BPN Spotlight: Uptown Branch, Chicago Public Library

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Our local library opened June 6, 1993. It was built in the Prairie Style of architecture. The red brick building which is located at 929 West Buena serves Uptown as a hub for community, learning, and storytelling. Under the enthusiastic leadership of Branch Manager and Librarian Mary Clark, her colleagues Laura Jenkins, Children’s Librarian and Adult Services Librarian Denise Reiter; a range of programs and services are available.

Among programs for adults is a Reading Group that meets to discuss the current One Book One Chicago selection. On Feb. 4 historian and urbanologist Max Grinnell will lead a discussion of Dining Out in Chicago: A Breezy History from Beaubien’s Tavern to Tasting Menus with rare photographs and collectibles such as original menus and sage observations of restaurant experiences.

Mary Clark describes the childrens activities at the library as “fabulous.” Each week the library holds events for children and families. The Book Babies program is for infants up to one year and includes telling stories by singing, playing, laughing and familiar gestures. Toddler Story Time is designed to inspire literacy in children with stories, rhymes and songs. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to socialize after all events. During four afternoons each week, a certified teacher is present to assist schoolchildren with homework assignments.

Truman College students in the English as a Second Language (ESL) program visit for a tour of the library, get help with their library card application, and receive a free tote bag. A similar library orientation is provided for those who are learning English with Refugee One which is a program that helps to empower refugees. On occasion a representative from an outside agency is present to help with questions about Medicaid eligibility and also to help navigate enrollment in the Affordable Care Act.

Along with the activities mentioned above — and there are more, varying from month to month — Uptown Branch library houses approximately 40,000 fiction, nonfiction and reference books ( in Spanish and Russian) along with a wide range of periodicals. It offers easy access to Chicago Public Library’s Online Catalog and welcomes “hold” requests for popular titles. For example when Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth was published last year the library received more than 400 hold requests from neighborhood readers.

HOURS of operation are Monday and Wednesday from noon to 6:00 p.m.Tuesday and Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.. There are no Sunday hours. The phone number is 312-744-8400 and the email address is uptown@chipublib.org. — Walter Vatter, Cub Reporter for BPN

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