Monday, October 3, 2016

October 3, 1885 -- Librarian Urges Relocation of City Library

October 3, 1885 – On this date the Chicago Daily Tribune reports on a letter that the Chief Librarian of the city has sent to the Chairman of the Council Committee on Buildings.  The letter provides detail about the location of the city’s first library, housed in a converted water tank on Dearborn Street, just east of today's Rookery Building.  Mr. Poole, the librarian, urges the temporary removal of the library to the new City Hall, just up the street on Washington Boulevard, citing the grave risk of the city’s entire collection of books being destroyed by fire.  The present location of the library “are overcrowded already, many valuable books being in consequence stored in out-of-the-way corners for want of a piece to put them.”  The library has four floors and no elevator.  On the fourth floor is a newspaper reading room of 3,292 square feet, a periodical reading room with 2,307 square feet, and a room for patent books and documents continuing 2,503 square feet.  The floor below contains the main collection in 16,324 square feet of space.  Since the collection of the library is increasing by 10,000 volumes a year and the threat of fire can not be ignored in a city that burned to the ground just 14 years earlier, Librarian Poole was a little distressed that he had not received an answer from Alderman Mahony, to whom he had directed the letter.  The book room of the "water tank library" can be seen in the engraving above.

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