in this Really Tiny House Maker Lab Series. This series will continue through April 2016 resulting in a complete "Really Tiny House."

Teddy Cruz, a Rome Prize-winning architect, will be on hand Tuesday, October 27 at 6:00 pm in the Cindy Pritzker Auditorium. Architectural historian Dianne Harris will interview Mr. Cruz about the societal implication of his architectural work. Cruz is known for using the Tijuana-San Diego border as a laboratory to re-think global dynamics, including the issues of hospitality inherent in immigration issues and the expanded gap between wealth and poverty.

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Jeremy Owens

Chicago Public Library Fri Sep 11 2015

One Book, One Chicago: The Third Coast

ONE BOOK.jpgFor more than a decade, the Chicago Public Library and its One Book, One Chicago program has helped bring communities together around one central book and theme through diverse programming. From October through April 2016, One Book, One Chicago will explore a central theme--Chicago: The City That Gives. This year's selection is The Third Coast by Thomas Dyja.

The Third Coast presents a critically acclaimed history of Chicago at mid-century featuring many of the personalities that shaped American culture. Covering the time period following World War II through 1960, this nonfiction piece highlights Chicago as the crux of commerce, and innovation. Readers explore the people and events that shaped postwar Chicago, which still have a profound influence on how people view the city today.

Author Thomas Dyja will visit the Harold Washington Library Center on Nov. 4 to discuss the book and the theme of "Chicago: The City that Gives." He is a third generation Chicagoan, and The Third Coast focuses on Chicago and its influence on America. "I couldn't begin to count the hours I spent at the Chicago Public Library when I was a kid," said the author. "It was where I learned to love books and so, in a way, I owe everything to the Chicago Public Library."

This will be the first time ever that One Book, One Chicago programming will take place in all 80 branches of Chicago Public Library. Joining with over 25 community partners, the Library will offer Chicagoans a variety of events and programs, including architectural walking tours, public art discussions and music performances, to bring people, businesses, and civic agencies of Chicago together to engage with the book and theme. Free citywide programs will launch in early October.

Jeremy Owens

Events Mon Dec 08 2014

The Golden Age Of The (Front) Page

Print journalism has been hit pretty hard by the digital upstart that is online media, but the street boxes that can be found on just about any major Chicago street prove that we're holding on to the printed page. The newspaper has a storied history in the Second City, which is why the Chicago Public Library will host Mike Conklin for "Chicago's Golden Era of Print Journalism" on Tuesday night at 6 p.m.

Conklin was a writer and editor for the Chicago Tribune for over 12 years, has authored three books, and even spent some time as a Fox 32 News commentator and correspondent. He will chronicle the history of Chicago newspapers, from their mid-18th century beginnings to their 20th century zenith. He'll also talk about print journalism's major players, from publishers like Joseph Medill and Marshall Field III to such venerable contributors as Mike Royko and Gwendolyn Brooks.

The event is free and open to the public. The talk is scheduled for 6 p.m. to 7 pm. and will be held in the Video Theater in the Lower Level of the Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State St. For more information, please call 312-747-4300.

Danette Chavez

Books Fri Jul 04 2014

What the Hoopla's All About

chicago public library - hoopla digitalBefore the industrial revolution, only an affluent elite could afford to have libraries in their homes. Today we enjoy public libraries precisely because technological advancements made the mass production of books feasible, affordable. Now, technology has once again fostered a possible next step in library advancement: Hoopla Digital.

Recently adopted by Chicago Public Library, Hoopla Digital is a supplemental digital library brimming with audiobooks, videos, music and, later this year, e-books. Currently operating through 23 libraries in the greater Chicago area, and offering nearly 200,000 titles to download or stream 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

And, like the library, it's all free.

"I've been serving public libraries for 25 years, and so public libraries have really been near and dear to my heart," says Jeff Jankowski, the founder and president of Hoopla Digital. "I think they really empower people to discover and find their own voice, so I want to give -- and my company wants to give -- Hoopla as a tool, as a digital brand for public libraries throughout North America... to really allow them to stay relevant in the digital age."

A digital offshoot of Midwest Tape, a media distributor that has sold physical items to public libraries for over two decades, Hoopla operates much in the same way that physical distribution does. Libraries pay for titles, and make them available to users free of charge. The only difference here is that the library only pays for titles per use by library cardholders, and they pay less per rental than they do in physical book acquisition.

With Hoopla the cost to the library of purchasing a book decreases significantly -- from approximately five dollars per title to, on average, $1.95, Jankowski estimates. Thus the information bound up in books (as well as films and albums) becomes accessible to even larger audiences. "I think that digital books, digital media, has a really important place," says Jankowski, "because you don't have to be in a physical location. It allows greater access, accessibility to all people."

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Miden Wood

Book Club Thu Jun 26 2014

Get Ready for Summer Book Lovin'

The arrival of summer generates a lot more than heat: it's also the time to churn out oh so many lists. You need to know where the best sidewalk cafés, the best margarita bars, or best urban hideaways are. In short, you need advice on the best way to spend your time outdoors. And at first glance, a rundown of the best books to pick up seems counterintuitive, but the people have spoken: summer reading lists are no longer just for bridging the gap between school years.

The summer must-read list has gained the kind of attention we used to only see directed at "best of" or "year-end" lists. Of course, Oprah Winfrey has her say; the Huffington Post's Books editors have weighed in on the matter; and the online bookworms at Goodreads have also compiled a list. And now, discerning book lovers can also rely on The Chicago Public Library for recommendations.

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Danette Chavez

Bookmarks Fri May 23 2014


Tonight! Author James Fearnley discusses his book, Here Comes Everybody at the Book Cellar, 7 pm.

Saturday! JaQuavis discusses his new book Whitehouse at CPL's West Englewood Branch, 2 pm.

Saturday! Take your self-started project to the next level with The Propeller Fund, an organization dedicated to stimulating creative growth in Chicago. Attend a workshop at Mana Contemporary Chicago to learn how to apply, 2233 S. Throop St., 1 pm to 6 pm.

Saturday! David Grubbs reads from his book Records Ruin the Landscape: John Cage, the Sixties, and Sound Recording, featuring musician John Corbett, at Corbett vs. Dempsey, 3 pm.

Sunday! Mike O'Flaherty reads from his new novel Where do You Run? at 57th Street Books, 3 pm.

Miden Wood

Book Club Fri Apr 25 2014


All Weekend! C2E2, the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, returns to bring you all things comics, comedy, and nerd.

Saturday! The Poetry Foundation hosts Children's Poetry Day, a full day of merriment including children's films, scavenger hunts, and other lyrical adventures! Free, 10 am.

Saturday! Powell's Bookstore hosts an artsy spin on those literary shapes we take for granted with The Adventures of Letterpress, an Expo of the work of local letterpress artists. 2 - 6 pm.

Saturday! Local publishing house Curbside Splendor celebrates its authors with readings and signings at City Lit Books. 5 pm.

Saturday! In its 32nd iteration, The Dollhouse Reading Series brings you readings from Nate Pritts, Jennifer H. Fortin, Adam Fell and Zach Savich, 7 pm.

Saturday! 826CHI presents Prom 9 From Outer Space. Buy your tickets to benefit the tutoring center and its efforts to make writing fun for kids all over Chicago! 8 pm.

Sunday! Make your way to the Harold Washington Library for Poetry Fest: a day jam-packed with readings, workshops, open mics and more! 10 am - 4:30 pm.

Miden Wood

Chicago Public Library Wed Apr 16 2014

In the Stacks: My Night with Frederico Garcia Lorca (and others)

I felt myself walk into a strange wilderness that cool night in early April when I stepped through a side entrance to the Harold Washington Library and joined a group of older patrons in an elevator. They were dressed "to the nines", as they might say. I had received an email informing me that cocktail attire was encouraged, if not required. I had on a new brown speckled sweater, formal slacks and a blazer I'd borrowed from my friend Julian nearly nine months prior for an event in Los Angeles. Rather than iron or dry-clean them, I put them on and did squats in my Boystown apartment kitchen before packing them in an overnight bag and heading downtown for dinner.

I smoothed the wrinkled slacks and smiled to the others in my grand gold elevator car. My car keys were jammed uncomfortably in my front pocket and my wallet, hulking with Belly cards and Subway gift certificates (but little cash), stuck out from my inner jacket pocket. I sucked at my teeth and rolled my tongue up and across my gums, trying to find the source of some odd smell I knew was coming from me. I hungered for a drink, some cologne to wash away my twentysomething strangeness. I smiled graciously again as a woman with a boa caught my eye wandering up the floor.

"What floor?" she asked.

"Nine," I said. We were going to the same place. Night In the Stacks was the only event in the library that night.

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Alex Thompson

Chicago Public Library Wed Apr 02 2014

The CPLF Junior Board Takes the Library by Storm

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 11.14.43 PM.pngWe've all wondered what happens in the library after hours. Do the books' stories come to life and suck you in for wild adventures? Do the ghosts of self-help books past roam the corridors? Does it just look like a really dark library? The Chicago Public Library Foundation's Junior Board aims to find out!

This Friday, the Junior Board hosts fundraising event "Night in the Stacks" in Harold Washington Library's Winter Garden. The event will be the first major Junior Board fundraiser of this kind -- but hopefully not the last. While this night of beverage and books is now sold out, you can still donate here to support Chicago Public Libraries, and convince the Junior Board to bring Night in the Stacks back once again! If only so we can all see for ourselves what really happens in the stacks after hours.

Miden Wood

Poetry Tue Apr 01 2014

A Poem A Day: National Poetry Writing Month Gets Underway

Rejoice, ye wordsmiths, for National Poetry Writing Month, is upon us! Founded by Maureen Thorson, as an offshoot of National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo), NaProWriMo is an annual project, spanning the month of April, in which participating poets strive to write a poem a day. The site hosts hundreds of participants and their entries, as well as posts prompts for inspiration, and features poems and presses of the day throughout the project's run.

NaPoWriMo, or "30/30", is a challenging exercise for novices and veterans, but one Chicago (by way of Detroit) poet, Stephanie Lane Sutton, is helping to make it a little easier. Sutton created NATIONAL POETRY WRITING MONTH: 30/30, a forum that "offers a private, user-driven space to promote accountability for daily writing. Additionally, this is a place for poets to connect to an online community and support each others' writing." Poets of all levels are welcome, but please note that users must register to view and/or content.

Continue reading this entry »

Danette Chavez

Chicago Public Library Sat Mar 29 2014

Dayo Olopade Talks About How Africa Gets Stuff Done

tumblr_inline_n0ib7rqHpm1qdh5ld.jpgIn The Bright Continent: Breaking Rules and Making Change in Modern Africa, Nigerian-American journalist Dayo Olopade trains her sights on "the gap between foreign perception and African reality." In the Western media, Africa often exists primarily as an "underdeveloped" destination for foreign aid, with little attention paid to the ways in which Africans are already shaping their countries. From a temporary home base of Nairobi, Olopade spent time observing everyone from modest urban farmers to Ushahidi, a Kenya-founded company that develops web tools for communities to map things like incidents of violence or election fraud. Indeed, The Bright Continent frames what she learned in terms of various "maps"--the different kinds of networks that give modern African ingenuity its character and context.

On Thursday, April 3, at 6pm, Olopade will visit the Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State, to discuss what the rest of the world might be able to learn from these novel methods of progress. Admission's free, and books will be available for signing afterward.

Daphne Sidor

Events Thu Mar 13 2014

Short and Sweet: A Conversation with Chicago Writer Stuart Dybek

Next week marks the return of one of Chicago's most beloved literary events, Columbia College Chicago's Story Week Festival of Writers. Beginning on March 16 through the 21, Story Week aims to build "a city of words" says Randy Albers, founding producer of the festival and writing faculty at Columbia College, in the Story Week welcome message. This year's theme is DiverCity, the connection between diversity and the urban landscape and how they come together to celebrate the power of urban stories.
Chicago has a great many writers who exemplify this festival's theme. One of Chicago's notable writers Stuart Dybek, will be featured at the festival. He is author of the fiction Childhood and Other Neighborhoods, The Coast of Chicago, I Sailed with Magellan, and the poetry collections Brass Knuckles and Streets in their Own Ink. He has two upcoming story collections, Ecstatic Cahoots and Paper Lantern, which will be released in June. In his writing, the city acts as a back drop, a kinetic character. Dybek will help Albers vision this year in building a 'city of words'.

I got to ask Dybek a few questions about his new books, his events at Story Week and about the short story in general.

You will be on the Story Week panel, "Why the Short Story". You're definitely an authority on the subject with your previous fiction collections and your upcoming releases. What draws you to writing in that format?

Let me preface my answer by saying that some of the aspects that draw me to the short story are certainly not exclusive to the short story. There's a considerable overlap between literary genres and its far more accurate to see genres as arranged along a continuum rather than to treat them as if they inhabit separate gated communities. For me the short story is a good form in which to work with a kind of literary version of chamber music. Because of the scale of the story one can crank up and try to sustain intensity without fatiguing the reader. One might, of course, say the same about poetry, and an often heard observation about the short story form is that the compression it demands gives it a closer kinship to the poem than to the novel. I've long been fascinated by story collections that have some kind of unity--unity of place like Dubliners or Winesberg, Ohio , for instance, or unity of characters and action such as The Things They Carried. Sometimes such collections are given the paradoxical name, the novel in stories, which is misleading. The so called unity of such books actually emphasizes the fragmentary nature of personal life and of community. That sense of finding order, or at least patterns, within fragmentation is central to modernism.

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John Wawrzaszek

Chicago Public Library Sun Feb 09 2014

Writers: Get Deeper into Your Characters with the Help of Popular-History Author Jonathan Eig

Writer Jonathan Eig's taken on some big personalities in the course of his career: Jackie Robinson, Lou Gehrig, Al Capone. Sure, those guys all happen to be real, but the New York Times best-selling author's insights on bringing characters to life on the page ought to apply just as well to fiction writers. On Thursday, February 13, at 6:30pm, he'll visit the Lincoln Belmont branch library's monthly writer's group (1659 W. Melrose St.) and present a workshop complete with handouts and writing exercises, all focused on building characters that are both compelling and realistic. After the presentation, attendees can stick around for a free-writing session. The event is free and open to all.

Daphne Sidor

Chicago Public Library Sun Jan 19 2014

Radiance of Tomorrow, Tuesday

ishmael_beah.jpgIshmael Beah's Radiance of Tomorrow is a return in a few different ways. It's the Sierra Leonean's second book; it revisits the war-torn homeland he first wrote about in memoir A Long Way Gone; and it tells the tale of Sierra Leoneans coming back to their country and trying to rebuild. This time around Beah's working with fictional characters rather than his own incomprehensibly brutal adolescence, and as the title suggests, there's more room for optimism. In interviews, he's suggested that former child soldiers like himself may gain less from forgetting and "rehabilitation" than from simply refocusing the survival skills they've had to learn.

In the intro to Radiance of Tomorrow, Beah mentions being inspired by his homeland's oral tradition--making the public reading a natural form for him. He'll talk about the book on Tuesday, January 21, at 6pm at the Harold Washington Library Center's Cindy Pritzker Auditorium, 400 S. State. Audiences will get a glimpse not only into Sierra Leone's tragic history, but into the arresting beauty of its native narrative forms--for instance, Beah notes, "In Mende, you wouldn't say 'night came suddenly; you would say 'the sky rolled over and changed its sides.'" Admission is free, and Beah will stick around to sign books afterward.

Photo of the author by John Madere.

Daphne Sidor

Chicago Public Library Mon Dec 16 2013

Fight the Winter Break Sloth Monster with The Chicago Public Library

I Love Winter Break hatWinter break is no excuse for mushy brains! To prevent the decaying of young cerebral tissues over the two weeks of no-school bliss that is winter break, the Chicago Public Library has enacted the Winter Learning Challenge: Neighborhood Nature.

Beginning today through January 5, your kids and teens ages 3-18 may choose to accept the following mission: Read a book, magazine or website for 20 minutes a day for five days of winter break; discover new information about nature in the city by doing one activity; create a story, piece of art or design challenge inspired by the theme "Neighborhood Nature."

The library website offers book, activity and art and design challenges under the following themes: humans, pets, pigeons, squirrels, trees. (Example: Under "trees," participants can estimate the height of a tree by using their bodies, and/or write a poem in the shape of a tree. Fun!)

Of course creativity and learning are the greatest rewards of a project like this, but participants who turn in their completed log by January 10 will be entered in a raffle to receive an eReader, with which he or she may continue to enrich their curious, blossoming minds.

To participate, download a log from the Chicago Public Library website, or pick one up at a physical branch, and help your kid fight the winter break sloth monster!

Lara Levitan

Chicago Public Library Tue Oct 29 2013

Preserving the Ritual of Research

I recently posted an article about the Chicago Library Foundation’s Junior Board—a group of 50 or so young professionals dedicated to bringing patrons between the ages of 22 and 40 back to the library. As I wrote the article, I began to wonder: the library seems so obviously advantageous and economical; why is it going under-used?

While the Junior Board, on the one hand, is motivated by the desire to create lasting relationships with potential donors, the representatives with whom I spoke are passionate in their belief that library patronage benefits both parties. Young adults, they argue, are “missing out on the many resources the library has to offer.” The library is I) an information hub, II) a haven of study, and III) an immense resource for both books and technology.

To resolve the lack of young adult patronage, one must ask: What competition does the library face in each of these categories, and what is it going to take to reintroduce it into young adult culture?

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Miden Wood

Author Mon Oct 28 2013

Reza Aslan Visits the Chicago Public Library Wednesday

REZA ASLAN author photo (Credit Malin Fezehai) (1).jpgReligious Scholar Reza Aslan made headlines last summer when Fox News anchor Lauren Green asked him, essentially, why on earth a Muslim would write a book about Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity. According to The Nation, "the story was quickly framed as a battle between the right-wing Islamophobes of Fox News and Aslan, the defender of intellectual life and scholarship"-- and the author of those words has her own opinion of Aslan's credentials.

The book in question is Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, and you can form your own opinion of Aslan and his work this Wednesday, October 30 at the Cindy Pritzker Auditorium, Lower Level, at the Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State St. at 6pm.

Aslan will discuss the #1 New York Times Bestseller Zealot, which frames Jesus as a rebel in the "age of zealotry" in first-century Palestine, a wandering miracle worker whose mission was "so threatening to the established order that he was captured, tortured, and executed as a state criminal."

The event is free.

Photo © Malin Fezehai

Lara Levitan

Chicago Public Library Thu Oct 17 2013

When Was the Last Time You Went to the Library?

imagescpl.jpgWhen you think about it, the library really shouldn’t have to advertise. Essentially it’s an institutionalized version of that friend who’ll always loan you a good book, except in this case that friend has the best book collection ever. Harold Washington alone houses 9 stories of resources, both literary and technological. And have I mentioned the entire operation is free? Yet findings continually show that between the ages of 22 and 40 library patronage plummets.

So what is it going to take to put libraries back on the map for post-grads? Chicago Public Libraries have found a young-adult-advocate in the Junior Board, a sect of the Chicago Public Library Foundation composed of volunteers dedicated to bringing young professionals back to the library. Acting and founding president Suraj Patel helped to concoct the idea during consulting work he did for the Foundation. “I did a year-long project with them, and then we were asked for a five-year strategic plan,” he says, “and part of that plan was to create the Junior Board.”

“I think a lot of people use the library when they’re students, when they’re in school, and then they don’t for a while,” says Paul Bruton, Junior Board president-elect. “Then they use the library again because they’ve got kids. But in between, there’s people who aren’t taking advantage of all the library has to offer… [The Junior Board is] trying to raise awareness about the programs that the Foundation promotes, and also getting young professionals or twenty-and-thirty-somethings involved in library programming.”

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Miden Wood

Chicago Public Library Sun Oct 13 2013

John Freeman, Aleksandar Hemon Talk About Novelists, The Novel

There's clearly an accord between John Freeman (until recently editor of Granta) and Aleksandar Hemon--the latter gets one of the longest profiles in the former's new collection of interviews with modern authors, How to Read a Novelist. On Tuesday, October 15, at the Harold Washington Library Center (400 S. State) at 6pm, the two will convene to talk about the book and other literary matters. Of course, any book entitled How to Read a Novelist is bound to touch on the question of why to read a novelist, and Freeman plans to make a forceful case for why "the novel is far from dead"--if the presence of the masterful author of The Lazarus Project wasn't evidence enough.

Daphne Sidor

Events Wed Sep 18 2013

What's Next for the Rust Belt? Three Chicago Authors Discuss

september.jpgAs a Chicagoan of about six years' standing and a Michigander by birth, I've lived most of my life on the slightly shinier edges of the Rust Belt. That's meant watching with interest as some of its old industries have coughed out their final breaths and others (tech for Chicago, medicine for Grand Rapids) started to gain force. The institutional memory of The Society of Midland Authors, of course, reaches back much farther--all the way to 1915, when it was formed by a Chicago-centered group of writers including Clarence Darrow, Harriet Monroe, and Vachel Lindsay. On Thursday, September 19, at 6pm, president Robert Loerzel brings together three writers with a lot to say about the region's economic machinery at the Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State, in a discussion on the theme "Reviving the Rust Belt: The Future of the Industrial Midwest and Chicago."

Longtime Gapers Block readers might recognize panelist Edward McClelland--in 2006, parts of his book The Third Coast were serialized here. His most recent release is Nothin' But Blue Skies: The Heyday, Hard Times, and Hopes of America's Industrial Heartland, which traces not only the Midwest's industry but the way it's shaped the character of its residents. Larry Bennett's The Third City: Chicago and American Urbanism uses a similar lens to focus more closely on the town whose very nickname evokes reinvention. And going broader than either of the two, Edward E. Gordon's Future Jobs: Solving the Employment and Skills Crisis looks for the root causes of the entire country's declining economic power and finds it in a failure to educate workers for the kinds of jobs that are most needed now. With Loerzel as moderator, the three authors will combine their perspectives to try to sketch a picture of the Midwest's economic landscape as it will look in future decades.

Daphne Sidor

Chicago Public Library Sun Sep 15 2013

Calling All Lady Leaders: Women in Politics Panel @ Harold Washington Library Center

Politician and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton once said, “Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world.”

Fictional Parks and Recreation politician Leslie Knope once said, “Maybe it’s time for more women to be in charge.” And then probably said something about waffles.

While perhaps the real-world influence of these two women is disparate (one a fictional* television character, the other a diplomat who has traveled to and managed relations in over 112 countries), the messages of both ring true. As of 2011, only 18.3% of the seats in Congress were held by women; a percentage whose growth has slowed significantly over the last decade. Considering that women constitute more than half the U.S. population, it’s past time that we achieved proportionate representation.

Looking to be a part of the change?

Continue reading this entry »

Miden Wood

Book Club Mon Sep 09 2013

Peter Orner Discusses New Short Story Collection at Sulzer Library

Peter Orner.jpg The Book Cellar and Sulzer Regional Library co-host Chicago native Peter Orner for a discussion and book signing of his second collection of short stories, Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge. The event takes place at Sulzer on Monday, September 9 at 6:30pm.

Described by Booklist as "an undisputed master of the short short story," Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge consists of 51 stories, ranging in length from a paragraph to several pages. Though Orner skips through different cities and eras, the question of the reliability of memory provides the stories' unifying thread.

Orner is a past Guggenheim fellow and two-time Pushcart Prize award-winner whose recently reissued debut collection of short stories, Esther Stories, was a 2001 New York Times notable book. He has also written two novels and two works of non-fiction, and has appeared in Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Paris Review, Granta, and McSweeney's.

Photo of Peter Orner courtesy of

Kathryn Pulkrabek

Book Club Thu Sep 05 2013

Jane Austen's Parade of Homes

"There is nothing like staying home for real comfort."
- Jane Austen, Emma

From Mr. Darcy's Pemberley to Fanny Price's Mansfield Park, the homes in Jane Austen's novels are nearly as important as the characters themselves. Growing up on the fringes of the landed gentry and relocating frequently as an adult due to uncertain financial circumstances, Austen observed and absorbed the details of homes that would become cornerstones of her novels.

Iris Lutz, President of the Jane Austen Society of North America, elaborates on the topic in an illustrated lecture, " proportion to their family and income: Houses in Jane Austen's Life and Fiction." The event takes place at the Harold Washington Library Center at 400 S. State Street on Saturday, September 7 at 2pm. It's hosted by the Jane Austen Society of North America - Greater Chicago Region. Bonnets recommended, but not required.

Photo of Jane Austen's house in Chawton courtesy of

Kathryn Pulkrabek

Book Club Thu Sep 05 2013

Chicago Architecture Foundation Partners with One Book, One Chicago

The Chicago Architecture Foundation is offering a series of discounted tours and free lectures in collaboration with One Book, One Chicago through spring 2014. The tours and lectures are in support of the 2013-14 One Book, One Chicago selection, The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson, and the theme, "Migration - how has it shaped Chicago?"

The first tour is a Ukranian Village Walking Tour on Saturday, September 21, at a discounted rate of $5, while the first free lecture is a Discover Pilsen Talk on Saturday, November 16. For more information or to buy tickets, visit the Chicago Architecture Foundation or One Book, One Chicago.

Kathryn Pulkrabek

Chicago Public Library Thu Aug 15 2013

Historian Illuminates the Life of Civil Rights Revolutionary Bayard Rustin

Rustin_interior.jpgAs a civil rights activist in mid-century America, Bayard Rustin was ahead of his time. The organizer of the monumental 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Bayard is credited with counseling Martin Luther King, Jr. in the non-violent modes of protest he learned by studying Gandhi. In 1947 Rustin organized a group of interracial men to challenge segregated seating on interstate buses, 14 years before the renowned Freedom Riders of the 1960s. And if he wasn't enough of a renegade already, Rustin was openly gay at a time when being gay usually meant being (deep) in the closet.

So why don't more people know about Bayard Rustin? This is the question posed by UIC historian John D'Emilio, who will explore the answers at Modern Lives & Movements: A Conversation with John D'Emilio on Saturday, August 17 at 2pm at the Chicago Public Library Edgewater branch, 6000 N. Broadway Street.

Now's the time to discover and celebrate the life and work of Rustin; in this month of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, the White House announced this week that Rustin, along with 16 others, will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor, the highest civilian award in the country.

Rustin died in 1987 of a perforated appendix and was survived by Walter Naegle, his partner of ten years. To bone up on Rustin before the event, read this fun-to-read profile by Steve Hendrix for the Washington Post, and check out Brother Outsider, a 2003 documentary directed by Nancy D. Kates and Bennett Singer.

D'Emilio studies movements for social justice, the history of sexuality, and gay/lesbian politics. The author or editor of nine books, he is best known for Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America and Lost Prophet: the Life and Times of Bayard Rustin, which was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2003.

D'Emelio will answer questions, and copies of his books will be available for signing and sale.

Photo courtesy of the Human Rights Campaign.

Lara Levitan

Chicago Public Library Tue May 07 2013

All CPL Locations Closed this Thursday

An FYI to all those with a library card, all Chicago Public Library locations will be closed this Thursday, May 9, due to staff training. Make sure you get any books due turned in before then. Locations will reopen Friday, May 10.

John Wawrzaszek

Chicago Public Library Thu Mar 14 2013

Citywide Book Club Expands Length and Programming

You always meant to go to one of those One Book, One Chicago discussions, right? Now that the "citywide book club" has expanded from a monthly, twice-a-year offering to a yearlong event, you'll have no excuse not to check out some of the excellent programming offered by the Chicago Public Library sponsored initiative.

The new format kicks off this April with Isabel photo_IsabelWilkerson.jpgWilkerson's The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration. In Other Suns, Wilkerson, the first black woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in the history of American journalism, and the first black American to win for individual reporting, explores the Great Migration of black Americans from the American South to the North and West, changing the cultural and political landscape of America.

According to CPL Commissioner Brian Bannon, the book inspired the expansion of One Book, One Chicago. "The ideas and discussions [the book] sparks are simply too big to be contained in a single month," Bannon stated in a press release. "We look forward to engaging with all Chicagoans to hear their story, to hear how they helped to create the tapestry of our city."

Check out CPL's list of discussions, workshops, performances, and exhibits--many of which focus on migration in Chicago and civil rights-- for details on how you can get involved. (And save the date for October 1, when Wilkerson will speak at the CPL's Cindy Pritzker Auditorium.)

Lara Levitan

Books Wed Jan 23 2013

Celebrate 200 Years of Pride and Prejudice this Monday

JaneAusten_poster.jpgHow much do you love Jane Austen? If it's enough to listen to or read selected chapters of Pride and Prejudice in public before an audience of passersby, you're in luck. On Monday, January 28, the Jane Austen Society of North America - Greater Chicago Region (JASNA-GRC) presents the first ever Pride and Prejudice: A Live Reading.

The event, to be held in the Block 37 pedway at 108 N. State St. from 7am to 7pm, is the brainchild of Debra Ann Miller of the JASNA-GRC.

"When Jane's own copy of Pride and Prejudice arrived at her home at Chawton, one of the elderly ladies from the village was expected for dinner that evening," Miller said. "Jane and her mother 'set fairly at it and read half the first volume to her.'"

The situation, described by Austen in a letter to her sister, inspired Miller's live reading idea.

Actors from Remy Bumppo, Terra Mysterium, and several local authors are scheduled to read, as well as Annie Tully, coordinator of One Book, One Chicago for the CPL, who will read the first sentence of the novel.

But amateurs fear not--volunteers are still needed to fill the hour-long slots (an estimated three to four people are required for each hour), and acting experience and costumes are definitely not necessary.

"This live reading is all about the text," Miller said. "Perfect Hampshire accents are not required, just your own unique voice, and your love for Pride and Prejudice."

Email Debra Ann Miller at for more info.

Lara Levitan

Author Tue Nov 27 2012

Authors Marie Tillman and Jon Krakauer at the Harold Washington Library

The Harold Washington Library, located at 400 S. State St., welcomes author Marie Tillman on Tuesday, December 4 at 6pm. Tillman will discuss her new book The Letter: My Journey through Love, Loss, and Life. The love story and inspirational tale of recovery and self-discovery chronicles Tillman's experience losing her husband, ex-NFL star Pat Tillman, who declined a multi-million dollar NFL contract to join the U.S. Army in Afghanistan, where he eventually lost his life to friendly fire in 2004. The "just in case" letter Pat had written Marie before his deployment provided the strength she needed to rebuild her life in a world without her husband.

Following Pat's death Marie established the Pat Tillman Foundation, which provides educational scholarship support to veterans, active service members and their spouses.

Tillman will be joined by Jon Krakauer, author of Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman, "a stunning account of a remarkable young man's heroic life and death, from the bestselling author of Into the Wild, Into Thin Air, and Under the Banner of Heaven."

Journalist and CBS anchor Jeff Glor will moderate. The event is free, seating is provided on a first-come first-serve basis, and Tillman and Krakauer will sign books at the end of the program.

Lara Levitan

Author Fri Oct 12 2012

Catch The Book Thief in Chicago

As you may already know, the selection for the Chicago Public Library's One Book, One Chicago program this fall centers on Markus Zusak's The Book Thief. The novel tells the story of a young foster girl who steals and reads books aloud to her neighbors during bomb raids in World War II Germany. With its serious subject matter the book asks many questions of its readers, including: How do we respond to war time injustice?

The Chicago Public Library presents two free events relating to the book, both taking place in the Cindy Pritzker Auditorium at the Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State St.:

On Tuesday, October 16 at 6pm, WBEZ's Worldview host Jerome McDonnell will talk with humanitarian Paul Rusesabagina, who will speak from personal experience on some of the themes explored in The Book Thief. The film Hotel Rwanda, nominated for three Academy Awards in 2004, documents Rusebagina's struggle to shelter Tutsis and moderate Hutus during the Rwandan genocide of 1994.

On Monday, October 22 at 6pm, The Book Thief author Markus Zusak will join Chicago Tribune columnist Dawn Turner Trice for a conversation about the book and his reaction to its success.

For more information visit

Lara Levitan

Chicago Public Library Mon Oct 08 2012

Dennis Lehane at CPL

The Chicago Public Library welcomes esteemed writer Dennis Lehane (Mystic River) this Wednesday, October 10. Lehane will discuss his newest novel Live by Night with a book signing to follow. The reading is open to the public, but seating is limited and wil likely go quick. Catch Lehane at 6pm in the Harold Washington Library Center's Winter Garden located at 400 S. State St.

John Wawrzaszek

Chicago Public Library Mon Aug 20 2012

No Late Fees: Starts Today

Now is the time to return that copy of War and Peace you've been trying to read for the past 11 months. The Chicago Public Library has announced that it will overlook all late fees for overdue books, DVD's, CD's, and tapes starting today through September 7.

For more info go to the Chicago Public Library website.

Julie Zarlenga

Chicago Public Library Wed Aug 08 2012

Chicago Public Library Announces "Once in a Blue Moon Amnesty"

chicago-public-library-logo.gifThe Chicago Public Library isn't kidding when it calls its three-week period of amnesty on late fees "Once in a Blue Moon" -- the last time CPL offered an amnesty was in 1992, and before that 1985. So jump at this chance: from Aug. 20 through Sept. 7, you can return any overdue books, CDs, DVDs and other materials without paying the late fee -- no matter how long you've been hanging onto it. And if the item is lost, you can absolve yourself by paying only the replacement cost, sans fees.

"In conducting this amnesty, we expect to recover thousands of outstanding items, the value of which will most likely exceed the lost revenue in fines. This will recoup the City's investment in the materials and, most importantly, make them available for other patrons to use," said Library Commissioner Brian Bannon in a news release. "This program aligns with our commitment to lowering the barriers to library use for all Chicagoans, especially those most in need of our services."

The library estimates it's owed $1.2 million in fees on overdue materials valued at $2 million. In 1985, the amnesty resulted in more than 77,000 books being returned to the library.

Andrew Huff

Chicago Public Library Mon Mar 12 2012

Live Action Hunger Games At Chicago Public Library


From March 14 to 21, the Chicago Public Library will be hosting The Hunger Games Live Action Survival Competitions for kids aged 12 to 18 at various locations throughout the city. (See complete listing of locations and times here). The competitions will be played on a life-sized grid style game board. Participants are assigned districts and given important survival attributes - strength, speed, intelligence, charisma and courage. Players move along spaces on the grid (survive) based on how they use their attributes, as well as how they answer a series of survival questions. Additionally, survivors can make alliances with other surviving players as they also encounter threatening challenges or catastrophes.

The games are the inaugural event for the Teen Volume Clubs. Developed in partnership with the CPL and YOUMedia, the clubs are a series of fun, interactive, book-themed programs including prizes (reading not necessary but encouraged). Participants in the games will be invited to a special Teen Volume Clubs screening of The Hunger Games movie at Showplace Icon Theater at 150 W. Roosevelt Rd. on Saturday, March 24 at 10am. Teen Volume Clubs will host a pre-screening event at the theater from 9 to 10am., featuring games, activities and give-aways. Chicago Public Library Teen Volume and YOUmedia Game participants, family and friends who want to view the movie can purchase a ticket (while tickets last) for $7.50 at the Icon Theater box office starting at 9am.

Rebecca Hyland

Events Mon Feb 20 2012

Book Signing and Discussion with Nathan Englander

Photo by Juliana Sohn
On Monday, Feb. 27 at 6pm, Nathan Englander (internationally acclaimed author of The Ministry of Special Cases) will discusses his latest collection of short stories, What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank, at the Harold Washington Library Center (400 S. State St.).

"These eight stories display Englander grappling with the great questions of modern life, with a command of language and the imagination that place him at the forefront of contemporary American fiction."

The event is free and no registration is required, but keep in mind that seating is on a first come, first serve basis.

Megan E. Doherty

Events Sun Jan 29 2012

Lori Andrews @ Harold Washington Library

Lori Andrews, Professor of Law at Kent College in Chicago, and advocate for internet privacy rights, will be at the Harold Washington Library as part of their free Author Series. Andrews will be discussing and signing her book I Know Who You Are and I Saw What You Did: Social Networks and the Death of Privacy.

Come meet Lori Andrews at Harold Washington Library, Cindy Pritzker Auditorium, 400 S. State St., Wednesday, Feb. 1 at 6pm.

Julie Zarlenga

Chicago Public Library Mon Jan 23 2012

Libraries Open Mondays Again

Under a new plan from Mayor Emanuel, Chicago libraries will be open most Monday afternoons. Changes go into effect February 6.

Rose Lannin

Events Thu Oct 06 2011

Happy Poetry Day!

Started by Robert Frost in 1955, Poetry Day has brought out distinguished poets (Anne Sexton, Adrienne Rich, Carl Sandburg) from around the country to be featured readers. Today is the 57th annual Poetry Day, and to celebrate, stop by Harold Washington Library, Cindy Pritzker Auditorium (400 S. State St) to hear this year's featured poet, W.S. Merwin, read. The fun begins at 6pm, and admission is free on a first-come, first-served basis.

Emily Wong

News Mon Sep 26 2011

Banned Books Week Is Back

September 24 to October 1 is Banned Books Week all over the U.S. To celebrate here in Chicago, check out Books on the Chopping Block, an hour-long program of readings from the most challenged books of 2010. Presented by City Lit and the American Library Association's Office of Intellectual Freedom, seven readings will take place at libraries in and around Chicago, ending in a final reading in suburban Glencoe. For times and locations, click here. If you don't feel like following the banned books around, you can take part in a Virtual Read-Out instead: submit a two-minute or less reading from a banned book or a three-minute eye-witness account of a banned book challenge in your area. Videos will be posted on a special YouTube channel. Get instructions on how to participate here. Happy Banned Books Week!

Emily Wong

Contest Mon Sep 19 2011

90-Second Newbery Film Festival

Local author James Kennedy (The Order of Odd-Fish) is co-curating a new festival with the Chicago and New York Public Libraries. The 90-Second Newbery Film Festival challenges participants of any age to make a 90-second video representation of any Newbery Award winning book. The film must include the entire plot, not just a trailer or preview of the story, but beyond that the limits of your creativity should rule your entry. To get a taste, you can view the 90-second version of A Wrinkle in Time on Kennedy's website where you can also learn how to submit your entry. The submission deadline is October 17 and on November 16 Kennedy will be at the Harold Washington Library from 6pm-8pm to celebrate the film festival in all its glory. So peruse all the past winners, break out the new-fangled recording device of your choosing and get crackin'!

Veronica Bond

Contest Wed Sep 07 2011

Flash Fiction Writing Contest

In honor of the 10th anniversary of One Book, One Chicago, this year's pick has inspired an ironic/awesome little contest.

Saul Bellow's The Adventures of Augie March isn't exactly brief, but what if it were? Try your hand at composing your own "version of the great American Novel", compressed into 750 words or less. Easy!

Oh, and make sure the stories are both set in, and inspired by, the Chi.

From the press release:

"The entries will be judged by Stuart Dybek, an expert in both flash fiction and Chicago, whose collection The Coast of Chicago was the One Book, One Chicago selection in spring 2004. Three finalists will read their work at an event at Stop Smiling, 1371 N. Milwaukee Ave., on Thursday, October 13; and the winner will have their work published in a future issue of the newly revitalized magazine The Chicagoan."

There is no fee to enter, and all submissions must be received by Friday, September 23.

For more information and all contest details (including how to enter), click here.

Megan E. Doherty

Chicago Public Library Wed Aug 17 2011

One Book, One Chicago: The Adventures of Augie March

adventures of augie march.jpgThis fall, One Book, One Chicago celebrates 10 years of bringing the city together through reading. The selection for this important milestone is the seminal Chicago story The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow. Published in 1953, the story follows young protagonist Augie March throughout Chicago in the depression as he struggles to find his place in the world. The book won a National Book Award and is considered by some to be the Great American Novel. Head to the Chicago Public Library to pick up your copy of the book or snag one at your favorite independent and get started reading right away: coming in at 600 pages, the book is hardly one that can be finished on your 30-minute commute on the el. Make sure to visit the CPL website to find out when your branch will hold its book discussion and when special Augie March events will take place. (Book Club members will recall that we discussed Bellow's masterpiece in 2005. You can read the intro here and view the accompanying photo essay here, wherein former Book Club editor Alice Maggio and staff member Brian Sobolak visited the important sites in Augie's life to see what they look like now.)

Veronica Bond

Chicago Public Library Thu Jun 30 2011

Booze and Books at Branch 27

For those who like to have a few aperitifs with their paperbacks, check out the Chicago Public Library's happy hour at Branch 27, located at 1371 W. Chicago Ave. Library staff will be on hand for this free Library Lounge event with free t-shirts for new library card sign-ups. Plus, you'll have a chance to pick their brains about everything the library has to offer over a pint of bitter. The happy hour kicks off at 6pm.

James Orbesen

Events Fri May 27 2011

Prepare Yourself for Printers Row

The lit fest is only about a week away! Next Saturday and Sunday, June 4 and 5, Printers Row (around the area of Dearborn Street, from Congress to Polk streets) will be filled with more books, authors/speakers, and book nerds than you can imagine for the 2011 Printers Row Lit Fest. Check out each day's event schedule, the full list of appearing authors, and Make Your Mark: Get Chicago Reading! The fine print: events and panel discussions are free; however, you need to reserve a free ticket for Harold Washington Library Center and University Center events to ensure entrance. So come one, come all and enjoy all sorts of special literature related events, such as Lit After Dark and Pitchapalooza!

Emily Wong

Awards Tue May 17 2011

Ebert Honored with Carl Sandburg Literary Award

This year the Chicago Public Library Foundation will award Roger Ebert the Carl Sandburg Literary Award. The Sun-Times reports that their columnist was a "unanimous choice" from the foundation's selection comittee. Ebert will be honored at a gala on October 20 on the UIC campus, where the foundaton's 25th anniversary, the Harold Washington Library Center's 20th anniversary, and the One Book, One Chicago program's 10th anniversary will all be celebrated.

Veronica Bond

Miscellaneous Fri Apr 15 2011

Cram Poets Chosen

Remember when we talked about Poetry Cram 11? Well, the poets/poems have been selected for the 11th volume. See the list here. And don't forget, you can get your free copy of the journal on Saturday, April 30, from 10am to 4pm at Harold Washington Library.

Emily Wong

Events Mon Apr 11 2011

Gaiman and Niffenegger @ Harold Washington Library Center

You may remember us reporting that One Book, One Chicago chose Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere for this year's citywide reading program. Tomorrow night, Gaiman will talk with Audrey Niffenegger about imagination and creativity at the Harold Washington Library Center auditorium (400 S. State St) at 6pm. Event is free!

Emily Wong / Comments (1)

Chicago Public Library Mon Mar 07 2011

1970s Austin at West Chicago Library

Bernadette Jones recently spoke at West Chicago Library about Choices, a novel of 2 African-American girls growing up in Chicago's Austin neighborhood, their 20-year friendship, and the decisions, both good and bad, that make up their relationships and lives. Listen to her here.

Rose Lannin

Chicago Public Library Thu Mar 03 2011

Spring One Book, One Chicago Selection Announced

This spring, the entire city will dive into Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere for the 20th One Book, One Chicago selection. The fantasy novel follows Richard Mayhew as he leaves the ordinary world of London Above to journey through the dangerous London Below with his companions Door, who is on a quest to discover the secrets behind her family's murder, the Marquis of Carabas, a trickster, and Hunter, who guards bodies and hunts big game. Pick up your copy of Neverwhere at any of the Chicago Public Library branches or one of your local independent bookstores, find out how the book started in Chicago and check the CPL's website for listings of book group discussions and events, including two author appearances in April.

Veronica Bond / Comments (1)

Events Tue Nov 30 2010


Sulzer Regional Library (4455 N. Lincoln) hosts The Poets' Club of Chicago's Poetry Wheel tonight at 7pm. An impulsive, collaborative effort, the Poetry Wheel starts with a kick-off poem, and then other Club readers chime in with poems related by image, theme, subject, or form. After the first finished rotation by the Club, audience members are welcome to join in with their related works. Stop by and watch the wheel go 'round and 'round.

Emily Wong

Chicago Public Library Tue Nov 09 2010

Writing the Poetry of Your Dreams @ Near North Chicago Public Library

Tomorrow, Krista Franklin will teach you how to channel your dreams into insightful, beautiful (and perhaps nightmarish) poems. Bring paper, a pen, and your creativity to Near North (310 W. Division) at 6:30pm. Free!

Emily Wong

Chicago Public Library Tue Aug 03 2010

What We Liked Last Year

The Chicago Public Library tells us the most circulated library books in 2009.

Rose Lannin

Chicago Public Library Thu Jul 22 2010

Toni Morrison Selected as One Book, One Chicago Author

The Chicago-wide book club known as "One Book, One Chicago" announced its fall 2010 selection: A Mercy, Nobel laureate Toni Morrison's 2008 novel. Set in the late 17th century, the novel centers on the lives of slaves, slave owners, and others on a Northeast American farm, and how they struggle to survive in an often-cruel world.

Like it's done for One Book, One Chicago selections in the past, the Chicago Public Library has announced several events that will go along with the book throughout the fall, including:

  • A September 7 kick-off event at the Harold Washington Library Center (400 S. State St.), where Dwight McBride, dean of UIC's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will speak about Morrison as a leading American intellectual.

  • An October 16 film screening and discussion of Morrison's Beloved at the Woodson Regional Library, 9525 S. Halsted St.

  • An October 19 reading and talk by Morrison herself (!) at the Symphony Center (220 S. Michigan Ave.). Although it's free, tickets are still required and will be available after August 11 through the Symphony Center Box Office (312-294-3000).

  • A ten-week course offered by the DePaul English department, called Imperfect Community: Toni Morrison's Vision of Social Engagement.

  • Open studio hours at Harold Washington Library's YOUmedia space throughout the summer and into fall to create your own oral history, "in the spirit of the book and the African American tradition of oral histories," writes the CPL. The space will be open on Saturdays through August and on Fridays in September.

Ruthie Kott

Chicago Public Library Sun May 09 2010

Cory Doctorow @ Harold Washington Library

Science fiction novelist, co-editor of Boing Boing Cory Doctorow is also a Young Adult author: Thursday, May 13th, he comes to Harold Washington Library to talk about For the Win, a tale of online gaming and international political intrigue. 5pm, 400 S. State St. Preregistration required.

Rose Lannin

Events Thu May 06 2010

Calling All Writers

DePaul University, along with the Chicago Public Library, is hosting a Summer Writing Conference July 16-18 at DePaul's Loop Campus. This year's conference will feature: craft classes in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, as well as classes on playwriting and writing for children and teenagers; panel topics such as "Why Writers Should Blog" and "What Publishers Want", and keynote speaker Michele Rubin, literary agent with Writers House in NYC. It's pre-registration only and registration is limited! So check out each day's schedule and register for one day o' writing-related fun ($110) or for the whole conference ($260) here.

Emily Wong

Events Tue Apr 20 2010

Colm Tóibín at Harold Washington

Irish writer, gay writer -- bald writer? In a 2009 interview with Boldtype, Colm Tóibín discusses his identity and his novel Brooklyn, the 2010 One Book, One Chicago selection. Tóibín will be speaking Wednesday, April 21, 6pm, at Harold Washington Library.

Ruthie Kott / Comments (1)

Chicago Public Library Fri Jan 15 2010

Altgeld Gardens Finally Gets a New Library

Editor's Note: This article was submitted by Christopher Gray, an independent journalist in Chicago.

More than a year after broken pipes destroyed their library, the residents of Altgeld Gardens will be able to check out books in a space named for the first African-American poet.

The Chicago Public Library revealed Wednesday that a new library would take up residence in an unused, 4,000-square foot wing of the Phillis Wheatley Child Parent Center.

"It's actually a better location, closer to the school," said Mary Dempsey, the commissioner of the Chicago Public Library. "We'll have a separate entrance, we want this to be open to everyone."

Continue reading this entry »

Book Club / Comments (8)

Chicago Public Library Wed Aug 26 2009

The Chicago Public Library: It's Not Just for Reading Anymore

I'll admit it: I'm a library junkie.

Sure, I could research everything from the comfort of my home PC, but why? Researching at home just doesn't compare to the physical library experience; there is something about perusing shelves that house hundreds of books that just gets me going. And the fact that I conveniently work and live near two of the best in the city, Harold Washington Library Center and Woodson Regional Library, respectively, is the icing on the cake.

As much as I love the Chicago Public Library system, there are some things, especially regarding internet usage policies, that leave me perplexed. Earlier this summer, a new computer policy was put in place: Effective June 1, patrons with outstanding fines or who are not in "good standing" are no longer allowed to use computers for either word processing or the internet.

Several weeks before, notices were taped on PC monitors throughout the city's libraries; however, the policy is still not listed on the system's website.

The way I see it, this policy was instituted to not only punish people who are negligent in returning library items but also to encourage timely returns. If they can't follow the rules, they shouldn't be able to enjoy any of the privileges. That's fair enough. As a regular library visitor, I certainly understand the need for this new policy, and I appreciate being rewarded for being a responsible borrower. And while this may leave some people out in the cold, rules are rules — or are they?

Obviously, for the CPL system, all is fair when it comes to pornography.

Continue reading this entry »

LaShawn Williams / Comments (12)

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