Beyond Books: The Hidden Treasures of Northside Chicago Public Libraries
Within the hustle of living in Chicago, it’s easy to overlook some of the incredible benefits the city provides. You drive by the parks and on the roads and use them often, but when’s the last time you stepped foot into a library?
One of the most underutilized benefits that the city provides is its extensive access to public libraries. Focusing on the north side, this article will dive into the best libraries, showcasing where you can visit for a quiet haven and a getaway from the outside world. Beyond the books, we will highlight all the best features of these resources and will have you walking away planning a visit of your very own.
Edgewater Branch Library
Edgewater Branch Library is a pillar for the neighborhood community and a modern library that hosts many events throughout the year. Chipublib.org doubles down on its modernness, stating, “Edgewater Branch opened June 22, 2013, replacing an older branch that opened April 14, 1973. The branch features environmentally sustainable construction under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System developed by the U.S. Green Building Council.” It contributes to the environment and its locals by providing books, DVDs, and CDs for rentals and events such as book sales, community jams, and tech talks.
Uptown Branch Library
Similar to Edgewater, the Uptown Branch is well known for its events hosted by the library. With an incredibly diverse neighborhood, the library is a hub for creativity, expression, and collaboration. It is especially known for hosting creative events for local artists, comedians, poets, writers, and more. In 2023, they have thrown slam poetry nights, concerts, art galleries, and talent showcasing, just to name a few.
Secondary to their creative events, they are also known for throwing the most kid-friendly events in the area, giving parents the opportunity to help their babies and children grow as well as meet their neighbors and spend time outside the house. Next month, the Uptown Branch Library is hosting Family Story Time, Music and Movement class, and Origami.
Sulzer Regional Library
Located close to the Uptown Branch, Sulzer is a regional library in Lincoln Square that represents so much more than a local library. With an incredible collection of books and media, if you need to find something specific, this is the place for you. They have extensive digital and physical archives dating back hundreds of years, and are able to help with whatever project you need. They also offer language classes, career development classes and help with resumes, interviews, and other professional development opportunities.
Chipublib.com gives a little history, saying that “Sulzer Regional Library opened September 14, 1985. The library was named for Conrad Sulzer (1807-1873), a pioneer settler of Ravenswood. Sulzer, a Swiss immigrant who arrived in Chicago in 1836, turned the wilderness into a livestock farm and a horticulture garden. He also served as collector of Ridgeville Township and assessor of Lake View Township, leaving a heritage of public service and commitment to the community, continued by his descendants through the Sulzer Family Foundation.” Sulzer also features a few art pieces and hosts showcasing events.
Whether you’re looking to develop your career, dig into digital archives, or look at some art, Sulzer has something for everyone.
Bezazian Branch Library
Also located in Uptown, the Bezazian Branch is a tech hub for job seekers, entrepreneurs, and professionals alike. Bezazian has been open since the late 50’s and supports the community by providing support and resources for those looking to work on professional development and those applying for new jobs. The branch is also known for its practical classes on things like eldercare and adult writing classes. Bezazian is also one of the only libraries that does regular movie screenings; coming up in the next eight weeks are screenings of The Raven, Turbo, What’s Cooking? and The Grinch.
Located in Rogers Park, Northtown is a beautiful library that is multifaceted, featuring 44 senior-living units in addition to the library. According to chicago.curbed.com, “Global firm Perkins+Will designed this second Chicago library project to incorporate affordable housing—in this case, 44 senior housing units. The four-story Northtown Branch opened in March 2019 and serves the West Ridge and West Rogers Park neighborhoods on the city’s North Side. The space features a bright mural by local artist Chris Silva and a design lab complete with drafting software and 3D printers.”
The Chicago Library System: More Than Just Books
It’s easy to think that all libraries do is provide books, but these spaces are so much more and provide Chicago with an incredible collection of places that support the arts, professional development, book clubs, movie nights, family reading time and so much more. Don’t forget to pay your local library a visit and go beyond the books!